Wednesday, August 14, 2019

DOXA - What Does It Really Mean?

Okay, there's been a day for the news to settle. And again, while some of us knew about this shift in strategy some time ago, it is clear that the news that the Jenny family are going to take sole control over the DOXA SUB has caused quite a stir in the watch community. Think I'm kidding? Check my email, messenger, LinkedIn, phone and What's App accounts. As I mentioned yesterday, I have not worked directly for DOXA since 2010, and although I have done some freelance work for the SUB, truth be told I have more followed from afar than the day to day. But the more I've thought about it, the press release that went out yesterday has created more questions than it answered.

Now in a typical watch brand (and let's be very honest with ourselves, the SUB might as well have been its own brand, and is far from typical) this would not be much cause for noise. Changes both big and small happen all the time. But this one is going to be a bit different, because, and I am just being honest here, I do not really know if the Jenny's and the semi-new CEO of DOXA, Jan Edocs fully understand how the business has really worked on this side of the water for the past 20 years.

The press release makes mention of DOXA's team in the US -

With the launch of the new website, customers will also be able to learn more about the new Doxa organization and discover the new collections of Doxa Watches for the next quarter of this year. Our dedicated team in the United States under the direct management of HQ in Switzerland will be happy to help and answer any queries.

And this one was a head-scratcher. Because unless I forgot to wind my 8-Day clock and slept through the appointment of the dynamic, crack US based team, if it does exist it is a fairly recent development. Wanna' guess why? Because said team, as far as I can ascertain, are freshly minted (or in the process of being onboarded) to work for DOXA here in the US. And what does this mean? Well, to be clear I don't have an inside line, but I can only assume that it means that Mr. Edocs intends to try and open up retail markets. I also assume that means that he will be reaching out to his former running buddies from his time at Milus (the former, not the current), Versace and indirectly Hanhart. But keep in mind, while these folks have a lot of experience in retail - with big brands with deep pockets, this is going to be something entirely different. It doesn't mean that DOXA won't break into retail here in North America. It does mean that the key to the current business is something altogether different. And that is the direct to customer side of the business.

Now, if the belief is that they can hire some eager, young millennial to man the live chat function and reply to emails? Well, they're in for an interesting learning experience ; )

There is a reason why several bigger brands with larger budgets have tried and failed in the direct to customer business.  And it has NOTHING to do with the fact that they already have brick and mortar presences.  It has to do with the level of attention and interaction that many watch buyers, particularly those who are "Team DOXA", demand.  These are hard-core fans. Some are extremely knowledgeable about the product and watches in general. And they will want to sift through facts and vital statistics, down to the most granular.  And then you have the "Clive Cussler" tribe.  These are people who, in many instances, could not care less about what is in the watch, how it was made or how it stacks up.  They are drawn by their love of Clive Cussler's writing and his fictional hero, Dirk Pitt.  But as this is a very, very expensive purchase for these folks, they need reassurances, and hand-holding.  And believe me, that is more than fair. I needed to be walked very patiently through a $500 used camera purchase at Leica's Boston boutique (and thanks again guys!).

So I thought in the interest of helping lend understanding to some of the challenges that the new Team DOXA USA are going to face, I would share a "day in the life" from my DOXA days:

8:00 - log in to the sales tracking system and check to see if anything came in overnight.  3 sales in.  Check voice mail messages, read and respond to emails, and turn on the Live Chat function.  Email informs me that a customer who ordered a 1000T has changed his mind and wants to cancel the order.  Spoiler alert, 2 days later the same customer orders the same watch again.

8:00 - 8:15 - service issue, the customer has only just sent the watch in a week ago and wants to know what the status is.  Reach out to service department, and let customer know that I will follow-up as soon as I have an update, and gently remind them of the estimated time for service (4 - 6 weeks).  Spoiler alert - the watch is serviced and returned to the customer within 2 weeks of the service center receiving it.

8:20 - 9:15 - potential customer calls in.  Customer walks me through his entire collection (it sounds impressive) and then runs through every feature of the SUB 5000 wanting to know the pros and cons in comparison to his Sea Dweller.  The call seems like it is ready to conclude, and then he wants to haggle to get a 30% discount.  I explain to him that we cannot do that.  He then mentions a retail store in California that has assured him that they can get it to him for 30% off.  I encourage him to follow-up on that as I can't do it.  What customer X does not realize is that I am also responsible for retail, and at that moment we only have one retail partner in Texas who absolutely holds the line on pricing.  I make a mental note that I will probably be getting a call from a California based retailer within the next 36 hours, and I have a sneaking suspicion as to who it is.

9:20 - Spouse of devoted Clive Cussler fan wants to buy "Dirk Pitt's" watch for an anniversary present for her husband, and is concerned that it won't arrive in time.  I ask when the big day is (day after tomorrow).  I then explain that, unfortunately, as watches typically ship directly from Switzerland and as the watch has to go through US Customs, I cannot guarantee it will arrive in time. BUT, I will see what I can do and call her back no later than 12:00 noon.  I then reach out to our retail partner in Texas by email to see if they have the watch currently in stock.

9:55 - phone call: "I work for (insert formerly famous individual's name here) and I want to speak to the owner".  I explain that the owner is in Switzerland, but maybe there is something that I can do to help.  Long story short, at this point in time formerly famous individual was doing some sort of tv based promotional programming and would DOXA be interested in participating (i.e. for a fee as yet to be disclosed because it can only be discussed with the owner).  The caller is clearly working from a script in a boiler room and I suspect has never met formerly famous individual in her life.  But I also realize that we all have to work and I try to politely get her contact info so that the folks in Switzerland can call back.

10:35 - email back from our retail partner in Texas.  He has checked the inventory and the safe and they have 2 models that will fit the bill. Do we want to do a stock transfer so that we can sell it directly?  I tell him absolutely not, I want him to get the full sale and have an opportunity to develop a relationship with the customer. I call the customer back, give her the name of the store owner and his contact info., and let her know that we are here if there are any questions/concerns. I also ask her for her mailing address as we would like to send an anniversary gift. I then pack up two DOXA hats, and put the "away" message on the live chat, and let my colleague on the East Coast know that I am running to the post office - luckily a five minute walk.  Send the hats priority with a note.  Ship some books and marketing collateral to our partner in Texas.

12:05 - bit of a blow-up on the forum (Watch U Seek).  Log in and try to answer questions and concerns. This takes about 90 minutes.

2:05 - customer calls in, orders a GMT.  Short, sweet, easy.

2:55 - customer calls with service issue and wants to discuss the merits of the ETA 2824.  Get an RMA (repair authorization form) sent to the customer with directions for shipping, etc.

4:10 - prop-wrangler for a movie production company wants a watch for himself.  Promises that this will make it more likely that DOXA will be seen by the director or the actors and they will want to wear one. Been down this road before, it NEVER works out that way. I tell them we will think about it. Send message regarding request to HQ.

5:10 - as I am walking out of the office, the phone rings. A store in California wants to order a watch. I say no problem, they can either do it online or I can take a credit card over the phone. How much? I tell them the price. Pause, and then "don't we offer industry pricing, like Keystone (50% off)?". I explain that we can certainly discuss his store becoming an authorized retail partner, but that will take some time. This call goes on for about an hour, with the retail store owner getting crankier and angrier. "Don't you know who I am?!?" I explain that yes, I do. I've seen his picture in Watch Time and iW at in store promotions for some impressive brands. More silence. I explain that we do not sell individual watches for individual one-off sales as it is not fair to our retail partners who have invested in the brand. More silence. I cheerfully ask him if he would like to discuss becoming a retail partner? And... he hangs up.

So, Team DOXA USA, this is a small taste of a typical day. I know that the belief is that you simply need a call center with someone manning the phones. But it is so much more than that. DOXA SUB customers, for better or worse, are involved in a RELATIONSHIP with not only the watch, not only the online community, but with the brand. Think I'm full of it? I've seen some pretty interesting arm tattoos that say I'm right ; ).

When your customers are making such permanent statements about their love for your brand, you will need to be set-up to return that love.

Or as my friend, one of Severin's Children often says -

You can't email a handshake.

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