Nnenna Okoye is a beauty enthusiast and CEO of online beauty retail store Youtopia beauty, which specializes in selling hard to find beauty products mainly for the African skin. She has bagged herself a beauty qualification and certification from a renowned beauty academy in London, where she specialized in a skincare and skin analysis.
In this interview. she talks about skin care basics and the importance of customer service and feedback in any business.
Do you collect customer feedback and why do you think this is essential for businesses?
Yes we do, receiving customer feedback enables us to fix issues and improve our products or services. When customers provide feedback, we are able to save money, time as well as improve relationships with customers. It is very important to know what your customers want. Not being in tune with your customers can be detrimental to a business. Feedback creates congruence between the way you think your customers feel about your product and what they really think about the product.
Dissatisfied customers will always spread the word about their bad experience. This is very harmful for a business as it affects the company’s reputation and has an effect on market share and profits.
How would you explain customer service and why is customer service important?
Customer service is the center of every business and is definitely the most important part of any business. It means creating a relationship of trust and loyalty beyond initial interaction. It is important for businesses to always put customers first; ensuring that we provide products and services that our customers need which ultimately enhances their daily lives.
Customer service is also very important as the feedback customers give others, could make or break a business. When a business gives their best to their customers, the brand will be remembered. So if they hear someone else talking about a particular service that a company offers, they are more likely to recommend the company with the best customer service and this has been the success story for youtopia beauty.
How would you rate customer service in Nigeria, and what is lacking?
Customer service in Nigeria can be improved greatly and I have noticed that the lower down the ladder you go, the worse it gets. Most business owners are more concerned with aesthetics and tend to overlook personnel development, forgetting that certain attitudes add to the general ambience of their work environment. Training one’s staff to understand the language of customer service is a need that cannot be overemphasized because it could very much affect the bottom line of a company.
What are your goals for improving your customers’ experience?
Having a wide range of products is highly important for me as an online beauty retailer because I want customers to be spoilt for choice. By regularly engaging in skincare consultations, recommending the right products tailored to each customer and having a user friendly website that is easy to navigate, helps to improve customers experience on a daily basis. Our customer centric focus basically channels our goals towards making the customers life easy and happy.
Have you had any negative experiences relating to customer experience?
Yes I’ve had an experience when a customer was not happy with our service. However we made sure that we apologized to the customer, offered her free consultations and discounts on the products she wanted, just to show our appreciation. We turned an unhappy customer into a very loyal customer.
How do you source for your products and why is this important?
I do a lot of Research because it helps me determine whether my services will satisfy my customers’ needs. It is important for online retail businesses to carry out research. It helps the business gain more insight about competitors, economic shifts and current beauty trends. I know exactly what I am looking for in a product and once I see a one with the right combination of ingredients, I simply go for it. I also attend a lot of beauty trade shows as it helps me discover new products and I get to meet top manufacturers and distributors in the beauty industry. It’s important for me to get the best products for our Skin.
What makes your products and services you render different from other beauty retailers?
Most of the products displayed and sold have been tried and tested by my team and I. It is very important that we know what works and what doesn’t. Customers deserve the best quality and only trusted products make the cut. Also good customer service sets Youtopia beauty apart from other businesses. Customer service is key in sustaining business growth especially knowing that a high percentage of consumers will always pay more for better customer experience. Our online platform also ensures that orders are processed correctly, transactions occur smoothly and customers are asked for feedback regarding purchased items.
What important existing beauty product or products are lacking in the Nigerian beauty market?
Sunscreen. Wearing sunscreen is so crucial and it benefits ones health in several ways. By protecting the skin from harmful radiation from the sun, sunscreen reduces the risk for cancer, premature aging and sunburns.
We live in Africa, most people are exposed to the sun constantly especially our young children, therefore it is so important to protect our skin. We can enhance the protection of our skin by choosing the right sunscreen, using it as directed and wearing it regularly. I would love to see more sunscreen options available for adults and children in the Nigerian beauty market.
What is it about Youtopia Beauty that keeps your customers engaged?
When customers patronize Youtopia beauty, they have so much choice and are guaranteed genuine products. We also have multiple sales and distribution channels; a customer can order online or come into the store. Again, we make life easy for our customers.
Moreover, the online beauty store also offers a Free online Virtual Consultation. I introduced the skincare consultation service to help as many people as possible suffering with skin problems like acne, hyperpigmentation and others. Severe skin problems lead to low self-esteem and lack of confidence. Therefore, the aim of the online consultation is to reach a broader audience; enabling people from different parts of Nigeria and Africa as a whole, connect with Youtopia beauty.
What challenges do you face as a business and how did you overcome/ are overcoming them?
When Youtopia beauty launched last year, I realized that some customers prefer the istore experience. They require the advice of sales assistants. These shoppers want to touch, see, and test products personally; they want to be sure of what they are buying, they want more than product descriptions. Unfortunately, online shopping is not able to allow them do that, in order to serve these customers, a physical store was opened in Lagos Nigeria.
Moreover, one of the biggest challenges we are currently facing is the devaluation of the Naira and constant fluctuations of foreign exchange. Most of our products are sourced abroad which means our costs have significantly increased and our margins reduced. However, we had to increase the prices on our products to enable us manage the situation. We have also used this “opportunity” to discover more Nigerian brands and we are currently in contact with some local companies, who are creating products that can compete with household international brands.
What are your long term goals for Youtopia Beauty?
I want people to get the best out of their skin; I want to make sure people are confident in their skin. For this reason, I will continue selling products that solve skin problems to help people overcome challenges that they never thought would be possible. We plan to produce our own line of targeted skincare products specifically designed for black skin that will be distributed across Africa and the rest of the world. Youtopia Beauty also aims to reach as many women as possible through the expansion of online and physical beauty stores across African countries.