This salacious title all stemmed from a binge follow fest I went on in Instagram. I was bored of having to constantly refresh my feed to get new photos, I never see the same photos twice. This meant following enough interesting accounts that I could conceivably log in on average five times a day (is that a lot?) and wade through an overflowing waterfall of beautiful photos. It was an addiction that needed feeding. But whom was I going to follow?
I had always been a fan of the Suicide Girls, their interesting branch of tattoo, body-modification and alt-porn signifying a tribe of modern culture that I was not a part of but loved to peer into. A casual search on Instagram uncovered a treasure trove of accounts, photos and a world within a world. @SuicideGirls have not only a fantastic Social presence but each of the girls are mini Social superstars in their own right. They post beautiful photos to their adoring fans, engage in sharing eachother’s photos and promote the stuff they do on the side such as GogoBlackwater’s etsy shop. Where you can buy into her brand from a classic print to her range of T-shirts.
I can’t remember exactly how I found her, one of the girls may have tagged her in a photo but I eventually came across Vanessa Lake. I was in love. Her tattoos kicked ass and she rocked an awesome haircut. She also had an e-shop, it was too tempting to turn down. My Instagram addiction had spilled out into IRL and took the first bite out of my wallet, albeit a small one.
The waiting game. I’d like to say that I ran home every day after work to see if the postman had been by but after a couple of days I forgot all about my order. A month later, still no delivery. This was odd, perhaps it got lost in the post. It probably got lost in the post. I found my original order from Vanessa Lake’s e-shop and fired off a short e-mail.
Less than 30 minutes later I had a new inbox notification, it was a reply to my e-mail. Even better it was from Vanessa herself, surely she doesn’t actually reply directly to customers?! I was aware that there were probably quite lot of weirdos ordering stuff from these girls and I was clinging on to the hope that I wasn’t becoming one of them. Although the thought of Vanessa sending me a direct, personal e-mail did make my heart jump. I had become one of them.
Vanessa had unwittingly nailed the crucial elements to great customer service, make it personal and prompt.
Her e-mail addressed me by first name. She apologised for the lack of delivery. Immediately responding by sending me another print, first class. I don’t know if this was by accident or design but after her sign off a set of familiar words ran together, Sent from my iPhone. I found myself studying these words over and over again. Weaving layers of subtext into them. I imagined Vanessa strolling down the street in LA, getting a notification into her personal inbox and firing off a mail all to me.
Before I knew it a few days had rolled by and as I walked in the door one evening, a cylindrical tube lay waiting for me with a different-looking stamp on it. The kind of marking that can only denote an international delivery. It was here. Queue the kid opening his presents on Christmas morning moment.
Inside was indeed my print in all it’s glory. But there was more, taking me by surprise was a copy of Inked Magazine in which Vanessa had a photography shoot in, on which she had unbelievably signed my name on her photo. She was taking the meaning of personal to another level. That personal touch goes a long way in making a disgruntled customer into a life-long fan.