It was months into the pandemic, and we were all stuck inside. Wintertime in Wisconsin can be beautiful, with its snowy scenes and frozen lakes that seem to stretch on forever. But this winter was different. It felt cold, dark, and lonely without any chance of seeing friends and family. After several months of watching movies and baking cookies, I realized I needed a pastime. Something to keep my hands and my mind occupied.
I’d always toyed with the idea of knitting. When I was a child, my grandma went everywhere with her knitting needles and a ball of yarn, and she could carry on a whole conversation without missing a stitch. But knitting was scary to me. For one thing, I had no idea how to hold a pair of knitting needles, and the idea of figuring out how to knit and purl on my own was overwhelming. If ever there was a chance to learn something new, it was now, I reasoned.
But where to start? Well, when you can’t go to a class in person, you go to Google. I searched “knitting for beginners” and a video tutorial from Wool and the Gang popped up. I watched as a woman with a friendly voice and a ball of delicious-looking yarn walked through each step. After knitting along with their tutorials, the mystery of stitching started making sense. I worked on more complicated patterns as I gained confidence, and began making big smushy blankets to warm up through the cold winter.
The idea of creating genuinely helpful content is nothing new. After all, that’s why cookbooks came to be. But as customer expectations continue to rise, more and more brands are harnessing the power of content to create better customer experiences. Good CX is often the thing that sets a brand apart—our research shows 75 percent of customers say they’re willing to buy more from companies that give them a good customer experience. And sometimes, a good customer experience means teaching without trying to sell.
Granny chic in a virtual world
Founded in London, England in 2008, Wool and the Gang is credited with coining the term “granny chic". Gone are the days of frumpy designs and scratchy sweaters—Wool and the Gang’s line of sustainable and upcycled yarns have cheeky names, like their bestseller Crazy Sexy Wool. To get a younger generation of would-be crafters into the world of yarn, the company creates easy-to-follow patterns, all-in-one knit kits, and a library of video tutorials to help along the way.
“We are passionate about bringing people into the world of crafting, and we’re aiming for total wool domination, so a huge part of that is making it accessible,” says Anna Veglio-White, head of Brand at Wool and the Gang. “We write out all of our patterns (no knit code!) and have step-by-step tutorials for almost every stitch and technique we use, so you can watch along and learn with us every stitch of the way. Our audience is mainly newbie knitters, so this is a huge part of welcoming them into our Gang.”
We are passionate about bringing people into the world of crafting, and we’re aiming for total wool domination, so a huge part of that is making it accessible.” - Anna Veglio-White
Stitching together a community
Keeping up with customers during the pandemic was no easy feat, so companies got creative—offering cooking classes by Zoom, online orders for curbside pickup, and creating how-to tutorial content. Helping customers help themselves can create a good experience, right from the start. And when the pandemic shut people off from each other, Wool and the Gang found new ways to connect with its community of knitters around the globe.
“During the first lockdown, we started a Stitch Surgery Instagram Live every Saturday,” says Veglio-White. “As lots of people turned to crafting during times of enforced confinement, we wanted to not only connect our global community, but offer real-time assistance. Our Gang could either send in questions beforehand or ask them live and quickly learn how to fix simple mistakes.”
Helping customers help themselves can create a good experience, right from the start.
Wool and the Gang also uses Zendesk to create a rich library of how-to content, with everything from care instructions to guides on cable knitting. And as people went into lockdown, Wool and the Gang put emphasis on customer experience. “We’re really happy with Zendesk as a partner,” says Veglio-White. “During the pandemic, we found ourselves communicating a lot more frequently and transparently with our customers. With so much uncertainty, we wanted to make sure we were always upfront with our community. We really found that people don’t need you to have all the answers, they just need to know that you’re there, you’re listening and you’ll share updates when you can.”
"People don’t need you to have all the answers, they just need to know that you’re there, you’re listening and you’ll share updates when you can."
It’s the real, human connections that matter, now more than ever. When we’re separated by distance, it’s the thread that holds us together.