15,000 signed letters is service in the extreme

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Rachael Taylor is in awe of Christopher Ward’s penmanship.

Founder of the eponymous watch brand Christopher Ward has taken his customer service to the extreme, signing up to 15,000 letters by hand every year.

Ward insists on signing, by hand, a letter to go out with each purchase made on the company’s website, which sells British-designed Swiss-made watches direct to consumers. With 15,000 watches sold on the site annually, he figures that he personally signs an average of 40 or 50 letters a day.

And that’s just at non-peak times. Come Christmas, Ward says he got quite a shock when he found himself signing up to 200 letter a day; a full-time job in its own right.

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Obviously this can’t go on forever. Ward revealed to me this week that the company has recorded a 45 percent sales uplift between March and October compared with 2009. And looking back at financial data from the past three years, he expects this to continue.

Ward is fully aware that the sad day will come when he has to give up this beloved personal touch. But he hopes to keep it going in a smaller way, by continuing to sign letters for the brand’s serious fans: members of its online forum.

The only problem is Christopher Ward’s online forum has a huge following, so letter signing might still be a regular part of his day job.

In the past three years the forum has attracted 2,000 members, who spend their time online chatting about their love of watches and have so far created about 5,000 threads. The forum is independent, i.e. Christopher Ward hosts it but don’t use it as a marketing tool.

The users obviously love this outlet, and Christopher Ward loves them right back. The brand has even created watches in limited editions based on designs submitted by forum users twice in the past and is working on a third model.

Reflected in Christopher Ward’s soaring sales and its truly dedicated online following, it seems that adding the personal touch (quite literally in Ward’s case) still hits home with shoppers.

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