If you’re an apple cider vinegar fanatic, then you might know that this acidic elixir is best packaged in a glass bottle, not plastic, to preserve its taste and freshness.
Viva Naturals learned this the hard way when customers began asking the company to repackage its vinegar in eco-friendly glass containers. Instead of ignoring the feedback or filing it away for later, the Toronto-based company quickly sprang into action. The team began researching what competitors were doing, what type of bottles they should be using and collecting pricing quotes. By its next production run, not a single plastic bottle was in sight. “So happy to see the product is in a glass bottle now. Will be buying regularly,” raved one customer review.
Such quick change is possible thanks to a speedy internal approval process—and it applies to more than customer requests. When employees have an idea, there’s no long chain of command; they simply present it at an approval meeting where it either gets an immediate “yea” or “nay” (it’s usually a “yea”). This instills in employees a healthy motivation to always seek out ways to improve the health and wellness products the company manufactures and distributes, including popular items like coconut oil, chia seeds and fish oil.
“They’re free to decide however they like,” says Husayn Remtulla, the company’s president. “They have that room because we believe in hiring great people who we trust. And when they know they’re trusted, they take care of everything.”
As an online-based, direct-to-consumer brand, staying on top of customer feedback is critical to the company’s success. (When was the last time you bought something online without reading the reviews?) That’s why it had its own developers create proprietary software that scrapes the internet for all mentions of Viva Naturals—good and bad. Every single complaint that comes in gets reviewed, tracked and measured on a dashboard. As soon as a second complaint about a similar issue comes in, it gets escalated to the relevant teams, who assess and take action. “We’re obsessed with finding a better way,” says Remtulla, “and none of it would be possible if we weren’t listening to our customers.”
This “open ears” policy has paid off for Viva Naturals in a big way. Its 41 employees in Toronto are now working in a 21,000-sq.-foot office—quadruple the size of its previous digs. The company is gearing up for a huge expansion next year, which will see it double its product line and reach new global markets, building on its success reaching customers in Canada, the U.S. and China.
“We’re proud of the impact we’re having on our customers,” says Remtulla. “If we’re doing that right, then everything else follows.”