Zahra Khan is the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Hauterfly, an independent website that influences how urban Indian women spend their time and money online. She has spent over 15 years in the fashion, lifestyle, and luxury business. She has worked with some of the biggest names in national media, including the Times of India (where she was fashion and culture editor for Bombay Times), the luxury lifestyle magazine HELLO! and the TV news channel Times Now. She was also part of the core team that launched, marketed, and distributed the luxury brands Gucci, Jimmy Choo, and Bottega Veneta in India in the initial years.
Prior to launching Hauterfly, she was Director – Content & Communications for the fashion e-commerce website Stylista, where she helped build some much-needed visibility for the start-up through her vast network of industry connections. Her fashion and lifestyle writing continues to appear in publications like Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan, Mint Lounge, and DNA After Hours, among others.
Zahra’s core expertise lies in creating innovative content that female audiences can instantly connect with, apart from designing creative strategies for its promotion and amplification. Her strong knowledge of new media gives her a competitive edge. Zahra enjoys a healthy social media following and is a keen follower of lifestyle trends. Her interests include fashion, indie music gigs, and travel.
Hauterfly is a one-stop destination for all kinds of style and shopping advice and information. Through its premium and shoppable text and video content, Hauterfly helps women discover what’s new, hot and happening in fashion, beauty, and lifestyle across the country. Here is a warning for you – its content is absolutely addictive!
It was an honour to interview Zahra and receive amazing responses to the following questions.
What role has Customer Experience (CX) played in the journey of Hauterfly?
If content is king, then customer experience is queen. Things like our website’s UI design, aesthetics, as well as genuinely great stories and videos positively impact CX for digital publishers like us. Success in this industry is not only driven by giving customers great content, but also by giving them an exceptional experience across all touch points. And by efficiently using and analysing all the data at our disposal, we are better able to uncover insights that drive higher traffic, click-throughs, referrals, views, engagement, and more.
In your journey so far, which is the one CX initiative you had pioneered that you are proud of the most? Please tell us what problem you were trying to address and how you went about solving it.
From the moment we launched Hauterfly in 2015, we wanted to marry content + commerce to provide an exceptional experience for our readers. One of the reasons a lot of us love magazines is because of the superb curation of products and experiences. But once you close a magazine, your relationship with that experience ends there. We wanted to pick up where traditional magazines left off by creating a similar experience through our written content and product curation, and then add a layer of shoppability to it, thereby making the process from inspiration to transaction a seamless experience for the reader/shopper. No other publication in India was doing that before, and in a way, we pioneered the concept of shoppable content in the country.
Generally, teams are always caught up in initiatives that are already planned. In this endeavor to meet the existing KRAs, initiatives that could actually create a positive CX get missed out. How would you handle such a situation and align the team towards the CX goal?
The trick is to align teams to what your vision for the company is, and what they need to do in order to achieve it. When everyone knows exactly what they’re working towards, and all the qualitative and quantitative checkboxes you must tick to fulfil all goals, it’s hard to miss out on important things that positively impact CX.
What is your vision around CX at Hauterfly? How do you see it evolving in the next couple of years?
From the beginning, I was very sure about one thing: I did not want Hauterfly to be one more digital publisher claiming to offer a premium experience but then filling up a reader’s desktop or mobile screen with banner ads of all shapes and sizes, intrusive pop-up ads, or overlays that obscured the content. We wanted to go big on native advertising, and today it is the biggest source of revenue for us. Going forward, it’s important for us to continue giving our audience an exceptional reading/viewing experience of our content by giving them more of what they come to us for. For example, if you only like reading our beauty content, then how can we leverage technology to put more beauty content in front of you every time you visit? How can we personalise that experience to drive loyalty and repeat visits? These are some things we’re constantly thinking about. Smart digital publishers will always seek ways to improve their customer experience and not just their revenue because both are essential to their future and longevity.
What is your word of advice for businesses embarking this journey of customer-centricity?
Ask yourself how you can offer an experience — especially on mobile — that is immediate and personal; how can it make your customer’s life easier, or solve pain points in an effective manner? From macro behaviours like awareness, discovery, subscribing, to micro behaviours like sharing your content, how can you elevate the entire experience for your audience? It’s important here to understand that innovative technology alone won’t get you across the finish line; you also need to leverage the value or opportunity in the relationship you have with your audience to unlock new possibilities for your product.
Follow Zahra Khan on Twitter Follow @zahrakhan
Image courtesy: Bram Vanhaeren – HypeBea
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