The Gear Connection
Backcountry Gearheads are our dedicated team of outdoor experts. They go above and beyond to provide a personalized service to ensure you get the right gear for what you need—whether you’re bagging 8,000 meter mountains or just starting out at the local crag.
In this series, we’re exploring some of the ways their tireless dedication has helped you get out there. First up is Zinaida Bougri, a Gearhead Account Manager who recently showed one Backcountry customer that our after-sales service goes far beyond the average follow-up call.
Your phone rings and it’s an unknown number. It’s either a robot pushing life insurance, or a salesperson in a call center at the other side of the country. You hesitate and wonder whether you should answer. For Tiff, a Backcountry customer in Boston, it was a call she’d soon be glad she took.
Last year, Zinaida Bougri was making her routine round of phone calls to customers who’d recently made purchases. It was a standard check-in, just to make sure everything was working out with the goggles she’d bought. But when Tiff answered, Zinaida could hear her telling friends that it was probably “some telemarketer calling”.
“As soon as I said I was from Backcountry, she was noticeably shocked” explains Zinaida. “We proceeded to talk about the gear she’d picked up, and I learned that she’s about my age, is super passionate about snowboarding, and just starting to rock climb.” After 10 minutes of conversation, it transpired that Zinaida’s parents also live in the same part of Boston as Tiff. That settled it—next time she was in town, they’d head out for a climb together.
The pair met up about a week later to climb at the local gym. They got along famously, and even headed to a local brewery afterwards to grab lunch and hang out some more.
“It’s amazing how many customers think I’m simply trying to sell them something” laughs Zinaida. “The Gearhead experience is a hybrid—it’s a way of bridging the gap between a store visit and shopping online. You get the human connection that’s missing from so many other online retailers, and I think that really surprises a lot of people.”
About a week after Tiff and Zinaida climbed together in Boston, Tiff got in touch for some advice on winter boots. They got to talking about the best parts of Southern Utah and, before they knew it, flights were booked and Tiff came out to visit Zinaida for a trip to the desert—and even had her first experience camping out under the stars.
“Never in my life did I think I would meet up with a customer service representative from halfway across the country” says Tiff. “It’s been so much fun. Not only do I have a dedicated person to contact with any and all of my outdoor-related questions, but I now have a friend in Utah, too.”
Making sure you’re satisfied with your purchases is a big part of what Gearheads do, but they aren’t just there to check that you’re happy. No matter what level of advice you’re looking for, there’ll always be a friendly expert ready to help you make the right gear choices for your needs.
“When it comes to outdoor gear, there’s just so much of it out there” says Zinaida. “Take trad climbing gear for example. How are you supposed to buy that if you’re just starting out? You’d have to do so much research on your own, so we save people a ton of time. We can instantly say: ‘I use this’, or ‘I love this’, or ‘I wish I didn’t buy this’. It’s really helpful to get that personal experience, and it also means customers trust us—and most importantly—trust what they’re buying.”
Zinaida has worked at Backcountry for four years in various roles, but for her, the Gearhead position is her most fulfilling yet. The ability to connect with customers and help them achieve their goals is a big motivator, plus many keep her involved in their adventures long after they’ve taken delivery of their new gear.
“A few months ago I spoke with a lady who needed advice for an upcoming trip to Chile—she was heading out on a dream adventure to Antarctica. I helped her select the right gear for the trip, then a few weeks later, I got a call: it was Liz, phoning to let me know that they’d set off on the cruise to Antarctica, and that she’d send photos. Not long after, a snow globe souvenir arrived in the mail all the way from the South Pole.
“It’s pretty wild. I never thought I’d get to have these kinds of experiences with a customer services role. I actually get to connect with these people, and work with them to improve their time spent doing what they love.”
Connect With a Gearhead
Whatever your next adventure might be, we can help you make the right decisions to outfit and enable your best moments in the outdoors. Don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions you might have—we’re here for you.
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