How Modern, AI-Driven CRMs Power Intelligent Customer Experiences

How Modern, AI-Driven CRMs Power Intelligent Customer Experiences TW

If the events of this year taught those of us in the customer experience world anything, it’s that we can never stop innovating to be more customer-centric. We can’t hope that we will “get by” just a little longer with legacy CRMs and support tickets. We must embrace change and adapt quickly to meet today’s consumer expectations for a smart, omnichannel experience powered by a modern CRM—the key to scaling CX, meeting explosive growth, and adapting to change.

Some argue that 2020 has signaled the decline of ticket-based support systems. Why has the pandemic emerged as the straw that finally broke the legacy CRM camel’s back? The data tells the tale. Recent analysis of e-commerce trends shows a staggering 10 years of growth in just 3 months at the beginning of 2020. And that was just the early stages of lockdown. As chaos and uncertainty took hold, CX teams were inundated with customer calls and support tickets as they struggled to keep up with questions, changing plans, requests for assistance, and the demands of going direct-to-consumer.

How Modern, AI-Driven CRMs Power Intelligent Customer Experiences Inline

But that’s only where the challenges begin. 2020 also forced organizations to accelerate digital transformation by 6 years to adapt to the “new normal” of stay at home orders, remote workforces, supply chain disruptions, shipping delays, and the economic slowdown. Along with this digital transformation, many CX leaders are realizing they need to follow the lead of the direct-to-consumer disruptor brands that are differentiating themselves, and thriving, by delivering a modern consumer experience.

The DTC Disruptor’s Secret Weapon: Intelligent CX Focused on the Whole Customer

As the pandemic took hold, most direct-to-consumer innovators were many steps ahead and better prepared to deal with the curveballs 2020 delivered. These businesses started with the right culture, philosophy, and customer-centric CRM platform. They built their business to connect with customers at scale. A great example of this is The Farmer’s Dog, a company dedicated to delivering safe and healthy pet food, who totally nailed the customer-first approach. Their customer service agents connect on an emotional level with their buyers using whatever channel the buyer selects to educate and foster authentic relationships. This takes a level of insight tickets can’t provide.

UNTUCKit is another great example of a customer-centric brand. They ensure their stellar shopping experience is supported across every customer touchpoint, especially support. Team members have a virtually seamless process for seeing customer history, gathering the right data points, and resolving customer inquiries.

What Makes a Modern CRM?

If tickets aren’t the ticket, what is the secret to direct-to-consumer success today?

Visibility to Care for the Whole Customer

Now more than ever, customers feel they’ve lost control and trust. Zappos and Amazon have set the bar high with proactive, rapid, data-driven customer experiences. Modern CRMs can help brands rebuild that trust through data-driven conversations informed by a view of the whole customer. Agents must have complete visibility across systems to understand the consumer and their entire situation. But with a plethora of data, and a growing number of channels to monitor, we need AI to unlock these insights. Efficiency is the name of the game in customer service, and AI is a true force multiplier, enabling customer service teams to work more efficiently and focus on the customers who need the most help. Contact centers using ticket-based systems, while relying on siloed customer data, simply cannot deliver the type of experience customers demand today.

Omnichannel Customer Experience

Omnichannel support means a customer can connect with your business anywhere, anytime, and with any method—or even with multiple methods or channels.  If a customer wants to reach out via email and then switch to chat, so be it! It’s the experience a new generation of consumers expect. This requires companies to break down silos and integrate their data for a picture of the whole customer across channels. Consumers must be able to switch channels mid-conversation and leverage the best channel for each conversation’s purpose. Our research shows that nearly 90% of customers are frustrated when they can’t contact a company on the channel they prefer. That shouldn’t be a surprise—we all know customers want what they want.

Omnipresent, Guided Self-Service

Just as customers expect more tailored and personal communications, they also demand self-service options for immediate resolution. As our new AI e-book explains, AI is being rapidly adopted in contact centers to act as the first line of defense, amplify performance, and create strong efficiencies. The volume, velocity, and variety of customer data today overwhelm organizations without the technology, processes, and operational capabilities to integrate siloed data and personalize communications. AI is transforming customer experiences, and for good reasons.

Happy Agents, Happy Customers

Research shows companies with excellent CX have employees that are 1.5X more engaged than employees at companies with less satisfactory CX; additionally, companies with highly engaged employees outperform their competitors by 147%. AI is also vastly improving agent productivity and reducing churn for contact center leaders. AI can have a dramatic impact on the customer experience and satisfaction, which in turn makes the employee experience far more interesting and exciting.

AI makes jobs more meaningful and less frustrating by deflecting much of the grunt work and alleviating manual and repetitive tasks agents hate. Agents don’t need to waste time transferring and redirecting customers. Rather, conversations can be automatically classified and routed to the appropriate agent for a speedy and personalized resolution. Not only will this reduce wait and handle times, but it will also maximize team capacity by directing real-time conversation traffic to the right person at the right time.

Realizing the Intelligent Customer Experience

You need a modern CRM to help you execute your digitally advanced, customer-first approach. Leading contact centers have indicated that integrated platforms and data analytics are important in gathering insights into the customer journey. Enter the Intelligent Customer Experience, a culmination of all of the improvements we just discussed.

Intelligent CX means leveraging a modern customer-centric approach and advanced AI to create a smarter, faster, and more enjoyable customer experience. It’s about delivering results fast using the power of AI and data from all channels, whether that be via a call, chat, email, tweet, or all of the above. Your customer service agents will feel more informed since you’ll be empowering them to provide real value, not just closing a ticket or processing a transaction. AI uses context and conversations to make it easy for customers to get help, while allowing agents to provide more personalized service at scale.

We’ve seen dramatic changes since March of this year that have accelerated every aspect of digital transformation. We recently launched Kustomer IQ for omnichannel deflection, sentiment analysis, and intelligent routing. Check out more details here.

Customer Care Delivered in a Remote Environment

The pandemic has certainly upended the notion of the traditional 9-5 office. Companies are racing to adapt to a distributed work model, and technology is the biggest driver in adjusting to operating remotely. The next generation of customer service CRM does more than just manage support conversations. It enables the delivery of the customer experience from anywhere, through remote work orchestration and oversight. Taming the CX frankenstack is another step toward easing the remote transition. Modern CRMs must allow organizations to streamline integration of platforms, data sources, and channels to make remote work.

Collaboration is key to delivering an exceptional experience, so the modern CRM should provide a platform for customer service representatives to work together, to deliver service and support more efficiently and effectively. Collaboration between agents enhances the quality of answers provided to the customer by leveraging subject matter experts. At Kustomer, we believe the collective knowledge of experts makes your customer service organization stronger overall. In fact, we’ve embraced the use of Collaborators, users from other teams outside of support that can view conversations, customer history, and searches. By setting up Collaborators, other team members or departments can help you solve customer questions with internal notes and @mentions, see customer feedback, and more.

The Demise of the Dreaded Ticket

2020 will be the beginning of the end for legacy CRMs and transactional ticketing systems that were built to manage cases, not customers. Personalized support has been a key tenet of the business-and-buyer relationship from day  one. Every customer wants to feel like they are known, respected, appreciated, and well-served. They certainly don’t want to be insulted by an interrogation. Traditional ticketing systems will be left behind, as customers expect more and the world continues to converge quickly.

Intelligent, modern CRMs enable true connections to be made with customers in their greatest times of need, by making it easy for agents to come from a place of understanding and context, consistently. This requires unlocking the value of data shared between different teams (such as marketing and customer service), creating new roles to act on the data, and leveraging new and modern technology.

Download the AI for CX e-book to learn more, and take a look at how Kustomer can provide the tools you need for exceptional DTC customer service.

 

Why AI and Automation Are a Man’s Best Friend

Why AI and Automation are a Man’s Best Friend Twitter

We all know that customer experience is becoming more important than price and product when it comes to loyalty. And the businesses who prioritize customer experience are the ones that are succeeding. The question becomes, when that awesome customer experience begins to pay off, how can you continue to execute on a high level of service without hiring an army of people, or sacrificing the human touch? AI and automation can help you scale.

Make the Agent’s Job Fulfilling

Many folks still think of AI as a threat to their jobs….as robots taking over the world! Despite the doomsday rhetoric, the fact is that current day AI can actually make customer service professionals’ jobs less time consuming and simultaneously more fulfilling.

Oftentimes the most tedious tasks on an agent’s plate are manual and repetitive, and may not require human intervention. Luckily AI can automate much of this work. For example, when an agent needs to initiate a return, they may be talking to a customer in one system, looking up a customer’s order history in another, and using a third system to create a return management authorization (RMA). A fourth system may send a message to the person who handles those returns asking to expedite for an important customer. With AI and automation, a single button click could start the RMA process, create the shipping label and notify a team to expedite.

Let Customers Help Themselves

Businesses also have the opportunity to provide more self-service opportunities with the help of AI. Think about chatbots. They are growing in popularity with both businesses and consumers, and can be used to collect initial information and direct customers to a help center if human intervention is not needed. While there is always fear of losing personalization when using AI and automation, with the right data, businesses can actually do the opposite. For instance, if a business leverages customer data properly, chatbots could ask personalized questions based on an individual’s purchase or browsing history. These interventions save time for both the customer and agent, and increase the time spent on the actual issue rather than information gathering and low-level support.

Superpower Your Agents

Beyond freeing up agent time, AI can also be used to arm support agents with all the information they need to quickly and accurately service their customers. AI support technology can suggest messages to send to customers based off of historical conversations and customer attributes, which can become more accurate and personalized over time in conjunction with a machine learning model. Sentiment analysis is another benefit of AI technology. By looking at the words and tone in a customer’s messages, the technology can identify how satisfied, or dissatisfied, a customer is, and escalate the issue accordingly.

How We Can Help

For better or worse, solving a customer’s problem is no longer the only job of a customer service organization. Customer service is increasingly being thought of as a revenue driver and not a cost center, and customer service insights are being leveraged beyond the support organization to inform larger business decisions. Keeping a consistently high level of support as you scale your business could be the difference between rocketship growth and stagnancy.

All of this makes finding the perfect customer service software solution imperative. Delivering on growing customer expectations at scale, whether that means personalized and proactive support or true omnichannel experiences, is not optional. With Kustomer’s customer service CRM platform, businesses are able to have a single view of the customer journey, seamless omnichannel communications, and the ability to automate complex business processes and knowledge management.

Download our Scalability Guide to learn more.

Download Guide

 

3 Keys to Modernizing the Customer Experience

3 Keys to Modernizing the Customer Experience Twitter

Customers are gravitating towards brands that fulfill great experiences, leaving those that don’t in the dust. With this in mind, brands are beginning to realize that customer experience is directly tied to their revenue. According to a 2016 study by Forrester, superior CX drives superior revenue growth in industries where customers can easily switch to competitors that deliver a differentiated customer experience. Since then, 81% of organizations cite CX as a competitive differentiator and research continues to support the notion that more organizations are leveraging CX to gain an edge against their competition. By ignoring CX, brands are missing out on market share and revenue.

In this blog post, we share three ideas and concepts that will help you modernize customer experience and transform your CX organization from a cost center into a profit center.

Take a True Omnichannel (NOT Multichannel) Approach to Customer Experience

Many believe that the concept of omnichannel dates back to 2003, when Best Buy created a strategy that centered around the customer in order to compete with Walmart’s electronics department. At this time, retailers were starting to see online sales grow at a fast pace, especially for items that didn’t require you to touch them to feel confident in a purchase decision, such as electronics. All that was needed when it came to shopping for consumer electronics were specifications and dimensions of the products. Best Buy knew that since they could not compete with Walmart’s low prices, they would have to take another approach, one that focused on the customer experience both in-store and online, while providing superior post-sales support. This is where the concept of “customer centricity” was born, which is at the core of an omnichannel approach to customer engagement.

So what does a true customer-centric omnichannel approach look like in 2020? Let’s start by first explaining the concept of multichannel, which is often mislabeled as omnichannel.

In the diagram above, we have the typical multichannel model of customer engagement, where the customer reaches out through the channels of their choice. Each individual engagement becomes a “ticket” or “case”, with different customer support agents tackling each issue. This creates three main problems:

1. Each agent fails to recognize that their colleagues are working on the same issue, which in turn becomes an unnecessary expenditure of resources for the company.
2. The customer experiences inconsistencies with how their issue is solved, as each agent may have their own way of wording or solving the issue.
3. Unless the agents recognize that these tickets are from the same customer and take steps to merge them, reporting will be skewed, as there may be different response times, resolutions and CSAT scores for each ticket.

Now let’s take a look at what a true omnichannel customer engagement model looks like:

In this model, we are still meeting customers when and where they want to be engaged, yet on the back-end there is one major difference: each individual engagement shows up as one conversation for a single agent to respond to. This sole difference alleviates the three problems outlined above.

So how does a true omnichannel approach help turn your CX organization from a cost center into a profit center? According to Aberdeen Group, companies with extremely strong omnichannel customer engagement see a 9.5% year-over-year increase in annual revenue, compared to 3.4% for weak omnichannel companies. Similarly, strong omnichannel companies see a 7.5% year-over-year decrease in cost per contact, compared to a 0.2% year-over-year decrease for weak companies.

Differentiate by Appealing to Your Customers’ Emotions

Daniel Kahneman, psychologist, economist and winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics, introduced the idea of a dichotomy between two modes or systems of thought. “System 1” is fast, instinctive, unconscious, automatic and emotional; “System 2” is slower, more deliberative, calculated and logical. In these modes of thought, “System 1” dominates “System 2”, as it takes much less effort, making it the default system.

If you have ever worked in customer support, you will quickly notice that some customers may be disrespectful and downright nasty. But it’s important to note that none of these outbursts are personal attacks and are oftentimes the expression of frustration when it comes to solving their problems. This is an example of “System 1” thinking and the impact of this “System 1” thinking from your customers is a powerful double-edged sword. The reward or punishment for solving their issue is magnified by social media and online reviews. As Spiegel Research Center finds, nearly 95% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase. Each interaction will either create brand advocates for your company that will help bring in more revenue, or brand detractors that will bring negative financial repercussions. That being said, we can create more brand advocates if we meet customer expectations.

This begs the question: what does the modern day customer expect? Nowadays, customers expect their problems to be resolved quickly, effortlessly and empathetically. Essentially they want to talk to an agent that is a “System 2” thinker.

As a leader in your organization, it is imperative to set up an infrastructure that is designed to take into account the emotional component of the customer experience. Fortunately, modern day artificial intelligence (AI) methods such as machine learning, natural language processing (NLP), predictive analytics, deep learning, and multi-dimensional neural network mappings can be leveraged. These sophisticated technologies allow for functionalities such as customer sentiment analysis and automatic language detection. By considering how your customers are feeling, your organization can take appropriate action to ensure they leave the interaction happy and on their way to becoming brand advocates.

Streamline and Automate Customer Experience Business Processes

In a traditional CX technology ecosystem, customer data is siloed. Each individual system may require manual updates as agents work through each ticket or case. Reports will need to be pulled from separate systems in an attempt to get a 360 degree view of the CX organization. In this ecosystem of siloed customer data, we are not only pulling agents away from being in front of customers by requiring manual data entry, we are also compromising the integrity of our reporting and visibility into the CX organization. Ultimately, this is hindering our ability to be agile and adjust to changing customer expectations.

The solution to these problems caused by fragmentation is to consolidate your customer data into a customer experience platform that is capable of taking all of your customer data and making it viewable, searchable, actionable and reportable. Notice we are not talking about a helpdesk product, but rather a next-generation platform for customer experience, support and service.

With all customer data under one roof, business process automations can be leveraged to their full potential. Automations are no longer limited within each individual silo, but instead can impact the entire CX ecosystem.

As businesses are seeing a bigger impact on their revenue directly from customer experience, CX leaders need to ensure that their technology is up-to-date in order to stay competitive. The days of customers tolerating poor experience are over. Think about it—your closest competitor is just a 15-second google search away. As they should, customers expect more from us. Fortunately technology exists today to modernize your customer experience, build more brand advocates, and ultimately turn your CX organization from a cost center into a profit center. It’s time to take a good look at your organization and ask the tough question: is my CX organization built to deliver a modern day customer experience that will turn brand detractors into brand advocates?

 

How DTC Brands Deliver Standout, Personalized Online Experiences

How DTC Brands Deliver Standout, Personalized Online Experiences Twitter

Direct-to-consumer (DTC) businesses are upending entire industries and putting customers first. By cutting out the middleman and selling directly to the consumer, rather than through a retailer or third party, DTC businesses are exploring new ways to reach consumers with amazing and transformative customer experiences. But how do they do it?

Know the Customer History

Imagine having a conversation with a friend, but not being able to remember anything about that friend, or any interactions you’ve ever had with them previously. It would be difficult to have a truly personal or meaningful conversation. That’s how traditional retailers have historically interacted with consumers, with a large blind spot around customers’ preferences and behaviors.

Digital-first brands don’t have to deal with this problem. Every aspect of the online journey can be adjusted to meet customer needs, and with the right technology can be available to staff in a single view. You’ll be able to know a customer’s preferences, buying history, sentiment, previous interactions with the brand, status of their orders, even their preferred channels of communication. You’ll no longer be interacting with Customer #45634, but with a valued human being who feels heard and appreciated.

In-Action With Glossier

Hyper-popular beauty and skincare provider Glossier makes buying their products as intuitive and personal as possible. To replace the experience of trying on makeup at a counter in a department store, Glossier creates an immersive, digital journey. Customers can get a personal consultation from a member of the gTeam, who is prepared to provide all the support they might need over the channel of their choice, and has all the necessary context and information about their shopping history.

Solving for Decision Paralysis

The spread of e-commerce has created a paradox. In the heyday of big box stores, a huge selection of products and styles used to add value. Customers did most of their shopping in a physical space, as it was still faster, cheaper, and more accessible than shopping online. A large number of stores and a wide selection meant customers were more likely to shop and find what they were looking for. However, the near-infinite amount of choices provided by Amazon and other big box stores and marketplaces has flipped this notion on its head.

Now, customers are overwhelmed with choices. If you search the word “soap” on Amazon, you get over 60,000 results. Picking a simple product becomes paralyzing as you try to weigh price, benefits, ingredients, and other factors all at once. And having your product feedback heard or incorporated can feel hopeless.

Products Customers Want and Need

Focusing on a few good items done right, at a fair price point, is key to tapping into modern shopping trends, and encourages brand loyalty and repeat business by making products that become an essential part of customers’ lives.

Some high growth DTC brands, such as hair care company Prose and dog food company The Farmer’s Dog, even incorporate customer feedback into their product. Through proactively seeking feedback from customers, these leading brands ensure that both their products and service are exceptional, and they keep their customers coming back time and time again.

Additionally, DTC brands are able to use customer data to inform business decisions. If you document why customers are reaching out, you can use this information to optimize UX, make product or fulfillment tweaks, or even open a new store location.

Want to learn more about how high-growth DTC brands are standing out from the competition through CX? Download the guide here.

Download Guide

 

What Consumers Expect from Retail Customer Service

Modern day consumers don’t think of relationships with retail brands as simply transactional — they see brands as an extension of their identity. That’s why building relationships with customers, and treating them as part of the brand, is imperative for business success.

According to a new Kustomer survey, nearly eight in ten Americans say that they wouldn’t shop with a retailer ever again if they encountered bad customer service.

From social media to old fashioned emails, Americans contact retailers 125 times a year – that’s every three days. The survey of 2,000 Americans asked their thoughts and opinions on customer service practices and experiences – and found that Americans aren’t that forgiving when it comes to bad customer service experiences.

In order to remedy their relationship with retailers, 82 percent of respondents are in agreement that retailers should proactively reach out when there is a problem with an order. Those most likely to agree with this sentiment were those aged 55 to 64 and those 65 and older – at a whopping 90 and 94 percent, respectively.

One point of contention between generations, is whether retailers should know their consumers and personalize their interactions with them. Of those age 25 to 34, three-quarters said they expect this personalized communication from retailers, whereas those 65 and older disagreed with this notion at nearly 40 percent.

“It’s clear that the digital age has transformed what the modern day consumer expects from retailers,” says Brad Birnbaum, CEO of Kustomer. “The younger generation not only wants instant resolution to their problems, they also demand personalized interactions and availability across all channels. Retailers must put a customer service strategy in place, and leverage the right tools, to deliver on these expectations.”

This older generation also disagrees with the age-old expression that “the customer is always right” – at 58 percent; but over half of those 65 and older, get very frustrated when they have to repeat information to customer service – that’s 10 percent more likely than those aged 18 to 34.

Sixty-six percent of those aged 25 to 44, however, do agree that “the customer is always right.”

Perhaps speaking to this expression, over half of respondents said they would post an online review after a bad customer service experience, and another four in ten (41 percent) would take to social media to complain.

In order to avoid the hassles of bad customer service experiences, 74 percent said they would spend more money just to get better customer service.

“Customer service can impact business success from end to end,” says Birnbaum. “Delivering a bad experience could not only mean a lost customer, but also a PR nightmare. Conversely, by providing exceptional service, customers are willing to spend more time and money with your brand, building brand loyalty and lifelong customer relationships.”

Read our retail report to access the full survey results, including insights on the importance of real-time support, personalization and omnichannel service.


Read Report

 

Customer Service for the Digital Age

Customer Service for the Digital Age Blog Header

From transactions to experiences, see how today’s customers are changing customer service

The digital age has forever changed the way companies do business. Direct-to-Consumer brands now make up 40 percent of the manufacturers, cutting out middlemen and offering personalized, nimble services and products to their customers. Amazon has redefined our notions of speed, convenience and selection, and companies like Airbnb, WeWork and Car2Go have revolutionized the economy allowing users to exchange the downsides of ownership for the upsides of sharing.

Meanwhile, companies like Birchbox and StitchFix have built up sizeable customer bases—and built-in loyalty—through subscription box services, and companies from Glossier to Parachute are joining the $50 billion pop-up industry, creating customer experiences that unite brick-and-mortar shopping experiences with the nimbleness of online shopping. The result? A business landscape where convenience, personalized service and customer experience are king.

New Generation, New Customer Expectations

But the digital revolution has affected more than just the way that businesses interact with customers. It has also changed what customers expect from businesses. More than three quarters of Americans now own smartphones and communicate regularly through social media platforms like WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook. Modern-day consumers live in a world of interconnected platforms, instant communication, and personalized experiences—and they’ve come to expect the same from brands. And, as millennials become key customers and Generation Y gives way to Generation Z, expectations for quick, easy and customer-centric customer service will only grow.

Already, nine out of ten customers say they prefer to contact a company through messaging, 70 percent of customers say speed a top priority in their shopping experience, and 64 percent say that reducing the effort it takes to engage with a business is a key concern. Ultimately, however, the millennial customer is looking for more than just a product—however good it is, or how speedily it’s delivered. They’re looking for a customer experience, a lifelong interaction with a brand that is more about relationships than transactions.

Out With Old Customer Models, in With the New

In this new business landscape, businesses cannot rely on old models of customer interaction and support. To survive in the world of Amazon and eBay, where inventory is endless and speed is the rule, they must distinguish themselves by finding proactive and creative ways to build long-term relationships with customers over time. And to do this, they have to find new ways to identify and track the changing needs, experiences and expectations of their customers, providing fully-integrated, personalized, 360-degree support over the customer’s lifetime.

Moving from Transactions to Relationships

To provide this kind of support, companies must stop seeing customer interaction as a transaction and start seeing it as an ongoing conversation. Customers are not reducible to tickets, or to emails in a queue. They are complex human beings with a variety of motivations, and they bring a unique history to every customer service interaction.

Unfortunately, many companies are still relying on the old model of customer service, where they treat each new interaction as a separate event handled by different people across a variety of siloed platforms. In this model, there’s no way to store, share and track the customer’s history and past conversations, so customers are forced to repeat their issue to each new service agent. And this is no way to build a relationship!

Imagine if every time you met a new person, you had to tell them your name and life history all over again. It would be exhausting and insulting—and yet, it’s what companies expect customers to do each time they call with a question or problem. No wonder customers rank having to repeat information as their number one customer service complaint!

Know Your (Whole) Customer

To attract, satisfy and keep new customers, companies need to know who their customers are, where they’ve been and what they need. Understanding the context of a customer’s call—from the number of times they’ve ordered a certain product to the issues and conversations they’ve had with agents in the past—allows companies to deliver a more efficient, more personalized, and more proactive service.

Creating an omnichannel system that collects all of the customer’s history in one place transforms the customer service interaction, allowing agents to quickly identify problems, suggest solutions, and preempt future issues. Seeing that a customer has a long history of buying a certain product, for example, can allow an agent to suggest other products they might enjoy, while knowing what prompts a customer to engage with customer service can help the company direct them toward the best platform for resolving their issues. This approach doesn’t just save time by eliminating the need for unnecessary repetition. It also allows companies to build customer histories that ensure proactive, personalized and conversational service—and long-term customer loyalty.

In the modern business climate, the companies that will succeed are the ones that meet people where they are: anytime, any place, and on any channel. But the most successful companies will go beyond offering efficiency and access to a whole new philosophy of customer engagement, building systems that allow them to understand and serve the whole customer. See how Kustomer is setting the standard for customer service in the digital age in this on demand webinar.

 

How 4 Retail Brands Deliver Modern Customer Support

What are the core principles of a modern retail customer experience? Personalization, curation, agility, and community. Direct-to-consumer retail brands use owning the design, marketing, distribution, and support of their products to build deep relationships with consumers. As a result, many DTCs have transformed customer support into personalized experiences that build loyalty and lifetime value.

Luckily, Kustomer works with many of the leading DTC brands. So we’ve pulled together a few of their customer service secrets for you:

Glossier builds products with their community of fans

A lot has been written about the CX revolution led by cult-fave-turned-unicorn beauty brand Glossier. A key part of Glossier’s success has been thanks to community building (the brand was of course born out of a popular blog) and the customer experience team, called their gTeam, has been instrumental in growing and engaging this community.

Glossier’s gTeam plays a foundational role in bringing community feedback into product design. The company is known for transforming customer feedback into hit products (see: Milky Jelly Cleanser). “They help us figure out and predict all of the questions or concerns that our customers might have about the product,” explained Jessica White, the executive director of customer experience, to Glossy.

 

 

The gTeam editors also go beyond transactional support (shipping, coupons, etc) to deliver complimentary style recommendations. The editors focus on specific channels, including ones not typically covered by support teams, like FaceTime. In combination with digital tools like the Shade Finder app and content illustrating how products look across a range of skin tones, this approach has helped the beauty brand recreate the experience of shopping in a makeup store.

“Instead of limiting interactions with customer service, which is the norm in the industry, we strive to create conversations with our customers,” continued White to Glossy.

The results of this CX investment for Glossier? Reddit threads literally raving about the brand’s customer service.

ThirdLove invests in a culture of CX and smart data

ThirdLove shook up the women’s undergarment industry with personalized recommendations for every body type, money-back fit guarantees, and diverse product models. Which brings to mind the now-famous Victoria’s Secret founder story of feeling unwelcome in the women’s section of a department store and proves how CX complacency can lead to history repeating itself — disruptors becoming the disrupted.

Customer service is such an important differentiator to ThirdLove that the brand invests in Customer Experience centers designed to be great places for their support teams to work. (Proof? There’s even an office slide.) ThirdLove’s Fit Stylists who work there receive training to make customers comfortable during their journey trying and buying intimate apparel, a personal process that can make or break customer loyalty.

As the company’s co-founder and co-chief executive officer, David Spector, explains to Apparel News, “We want to provide exceptional customer experience to people. The only way to do that is with our own team.” Spector also points out that the U.S.-based Experience Center helps ThirdLove’s Fit Stylists form deeper connections with their American customers than outsourced support would.

Like Glossier, ThirdLove also incorporates customer feedback and data into its buyer journey. More than 13 million women have completed ThirdLove’s online Fit Finder tool, resulting in more than 600 data points the brand uses for product development and delivering recommendations back to customers.

Outdoor Voices invites participation in

With a brand that’s about #DoingThings, Outdoor Voices is another DTC brand thriving because of its (extremely on-Instagram) community. The Outdoor Voices Brand Reps play a key role in letting customers know what the brand stands for, why it’s different, and what each clothing item was created for. According to Muse, Outdoor Voices HQ and Brand Reps have monthly video chats to discuss brand news and initiatives.

To make contacting support simple and on brand, Outdoor Voices has a welcoming page and easy-to-navigate support page. By making its email contact “hello [at] Outdoor Voices,” the “support” vibe is swapped for a friendlier, conversational tone.

Like other leading DTCs, Outdoor Voices leverages customer support as a product and trend feedback engine. The company’s recent job posting for a Customer Experience Manager explicitly lists a requirement to “Operationalize customer data and feedback, both within the team (e.g. measure and improve Associate performance) and the company at large (e.g. make customer trends actionable).” This invites fans into the product development process, with customer support as the entryway.

LOLA designs support workflows for empowered agents

Like ThirdLove, LOLA is disrupting traditional brands in another very personal space for women: feminine care and sexual wellness. The brand’s customer service team must handle deeply personal topics from customers, often over email. To return the trust their customers have in them, LOLA’s team goes above and beyond to make sure their products are rushed to women wherever they need them. From sending tampons to a customer’s hotel via Uber, to overnighting condoms so that they arrive in time for a honeymoon, LOLA works overtime to create a memorable experience.

For a recent product launch, the Lola team took it as an opportunity to both reward loyalty and gather feedback. They sent 100 loyal customers mailers of their new Sex by LOLA products. One customer even emailed to say that she loved the products and, as a single mom, they inspired her to start dating again.

For a brand that empowers and informs women, LOLA’s team needs to be just as empowered and informed by their technology solutions to deliver great service. Context Cards enable the team to take direct actions such as modifying, cancelling, or scheduling a subscription, and checking on shipping status for an order. Clicking on “Modify,” for example, takes them directly to the customer’s subscription, where they can edit the frequency, products, etc. This makes it easier for the team to spot orders that have been placed, but may need modifications. LOLA has a search for customers who have emailed and placed an order in the past day, so that agents can make modifications to the order before it actually ships.

Key takeaways:

5 ways to deliver CX like DTC leaders

  1. Consider customer service on the front lines of community and relationship building, not simply a necessary business cost.
  2. Operationalize mining customer conversations for product feedback by support to bring product ideas back into the company.
  3. Use technology to compliment the role of support agents, through algorithm-based recommendations, self-service fit finder tools, and seamless exchanges/returns.
  4. Empower your support teams to go beyond transactional support, have social conversations, and reward loyalty.
  5. Build service conversations off a shared history and understanding that customers are people, not support tickets.

These approaches can benefit any brand, regardless of business model, because they’re key to delivering the type of service customers want and expect. Evaluate your own service operation to see how you compare to these DTCs, and then look for scalable opportunities to deliver a more modern experience — it’ll pay off in community, loyalty, and lifetime value.

Learn more secrets of DTC brand leaders in our downloadable guide.


Read Whitepaper

 

4 Tips on Service from UNTUCKit’s CX Director Mike Vroom

We had the pleasure of learning from Mike Vroom, UNTUCKit’s Customer Service Director, at the Glossy Forum: the Direct-to-Consumer Era, and wanted to share some of his awesome insights into how he was able to increase efficiency by 25%. We’ve picked a few choice ones below, but make sure to watch the entire video for all of that great CX knowledge.

The Faster You Scale, The More You Need a Plan: When Mike started at UNTUCKit, they only had 4 stores. They’ve since grown to 40, with that total set to reach 50 by the end of the year, and a goal to hit 100 in the next five. However, scaling quickly can lead to the proliferation of multiple, disconnected platforms that agents have to toggle between to do their jobs. Rapid growth can make it hard to take a breath, and even harder to take a uniform, platform approach. It’s best to use a flexible support system that can accommodate the integrations you’re going to need.

Custom Objects Can Keep Customers Engaged: If your service and CX solution can easily display information from other platforms, instead of forcing agents to switch tabs between them, then it’s easier for them to remain in a single view and engage with customers in real time. With the ability to snooze relevant reminders and provide real-time updates, your agents can be more proactive as well.

Omnichannel is Omni-Crucial: As a retailer that’s scaling quickly across both brick-and-mortar and digital, an omnichannel experience is critical for UNTUCKit. Lack of a true omnichannel experience was a pain point in their old platform. Their in-store inventory and experience couldn’t communicate with their ecommerce system. That means customers couldn’t easily see what was available in the nearest retail store, or return online orders there. With Kustomer, they have true visibility into the customer journey across channels, and can finally identify their lifetime value.

Increasing Efficiency Helps You Scale: During UNTUCKit’s rapid growth, they knew they needed a new service platform, but they had to focus on responding to the daily asks that keep customers happy. However, Mike has been able to take a breath and look at the bigger picture since making the switch—and wishes he could have done it sooner. Since switching, they’ve increased efficiency by 25%, and reduced average handle times for calls by 30 seconds. More efficiency means you can focus on long-term strategy and experience design, and not on the day-to-day tasks. That way, you can grow with confidence.

Mike has seen amazing improvements since switching from Desk—find out why companies are switching to Kustomer here.

How Your Brand Can Master The DTC Experience

Read Our White Paper on the DTC Experience HERE

The Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) revolution is shaking the foundation of retail business. As digital advancements make it even easier to cut out middlemen and deliver totally new kinds of experiences, customers have come to demand DTC brands provide them with the same kind of convenient, personalized and memorable experiences they get from traditional stores. Those that can innovate, adapt, and bring a higher caliber of experience and smarter ways to buy using the vast amount of consumer and product data available will be the ones that succeed. Those that don’t will lag, unable to bring a truly modern experience to their customers.

The time has come to reconnect with your customers and focus on a lifetime of experiences, rather than on optimizing a single, specific journey. Here’s how your brand can communicate and sell directly to your audience today:

Curate collections of essential products for customers

Focus on a few good items done right at a fair price point. This approach is key to tapping into modern shopping trends, encouraging brand loyalty and repeat business by making products that become an essential part of customers’ lives. Huge selections and hundreds of locations are no longer likely to breed success.

Pioneer new models like subscription and shared ownership

Harness the power of digital tech to connect everyone and everything, putting surplus or unused goods to use, and creating experiences that effortlessly sync with our everyday lives. As customers, especially millennials, are willing to buy used or share ownership if it means great savings, consider using tech to implement shared ownership models in your brand practices.

Make delivery and returns easier

As more customers buy online, delivery and returns are becoming even more crucial to the customer experience. Focus on fast delivery and low-friction returns to make up for any hesitation customers might have about buying online. All the more so for large, traditionally hard to ship items.

Deliver personalized, 1-1 service

Adjust every aspect of the online shopping experience to meet customers’ needs, using the latest CRM, machine learning, audience segmentation, and personalization technology to create an immersive digital journey.

By integrating orders, shipments, and conversations, with internal and external customer data,  Kustomer helps brands get a comprehensive and actionable view of all customers, driving informed service decisions.

Want to provide your customer-centric business with a full suite of support channels, smart segmentation and automation tools within a single platform? Download our white paper to learn more.

This Direct-to-Consumer Brand is Disrupting Feminine Care With Experience

Watch the webinar recording here.

It’s not easy being a new brand in an industry with a lot of established players. However, if you can use your incumbent status to take a fresh look at the marketplace, you can end up turning the entire category on its head.

LOLA has done just that. The forward-thinking feminine care brand has overturned the status quo with their totally new approach. By highlighting what actually goes into their products, providing a convenient subscription experience, and openly talking about women’s health issues that were previously taboo, they’ve created the first lifelong brand for a woman’s body.

While they started with tampons, the brand has quickly expanded their range, now offering pads, wipes, condoms, and other reproductive wellness products. Despite their rapid growth, they’ve kept their focus firmly on delivering great, personal experiences to every customer.

On our latest webinar (hosted by Glossy), LOLA’s Senior Manager of Customer Strategy and Operations Caroline Dell spoke with Kustomer’s Senior Manager of Marketing Programs Stacey Dolchin about their strategy and approach to delivering a highly personal DTC experience. For more information on delivering a great DTC experience, check out our whitepaper.

Webinar: How LOLA disrupts personal care with personalized, direct-to-consumer experiences

Pursuing Purpose

Jordana Kier and Alex Friedman founded LOLA in 2015 with a simple idea—women shouldn’t have to compromise when it comes to their reproductive health. It all started when the two women realized that the tampon brands they had been loyal to for over a decade weren’t don’t disclose what they’re made out of. What was actually in those tampons? This desire for straightforward transparency and frank discussion about a topic that we’ve traditionally shied away from has animated the brand ever since.

This unique perspective, coupled with high-quality products and a smart business model, has helped them shaped the broader conversation around women’s health since launch. By empowering women with information, they’re helping their customers have more control over what they put in their bodies. By focusing on questions asked by real women, they’re dismantling the stigma that surrounds female reproductive wellness by creating a two-way dialogue with an engaged community. Every communication channels is an opportunity for a conversation—-website, social media, email newsletters, and their blog, The Broadcast.

By answering questions that their competitors aren’t with a relatable and no-nonsense brand voice, LOLA has both become a resource for their customers and started a national conversation about reproductive health.

Rewarding Relationships

LOLA’s goal is to create relationships that last a lifetime. They receive 1000+ emails per week from customers about personal topics, often asking questions to LOLA’s agents before consulting with a doctor. To return the trust their customers have in them, LOLA’s team goes above and beyond to make sure their products are rushed to women wherever they need them. From sending tampons to a customer’s hotel via Uber, to overnighting condoms so that they arrive in time for a honeymoon, LOLA works overtime to create a memorable experience.

For many younger customers and their parents, their ongoing relationship with the brand starts with LOLA’s First Period Kit. After posting a video where LOLA founders told their first period stories, they were inundated with moms reaching out to ask if they offered products for teen—a great example of their ongoing dialogue with customers driving product development.

For their most recent launch of Sex by LOLA, they sent 100 loyal customers mailers of their new products. It was an easy way to get feedback while rewarding loyalty, and one customer even emailed to say that she loved the products and, as a single mom, they inspired her to start dating again.

A Single View in a Single Platform

All of this wouldn’t be possible without a platform to manage their relationships and provide incredible experiences. Their previous platform wasn’t linked to their back-end system, so they had little context on the customer’s order history or subscription details. The same was true for incoming messages on social. With Kustomer, it’s now easy for their agents to switch between social and support channels, helping their customers on their preferred channel at a moment’s notice.

Context Cards with buttons enable the team to take direct action such as modifying, cancelling, or scheduling a subscription, and checking on shipping status for an order. Clicking on the “Modify” button, for example, takes them directly to the customer’s subscription, where they can edit the frequency, products, etc. This makes it easier for the team to spot orders that have been placed but may need modifications. LOLA has a search for customers who have emailed AND placed an order in the past day, so that agents can make modifications to the order before it actually ships.

Features like Workflows and Bulk Messaging have helped LOLA handle larger issues proactively. When their subscription management page experienced a brief outage, LOLA created a workflow based on keywords that automatically identified and then proactively bulk messaged thousands of impacted customers to notify them of the issue. As a result, LOLA was able to handle over 5x their normal volume at a highly-sensitive time.

Since combining all their order, subscription, and customer data into the Kustomer platform, LOLA’s reply time has decreased by 15%, while their agent efficiency has increased by 15%. Watch the webinar recording.

A Brand for Life

LOLA’s mission is one-of-a-kind, and with Kustomer, they’re able to scale while living up to the values that inspired them in the first place. For a brand that empowers and informs women, LOLA’s team needs to be just as empowered and informed to deliver great service. Building meaningful, ongoing relationships is a major part of what LOLA stands for. With Kustomer, their agents are able to get a holistic view of every subscriber and see their entire history with the brand. With more streamlined support, they can focus on what matters—a groundbreaking, personal experience. Delivering service with a purpose requires a robust and flexible platform, and with Kustomer, LOLA is building relationships that will last a lifetime.

For more information about building a great DTC experience, check out our whitepaper.

Webinar: How LOLA disrupts personal care with personalized, direct-to-consumer experiences

Deliver effortless, personalized customer service.

Request Live DemoStart Interactive Demo