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Conversations with Kustomer Podcast: How can Marketing and Customer Support Create a Consistent Experience? Featuring Sue Duris

As Customer Experience overtakes product and price as the key differentiator for many brands, it’s increasingly important that all parts of the organization work together to deliver seamless communications and service.

Our Director of Marketing Chen Barnea sat down with Sue Duris, Director of Marketing and Customer Experience for M4 Communications and a leading CX strategist, to discuss the evolution and importance of CX for B2B and B2C companies across verticals. While their chat covered a lot of ground, we’ve highlighted some of the key points below.

Investing in CX pays off. This is especially true if you’re a leader. According to a Temkin report, CX Leaders see a 17% compound average growth rate, versus 3% for laggards. Customers that receive a great experience are likely to purchase again, and 11 times more likely to recommend a product or brand.

Consistency is key, especially for retail. But it’s also very important for B2B organizations too, especially those with a long sales cycle. Both kinds of organizations need to have a C-suite that is championing that vision of the customer experience and explaining why it’s so important to rally behind it, and how everyone fits in. Without that commitment, alignment, ownership, Customer Experience initiatives just won’t work.

CX is not a shiny new toy. You need to have a strategy and purpose for tackling CX. It can’t be done piecemeal, either, with the Contact Center pioneering an initiative, but then the experience dropping off once a customer contacts Sales or Marketing. Inconsistency is one of your greatest enemies to a great experience.

Don’t neglect the employee experience. Engaging your employees and communicating what your experience should look and feel like is crucial. They’re the ones who are making that experience a reality. It takes more than just surveys. You need to speak to your employees in person and get qualitative insight, backed up by hard metrics. Once you can take those insights, build them back into your experience, optimize your CX, then look for insights again, you can create a closed loop of constantly improving experience.

There are three kinds of metrics. Metrics based on perception, description, and outcome. Perception-based metrics are about your experience and how your customer understands it. They include metrics such as NPS, CES, and satisfaction. Description metrics are based on observable events, like FCR and AHT, and ensure you’re being efficient and effective. And outcome metrics are things like how many customers renewed their contracts or upgraded their package. Bottom line: you need all kinds of metrics to cover the entire scope of experience.

Experience is a mindset. It’s more than just a strategy or process. It’s who you are as a company, and as individuals. Customer centricity needs to start before a prospect even knows about you—it’s in your bones, your culture, and it’s how you truly create consistency. Maximizing Customer Lifetime Value is the goal of any CX effort, and the only way to do that is to have a mindset where you’re putting your customers first.

Start small. If you haven’t invested in CX at all, you can always begin by sending out an NPS survey and segmenting customers based on that score. From there, you can work in more complex layers of metrics and build up your understanding.

This is just a taste of the wide-ranging discussion on the podcast, so if this sounds relevant to your needs, be sure to have a listen.

To learn more about how Kustomer can help you deliver a more consistent and effective experience, request a demo with the form below!

3 Examples of Conversational Experience

It’s good to have a conversation with your customers, but talking alone isn’t enough. Encouraging customers to contact you over their preferred channels means you need to be ready to respond just as fast as their closest friends. Often, conversations can go in different directions. Sometimes customers may be trying to make a return when what they really need is an exchange. Or they may decide to buy a new product in the middle of asking about a different one. That means that conversational commerce and conversational service are two sides of the same coin. If you want to engage your customers on a 1-1 basis and in real time, then your entire customer experience needs to be part of the conversation. A truly conversational experience is hard to find, but we’ve shared some examples from Brad Birnbaum’s latest piece in Forbes to give you a better idea:

Example 1: IoT

Problem: Your customer’s smart speakers aren’t connecting to WiFi.

Conversational Solution:

  • Your proprietary app brings up an FAQ article when it detects that your customer is not connecting to WiFi.
  • Your automated customer service platform sends an email with an instructional video and support desk information if it detects that your customer has reset their device three times or more.
  • You assign customers who have had multiple problems with high-priority when they call your customer service number so they connect to an agent quickly.
  • Your agent knows that they’ve already received the FAQ and video because your platform gives them a single view of the customer. With that, they can skip ahead to advanced troubleshooting so the customer doesn’t have to repeat the same steps.

Example 2: Meal Delivery Subscription

Problem: Your customer needs to change their subscription and delivery dates.

Conversational Solution:

  • If the customer has to change their delivery location or date, a chatbot or automated solution should instantly handle these simple tasks.
  • If the request is more logistically complicated, like pausing for a week then delivering to a different location, the request should be elevated to an agent.
  • If the request is more complex than that, like changing dietary requirements, agents should get on the phone and consult with them 1-1 to deliver the best possible experience.

Example 3: Clothing Subscription

Problem: Your customer needs a more consultative experience.

Conversational Solution:

  • If customers are asking for a simple request like changing the date of the delivery, agents should ask questions and get more information.
  • If there is a bigger reason, like they’re getting a new job, then an agent should be empowered to step up and act like a stylist to pick more formal options.
  • This more hands-on experience encourages customers to upgrade to a higher subscription tier in the future.

Read the full Forbes article here.

To see how can deliver a truly conversational experience with Kustomer, request a demo today!

Kustomer Localization is made for Global Teams

Many customer service teams today have to support a global customer base. Kustomer has launched Localization, a suite of features that allow you to easily detect, respond, and provide help to a multilingual customer base. Customers and support teams deserve an seamless experience in their respective language, across any channel.

Whether you service customers around the world, or have a team that communicates in multiple languages, our localization features will help you provide personalized customer support. We focused on developing features that make teams more efficient as well as automating tedious tasks associated with providing multilingual support.

Automating Language Detection

 

When your customers contact you, Kustomer is now able to automatically detect the language of the message using Amazon Comprehend dominant language detection. Oftentimes a new message will require your team to have to identify the language, and then assign it to another team or agent. This manual triaging by language is time consuming and ineffective. Automating the language detection for inbound messages allows you to route conversations to the correct team or agent, providing quick reply times. When language detection is enabled, you’ll also be able to get sentiment analysis in multiple languages, helping you to better understand your customer. Language detection will allow agents to work more efficiently by automatically sending messages and displaying Knowledge Base articles in the customer’s’ own language.

Making Translation Easy

We focused on making processes as time-efficient as possible. One of the Localization features that enables this is Snippets. Teams can easily insert translated content into messages, email templates, and Knowledge Base articles. Let’s say you want to provide your agents with an automatic response to questions about returns. You can quickly create a snippet for “return policy” with corresponding translations for languages you want to support. Then, when your agent uses a shortcut with the “return policy” Snippet, it’s automatically translated based on the customer’s language. Adding in personalization is easy too, just combine Snippets, Shortcuts, and Dynamic text and your agent is fully empowered to provide quick personalized support in the correct language.

Enabling Agent Adoption

It’s not just your customers that are global. Many support teams are based all over the world, and it’s important that users can access and use Kustomer in their native language. Unlike other tools where translations are limited to certain features and interfaces, in Kustomer you’ll have full access to language translations across all our features and the user interface. The user interface can be used in over 51 languages (both Right to Left and Left to Right). See a list of all available languages in Kustomer.

For more information about Localization and its included features, check out this article.

How DTC Strategies Are Shaking Up Fashion

As direct-to-consumer business models become more popular, different industries are finding their own ways to make these kinds of experiences work for them. This has been especially true for the fashion industry. By cutting out markups, leveraging digital technologies, and promoting radical transparency, dozens of new fashion brands are succeeding with DTC. We’ve taken a look at the unique ways specific fashion verticals are taking their products straight to customers, and how they’re differentiating themselves from the legacy brands that came before them.

Whitepaper: The DTC Approach – 4 Aspects to Master

Denim: Simplified Selection and a Digital Storefront

Some products are timeless, but are the brands that sell them timeless enough to survive in the modern retailing world?

The traditional retail model means denim companies like 7 For All Mankind source their designs and fabrics from numerous designers and mills. They stock products their designers and buyers believe customers will like, but aren’t close enough to customers to bet on a handful of choice designs. Instead, like most retailers, they take a shotgun approach. Dozens of slightly different fabrics, cuts, and details make shopping for new jeans harrowing and downright consumer unfriendly. National retail outlets require huge warehouses and supply chains to keep locations stocked with all the varied styles, driving up costs for the end-buyer.

Younger luxury brand DSTLD sells premium denim and elevated basics direct to the consumer and is primarily online (with limited pop-up stores that let customers experience the brand in person). By selling direct, DSTLD is able to focus on quality rather than quantity. Their collection is easy to browse with a color palette of just black, white, grey, and blue. A reasonable price tag is a fair trade for a lesser-known brand name and limited retail stores—plus they use the same factories as many designer labels. DSTLD even allows true fans to invest in the company, ensuring that the brand will remain true to their customers as they grow—because they have direct financial control.

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 clothes that become an essential part of customers’ wardrobes. Huge selections and hundreds of retail outlets are no longer likely to breed success.

Designer Fashion: A Closet in the Cloud

While the previous example focused on delivering a product, the new normal for retail also means fundamental changes in behavior. One of the biggest shifts: changing attitudes about ownership. Airbnb, Lyft, and WeWork all meet a desire to pay less in exchange for giving up sole possession. Why own a car when it’s so convenient to ride in someone else’s? Why stay in a hotel when you can stay in someone’s house for less? Rent the Runway provides a similar solution for your wardrobe. Why buy a new dress for every one of your friends’ weddings when you can rent one for a tenth of the cost?

With Rent the Runway, customers can get the same high-quality designer clothing, but without having to own it forever. If you don’t want to show up to every wedding of the season in the same thing, renting just makes more sense, and allows customers more choice and flexibility—they can get a much more expensive piece without worrying about the price tag.

RTR’s direct-to-consumer model adds value that a department store like Macy’s just can’t without majorly restructuring some of their current practices. Without the costly overhead of hundreds of national storefronts, RTR can deliver and scale a new kind of in-store experience without orienting their entire business around it.

Pre-Loved Fashion: Sustainable Style

Millennial consumers don’t feel the stigma of pre-owned items like previous generations. They’re more likely to embraced pre-owned fashion due to its sustainability (and lower cost), leading to a robust market for secondhand goods. New sites like Grailed, theRealReal, and TrueFacet are filling the gaps left between the small, independent, highly-curated boutiques offering clothes and furniture in most major cities. However, Material World offers a service that goes a step further than any of these.

Material World will pay customers for their pre-owned designer clothing up front—making it easy to trade in your lightly-worn items for hard cash. Yet this is just one piece of a bigger system. The Material Box is a subscription service that ships an outfit handpicked by a stylist every month straight to your door. You’re not just getting a sustainable, designer outfit for a fraction of the price, you’re getting unique and totally personalized styling services. The stylist who works with them knows the entire history of their purchases and interactions, meaning they can provide deep and contextual service. That’s a benefit you won’t find at even the most upscale boutique. The box can then be used to send back their own clothing, replenishing their old pre-owned clothes with new ones. Material World supports an ethical system that diminishes waste and elevates the benefits of pre-owned clothing, creating an experience that’s even more appealing and streamlined than buying a designer outfit for yourself.

As the DTC model becomes more popular, the variety and creativity of new DTC brands will only increase. The principles for CX success are clear, no matter which industry you’re in:

  • Adapt to changing customer expectations
  • Always push to innovate with new technology
  • Look beyond the old ways of doing things to find cheaper, faster alternatives

If you can do that, you’re sure to delight your customers and improve their experience. Learn some more aspects of the DTC approach that can help you deliver better service in our whitepaper.

5 Customer Experience Tips for Subscription Businesses (and Everyone Else)

Subscription businesses are posed with a unique challenge. Because their customers don’t actively interact with the brand on a regular basis unless there’s an issue, they need to work extra hard to stay connected and grow their loyalty and Lifetime Value. Customers should become more invested and engaged as the length of their subscription grows. This requires agents to be well-versed on the product and offerings so they can take on a more active, consultative approach to build deeper connections. They need to be proactive, instead of reactive, anticipating need and reaching out before a problem arises—as customers are more likely to cancel than put up with a bad subscription experience. While the same is true for any business, it’s the most pressing for subscription companies. Let’s look at some ways agents can go the extra mile to improve the subscription, or any, experience:

1) Collect Information

The more you know about your customers, the better you can make your experience. If a customer’s profile isn’t completely filled out, agents should be prompted to get those answers during a routine interaction. Or, they could reach out with an example of how they could better customize the customer’s experience if their profile was completed. All of this data is the first step to helping agents become more active and engaged consultants.

2) Use Foresight

If the weather in the forecast is set to cause a delay for customers in a particular area, you should be able to proactively reach out to those affected and give them the option for an earlier delivery. Customers will appreciate your foresight, and giving them say over when their items arrive is far preferable to waiting for an angry call asking when their order is going to be delivered.

3) Ask Questions

If a customer’s behavior changes, such as pausing their delivery, then that’s a great chance for agents to engage with them and learn more about their habits. Maybe they’re going on vacation? If that’s the case, you can offer to ship it to this different location for no extra cost. This both teaches the customer about a feature they might not have known about while showing that you care about their individual experience and keeping their subscription top-of-mind.

4) Respond Faster

In the event of your customer downgrading their subscription tier or asking to cancel, it’s important that your agents are able to get all the information they need ASAP. If you can automate your chat to send a conversational form asking what’s the reason and how can you help, then customers who might still be on the fence can provide more information and help your agents convince them to stay subscribed.

5) Reward Loyalty

Brands like Bespoke Post and Boxycharm reward loyal customers by occasionally giving them more valuable items in their boxes. The longer they stay subscribed, the more frequent these surprises are. This incentives customers to keep subscribing, and adds real value to their experience.

But even if you’re not a subscription brand, increasing customer Lifetime Value is a crucial part of the experience strategy. This is why more and more brands are adding a subscription model every day. For example, the clothing marketplace Material World has streamlined their business model, going from a place where customers can find second-hand luxury items, to adding a subscription box stream to connect with customers who want a continual, unique, and low effort experience. Customers can exchange their old clothing and other items for a new outfit made up of pre-owned items from luxury brands each month using this new service. It’s not just new brands experimenting with adding subscription—even strongly established brands like Sephora and Glossier are cutting into Birchbox’s market share by offering recurring subscriptions of their products. Now, even Starbucks has a subscription vertical.

Understanding your customers and increasing their loyalty with a great customer experience is a worthwhile endeavor for every kind of brand, whether that’s with a subscription model or with next-level CX. As old and new brands catch on to the benefits of a subscription model, the ranks of delivery boxes will only grow, but the ones that will truly last will be those that understand their customers and use great service and customer experience to ensure their loyalty.

Conversations with Kustomer Podcast: How Do You Go From Support to Experience? Featuring Jeremy Watkin and Nate Brown

What’s the difference between support, service, and experience—how do they inform one another, and what can you do to improve each? Our Director of Marketing Chen Barnea sat down with two CX luminaries to get their perspective on how to define customer experience, the best ways to understand and deliver it, and why companies should move towards an experience-first mindset.

Nate Brown is the Director of Customer Experience at UL EHSS, as well as the Founder of CX Accelerator. Jeremy Watkin is the Director of CX at FCR, and has more than 17 years of experience in the space. Together, they had an insightful discussion about the relationship between support and experience that you can listen to yourself above. While their chat with Chen covered a lot of ground, but we’ve picked some of the highlights for you below:

What is the difference between customer support and customer experience?

Nate shared a great quote to help explain the fundamental difference between these two concepts:

“Customer service starts where customer experience fails.”

So you can view customer service a the reactive response to a point in the journey reaches out to resolve an issue.

Therefore customer experience is more of a designed element that’s meant to prevent that service interaction in the first place.

Jeremy noted that some of the confusion around the distinction comes from a recent trend. “A lot of companies have started calling their service teams CX teams, which is a little clichéd—there are so many other pieces at work in the customer experience. I appreciate the sentiment that support teams need to have a role in the customer experience, but they aren’t the entire experience itself.”

Why is the customer experience mindset becoming more prominent?

According to Jeremy, the reason is simple: good CX is good business. “Customers love having their issues solved, but they’d love it even more if the issue they had never happened in the first place. I think that’s ultimately what’s driving the transition.”

Customers are fed up, and are finally asking for the experiences they’ve always deserved, as Nate describes: “This transition is fueled by customer frustration. People are waking up and realizing that they don’t need to spend three hours on the phone with customer service to get the experience they should have had from the beginning.”

Combined with new companies that are changing the game and raising the bar by reimagining the customer experience, every business has to look to deliver a more holistic, impactful experience instead of baseline support.

How can CX leaders help bring about these changes in their organizations?

As with so many other initiatives, change has to start from within: “The only way is by starting with the employee experience.” Said Nate, “Employees mirror that experience they have internally with the customer. Improve the internal culture, and the external experience will improve as well, as agents will naturally bring that experience and excitement and project it outwards.”

Jeremy agreed, highlighting Voice of the Customer initiatives as an example. “I think it has a snowball effect too. When it comes to VoC, frontline agents have a channel to share frustrations. As companies start to listen to that and put it into practice, you naturally see employees become more engaged and excited about improving CX.”

What technologies are the most important for improving your experience?

There is no shortage of technologies meant to help improve CX, but the right one will accomplish the right goals. As Nate described, “If your agents have bad tools and no visibility into the journey because it’s all divided between different toolsets, it leads to frustration, and that will come through to the customer. Conversely, If you have good tools that enable the employee to do their job well, then that positive experience will be passed on to them instead.”

How do you measure agents as you make this shift?

Every CX metric can help give you an idea of the effectiveness of your experience, but simply measuring is not enough. “What about Average Handle Time?” Asked Jeremy, “Sometimes you actually want your AHT to go up because you’re trying to deliver a more personal experience. For metrics, the important thing is WHY it’s going up or down.”

This is just a taste of the wide-ranging discussion on the podcast, so if this sounds relevant to your needs, be sure to have a listen. If you’re looking to expand your horizon beyond your organization and broaden your perspective on CX, definitely consider signing up for CX Accelerator as well.

Want to learn more about Kustomer? Try our platform for yourself

Can You Deliver a Truly Personal Experience Online?

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Can buying something online feel as personal as shopping in person? As a growing number of brands are selling to the majority of their customers online, this question becomes more pressing. You might think there are insurmountable limitations to the online experience—you can’t touch, feel, and try on anything at your laptop. However, innovative digital-first brands are finding ways to bridge this gap—and finding real success in the process.

One of those brands is TrueFacet, the leading luxury online marketplace for acquiring and consigning fine jewelry and timepieces. We had the opportunity to sit down with Kenneth Tucci, VP of Operations / Concierge and Nick Osborn, Director of Growth at TrueFacet to discuss their high-touch, omnichannel customer experience on our latest webinar.

TrueFacet is the modern alternative to buying and selling jewelry and watches. Both buyers and sellers get a valuable online experience, with every item authenticated, appraised, and priced accordingly before it’s listed. TrueFacet sets themselves apart by delivering a brand experience that adheres to three strong pillars: selection, authenticity, and price.

Their focus on authenticity is a major differentiator for the space. All vendors are thoroughly vetted to make sure they uphold the highest level of integrity and to ensure product availability. This is especially crucial in TrueFacet’s space—In 2014 alone, the total value of seized counterfeit watches and jewelry by the U.S. government was $375.4 million. Ensuring authenticity means building trust with your customers, and by drawing on a diverse team of experts that hail from some of the most coveted jewelers in the industry to provide multi-point inspections, TrueFacet can assure customers that every item that leaves their facility is authentic and as advertised.

However, no matter how much you can guarantee the authenticity of your products, there are still elements that are going to be missing from an online experience versus a brick and mortar one. You can’t feel the difference in weight between a platinum, gold, and steel watch, or see the minute details of its inner workings with your own eyes. You can’t try on a piece of jewelry with an outfit and experience that “have to have it” moment when they match perfectly. TrueFacet goes to great lengths to substitute elements of their experience that make up for this. They use high-quality photos and videos, size-fit guides, and a generous return policy to make buying intuitive. However, it’s really the Concierge team that serves as the X-factor in their experience. Their work raises it from comparable to shopping at a boutique, to an experience that’s a cut above.

“Our Concierge team is there to educate our customer, provide guidance, and help them find what they want,” says Tucci, “ If customers can’t find something on our site, then our team will go to any lengths to track it down. This really helps us win customers for life.” Their agents are highly knowledgeable, but also bring more to the table: Passion. Their passion for TrueFacet’s products really shines through, allowing them to connect with customers who are equally as excited and knowledgeable. Beyond just being knowledgeable about the industry, the Concierge team knows everything about their customer’s purchase history and past interactions, meaning they have more contextual information than even an associate at a local boutique and their regular customer.

TrueFacet delivers the same high-quality experience no matter what their customers are buying. However, customers who regularly buy a large amount of product are treated to a VIP experience, where a TrueFacet Concierge forms a 1:1 relationship with them, offering additional communication options such as SMS messaging. This helps create an even stronger bond, creating customers for life.

This level of service is possible in part because Concierges can move from channel to channel just as easily as their customers, following them from phone to email, chat, and text with ease—and Kustomer helps empower agents to do just that. To deliver an experience that’s as high-touch as shopping in person, there can’t be any gaps in communication.

TrueFacet presents an exciting example of the future of customer experience—not just for a luxury market, but for everyone. True omnichannel understanding paired with passionate and informed agents and a robust digital experience can do more than make up for physical retail space.

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IQPC CX Research Report for Retailers: Top Takeaways

Our executive-level insights from our most in-depth report yet.

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At Kustomer, we love retail and direct-to-consumer brands. These brands are becoming more and more obsessed with their customers—because they need to be to differentiate themselves in today’s competitive era of retail. For them, experience is everything: product, sales, service, branding, and more.

Our most recent and intensive research report, authored in partnership with Customer Contact Week Digital (a division of IQPC), takes an in-depth look into the state of customer experience for retail businesses. What we found was enlightening.

If you’re at a retail brand, definitely pay attention, because one thing became very clear:

CX IS THE MAIN DIFFERENTIATOR FOR RETAIL
That’s right. Not branding, not marketing, not pricing.

The research shows that you must avoid the major retail trap and focus on the entire customer lifetime journey — not just the Point of Purchase. Retailers need to optimize their interactions, but stay focused on increasing lifetime value with simple, personal experiences. And despite their commitment, most retailers aren’t capable of delivering these experiences. The report found that:

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • The #1 priority of most retailers is to reduce the effort customers need to spend in their customer experience. The #2 priority is automation.
  • The #1 frustration for agents is disconnected systems.
  • 80% of retailers say that their customers struggle to move between touchpoints without having to repeat information.

And in the report, we dive deep into the opportunities for retailers and how they’re capitalizing on them to improve their experience and drive business growth:

  • Reducing Effort: Only 48% of businesses are making any attempt to measure effort. However by putting all their information in a single timeline, ParkWhiz was able to matchmake users and parking spaces, and found a 2–3% increase in retention with customers who have interacted with the CX team — and increased average Time to First Response by more than 10%.

  • Personalization: Only 46% of businesses are actively attempting to assess the personalization of their experiences. Yet Glossier is able to see all their customer and order information in one place, which makes it easy to deliver highly personalized, 1–1 interactions.

  • Automation: 79% of retailers believe bots are important, and 60% plan to maintain or increase their investments in automation. By making the customer their atomic unit of understanding, Slice was able to manage customer interactions across teams and manage thousands of touches daily, seeing a 20–30% decrease in handle times.

Investing in these goals yields real results.
Delivering a solid and memorable experience is difficult and getting harder, but Kustomer is here to help. The full customer picture provides teams with the right intelligence to better optimize business service processes with automation, prioritize team member time, and scale your service operations as the business grows, driving increased customer lifetime value.

The retailers that invest in their customer experience and get this complete customer view are going to be able to differentiate themselves and remain relevant. Read our full report, and make this the year you deliver the best customer experience yet.

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