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.


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How New Beauty Brands Leverage Social to Stand Out

If you’re interested in the CX strategies behind the most successful new beauty brands, you can learn more in our whitepaper.

There is no denying that the success of new beauty is due in part to the complete saturation of social media in how we discover and learn about new products in our daily lives. Influencers, style mavens, celebrities, and industry insiders are constantly competing for your attention as they talk up the virtues of the latest products on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and anywhere else.

And it works. A Facebook IQ report from 2016 found that 53% of beauty purchases are influenced by what beauty experts share on social, while 44% are influenced by the brand’s posts.

With such a large amount of purchases being influenced by highly-visual social media, new beauty brands are taking advantage of this trend by focusing on beautiful products and packaging. “It’s such a saturated market, and packaging designs today are so beautiful,” says Glow Recipe C-Founder Jennifer Lee in a piece with Glossy. “Everything is screaming for attention and you definitely need a point of difference.”

To catch more eyes, beauty subscription brand Birchbox redesigned their shippers to a soothing Millennial pink, designating each customer’s name with a sobriquet such as “The Tenacious….” or “The Clever….” to further personalize the experience—and dramatically increased the number of customers posting their boxes on social.

New beauty brands know that an Instagram post is worth a thousand words, and succeed at taking every opportunity to get influencers and regular customers to talk about and share their brand with the world.

As more and more customers interact with beauty brands first or primarily on digital, it’s crucial that your agents are trained to act like sales associates and beauty consultants whenever customers interact with them. If your brand lives on digital, your agents are your sales associates. Glossier’s agents are on-hand to consult with customers over chat or phone wherever they are in the purchase process. Knowledgeable agents, empowered by responsive technology and a single view of the customer, can go a long way towards influencing purchases and building loyalty with your brand.

Here are some of our favorite beauty brands to follow for social inspiration:

Birchbox (@birchbox): Custom beauty sample subscription box.
Boxycharm (@boxycharm): Subscription box with awesome full-size products.
Fenty Beauty (@fentybeauty): Rihanna’s next generation of inclusive beauty.
Glossier (@glossier): The DTC beauty brand to beat.
Soko Glam (@sokoglam): Your trusted source for Korean beauty.

Read more about New Beauty in our whitepaper: How New Beauty Brands Disrupt the Industry.

These Are the Top 5 Takeaways from Our Direct-to-Consumer Summit

The Direct-to-Consumer approach has changed the way we discover, shop and buy. To take stock of this monumental shift, Kustomer hosted some of the most influential and innovative DTC brands to discuss their approach to loyalty, relationship-building, and experience.

A common thread is that this shift in the consumer ecosystem has put a greater emphasis on the relationship brands have with their customers. Every brand, not just DTC companies and startups, have to value customer experience, loyalty, and lifetime value above all in order to reach modern consumers.

1) Personalization with Purpose

Your customers expect more than a one-size-fits-all experience. They’re all different, and they know that their data should be put to use to make their experience better.

If there’s one brand that knows one size doesn’t fit all, it’s custom shirt manufacturer Proper Cloth. “We have smart sizes—we ask the customer ten questions around height, weight, fit, tuck-in preference, and from that we predict what set of custom size dimensions would be most optimal,” said Founder Seph Skerritt. “This was a big data problem, but as we grew we had a rich data set to build a bigger advantage upon. We used that to improve the customer experience and streamline the onboarding experience.”

Jewelry and watch marketplace TrueFacet makes sure that they’re using a granular segmentation process to send the right messages to the right customers, as CEO Tirath Kamdar describes: “Our customer segmentation is behavior-driven—and then we use demographic information on top of that. We’ve created curated programs to help with our customer segmentation. We target each of our consumers in different ways to build loyalty.”

Personalization isn’t limited to product features, it’s also valuable to personalize content, marketing messages, and other touchpoints. As Alison Lichtenstein, Director of Customer Experience Design at Dow Jones summarized: “Personalization is important—knowing the exact content each person is reading, focusing on serving up the next best article, section, newsletter—we want to anticipate what the customer needs and putting that in front of the person, to make sure they continue to be engaged.”

The push to personalize is even built into Dow Jones’ strategy at the highest level. “We’re evangelists of customer service, we’re constantly thinking about how we can resolve customer issues. But we also focus on the agent experience, helping them help the customers. It’s a huge piece in helping us differentiate. We want to be able to help personalize.”

2) Communication is Crucial

New DTC brands are doing more to connect with customers. Digital channels create more opportunities for conversations, as chat and social multiply the amount of places customers can ask questions and engage.

“When things go wrong, you need to be constantly talking to your customer service team to find patterns, identify the issue, and then make the fix.” Said Britta Fleck, President and Managing Director of Glossybox North America, “Constant communication with your customers provides a better end experience.”

For DTC sofa startup Burrow, they’ve also found that more communication is better. “In the past we’ve tried two approaches. The approach of constantly updating the customer and keeping them in the loop was more successful than giving them a code—communicating with your customers is very important.” Says Co-Founder Kabeer Chopra.

To keep the conversations going, loyalty programs are a natural fit. They ensure that customers stay engaged and reward them for their enthusiasm. Glossybox is pursuing this strategy in earnest, “We’re doing a lot around loyalty, we like to reward our customers. We’re looking into pausing subscriptions over vacations etc, but we don’t want to make it difficult for users to unsubscribe. Either.” More communication can lead to a better experience, but that experience still has to take precedence. “We can only personalize our offering to a certain extent, but what really increases lifetime value for us is listening. And it’s easier sometimes than answering.”

3) Brands, Not Channels

While communicating over every channel that your customers use is important, this communication has to be held together by a strong strategy for the brand. As Mike Vroom, Customer Service Manager at UNTUCKit put it: “Customers interact with brands, not channels.”

Glossier has a similar view, as their Director of CX Erin Miller described, treating every interaction with customers as it’s own channel—they’re not thinking about where they’re interacting with you, but about how they’re going to solve their issue or get the information they want.

This also means that your brand has to communicate with customers in a way that feels warm, natural, and human. Mark Chou, VP of Growth Marketing and E-Commerce at Away, is changing up the way his brand communicates by switching from a reactive to a proactive service model. “When you make mistakes, you don’t hide them from your friends. The same should true for your customers. You can turn a screw-up to a shining moment for your team—being proactive as a customer service team can turn a mistake into a moment for your company that you are proud of.

4) Create Connections with Culture

Above all else, your customer experience should strive to create stronger connections. Interacting with customers one-on-one is highly personal, and doing so in a genuine, meaningful way can have a lasting impact. To do this more effectively, you need to know what your company stands. Daryl Unger, VP of Customer Experience at meal delivery brand Plated, has a strong perspective on the importance of building relationships for his brand. “Food is extremely personal, we aren’t in the business of fixing issues and solving problems, we are in the business of building strong emotional relationships with our customers.” Building relationships based on emotion has some key benefits as a strategy as well. “We remember emotions much longer than transactions. We spend a lot of time studying customer behavior and patterns, which helps us learn when we should proactively reach out—which is very important in a subscription ecommerce business.”

Similarly, Rent the Runway has built their company culture into their customer experience, which helps them build strong relationships with millennial shoppers. “Culture is in the fabric of our brand,” said Tyler Nicoll, Product Manager at RTR, “We have to be woman-first, and we’re changing the landscape by doing something that’s not common in tech companies.” RTR has a full female finance team as well, and are an inclusive company that invests heavily in sustainability initiatives. “Millennials choose brands based on social consciousness,” concluded Nicoll, which is why creating a strong brand built on solid principles makes it easier to form relationships with them. To make it easier for their agents to connect with renters, Rent the Runway’s Integration with Kustomer allows them to automate certain workflows that used to be manual, so they can spend more time working with customers and less time inputting data.

BarkShop and BarkBox understand dogs and dog owners. By getting a rich picture of their customers and their pets by using data analysis—and by using their insight as pet owners themselves—they’re able to deliver exactly what their customers need. “We’re understanding what the needs of our customers are, and figuring out what they need to meet them.” Said Melissa Seligmann, BarkShop’s General Manager.

As the conversations at our event have shown, the Direct-to-Consumer revolution is shaking the foundation of how we do business. As digital advancements make it even easier to cut out middlemen and deliver totally new kinds of experiences, customers will come to demand the same kind of convenient experiences they get from DTC brands from traditional ones. Those that can innovate, adapt, and bring a higher caliber of experience and smarter ways to buy will be the ones that succeed.

For more insights on the DTC approach, download our whitepaper: 4 Secrets to the DTC Experience Every Brand Can Master.

We Just Raised $26M. Here’s Why That’s Great News for Your Customers

Kustomer has raised a $26M Series B round led by Redpoint Ventures and has added Cisco Investments as a new strategic investor to continue to disrupt the customer experience industry.

Brad Birnbaum, Co-Founder and CEO, Kustomer

At Kustomer, we’ve set out to make customer experiences better. We know what it’s like to call customer service, wait on hold, read off our order number, explain the issue, and wait some more—only to be told we should have been speaking with someone else the entire time. It’s bad for customers, and bad for business.

That is why we’re working tirelessly to revolutionize customer experience.

We built Kustomer to be the modern CRM platform for customer support and experience. It’s always been an alternative to outdated and disconnected ticketing systems. Our clients have access to a full timeline of every customer, giving every agent and customer-facing rep the ability to pull in all the relevant data from their customers and across the business to serve them with speed and efficiency. As companies and brands become more customer-centric, we believe all of them will need to transform their businesses into a modern service and support engine to meet rising expectations.

We have made great progress since launching, welcoming clients and fellow industry disruptors such as Ring, Glossier, and Rent the Runway. With this latest round of funding, we’re excited to invest even more in making customer experiences better for our clients, and the world at large.

Making our platform work smarter and harder:

We love our platform, and so do our customers. Now, we want them to love it even more. That’s why we’re investing in improving and expanding our integrations, as well as making our platform even more intelligent and intuitive.

By broadening the depth and breadth of our integrations, we will enable every company to provide a full view of every customer, whether they’re small or large, B2B or B2C, and anywhere in between. By integrating with more e-commerce platforms, data sources, workforce management solutions, third-party voice providers, and industry-specific solutions, we will continue to enable customer-centric companies to have every last piece of customer data in their Kustomer timeline. We know that the ways customers reach your business are always evolving, which is why we’ll continue to add new channels to our platform so they’ll always be engaged.

Our workflows are incredibly powerful, and many of our clients are already using them to do some amazing things. That’s why we’re going to make them simpler and easier to use—so that everyone has the power to deliver incredible automated experiences, no complex technical knowledge required.

We will also continue to make our platform even more intelligent. By continuing our investment in Machine Learning, Sentiment Analysis, Natural Language Processing, and other new advancements, we will continue to ensure that our clients can understand their customers even better so that they can deliver experiences that are truly cutting-edge.

Equipping enterprises for incredible experiences:

Large contact centers shouldn’t deliver experiences that feel like they’re from huge, disconnected enterprises—they should be as personal and meaningful as the most hands-on boutique. That’s why we’re going to offer Enterprise-level routing and queuing, ensuring that clients of all sizes can deliver experiences that feel immediate and valuable.

Keeping customer information safe is crucial—which is why internal security is our top concern and a core part of our ethos from when we were founded. We’re building out advanced new security features throughout our platform accordingly. We’ll never take a chance with your customer’s safety, and will keep working to find new ways to make them safer.

The best part? All of these advancements will give our clients of all sizes access to Enterprise-level functionality. No matter how many customers you have, we’re going to make sure you’re giving them an unparalleled experience.

Realizing our vision for the Kustomer platform:

Not to brag, but we know the customer service and experience space inside and out. Jeremy and I have over 20 years of experience in the industry, and we always planned to create an amazing platform for service and support. However, our ambitions don’t stop there. We built the Kustomer platform to be versatile, and already our customers have been using it for more than just service—they’ve been using it for engagement, marketing, and more. Now we’re going to be investing heavily in this functionality. We always knew our platform could do so much more for you and your customers, which is why we’re making it more powerful than ever. We recognize the power behind the rich customer datasets that are stored within Kustomer. Rest assured, we intend to help you leverage them to the fullest so that more teams within your organization can deliver experiences that will wow your customers.

Growing to serve you better:

In order to maintain the incredibly high level of customer focus we demand from ourselves, we will be tripling our Customer Experience team in the next 6 months to make sure we are always there for you; whatever you need. Also, to continue working towards our vision of the richest customer-centric platform available we will be more than doubling our engineering and product teams in the next 12 months to continue to be the most innovative product in the market. We will also continue to expand beyond our New York City headquarters by placing customer-centric roles across the US and eventually Europe.

And finally, thanks:

Kustomer customers, we see you, and we want to thank you for all of your support up to now. It’s been an incredible journey, not without a few bumps, and we have so much further to go. So thanks—we’ve got a lot to show you, and we hope you’re as excited for what’s to come as we are.

Learn more in our Press Release.

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.

How Beauty Brands Can Use Customer Experience as a Differentiator

How New Beauty Brands Disrupt the Industry

The growing number of beauty brands fighting for market share are all looking for an edge. Whether it’s standout branding, a breakthrough product, or a unique story—to succeed, you have to get your customers’ attention. However, there is one surefire way of separating yourself from the pack: Service.

Download whitepaper: How New Beauty Brands Disrupt the Industry

Glossier’s gTeam is a CX Dream Team

New beauty brands have found that service can solidify relationships with their customers. Glossier’s gTeam is a best-in-class example. The dedicated staff of editors (Glossier’s special designation for service employees, rather than “agent” or “associate”) work to deliver personal, one-to-one service to their devoted fanbase.

The team works directly with the marketing and product development departments, providing advice on how to improve R&D and drive brand loyalty and repeat business thanks to their insight from working in direct contact with customers.

“Instead of limiting interactions with customer service, which is the norm in the industry, we strive to create conversations with our customers,” says Jessica White, Executive Director of Customer Experience, in a recent exclusive with Digiday.

Learn more about how Kustomer helps Glossier’s gTeam win a devoted following in this whitepaper.

Sephora’s Experience Transcends Digital and Physical

Beauty retailer Sephora has made real investments in uniting their physical and digital store operations into a single unit to deliver a 360-degree experience in-store and online. “If a customer browsed online then bought in store, we can see that. We just weren’t looking at it before, but it’s a win for both channels,” says Mary Beth Laughton, Sephora’s SVP of Digital, “We’re more aligned, and we can move faster across in-store, online and mobile strategies. Mobile is the glue that holds it all together.”

Now Sephora’s popular in-store makeovers have an added digital element. Makeup artists log each product they use in the Sephora app, so that customers can use it as a shopping list later online or at the counter. Similarly, customers can now use Sephora’s Virtual Artist augmented reality tool for to purchase the products they’ve “tried on” virtually in the app online, or find out where they’re located in-store.

Combining these teams helps drive customer loyalty, combining the perks of both channels and pooling data to deliver more-personalized recommendations and offers. “My new team brings loyalty to the forefront since we’re better positioned to understand customers across channels,” said Laughton, “Loyalty is a data-driven ecosystem, so that’s hugely powerful.”

A Truly Beautiful Experience

A smarter experience across digital and brick-and-mortar touchpoints goes a long way towards cementing your relationships with customers. In a space with as much competition and personal attachment as beauty, standing out with a next-level experience is crucial for retaining an edge over the competition. And no matter the channel, agents need to be equipped and empowered to take the experience further and truly delight your customers.

Download whitepaper: How New Beauty Brands Disrupt the Industry

Our New Twitter Integration Makes Social Service Easy

At Kustomer, we want you to be able to communicate with your customers over every channel. Providing an omnichannel experience for both customers and agents is the best way to build a strong relationship and increase your customers’ lifetime value. As part of this vision, we are happy to announce that we have integrated Twitter into our platform! Now, using Kustomer, teams can connect Twitter with all their existing channels to provide omnichannel support.

The Twitter integration will add two dedicated channels: Direct Messages (DMs) and @mentions (including likes). Teams can pick whether DMs, @mentions, or likes are brought into Kustomer for each connected Twitter handle. For example, a service-specific handle would want to receive notifications for likes, @mentions, and DMs, while a brand account might only need to take DMs into account.

From a service perspective, it’s crucial that both public mentions and DMs are part of an omnichannel conversation, with agents able to see the entire context of the conversation. With Kustomer, they can even follow up via email or any other channel, continuing the conversation that began with an inbound tweet.

In Kustomer, all incoming DMs and @mentions are in real-time, with no refresh needed—crucial for a platform where customers expect quick responses. Kustomer also displays the user’s location, handle, avatar, followers, verification status, and more, all in a single context card.

Understanding metrics around Twitter as a support channel is important as well. Team leaders can gain insight into their team’s and individual agents’ performance with Twitter Channel reports, making it easy to find areas that need improvement and informing best practices for other channels.

We gave some customers early access to this new integration, and we’re pleased to report that they’ve seen a lot of success—alongside an improvement in their overall customer experience. “We are enjoying having Twitter DMs in Kustomer,” says Jordan Donati, Glossier’s CX Operations Manager, “It is great to now be able to track what people are writing to us about and help our social team by taking DMs off their hands.

Twitter isn’t optional as a support channel for most businesses anymore: “We didn’t really decide to include Twitter as a support channel so much as our customers decided that it’s a place they want to be able to receive support!” Says Rich Lorenzo, Slice’s Customer Experience Manager, “Before the Kustomer integration I was pretty much single-handedly taking care of the customer issues that came through Twitter, which is obviously not a sustainable arrangement.” With Kustomer, Twitter has become a much more manageable service channel, “Now we can immediately route those support requests directly to the support team, which ensures our customers get the fastest possible response.”

Luckily, investing in social media as a service channel can yield real results for your business. Adding social media customer support for complaints can help increase customer advocacy by as much as 25%. And, Gartner predicts that by 2020, 90% of companies will be using social media for customer service. The sooner you start mastering your approach, the better your experience will be. So what are you waiting for? Start using Twitter with Kustomer, and give your customers the social service they deserve.

For more information, check out our Knowledge Base article.

5 Must-See Sessions on Customer Experience at Shoptalk

Shoptalk is coming this Sunday, but considering the event spans six tracks and four days, you probably haven’t figured out exactly which sessions you’re going to sit-in on. Allow us to give you a hand! Out of the many excellent options, we’ve picked five that promise to offer a unique perspective on the customer experience, featuring exciting new brands that are shaking up the space.

Monday, March 19th 9:00 to 9:40 AM – The Next Generation of Direct-to-Consumer Startups: Part 1

Shoptalk’s first full day starts with a bang. Featuring four emerging direct-to-consumer startups, each will highlight the unique aspects of their products, model, and approach. Kustomer client Cuyana is going to focus on their “fewer, better” approach to the direct-to-consumer experience. Their bags, apparel, and accessories are designed from the ground up to be of the highest quality and totally sustainable. By incentivizing their customers to donate their older clothes and replace them with longer-lasting premium items, they’ve created a virtuous cycle of conscious shopping and socially responsible donations.

Zak Normandin, Co-Founder & CEO, Dirty Lemon Beverages

Zahir Dossa, Founder & CEO, Function of Beauty

Karla Gallardo, Founder & CEO, Cuyana

Pradeep Elankumaran, Co-Founder & CEO, Farmstead

Krystina Gustafson, Content Director, Shoptalk (Moderator)

 

Monday, March 19th 4:30 – 5:10 Rise of the Niche Brands

The advent of digital channels makes it easier than ever for customer to find the highly specific products that meet their needs. It’s also made it easier for those specific products to find their way to customers. The panel features three of these non-traditional retail startups, but we’re most-excited to hear from Allbirds, the eco-friendly wool sneakers and shoes that are often sported around the Kustomer office. The fact that this New Zealand-based startup only works with wool providers who meet strict sustainability and animal welfare standards is a huge part of their experience, and one we’d like to see more often.

Joey Zwillinger, Co-Founder & Co-CEO, Allbirds

Paul Berberian, CEO, Sphero

Alexandre Douzet, Co-Founder & CEO, Ollie (Ollie Pets Inc)

Eric Liaw, General Partner, IVP (Moderator)

 

Tuesday, March 20th – 10:30 AM Keynote with Emily Weiss, Founder and CEO, Glossier

Our client Glossier’s success story is one of the most exciting developments in beauty and DTC retail over the last decade. Their continued success with new products and partnerships is the envy of pretty much every retailer out there. Plus their customer experience and service is an industry best. Like everyone else, we’re hoping that listening to this keynote will let us in on their secret.

 

Tuesday, March 20th 5:15 – 5:55 Track Keynote: Cutting-Edge Logistics and Delivery Innovation

Robots, drones, and new on-demand technologies are bringing a rising number of packages to our doorsteps each day. This session promises to share how innovative brands are leveraging cutting-edge logistics models and delivery methods improve the customer experience.

Foremost among them is our client August Home, a leading smart lock maker whose products allow consumers to control keyless entry into their homes. Working with last-mile logistics provider Deliv, the pair is pioneering in-home delivery with Walmart. This will enable drivers to place orders directly in the homes of shoppers. It’s a huge next step for CX for delivery, and one we’ll likely be seeing more of soon.

Jason Johnson, Co-Founder & CEO, August Home

Daphne Carmeli, Founder & CEO, Deliv

Carl Hazeley, Head of Content, Shoptalk Europe, Shoptalk (Moderator)

 

Wednesday, March 21st 11:50 – 12:30 PM – Culture and Leadership

This session offers an interactive look at how brands and retailers of all sizes foster a culture of innovation. Empowering employees helps creating an environment where they can succeed, and so can the company as a whole. 3D home design startup Modsy’s founder, Shanna Tellerman, started the company fresh out of school with zero management experience. Find out what she’s learned about culture and leadership after founding and building two successful companies and serving as a venture capital investor at Google Ventures.

Nadia Boujarwah, Co-Founder & CEO, Dia&Co

Dave Finnegan, Customer Experience Officer, The Orvis Company

Shanna Tellerman, Founder & CEO, Modsy

Lauren Freedman, SVP Digital Strategy & Chief Merchant, Astound Commerce (Moderator)

Let us know which sessions you’ll be attending by tweeting @Kustomer, and don’t hesitate to set up a meeting if you’re going to be in Vegas!

The Future of Retail: Four Essential Takeaways for B2C and DTC Brands

Kustomer’s Future of Retail event brought together business leaders from leading modern B2C and direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands, featuring a majority of female founders and executives across the agenda. Together, they discussed the trends that are shaping the retail and DTC landscape today, and what it takes to compete and thrive in this world.

We covered a range of topics, from understanding the customer to creating a consistent experience in-store and online and growing a business. However, four main threads emerged from all the conversations at the event:

1) Experience is the differentiator for modern brands

Now every retail brand, digital-first or established legacy, is in competition with Amazon. It’s unlikely that most will be able to compete on choice, ease of use, or connectivity of their product ecosystem. The only sure way to win is on experience—curation, community, and content is where you’ll be able to stand out.

A simple, clear business model means you can set yourself apart with your experience and service. Lola does more than deliver all-natural feminine hygiene products, their intuitive subscription service and direct-to-consumer prices, plus their commitment to a personal and engaging experience, makes them much more appealing than mass-market brands.

Fast delivery and a good website is not enough, instead customers crave a community and a genuine experience. Women’s workwear brand Argent even calls their pop-up stores “Community Centers”, where they host events themselves and from members of the community—with the end-goal of adding value to customers’ lives. You can learn more about using pop-ups as part of your retail strategy in our report here: Digital First, Store Next.

Similarly, cycling brand Rapha received a shout out for their innovative Club Houses. Instead of traditional brick-and-mortar retail, they’re a hub for Rapha customers, where they host events, local artists, athletes, and speakers, plus organize daily rides.

As Aniza Lall, Chief Merchandising Officer at Bluefly, summarized: “Commerce, content, and community: the brands that can monetize those channels are going to succeed.”

2) You need an omnichannel approach to connect every touchpoint

From first touch and acquisition to the post-purchase experience, you need to be able to trace a solid line following your customer along each.

More brands are getting their start on Instagram like AYR, or as a source of content like Glossier, and scaling from their with a handful of products. It’s crucial to be able to capture all the information about those early fans that you can, because they will form the core of your audience and define your brand experience.

Eleanor Turner, Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of Argent, described the importance of connecting these dots: “Experience is such a buzzword today, but it’s really all about creating an experience that’s unique to your brand, personal, and streamlined end-to-end.”

3) Subscription is the future of customer loyalty

New, digital-first brands are shifting their business model to become part of life and rhythm of the customer. For these businesses, profit comes from retention and lifetime value, and you need to know whether or not customers are happy based on their actions, not their words. Doing so can drastically raise their lifetime value.

Men’s subscription box Sprezzabox uses a loyalty program to reward customers based on how long they’ve been a subscriber, giving them access to higher-quality items and delighting them with special offers.

Feminine hygiene brand Lola partners with other brands like Cuyana, Warby Parker, Equinox, and Harry’s to extend their value proposition and reach new audiences.

Material World has shifted their focus from being a marketplace for secondhand luxury items, to building an ongoing relationship by having customers exchange their old clothing and other items for a new pre-owned set each month. As Rie Yano, the company’s Co-Founder and CEO described, “People used to use the brands they shop for as their identity, but now identity is about how you spend your money, not what you spend it on.”

Brands like Rent the Runway and Material World provide more value for customers with a service that replaces ownership with an ongoing relationship with a brand.

4) Stay laser-focused on what your customers love.

Even as you grow, you need to keep the core facets of your brand and experience that your customers love at the forefront.

Women’s clothing brand AYR launched on Instagram and social 3 months before their product lineup fully launched, just to communicate with their customer and get feedback. It’s remained a huge driver for their business: “Our biggest win has been having a direct line to the customer. We launched our t-shirts, plus-size jeans, and eco-friendly products based solely on customer feedback.” Co-Founder Max Bonbrest also gave a big shout out to Glossier for the same reason, “Having an engaged community before you start selling a product is a huge benefit. The best example of this is Glossier, obviously.”

Similarly, Lola’s brand is built on what real women have to say about feminine hygiene. After having a number of conversations while coming up with Lola’s brand direction, founder Alex Friedman had an epiphany: “I realized that there are all these moments where stigma leads to a lack of discussion. I see our job as contributing to the conversation in those areas and extending the brand in those directions.”

Whether your brand is just getting started or has established itself over decades, the discussions at Future of Retail reiterated that success in the modern retail landscape is grounded firmly in gaining better customer understanding, and delivering a powerful, connected experience.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this event possible, we’ll have even more awesome events and informative conversations like this one coming soon!

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