What the 2020 Holiday Season Reveals About the New Role of CX

What the 2020 Holiday Season Reveals About the New Role of CX TW

2020 likely changed the CX industry for good, and there may be nothing more ill-advised than to ignore the lessons learned during the past year. The twists and turns were endless, but the holiday season presented a whole new set of challenges. What is already a stressful time of year, was now uncharted territory.

In an effort to understand more thoroughly how retail and e-commerce CX organizations were impacted during the 2020 holiday season, and how the customer service landscape has shifted compared to the previous year, Kustomer went out and surveyed over 100 CX professionals. Read on for a preview of our findings, and download the full report here.

New Normal, New Challenges

An increase in inquiries was not the only challenge that CX organizations faced during the 2020 holiday season. Retail and e-commerce organizations were also facing limited staff, frequent shipping issues and more challenging inquiries.

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Additionally, most of the challenges that these teams faced were even more intense than during the previous year. More than half of respondents reported that wait times, shipping issues and challenging inquiries all increased year-over-year, while just under half of respondents reported more unhappy customers, more digital inquiries, and less resources to resolve issues.

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At the same time, CX organizations were expected to provide quick AND personal support. Doing more with less was the name of the game during the 2020 holiday season, putting an immense amount of pressure on agents.

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CX Throughout the Buyer Journey

According to our research, it appears that both businesses and consumers are starting to adopt a new mindset around the role of CX. Support inquiries were split somewhat evenly across the customer journey during the 2020 holiday season, surprisingly with the least percentage of inquiries coming post-transaction.

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The most frequent inquiries that CX teams received during the 2020 holiday season truly spanned the customer journey, with most seemingly coming pre-transaction, when consumers had questions about products they were considering.

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As was previously discussed, a whole new demographic of buyers were forced to do their shopping online, and leaned more heavily on customer service teams to feel comfortable and confident about their purchases. While post-transaction support, like order status and return initiation, likely will never subside, CX teams can now take on more of a revenue-generating advisory role, answering product questions or directing customers to better alternatives.

It’s important to take this new role into consideration when planning out a holistic CX strategy. These more consultative conversations will require more time and knowledge. Perhaps this means that more busy work can be delegated to technology. Perhaps this means that the “measure of success” for agents must expand beyond just handle time. Perhaps it is necessary to share the information received from customers with the product or marketing teams, to improve the website experience or optimize product development.

The role of CX has transformed dramatically over the course of the past year, and some of these shifts are likely to stick for good. While this could mean more work for CX organizations, it also means that CX now has the opportunity to not only build customer relationships, but impact an organization’s bottom line.

Check out our full report for details on how inquiry volume increased, what returns season looked like, and how retailers coped during this extraordinary holiday season.


Rainbow Shops’ Adoption of Kustomer CRM Platform Just Weeks Before Peak Holiday Shopping Delivers Seamless, Efficient Customer Experience

Kustomer Quickly Helps Rainbow Shops Reduce Abandon Rate by 60%, Improve Agent Satisfaction And Deliver A Modern Customer Experience

New York, NY – November 24, 2020Rainbow Shops, a fashion retailer with 12,000 employees worldwide, today announced it has selected and integrated Kustomer, a top-rated CRM for modern customer experiences, as its omnichannel customer service CRM platform. Just weeks before the start of peak holiday shopping season, Rainbow Shops took the bold step of replacing Salesforce Service Cloud with Kustomer, enabling Rainbow to provide real-time request resolutions, an integrated view of the customer, operational efficiencies and a more seamless customer experience across its retail channels. Rainbow Shops’ customer service centers are an integral part of their business, servicing its e-commerce channel and more than 1,000 stores with a staff of just 20 agents.

Before deploying Kustomer, Rainbow customer service agents were reporting difficulties accessing siloed information about the customer, their order history, order status, refunds and other issues. Within three weeks of the project kickoff meeting, the Kustomer platform was operational and delivering value with a 60% reduction in abandon rate and a boost in agent and customer satisfaction. An added benefit of the Kustomer platform was its tight integration with the ecosystem of tools and channels Rainbow Shops was already using, which helped simplify and streamline the systems Rainbow uses to run customer service. Rainbow Shops plans to add more Kustomer capabilities in January, including Kustomer IQ chat, SMS chat, and AI-guided self service.

“As a leader in customer service and e-commerce for more than 15 years, I have an acute understanding of what it takes to deliver the stellar, modern customer service experience today’s consumers are seeking, and having the right tools and technology plays an essential role in this. For years, I’ve been looking for a solution that provides the closest possible 360-degree view of our customers, but I struggled to find the best fit until now,” said Michael Hoffman, Director of E-Commerce & Customer Service, Rainbow Shops. “Since adopting Kustomer at the end of October, I feel we are well on our way to providing our customers with the real-time, flexible and informed customer service they expect during one of the most critical times for retail success. While deploying a new technology so close to the holiday shopping season was risky, it could not have gone faster or smoother and it’s already paying off in a big way, keeping both our customers and our customer service agents highly satisfied.”

“Businesses like Rainbow Shops that are motivated to delight their customers and operate at peak efficiency are why we created Kustomer. We are thrilled we were able to quickly transform customer service for Rainbow Shops,” said Brad Birnbaum, CEO and Co-Founder of Kustomer. “Making customer service better, easier, and more efficient, while delivering measurable value, is important to everyone at Kustomer. We look forward to helping Rainbow Shops leverage the full suite of our tools — from our core CRM platform to our intelligent chatbots — as they continue to strengthen customer relationships and brand loyalty.”

About Rainbow
Fashion at prices you’ll love.™ Rainbow is a national fashion retailer with over 1,000 locations in the United States, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands as well as RainbowShops.com. We offer a wide selection of women’s, juniors, plus size, and children’s clothing, as well as shoes and accessories. With hundreds of new styles arriving every day in stores and online, Rainbow is the ultimate purveyor of must-have looks in fast fashion. Headquartered in Brooklyn, NY, Rainbow has been the final say in affordable style since 1935.

About Kustomer
Kustomer is a top-rated CRM, helping top brands deliver modern customer service that creates customers for life. Through AI-powered automation, Kustomer scales to meet the needs of contact centers and businesses, enabling companies to deliver effortless, consistent and personalized service and support through a single timeline view. Today, Kustomer is the core platform of some of the leading customer service brands like Ring, Glovo, Glossier and Sweetgreen. Headquartered in NYC, Kustomer was founded in 2015 by serial entrepreneurs Brad Birnbaum and Jeremy Suriel, has raised over $174M in venture funding, and is backed by leading VCs including: Coatue, Tiger Global Management, Battery Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Cisco Investments, Canaan Partners, Boldstart Ventures and Social Leverage.

Media Contact:
Cari Sommer
Raise Communications

How to Deliver on Consumer Expectations

The Top Customer Service Qualities Your Customers Expect TW

Optimal customer service is a must for companies that want a stellar reputation that keeps business flowing. In fact, according to our own research, 79% of consumers say customer service is extremely important when deciding where to shop, so delivering on consumer expectations has never been more important. Retailers need to tailor the way they interact with consumers in a way that exceeds their expectations in an effort to not only maintain their business, but also to gain customer loyalty. It’s not just about delivering on consumer expectations ⁠— it’s about exceeding their anticipated desires to drive loyalty.

Focusing on opportunities that go above and beyond, personalizing interactions and providing services that ensure a competitive advantage are imperative to surviving and thriving as a business today.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common new and existing consumer expectations, the importance of meeting these desired outcomes and how your brand can properly deliver on exceptional customer service and engagement:

What Do Customers Expect From Customer Service?

When it comes to creating the optimal customer experience, brands know how important it is to embrace technology. The digital age has made it easier than ever to connect with customers via outlets like social media, solve issues in a timely fashion, and build brand loyalty and awareness. Taking advantage of technology to address, manage and resolve traditional problems is essential for businesses that want to thrive in 2020 and beyond.

“It’s clear that the digital age has transformed what the modern day consumer expects from retailers,” Brad Birnbaum, CEO of Kustomer, explained. “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.”

According to data gathered from The Customer Service Situation, a 2019 customer satisfaction survey conducted by OnePoll for Kustomer, there are opportunities for brands to bounce back from a mistake, but not all consumers are willing to give businesses more than a few chances. In fact, our research shows that the average customer gives a retailer three mistakes before he or she decides to return to the business or never make a purchase with them again. This information may show that customers are willing to give brands the benefit of the doubt, but additional majority data might say otherwise ⁠— 80% of shoppers agreed they wouldn’t continue business with a retailer if they had a bad customer service experience.

So what should companies focus on when it comes to providing optimal customer service? Be attentive to quality control and making as few mistakes as possible to retain customers and gain their loyalty.

In our Customer Expectations During the Holiday Season man-on-the-street video, consumers said that if they had a bad customer service experience, they would return their product and go somewhere else. Another said she would call the bank and dispute the charge, while another customer admitted to the willingness to go elsewhere and shop outside of his budget knowing that it’ll be a worthy exchange because he’s going to get optimal customer service. This ties right back into our survey, where 59% of customers agreed they’d be willing to pay more money if it meant better customer service.

Timeliness is also a must. Our survey found that customers tend to get annoyed with customer service agents if they’re placed on hold for more than 3.5 minutes, which means representatives need to have solutions ready as soon as possible.

Consistency in great service is a major expectation for consumers. Failure to do so could result in permanently lost business — according to the survey, the average consumer admits to swearing off at least four businesses after having bad customer service experiences.

What Does It Take to Deliver Exceptional Customer Engagement?

Creating a personalized customer experience is essential for businesses to flourish in today’s fast-paced world. As covered in a previous blog The Importance of Empathy, Compassion and a Truly Human Customer Experience, simple moments of kindness in customer service, like a laugh over the phone, a smiley face emoji via chat or an e-mail that asks how the customer is doing, can facilitate a positive reputation for any brand and can be one of its greatest assets, especially today.

In another one of our man-on-the-street videos, Personalization in Customer Service, consumers shared that they expect a certain level of personalization from a customer service agent, especially when personal information is provided during the initial conversation. When you don’t have to reiterate your issues over multiple instances with an agent, the interaction between the customer and agent becomes more worthwhile.

In essence, delivering on consumer expectations is all about understanding what the consumer wants and creating personalized customer service experiences based on those needs. A mixture of automation and human interaction allows you to meet said expectations while providing quality assistance that leads customers back to your business.

For more information on personalization in customer service, download Kustomer’s how-to guide, Customer Personalization: 3 Ways to Deliver Personalized Support and Earn Lifelong Brand Loyalty or request a demo to learn more about upgrading your customer service software today.

Believe It or Not, Now Is the Time to Prep for the Holidays. Here’s How.

Believe It or Not, Now Is the Time to Prep for the Holidays. Here’s How. Stat

Many of us look forward to the holidays. We get excited about the prospect of parties, family gatherings, holiday cheer and presents galore. But the holiday season also brings a big lump of coal: an increase in needy customers reaching out to your team in need of immediate support.

According to Kustomer data, inbound customer service inquiries increased by almost 120% during the holiday season in 2019, with particularly dramatic spike in activity on Instagram, e-mail, voice and chat.

Many businesses struggle to maintain a high level of support during spikes in activity. They may need to hire a flurry of seasonal employees who have a short training period. Last year, $284 billion dollars were spent between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday alone, so the stakes are high. The question becomes, how do you handle the seasonal rush without breaking the bank or disappointing customers? Read on to learn what customers expect, and how to deliver with smart strategies and smarter technology.

Customer Expectations During the Holiday Season

Spending isn’t the only thing skyrocketing during the holiday season — so too are customer expectations. Here is what consumers expect from brands during the upcoming holiday season.

Immediate Service

During the holiday season, the turn of phrase “too much to do, too little time” hits a lot closer to home. Between normal day-to-day life, holiday celebrations, traveling and gift buying, consumers don’t want more of their time taken up by customer service.

According to recent Kustomer research, 77% of customers expect their problem to be solved immediately upon contacting customer service. Customers demand that you respect their time, especially during the busy holiday rush, and if you don’t, they are willing to leave for another retailer. In fact, 70% of consumers would not shop with a retailer again if they had to leave a chat before being helped, and 71% would do the same if they waited so long on hold that they hung up.

Available on Any Platform

Especially during the peak shopping season – Thanksgiving to Christmas — consumers are on the go. They may be traveling to spend time with family, taking a much needed vacation, or multitasking during the work day. What does this all mean? Customers are more willing and able to reach out on new platforms that are most convenient for them.

While 88% of consumers get frustrated when they can’t contact a company on the channel they prefer, availability on multiple platforms isn’t enough. Eighty-six percent of customers said they get frustrated when they have to repeat information to customer service agents. This means that if customers switch channels or need to be transferred, they don’t want the context of their previous interactions lost.

Most of the time, when a customer contacts a company, the team manning that channel will create a ticket. If the customer then contacts the company through a different channel about the same issue, a second ticket will be created with each team working their respective tickets. This results in a fragmented experience and the unfortunate need to repeat information.

How to Wow Your Customers During the Holiday Season (Without Breaking the Bank)

The typical strategies businesses use to please customers have one thing in common: they cost money, and aren’t scalable. What are some strategies and technology tools that you can put in place to wow your customers WITHOUT breaking the bank?

Prepare Early

There’s something to be said about beating your competition to the punch. According to research by Digital Commerce 360, 56% of customers chose where to shop during last year’s holiday season based on past experiences. In addition to common seasonal marketing strategies, delivering a stellar experience NOW can help you drive business in the future.

The companies that are practically synonymous with brand love, and have customers that are loyal to the death, have one thing in common: they have prioritized customer experience since their inception. In fact, customer experience is becoming more important than price and product when it comes to loyalty. Ensure that during busy seasons, when your inquiries and orders quadruple, you can continue to make customers feel just as valued as on the slowest day of the year. By preparing early, you can put the right tools, staff and strategies in place to not only deliver the perfect holiday gift, but also the perfect holiday customer experience.

Get a Little Help From Your Robot Friends

When resources are thin, technology can make a huge impact on your team’s efficiency. Oftentimes the most tedious tasks on an agent’s plate are manual and repetitive, and may not require human intervention. Luckily AI can handle simple tasks like tagging and routing conversations to the most appropriate agent. And consider the power of chatbots during peak shopping periods. They are growing in popularity with both businesses and consumers. In fact, 67% of consumers prefer self-service over talking to a company representative.

Chatbots can be used to collect initial information, provide responses to simple questions, and even complete standard tasks like changing a booking or answering an order status question. While there is always fear of losing personalization when using AI and automation, with the right platform, 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.

Be Available Wherever Your Customers Are

Omnichannel support shifts perspective from ticket resolution to customer relationship building, which is incredibly valuable during the holiday season, when companies have the opportunity to attract an entirely new cohort of customers. Individuals have the freedom to move between channels throughout their engagement, and are guaranteed consistency, so each conversation starts where the last ended. Agent collision never occurs when communication channels are integrated, because agents can view the conversation and maintain context even as customers engage through multiple channels. If executed properly, omnichannel support provides a consistent experience for customers at every touchpoint after acquisition.

Ensure you have the right technology in place to integrate your combination of communication channels in order to capture the free flow of conversations across platforms and display the data in a single screen. A best-in-class solution should create a unified home for all your customer data, regardless of the source, not only the data generated from customer conversations.

Download our full holiday prep guide for additional strategies and customer insights that are sure to prepare you for the upcoming holiday season.


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