Customer Service for the Digital Age

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

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

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

New Generation, New Customer Expectations

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

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

Out With Old Customer Models, in With the New

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

Moving from Transactions to Relationships

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

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

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

Know Your (Whole) Customer

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

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

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

 

How 4 Retail Brands Deliver Modern Customer Support

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

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

Glossier builds products with their community of fans

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

ThirdLove invests in a culture of CX and smart data

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

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

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

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

Outdoor Voices invites participation in

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

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

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

LOLA designs support workflows for empowered agents

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

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

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

Key takeaways:

5 ways to deliver CX like DTC leaders

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

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

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


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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

Rie Yano and Randi Zuckerberg on What’s Really Next for Retail

Material World is exactly the kind of brand that’s shaping the future of retail. As millennials move towards acquiring more pre-owned, high quality goods and away from Fast Fashion, smart resellers and digital-first marketplaces are snapping up market share. This shifting landscape was a big topic at our Future of Retail Summit, but we got to continue the conversation with one of our panelists—Material World’s co-founder Rie Yano—on Randi Zuckerberg’s Dot Complicated radio show on Sirius XM’s Wharton Business channel.

Randi opened the conversation with some stats, “Despite the press on store closings, data shows a net increase in store openings of over 4,000 in 2017 and sales have increased more than 3% per year since 2008. More and more hyper-customized concierge and on-demand services like ultra-fast delivery, digital dressing rooms, and robot customer service are becoming part of the CRM norm.”

There’s no doubt that customer behavior is driving the future of retail and relationships. Rie and Alon discussed the implications of these big picture changes. Find some of the highlights from Alon and Rie’s conversation with Randi below.

The Future of Brick and Mortar

While there’s so much focus on etail, traditional store-centric retail still has a huge place in the market. However, brick and mortar is changing, and needs to account for the digital experience. To make sure that the buyer journey continues and that the experience is relevant and consistent, you need the total customer view:

The Future of Subscriptions

Subscription business models are supplementing or even replacing both brick and mortar and etail channels. Customers love the convenience, and it’s a unique way for retailers to build loyalty. Material World has recently started offering a Material Box: the service delivers a pre-owned outfit styled by a designer straight to your doorstep, which you can also use to donate items of your own when you send it back. Subscription is proving to be both a great way to provide an easier shopping experience to your customers, and to learn more about them and build a deeper relationship. 

The Future of Bots

Automation is a useful way to cut down on the number of basic inquiries coming through to your customer service representatives, giving customers the fast responses they expect. However, the experience can only be taken so far. Instead, bots have to amplify your agents’ abilities, not replace them.

What’s Next?

We can’t be sure of what the future holds, but from our conversation with Rie and Randi, we’re pretty sure it’s going to include way better experiences for customers—whether they’re in-store, online, or somewhere in between. That, and dancing. Lots of dancing.

To listen to the full episode, head over to SiriusXM.

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!

5 Things to Do in Palm Desert While You’re at eTail West

Your guide to hanging out when you aren’t on site.

eTail West 2018 is set to be packed with stimulating, thought-provoking content for pretty much every moment up until happy hour. That’s awesome, but any event of this magnitude is going to get a little exhausting. So how to unwind? We’ve put together some fun and relaxing options for activities while you’re making the most of your getaway to the sunny Palm Desert.

eTail West 2018 is set to be packed with stimulating, thought-provoking content for pretty much every moment up until happy hour. That’s awesome, but any event of this magnitude is going to get a little exhausting. So how to unwind? We’ve put together some fun and relaxing options for activities while you’re making the most of your getaway to the sunny Palm Desert.

1. Fabulous Bingo at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club

Who says Bingo is for retirement homes? Every Monday night at 7:00 PM in the fashionable Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, crowds gather just to get a chance to fill out their cards at an exciting night of drinks, music, comedy, and dancing. The festivities are hosted by Shirley Claire, a former Palm Springs Follies charmer and recent star of America’s Got Talent. This isn’t your grandma’s Bingo night.

2. Palm Springs Art Museum and Desert X

Art blooms in the desert — if you’re feeling like you need some culture after all the business talk, check out the Palm Springs Art Museum, where you can peruse their extensive collection and interactive sculpture garden. The sprawling Desert X exhibit that covered an entire valley in art works is now finished until 2019, but you can still see Jeffrey Gibson’s “ALIVE” from the street outside the Palm Springs Art Museum, and Armando Lerma’s “La Fiesta en El Desierto” can be seen at 85963 Grapefruit Blvd in Coachella, CA.

3. Dinner with Kustomer!

We like to eat, you like to eat — why not eat together? Request an invite to one of our eTail dinners here and break bread with us in person! To set up a meeting at eTail, contact us here.

4. See the Flamingos!

The grounds of the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Desert are lush and full of life, but are perhaps most famous for the 30 Chilean flamingos on the premises. Due to all the attention they’ve received, the flamingos have become quite friendly — and will even caw in greeting when you approach.

5. Eat at In-N-Out Burger

Sometimes you just need a good burger, and In-N-Out is about a good a place as any to satisfy your craving. Maybe not as big a deal for any West Coast delegates, but for everyone else, definitely worth the trip for their freshly-prepared fries, shakes, and multi-patty delicacies. Don’t forget the secret menu, and always go Animal Style.

You’re sure to learn a lot at eTail, but don’t forget to enjoy yourself. And, if you start getting tired out, stop by Kustomer’s booth on the exhibit hall for a free and refreshing iced coffee — just the pick-me-up you’re going to need.

How to Turn One-Time Shoppers Into Repeat Customers

What we learned from our webinar with DSTLD and Optimove

How do you keep customers coming back? Our latest webinar answers just that question, and features DSTLD Customer Experience Manager Laura Gramlich (read our guest post from Laura here) and Optimove Solutions Engineer Leigh Noy, hosted by our own Senior Manager of Marketing Programs Stacey Dolchin. We discussed how to build loyalty with the rush of customers that companies acquire during a busy period. Whether that’s holidays, product launches, or special events, you need to prioritize loyalty and retention to be successful.

Our conversation with DSTLD and Optimove brought up an array of useful insights for dealing with these issues, perfect for any brands looking to build a stronger relationship with first-time buyers.

DSTLD is a brand that prioritizes their end-to-end experience to turn their customers into diehard fans. By selling high-quality denim and basics directly to consumers at a fraction of the price of bigger brands, they’ve struck a chord with fashion-enthusiasts. Their unique offering drives interest, but it’s important to keep these shoppers coming back for more. DSTLD has a few strategies for this:

Individualized and Personal Customer Service: By integrating their existing shopping platforms with Kustomer, they can view orders and customer conversations together. By having this information in one timeline, it’s easy to deliver fast, intuitive assistance.

Real-time Chat: One of the highest rates of drop-off for an ecommerce site occurs when a customer has issues prior to and at checkout. After launching chat on their site, DSTLD was able to respond immediately to their customers and answer their questions, resulting in a higher conversion rate at checkout.

Post-Purchase Automation: If deliveries are delayed due to a weather event, DSTLD’s goal is to identify customers who may be affected by using Kustomer, and then reach out to those who have been affected with an automated message that allows them to easily pick the next course of action.

Improved Returns Experience: DSTLD has made their returns experience a priority, constantly innovating and scaling up in the offseason to deliver the best possible experience when demand is high. Their new process for exchanges makes completing them even easier, meaning customers receive their item even faster than before.

Optimove picked up where DSTLD left off, sharing how to retain customers and build engagement after a high-demand period. They suggest following 3 key steps to make a difference in your experience to build a bond for life with customers.

1. Detect and Reward Your VIPs: VIP’s (the top 5% of customers) are responsible for 60% of your revenue according to Optimove, so it’s crucial to find them and treat them right. Look at the journey of your current VIPs to identify future candidates, then give them early access and special offers — but don’t take your current VIPs for granted, either.

2. Create a Plan for Post-Holiday Retention: The average transaction amount during the holiday season is 30% higher for repeat customers than new customers, but newly acquired customers during the holiday are 90% less likely to return for repeat business — making it all the more crucial to have a retention plan ready.

3. Strategize for The Long Game: The chances of making another transaction increases as the number of initial transactions increase — that means there’s a real incentive and knock-on effect to converting first-time shoppers. Analyze them, and apply what you’ve learned from your multi-time shoppers to convert more first-timers into repeat customers.

Clearly there’s real value in focusing on a long-term strategy for getting customers to buy from you again and again, beyond simply making more sales. Repeat customers are more loyal and enthusiastic for your brand, and buy far more than the shoppers who just stop in when demand is high. A solid strategy, top-notch experience, and a commitment to finding and encouraging the customers who are most likely to keep coming back is what will make the difference for your business — and knowing everything about your customers makes it that much easier.

Six Essential Sessions on Customer Experience at eTail West

Our top picks for the CX obsessed to check out in Palm Springs.

We’re now just two weeks away from kicking off eTail West in Palm Springs! With so many ways to spend your time, Kustomer wants to suggest a few panels that you shouldn’t miss when it comes to customer experience. Take a look:

1. Tuesday, February 27 — Panel Remix: Tracking Your Customers: The Jump From Online To Offline featuring: Bonobos, Sugarfina, Walgreens

Understanding the customer journey is crucial to growing your business in today’s (over)connected world. This mix of D2C and retail brands are well-placed to deliver a first class primer on retail success.

2. Tuesday, February 27 — Panel Remix: Going Beyond Omnichannel, Moving Towards A One Customer, Unified Commerce Mentality featuring: Chico’s, Benefit Cosmetics, Bombas

Omnichannel is hard enough to achieve, but to capture real success in the market, you need to do even better. Getting a single view of the customer is key, and this talk will help inspire you to bust down the walls between channels and take a universal approach.

3. Wednesday, February 28 — Keynote Panel: Footprinting Retail Experiences Of The Future featuring: The RealReal, Shinola, Zappos

What will the future hold for retail? It’s a question on all of our minds, but this lineup is well-positioned to actually give an answer. Diving into current and experimental experiences, this is a forward-looking glimpse at the future of turning interactions into transactions.

4. Wednesday, February 28 — User Experience Optimization at Modcloth

This fireside chat is a great chance to learn firsthand how a modern, D2C company is outpacing the competition by improving user experience and driving mobile conversion. Want to increase your customers’ speed to purchase and give them a satisfying experience? Who doesn’t!

5. Wednesday, February 28 — Building Your Online Community And Keeping Them Loyal featuring: Chubbies

Get your seats early for this one — if you’ve never heard the bombastic CEO of beloved shorts and swim trunks brand Chubbies, you’re in for a treat. Learn how one of our customers turns ordinary shoppers into fans, advocates, and influencers with their incredible experiences and compelling brand story.

6. Thursday, February 1 — Keynote Disruption Panel Remix: Start-Ups: Started From The Bottom (Now They’re Here) featuring: Parachute Home, Cuyana, Farmstead

Making a mark on the competitive ecommerce landscape is hard, but these brands make it look easy. Check out this exciting conversation between fast-growing startups that redefine the meaning of hustle. We’ll be listening extra closely what D2C women’s premium fashion and accessories company Cuyana (one of our customers) has to say, and their inspiring story of delivering better basics while giving back.

We’re looking forward to a great week of conversation and connections! Kustomer will be hosting lunches, dinner, and events all week.

To set up a meeting at eTail, contact us here.

’Tis the Season for Returns

With the Holiday rush behind us and both Black Friday and Cyber Monday a distant memory, a new season for retailers is just beginning. That’s right, when all those regrettable gifts from in-laws and mis-sized sweaters go back where they came from — with the express expectation that they’ll be returned or exchanged without a hassle. According to the National Retail Federation, 8% of total sales are returns — and that number will only rise alongside online shopping, as 1 out of every 5 items bought online is returned.

Returns are an increasingly crucial element of the customer experience. The rush and excitement of buying is replaced by frustration and boredom, and customers want the return process to be over as soon as possible. As a result of their rising frequency, customers have come to expect clear and agreeable terms — the lower the bar to return, the more likely they are to buy. UPS’s research even shows that 15% of customers will abandon their cart if the policy isn’t clear.

Providing a better return experience might feel like hiking uphill in a headwind, but the retailers that are able to overcome the logistical complications will see real rewards. Not only will shoppers be more inclined to buy, they’ll also shop some more if they have to return. UPS also found that 70% of online shoppers made another purchase when returning in-store, and 45% bought something extra when returning online.

Prioritizing the return process means connecting your view of the customer across your service teams and fulfillment partners. However, that prep will be invaluable once the return season is in full swing. Kustomer client DSTLD—a digital-first retailer that sells high-quality, affordable denim and basics—found that laying the groundwork for their exchange process in the offseason paid dividends in terms of customer experience over the holidays. “We’ve created a new process for exchanges to make completing them even easier. As a result, our customers receive their item even faster than before, giving them a better customer experience and helping us stay competitive. Then, when the winter season gets closer, we hire seasonal workers to meet the influx of demand.” Said Laura Gramlich, DSTLD’s Customer Experience Manager.

Returns are, increasingly, inevitable. But with planning, you can deliver a demonstrably better return experience, encouraging customers to shop without fear of a harrowing trial when they get to the service desk. This leads to more willingness to buy, and they may even add a few extra items to their cart as they bring back back a pair of jeans that wouldn’t have fit in middle school. And, by enabling your service teams and streamlining your view of the customer, Kustomer can make that return experience that much better. ’Tis the season!

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