Tune in for a lively discussion on how customer experience is a matter of life and death for retail brands and how to create customers for life with a strong CX strategy and the right tool kit.

Topics Covered:

  • What consumers expect from brands
  • How brands manage and meet these expectations
  • New research about tactics employed by leading retailers
  • The importance of retailers conducting a thorough CX Audit

Guest Speakers:

Emily Pfeiffer

Principal Analyst, Commerce Technology | Forrester

Emily Pfieffer is a Senior Analyst at Forrester, where she serves digital business strategy professionals and providers with a focus on the technology that enables commerce.

Recent Article: The Top Three Solutions In B2C Commerce In 2022

Fang Cheng

Founder & CEO | Linc

Fang Cheng is the founder and CEO of Linc, the only CX Automation platform built for retail brands. With a Ph.D. in bioinformatics from NYU, Fang previously co-founded a business acquired by Amazon, and prior to that, she worked as a hedge fund manager.

Recent Article: Treat Returns as a Competitive Advantage that Increases Customer Lifetime Value

Retail Brands: How to Manage & Meet Post-Pandemic Customer Expectations

Webinar Transcription;

Josh Stone  00:08

Thank you, everybody, for joining us today. I'm Josh stone director of demand marketing at Linc. I'll be serving as host.  We're super excited to come together for a discussion on how retailer retail brands can set, manage and meet expectations of customers post pandemic.  We're going to be talking about what consumers want from retail brands, how retail brands can manage and meet those expectations, and what retail brands are actually doing today to meet this CX challenge.  Some housekeeping ahead of time, please ask questions, we love questions, you can do so at the bottom of your screen by clicking the q&a button.  

We have 15 minutes saved at the end of the session with Fang and Emily here to answer your questions, and then we'll go through some other questions that were brought to us before the call.  After the webinar, we're going to be following up with the recording. And then also, I'll provide a document with all of the questions and answers. So even if we don't have time to get to all the questions, you'll have a sheet you know kind of a one sheet here that you'll get after the webinar with all the answers.  

Yeah, ready to get the conversation started, I'd like to introduce our guests.  First, Emily Pfeiffer, who actually was just recently promoted to principal analyst commerce technology at Forrester. So big congrats to her.  She serves digital business strategy professionals and provides-providers with a focus on the technology that enables commerce.  She's an expert in commerce, order management, drop shipping technologies, really helping providers and practitioners anticipate the strategies, technologies and priorities that are going to keep them relevant for today and in the future.  

Next, I'd like to introduce Fang Cheng, the founder and CEO at Linc, the only CX automation platform that's purpose built for retail brands.  She and all of us here are customer obsessed, focused on changing the conversation in commerce, and empowering retail brands to really provide an optimum customer experience.  Thank you so much, Emily and Fang for being here. Emily, take it away.

Emily Pfieffer  04:44

Perfect. Yeah. Thanks for that really nice introduction. I'm so glad to be here. Thank you.   I have a few things to take us through today. I'm gonna see if I can get our slides to advance and we can get started on the content.  The first thing that we want to think about is what's going on today, for consumers, the experience that they're having and how it's different post pandemic.  

Let's just take a look at what's happened because of the pandemic and how it's affected the way people think about their behaviors today.  So we ask these questions over and over again, have you done these things for the first time, and we continue to ask this through, and I don't know if I can say after the pandemic, but we do continue now and to ask these questions. And we keep getting more consumers saying to us, yes, I have now done these things for the first time.  

This is so meaningful, because you can only have one first time. Now, it's just maybe a thing that you do, right. So the idea that consumers like, you know, shopping online, fine banking, online, paying bills, maybe that was kind of normal for a lot of consumers.  But medical appointments, exercise classes, you know, there are so many things, even buying groceries, I mean, my poor dad, he's the guy who likes to see his cut of meat and choose it at the little butcher counter in the supermarket.  

He's buying groceries online, not every time anymore, but still regularly, because that is now just a thing he does. So that first time doesn't necessarily change all of our behaviors moving forward, but it changes our perception of what we do, and our decisions about what we'll continue to do moving forward pandemic or not, it's very, very meaningful.  The experience that consumers are having is tough. They have expectations that they find pretty consistently are not being adequately met.

So, you know, I want to get an order confirmation that tells me exactly when my product will come. This is a very reasonable expectation, if I do say so I've already placed the order. I want to know when it will come.  Consumer said 70% of them said yes, this is important to me. It's not always what happens in retail experiences. We know that about half of consumers said, I want to have specific delivery and pickup dates for the product when I'm in the shopping cart. So now the 70% here, this is after I've made the purchase. But half of them are saying 58%, more than half are saying I'd like to know in the shopping cart. I think that's important. So this is really complicated. This is data coming in from the OMS that's running in real time, near real time in the shopping experience, right? And customers expected more than half said, yeah, that's something I'd like 57% said, prices were higher than expected. Always.

So we asked them How often was this the case? Always, this is a very, very fresh data looking at just the first half of this year. So not sometimes not often, every time I'm shopping prices are higher than I expected them to be. These are the and pay attention to the word expected. Right? They're not higher than they were they're higher than expected. Even though we know that inflation is happening and prices are going up. It's still not meeting my expectations.

This is a tough moment for consumers. That 38% said to us that items that they've wanted to pick up, were not available in stores near them. So always pickup is an option that is used for convenience. It's something that enables customers to get what they want exactly when they want it sooner than probably any other method. But always the items I wanted to pick up or not available near me. It's complicated. So let's just think a little bit about this experience and what it means for expectations management, right? In digital retail, what we're talking about is managing expectations.

Going back to the most recent holiday season, a third of consumers in the US told us my shipments were always late, always late. So why did they think that they were late because the retailer they bought from had made a promise, they had set an expectation somewhere along the way that led them to believe it was coming at a certain time and it didn't. Let's think about that process and where it happens in the lifecycle so that this is our forest or customer lifecycle. And it starts up at the top right with discover that right side is pre purchase.

These are the experiences that we have as we're learning about a product or a brand we're exploring we're deciding whether or not to buy. So discovery evaluate commit is alright I've decided to place an order or sign up for a subscription or engaged for a service or whatever it is. Then we have that order confirmation moment. Notice the order confirmation is like the line between phases.

It starts the Initiate phase, that phase ends with order delivery. And then we have all of the post purchase experiences that come after it. But that initiate phase this is this is crucial. This is when a customer is the most vulnerable. They have given you everything, I've given you my money I've committed, and I am just waiting. I've received nothing, right. So this is the time to reinforce it was the right decision to buy. It's the time to add value, not an upsell, but value. It's the time to say, you might be having buyer's remorse. I'm not gonna say that. But I'm going to give you the information you need to reinforce for you that it was the right decision.

So you don't regret that purchase from me. during that phase that initiate phase, consumers are often disappointed. So we saw that those third said my holiday shipments came late, it was a quarter in the UK, almost half said I'm purchasing items earlier than I think I should have to just to get them on time. Half in the US said pick up a curbside orders took longer than expected, okay, longer than expected. So I'm shopping on a retailer website, and they say, order pickup within two hours. Or they say specifically when it'll be available, or they do something that sets that expectation, right, I can't have an expectation unless it's been set somehow. It was slightly better in the UK 43%. But think about this. This is like especially bad, it's extra awful.

Because when we ask consumers why they choose pickup, click and collect buy online pickup curbside. Four out of the six top reasons are about saving time. They say things like I didn't want to go to the store, unless I was really sure that the product was available. I didn't want to waste time looking for it in the store. Right. So these reasons, these, I want to save time reasons. They're blown up, when the pickup itself takes longer than we expected. As we think about what this really means for retailers and how their experience looks to customers. If we're talking about online shopping, it doesn't look like this. Right?

This amazing moment of instant gratification. Look what I got. And it's in my hand. You just don't get it when you're shopping online. And maybe it looks something more like this. I'm just waiting. Isn't it sad? It's really, it's really depressing. The impact of managing these expectations is everything. Three quarters of customers said they're more likely to buy when they have visibility into delivery dates in advance.

Okay, so expectations, management maybe sounds a little bit soft and squishy to you. Maybe it's not concrete, it's not measurable, quantifiable, okay, this is three quarters of customers are more likely to buy if they have this information upfront. If they don't have the information, less likely lost sales. Let's talk about communicating when things change. 70% of customers said I'm less likely to shop with a retailer again, if the item is delayed, and the retailer doesn't tell me. So the delay is not the problem. It's not great delays happen. They're not going to be happy about it. But not communicating about it is worse. 70% The vast majority of consumers are like if you don't tell me I'm going to find out sooner or later when it's not here. If you didn't tell me, I am less likely to shop with you again. Concrete.

Another 70% Want more communication. During times of uncertainty. Maybe it's a pandemic, maybe it's the holiday season, maybe it's just I haven't had an update what's going on. Even lately, literally right now a lot of carriers are just struggling to keep up with the delivery promises. During those times. Some retailers think that less communication is better. They don't want to inundate a customer with too much. It's not true. Consumers told us they actually want more only six 7% said I want less. Some said it's fine, you know, but 70% I want to hear more during times of stress or uncertainty, communicate, communicate, communicate. How are retailers doing against these expectations today? Okay. 45% offer a concrete date of arrival for an order that's shipping, or a date when pickup will be available in a confirmation message.

So this is post purchase. Remember, we were talking a minute ago about that in the moment initiate phase when we're on the website. That's a scary moment. And it's a time when all of these operational systems have to come together in near real time in milliseconds and serve up inventory availability and order routing logic. So so fast, it's hard to do. But another confirmation message is post purchase we can take a few minutes and kind of run these processes in the background even so fewer than half of retailers give a specific date for when an order will come after it's placed.

Another 30% offer a generic range. We see this in the UK we see it in the US. Most of our orders ship with within three business days, and then take about five to seven business days to arrive. This is unperson alized. It's generic, it's general, it's not ideal. Now on the PLP in the PDP, these are specific pages within a website, PLP is a product listing page. That's everything that listed a lot of products on the page like search results, or a category page that you'd find while browsing through categories. The PDP is the product detail page, that's when you click into a specific product.

That's the page where you can choose your size and color add to cart, that kind of thing. So this this is now pre purchase 63% of retailers do let customers filter products by store availability on that PLP, I want to choose only products that are available for pickup. So that's, that's not bad. There's a lot of room but the 37% We should have a conversation. Once on the product detail page 62%. Show expected pickup timing, that's great.

So on that page, it comes through in near real time in the follow up messaging, it doesn't only half enable customers to add items to cart as pickup items, there are many retailers who let you put everything in the cart, and then you can choose how you want to receive it. Sometimes it's even only one method for the entire order. This is not ideal. Some folks won't add to cart if they're not really sure that item is available for pickup. So adding it with that method right up front is the way to go. And a scant 10%.

So the number of items available on the PDP this is less important when you're buying something that's not in high demand that's highly commoditized. It's always in stock. But think about a contractor who's buying a very specific bolt on a home improvement website and they need 87 of them. Think of someone who's buying party favors for their kids party and 12 kids are coming, you can't come home with 11. So there are so many reasons why showing the actual number is terribly important. And there may be some safety stock to buffer it, we're not showing the actual actual number, but enough that the consumer can be sure they will get what they need.

That's what it is. It's managing the expectations. So they know they're getting what they need. All of this is about trust. We're building trust with our customers. We're making promises and we're hopefully delivering on them. So what does it take to really build that trust, manage expectations? That's it. I was told what to expect you delivered on my promises. I trust you. When things changed, you told me and you confirmed every step along the way. I trust you, as I experienced you in every channel, it feels like a consistent relationship. This is an easy one to miss. I call the call center for help. I email I'm on the website, I'm in a store I'm in social media, do I feel like I'm talking to a consistent entity who understands me who understands my interactions in all of these channels? You added value for me rather than asking more of me. This is it. This is how we breed loyalty. It's how we build trust. So we're going to level it up just a little bit. These are some next level value ads. It's more than an upsell. So imagine you've just placed an order with a retailer and you get a message like this. Here are some great reviews about the thing you just bought. I know we've already bought it. It's mine I've committed. But I'm not being asked for anything more, I'm actually being reinforced that it was a good idea. You're gonna love it, these other people did, too. Thanks for your order, have you thought about where you'll put it when it arrives? It's just fun. Maybe there are some photos in here of the way that folks decorated with the item that's coming or how they integrate it into their homes. Thanks for your order, your cozy winter bedding will be here soon. In the meantime, here's our advice for cleaning and storing away your summer setup. Look at this level of personalization. I understand the category of products you just bought. And I'm giving you value and support around exactly what's coming. I'm actually now as a customer thinking about what I'm going to do with the product when it comes and maybe I had stress about the fact that it's replacing something that's still on my bed. I can click Get advice, and I'm thinking about it and planning for it before it comes. Thanks for your order. Here's a video tutorial to show you how to assemble that cool new bicycle you just bought. Don't worry, it's easy. What's the first thing you do when you receive an item that has to be assembled? You take out those pieces of paper the diagrams it's a total nightmare, right? It's really hard. If you can watch a video in advance, make sure you've got the right tool, understand the space you need to set it up, get it in your head, how it's going to go. What to Watch for don't turn this piece that way. It's not really obvious in the instructions it has to go this way. Huge, huge advantage. These are the questions you're most likely to have with the easy answers but we're always here if you have more. So all of these messages do the same thing for the customer. They reinforce the value of what was purchased they Add next level insights and congratulations and warm fuzzy feelings about the product without asking anything more of a customer, I always find, you know, the upsell or the coupon for the next purchase. It's a great idea maybe after the item has arrived, but when someone has ordered and not received it yet, it's as good as asking for a second date before we've sat down to dinner. I don't even know if I know yet. Don't ask for more yet. These are the ways to really build trust with your customers over to you phone.

Fang Cheng  20:29

Well, thank you so much Emily, how much data and also very practical applications and tweaks, you could actually optimize your experience and apply right away. It's in that short 20 minutes. So that's just a really wonderful to see, frankly, speaking, following your work. I'm really, over the years, I have personally learned so much. So I want to take a moment actually summarize a couple key points that I found was to some degree thought provoking. And I hope this summary is going to be helpful for our audience here. as well. You know, for one, I think you really kind of stressed about when we speak about digital experience. It's not just the PLP page, the PDB page for the checkout, right. And these are the building blocks, that's absolutely essential. But over the times of how the industry evolved, to some degree, the playing field is quite, you know, leveled. Right now where the opportunity goes is really in that service moments. And the consumers at the same time become also much more savvy, they expect that you'll have a greater browsing experience. But what really matters is how you take care of me when I have a moment of need. Right? So I think that's very insightful for me to hear. You know, it's coincidentally, and just this week, in our line of work of partnering with key executives, for two enterprise retailers at scale already. And a well the executive uses the phrases I found, I want to share with everyone. I think he described it as like service is the new marketing. And this is marketing, that's

Emily Pfieffer  22:16


Fang Cheng  22:18

It's really interesting to you, he came from a background of marketing and start owning the entire digital and E calm. But then in the light of day, you know, it's okay, the marketing ROI become ever more challenging, we have to do that. But anything can move the needle is for me to win over loyalty, tell more repeat customer converted over time. And service moments experiences have become the stand out, you know, investment assessors, and I feel like there's such alignment here your research your work, and really back to the ABA was even more numbers. Right. So that's wonderful to see. The second point, I think it's also really, really interesting, why you you use the term of managing customers expectation, right? And how much importance is there in terms of communicating it the right way with customer both proactively, you know, or when they show up on demand, give them the information they actually are looking for. Right. And, and this is also I think it's a very, very timely thing because er everyday work with a lot of the frontline executives that are leading ECAM operation leading the fulfillment logistics experience around that, especially in the past a couple of years, we hear a lot of this, oh, gosh, things are not good. Supply chain challenges. shipping cost is more expensive. Actually, there's more issues related to that. And these are pain points. I can't turn it around overnight. And to some degree, there are also bigger problems with problems than my brand and my business have the control and power to quickly fix. So almost this sense of lack of control, right? We're at the misery of that we absolutely love to take care of our customers. But what can we do? And and what you're saying here it is, to some degree, very thought provoking to me, because the wall you're talking about is that you may have the same kind of challenge while facing that global supply chain challenges are facing the bigger ecosystem challenge won't come down to logistical costs, et cetera, as your peers but you can do better by investing in how you communicate with customer Absolutely. Vacation.

Emily Pfieffer  24:44

That's right, know your reality, communicate it clearly. manage the expectations, keep communicating as they change, it will be better than most.

Fang Cheng  24:53

That's really really because that's that's actually like you know, is empowering because it can do so. Something here, this is a very extract a little bit of control, right? Yes, take it back. So, a wonderful eraser to there. Emily, thank you so much for sharing with us. You know, picking from here this this is okay. So now let's say, Okay, this is an important. Investing invested in experiences important. And investing in communicating with customer, right? It's important. But how? How do we get there? How do we do that? Right? Because historically, the industry still will, okay, service a moment, that's my customer service. And it's my care team, right. And these are all things that goes into the care team. What can we do from digital experience perspective, right. And this is a very personal one to one, when they're called, we're there for them. But always mounting labor market challenges in a call structures, etc. And also the very nature of retail business, it's seasonal capacity management, there are certain things actually people work for us cannot stack up or to do for the right reasons. And then if you think from a consumers perspective, and that may not be always ideal, either, right? Because many examples that I'm gonna actually give us, they're very contextual, to that very moment. They're proactive, right before the customer even reaching out to you and calls you, and you anticipate there is a need, she wants to know that that hurt, get informed. Those are the things where the digital experience, self service, and automation actually comes in, to play a role to improve the overall experience around those service moments. So the next few minutes I want to put out this is this is of, you know, challenge everyone coming here to listen to this webinar to think about automation and self service as a cornerstone piece to your overall CX strategy, in fact that this should avoid it works seamlessly to your people Workforce Strategy, and holistically serve your customer best and a winner loyalty. So, for the words of automation, you know, AI, is actually the you know, the industry is a word that I can take Institute has very mixed feelings for right. And in fact that this is some of the queue of buzzwords that are being hyped very, very quickly in the industry. And perhaps the earlier generation of solutions. couldn't fully deliver that expectation, and actually cause very mixer reveal. Okay, so let's talk about that. Let's talk about what automation downright, it really looks like because that's all it matters. We don't want just automation for automation sake. So I hope to paint a picture with our audience around that automation downright concept. So, on the lighter side, let's take a moment to look at an experience. I truly is a consumer. Yes, that's every time I leave this, like it feels very long. Feels like a few minutes or just a few seconds. All right. And gosh, this is the box. This is about many of us can pull out many examples in our early encounters with bots. Are you exactly like that? Familiar? Yeah. I didn't know me. It's trying to be there. But it really now because it's not resolving my issue. And I have just gotten through this. And then is this really a brand I'm spending money with? Are you serious, right, that's actually what's going on in my mind. And then eventually, I had to actually consume more cost on the brand side to get my needs fulfilled, I may have to call, right. And we

Emily Pfieffer  28:58

also found to that, sorry, to interrupt to your point exactly. brands were measuring this as successful sometimes because they were seeing fewer calls, because customers were just leaving unhappy. But that was the KPI they were using so that they didn't call they must be happy.

Fang Cheng  29:15

Yes, absolutely. You are right. I mean, you really kind of need to come from the angle, like do that see us out there to really see and stand in the shoes of the consumer. Do you should do there is you can resolved really right if this customer and I'm buying more than buying more over time with us spending more money with us. So now the industry has come a long way you know, and I'm here I mean, that's actually everyday we're passionate about we're building this the Tesla of the CX automation world that is our mission. So let's let's just imagine for a moment what downright looks like and I will tell you this is no longer imagination. This is a reality that you can have today. Right? Now this feels quite different internet, right? It customer shows up, I've got an issue is actually a real issue in this case and like a missing item and something went wrong with my water, you are late. This is like, Okay, this is damage control moment. But you can do damage control seamlessly through automation. And what defines a good experience whether you find automation downright, this is so called AI digital workforce, first of all knows the customer to have access to the right information rather than put Oh, the explanation work on the customer, when they're a customer of yours, right? You actually have the data by the customer somewhere? And is it accessible to your digital workforce? And you said this, the digital workforce solution has the ability to use it right? In supporting our customer at that very moment. In this particular case, okay, your water information is pulled out, tell me which item was the one you have issues with right there. And then eventually, the third piece is really important. This is not about a general answer. handweaving answer will read that correctly or somewhere else to actually get your problem solved, the problem was solved right there, the digital workforce has the ability to take action, and get the job done. And when you do that, a moment of headache and pain point for the consumer become actually a moment of saying, You know what? Yeah, I can do more business with you. And I like this, this is easy. This appears to be easy, right? And it appears to be you actually know me, I am indeed a customer of yours. And that leads to buy more and spend more, and the in fact that the industry has again and again and see the strong correlation between customer satisfaction. Yeah, and around those service moments. And to actually their lifetime value. Right. In average, I raise seven points of improvements in customer satisfaction measured by NPS scores is correlated with 1% of overall GME permits. Wow, you know, if I'm a sizable business is a lot huge.

Emily Pfieffer  32:29

It's huge. I think it's so interesting that you can go from a negative to a positive also, right, and in a way, making a negative situation like this into something that was resolved quickly and easily into their complete satisfaction. I don't want to say it's better than having never had a problem. But I would bet that a customer feels more positively about a brand after this than they do after everything going kind of normally and uneventfully. Right. Because even though it went badly, they handled it so great.

Fang Cheng  32:59

So that's so corrected. I mean, that's the silver lining of service, how it should see service, right, and we should see service actually goes so much beyond just damage control, and just try to get it right. And you know, okay, we're already, you know, mess this up there. But like you said, I mean to control by the way, I'm doing the right in fact that you actually can win the customer loyalty and someone can become overtime more loyal to your brand. Now, if this is the possible Ardo possible now Saru, leveraging the right solutions in CX automation to achieve, there's a lot more examples and the use case and then those service moments you can tease out to say, hey, that's where automation makes sense. I have now a vision around what automation downright looks like, again, no, my customer, no for dealing with our brand, and can get the can take actions can get the issue resolved all the way to resolution. So now I want to think, give, perhaps a hopefully, a little assignment framework, right when you do this kind of CX exercise at a strategy level. And I do want to challenge our audience to just think about, you know, across your entire customer journey, right. What can you circle out as a service moments, again, the initiation phase, Emily talked about, like, look at it just in that one face, pose a transaction, but have now received the product yet there are so many little pieces goes into it. And from a consumers perspective, there are all different kinds of needs. Have you attend to eat it that way? Right. Have you thought about automation and self service and proactive communication? Well, it can play there. But if you zoom out a little bit on the entire journey, pre purchase triggers, right inventory check. As Emily mentioned, that is actually real big money 75% of customers will see a you know, I don't actually want to spend more I want actually need to check inventory. And think about, can you do that when they show up? Can't do your do you have a 24/7 hours available help channel or mechanism to resolve customers easier and enable them to transact? Write, promo code, welcome offer is a great thing. But when I want to use it, it seemed to give me a hiccup I'm not going to buy I'm not going to transact right, so I want to challenge our audience to to peel the onion, do a Naomi here we call them CX audit, a self audit, right? And do our anatomy a little bit and encircle all those opportunities and almost give it a score around how big of pain? Why is not downright my customer has? And what are the opportunities where self service proactive communication, automated assistance started making sense and eliminate those frictions and turn it into an opportunity. Right. And also, when you think about this, so think about the type of channels, the consumers like to get those kind of help, right? Because now, a lot of those service moments, they're really hard, because they're not the moments where a customer is on your website, right. So they made a transaction they left, they thought they're going to be taken care of things will go smoothly, they will be communicated. So when you think about all of this, use case scenarios, also think about, you know, the right type of communication channel that your customer likely to be informed, right? And do you have a play there to actually activate proactive communication, right? And then or they just simply want to reach out and show up. And rather than crawling through your entire website and read through FA Q's, how to lay like to get in touch, right? And are you there, which hours of the day, they'd like to get in touch? Are you there during those hours, right. So do this kind of a CX validated in a circle all of those opportunities, and this is also an area urinal, I think we're deer, the trier this opportunity to kind of be a consulting resource with our customers. Now, finally, we're running a business. So let's talk about business. Great. So we love our customers, we want to see that big smiles, they are, you know, we meet their expectation we delivered for them. That's great. But what does that mean for my bottom line, and I want to put it out here, as my final notes is that is going to pay off. So what we're looking at here is actually an actual number one CX automation done right, is able to deliver for a business with about 250 million GMV size, right, so your business couldn't be bigger and smaller, you almost can kind of proportionally estimate your numbers. So what's showing up here, these are numbers that actually directly measurable and attributable to the automated sex. So of course, it's automated is a self service, that's gonna save cost, right, make our operation much more efficient, my valuable people workforce can be leveraged, I'm really the right use cases sets, right can be directed to the right areas of focus. Now, seven $2.7 million of savings that's actually measurable directly attributable through turning on automation. But it was was perhaps more interesting is this revenue impact. And here, we're not talking about intangible revenue impact that perhaps over a period of time, we see certain correlations between, you know, a customer being helped through this type of automated assistance experience, to how much they spend with the brand. And by the way, we have about that NPS score association to to a revenue improvement correlation. Here, we're actually only look at the ones that's directly attributable and measurable. Which means are the cases where a customer shows up pre purchase where either transaction moment, something got stuck? They want to be more transparent around the services locations, where they have a promo code issue they really want to resolve you don't call guy night, right? Or they have a private question. They're buying something it requires quite a bit of research before you buy. There's a lot of information there's sort of our reveal multiple pages that I want to ask. Right? And I want to just get my questions answered and making sure that this baby carriage can can actually do this can go on overload a little bit. And, you know, I wanted my questions answered otherwise, I'm now pulling the trigger to convert, you actually can assist the customer and, you know, a part of the digital experiences benefit is everything's recorded, right? You actually give you real time and quantify the insights. You know, how many customer asks for what kind of questions and when they are being assisted by automated experience? Do they reach a resolution, you can even see the sentiment scores beyond the dress, or will they be hurting right here on the experience, you actually can measure a sentiment, every single interaction, and the most importantly, trace will happen after, right when I think about their issue got resolved by a smiley face emoji is sent back to you, and then delete it transact. These are the cases, we're actually tracing that transaction conversion rate. And there is almost 20% of lift that from someone genuinely come to the site and convert in that low single digit. And that to someone that actually being assisted and convert 20%. Higher, and that's real money. Right? So and then I think this type of business case should be what a CX leader is thinking about. Right. And with that, I want to pass it back to Josh. Thank you very much.

Emily Pfieffer  41:39

Just might be looking for the mute button.

Josh Stone  41:42

On here. That was fantastic. incredible insight. Yeah, let's get to some questions. We have a little bit over 15 minutes left. So one question came from Steve, this is pretty in the weeds. I'm gonna let Emily take this one. He asked. Where does the responsibility lie when it comes to communicating shipping delays with customers, you know, this? Is the retailer responsible? Or should the carrier be reaching out?

Emily Pfieffer  42:15

That's a great question. I get some version of this from retailers and from carriers. You know, a retailer will say something like, like I shipped it when I should have, it's now delayed and delivery, right? It's It's not my fault. It's out of my hands, I handed it to the carrier, the customer knows that. Am I off the hook? I'm so sorry. The answer is no, definitely not. As the retailer, you're the one your customer has a relationship with, you're the one that they committed to, you're the one who committed to them, right? You made promises that you would literally deliver, they didn't ask anything of the carrier, they didn't pick the carrier, they didn't contract with them. It's not up to them. So it actually doesn't matter in the least. And on top of that communication that font and I have both been talking about today, a whole lot of apologies, or an order as well, taking full responsibility for those things that are doesn't matter out of your hands is absolutely the way to go. It's your customer, it's your relationship to manage.

Fang Cheng  43:17

I want to add to that a little bit if it's okay, Josh, because I think this is such an important you know, your mindset, right? And if you really think about Yeah, it's true, my carriers screw up. Now my problem and then you're just starting from the wrong place. And I'm imagine that you have to own it doesn't matter, this is your vendor or partners issue. And I'm gonna have to say like, agree with me to this is more than just a status anymore, right? So today, your customers expectations always benchmark to perhaps buy the best experience they have ever experienced. So that bar is a moving target is racing are rising, unfortunately. And we found that especially through the pandemic, you know, especially so many people actually move around during pandemic, right, and the delivery matters, the combination orders, like you know, shipped to me portion of it, and then I'll go pick up the other portion of it. Okay, more complex. From the backend perspective, the communication demand becomes even more key. And one customer found that we see that customer actually expect it not just to say, Oh, you tell me where's my water and all the status that's all good. If I actually open up the box, I see something wrong. Where you says is delivered, I didn't find it and maybe even just gonna confuse it with ice my box, not my doorway. Right. So all of this is gonna come to the customer. It's very interesting here at the bank. We have the unique opportunity in looking at what customer is asking I'm about right. So this is a big insights funnel back to the individual brand, the aggregate. It also is really, really insightful, what we actually found that coming out of the booms of the last couple of years EECOM, and the investment in the different fulfillment methodologies, that actually there is an increased claim, or increased percentage volume, going back to the brand about post delivery issues. So again, this tells us so much more about order support is beyond just status, there's post delivery issues from missing item, wrong item, if you're in a certain industry, you may have like my frozen item is melted, I don't like it, right, or this item, it was actually the wrong brand. I ordered, you know, you know, a fat free yogurt, but you gave me something different. All of those is what's considered as an order issue from the consumer, and it's gonna come back to you. Now, we see without going too much details into this I can go on and on. But I want to kind of really set a bar clearly with our audiences that you actually kind of resolve this kind of issue in real time. And why you do it right and streamline this resolution piece, right. And, and, more importantly, you actually have an opportunity to attach a make a good strategy, to your issue resolution, right. So think about the opportunities of offering a mega good, that taking into account of what type of issue, the customer is asking for, do some diligence on the fly, check the eligibility of the customer for guidance and make good so you don't get taken advantage of. And you even can have a customer tiered strategy when it comes down to make a good, right. And then really incentivize maybe a first time or, you know, someone that's new to the brand and just trying out a really whilst them or taking great care of them, reward your loyal customers, but even really suddenly shows on the record has been taken advantage of a lot of this grid make good policies, you know, we will cover a little bit how we invest in those kind of customers, right? So now, this has become a huge opportunity to mine. So that's really where you should be thinking about every of this is not just on defense and try to get the trouble managed. But think of as a think about go and do it the right and then turn it into an engagement moment.

Josh Stone  47:31

And that's actually a really good segue. I have a question here from Bill, he actually asked about personalization. So you both talked about how important that is. And, you know, he asked like, can it go too far? You know, Can Can you go too far, where you're actually kind of getting into that creep area? So far? What do you think about that? Yeah,

Fang Cheng  47:51

you know, it's, it's a really good question. And I think everyone in the industry think about personalization has to have this in mind, where is the line? Right? And I wouldn't say personalization feels creepy, when it's not really, you know, natural. Right? And it's not adding value. More importantly, does it add value. And the beauty here, when we talk about service moments, he spoke perience, especially, is that customer wants it? customer knows, this is our your customer, right? They're spending money with with your brand, they actually expect you to know them. And, and they know what it takes to get their issue resolved. So and really kind of see like, is this needed? Right? And is this natural? And the more importantly, if this is something proactive communication is involved, have you asked for permission? Right? Do you have a very transparent opt in mechanism and easy opt out mechanism as a part of the whole equation?

Emily Pfieffer  49:02

Yeah, if you don't mind if I if I add? I completely agree. Thanks. Yeah, I feel like there's a creepy factor that happens when and it's a hard line. But it's a soft definition. When you lead the consumer to say, How did you know that? Right, because the things that I do, by way of interacting on a retailer's website or with their call center in their store, in many cases, I expect them to know that that happened. I even want them to, like you said, Fung. I expect you to know me. I expect you to know me in all channels. We have data that says that consumers don't want retail websites to show them products they're not interested in. They expect you to know what they want to see. And to show them that like don't surprise me with the the end cap. I'm going to walk by in the store. I don't care. Show me what I'm interested in. So they do want it to some degree. But we know that there are lots of ways to collect information these days. And it can feel creepy when it Something that was learned off the website or in some other channel or through scraping or social listening, you know, there are lots of other ways to kind of observe let alone cookies. Right. So So I think that's it's a soft factor. But I think it's that factor. How did you know that versus I expect you to know that. For a consumer, it's a hard line.

Josh Stone  50:21

Yeah. And along those lines, Emily, Susan asked you, how can we ask like, how should we ask customers for feedback, like is NPS MLS? You know, what do you think?

Emily Pfieffer  50:34

You know, you have to walk the line here, too, because everyone sends surveys, everyone has pop ups, everyone has emails, I think presenting the opportunity for feedback at appropriate times is great. Immediately after a support call or chat is a lovely time, because it's in the moment, and you give them the opportunity, now that it's happened to answer. I've seen emails asking for feedback on a product I haven't received yet. Don't do that. Don't be that guy. But but in the moment as appropriate, and asking as little of them as possible. That's the way to go. But definitely ask and ask a lot. And try to collect the data. I mean, fun. You touched on this earlier, too, that you have data as well. And so the answers they give you in a survey, for instance, should not be siloed. From everything else, you know, you might know that they're dissatisfied, they don't like the the resolution, but they still completed their next order, shortly afterward. So that all by itself gives you so much insight. I think coupling the different sources of data is really important. So ask keep asking, make it simple and easy and don't hound. So so so valuable

Fang Cheng  51:47

info there. Me I had to pile on top of that a little bit. So you know, what you're talking about is like almost like very contactable feedback, right? And I think contextual feedback is really valuable, because it's actually the most natural from consumer, it feels like you're not like, out of context reaching out, right. So why does it become a noise? Is it out of context reaching out, but when you're in context, in the moment reaching out, you're actually being attentive, right? You care, it shows you care. And that's, that's a really good best practice. And I also encourage the brain to think about, you know, when you build AI data, to tie feedback to a situation situations, right, so this way, you actually can say, I'm doing well in this area, but that area, I may have more opportunity, right? Lastly, a couple like this explicit feedback, which cannot be replaced, you want to hear from your customer, you want to see what they say. And, but there's also ways now for you to be observing their sentiment, right, and when they are not giving feedback, when they're not opting into radio, give you a stars, and, you know, but the, in their interactions, especially those one to one interactions with your service team within a sentimentally up activate, right. And now we've got entering into a world, we can see sentiment, I returns of interaction, right, you actually can even pick a journey to say, one customer reach out outright, where their sentiment is start starting. And as conversation assistants experience progresses, what is the sentiment change towards better towards works, right? So think about how powerful that can be, you know, for for foreign leader that in the AI space to know, where you were usually putting more energy right now, it really kind of allows you to build a data light approach and using voice of customer to to continue, you know, challenge your CX

Josh Stone  54:01

yeah, those are great points. And this is separate. See here? Yeah, wait is asked a question. Basically, returns have been in the news a lot lately. You know, we we got so used to free returns, and now retailers are starting to charge for returns. You know, really, what do you think about that? And, you know, if if we should be issuing, if we, if we shouldn't be charging, like, Should we be when should we be issuing refunds? So kind of a lot to unpack there.

Fang Cheng  54:37

I believe maybe I take on this a little bit. I mean, based on our sort of actual experience partnering with retailer, and I'm sure you'll have a ton of insights tied to this too. And I have to say the logistical costs societies become more expensive, right, because labor is more so everything, you know, trickles down. So I don't blame the brands to look at say okay, you know, you still make instance for to fully cover the return and reverse shipping cost.

Fang Cheng  55:06

But I will say actually, it's almost like this mess, you know, do customer love us because it's free. Or there's other things I could do even when it's now free to actually still serve my customer really well. So I think where the world is moving towards is that actually the convenience of how the experience is getting done is a really, really big factor, then you take maybe $5.50, from my refund, right? So when I say the convenience is that, you know, how do I actually quickly you know, locate the items, I want to return weeks change, communicate, you know, reasons for return, and get the stuff down. Right. And now, also, I think the brand should think about different return options, right? You perhaps offer now free shipping, if you're already shipping back. But if you come to our store, that's free, right? advertise that, right, don't just listen to, okay, you can return the store, you can return, shipping it back to us, but in that self service returns appearance, make a highlight of that install return option, and it's free and highlight that to your customer. And you actually can turn it into a business opportunity. Because why should you have a large volume, apparel, mainstream apparel brands, by doing this, they drive a lot more traffic to the store. And they know that when customer comes in for returning over 75% of the customer leave non empty handed, they pick up a few more items, right. So a return or costs matter become actually a you know, a revenue driver. So that's really interesting. And then even in terms of the cases of the packaging need to be shipped back, there could be different options, right, you know, dropping off with the carrier in certain way, skip the printing labels to give us the new steps, and perhaps actually can allow you to save the last mile cost in the reverse side of things. Right. So there's certain optimizations you definitely can do. But I think the principal mindset here is there's a lot of tools you can squeeze out by investing in the convenience factor around digital experience, right, by actually making all the different options really visible to the customer. Right. And that goes a long way. You know, quite a bit of private space. Yeah,

Emily Pfieffer  57:35

I think I have an unpopular opinion about this. Um, I mean, everything you said, it makes perfect sense. It's all absolutely legitimate. But we're coming out of years and years and years of telling retailers to reduce every friction point, reduce every barrier to purchase, and prominently displaying, you know, free returns free exchanges was one of the big ways to do that. It was one of the ways to, you know, in the cart, when you're worried about abandonment, to encourage them to place the order, don't worry, you can take the risk, returns are free. And so now as as brands are starting to charge for them, sometimes without more of a process around managing, managing customers expectations, managing the culture around it, and reducing the reasons why they would want to return in the first place, it does seem like a recipe for disaster to me. However, if we're looking at a retailer who is losing X percent on, you know, the return logistics, taking back an item, if their LMS is not really on the ball and doesn't allow them to like sell a saleable return the item from their store where they don't normally carry it, they might not even be able to recover anything on the return. So in those cases, the risk of losing the sale might actually be worth it. If the concern is the bottom line over loyalty, no judgement, that's a really important business decision. So I think that all of this comes down to understanding reality, trying to get a handle on the reasons for return truly the reasons reducing those, you know, is it a fit and size question? Is it a an accuracy of product data and images question, there are a lot of things we can do to reduce the chances. But then everything you suggested also to handle it once the returns are happening completely legitimate. As long as those again the expectations for those possibilities are upfront.

Fang Cheng  59:30

I love what you said there actually, you know, it has to be grounded on business case it has to be grounded on you know, you know, can I afford it. You can't just you know, in friction to say this is like I'm burning.

Emily Pfieffer  59:44

Exactly. And we've been willing to do that for so long and some retailers are losing their shirts. Just trying to keep up it's not worth it. It's a business.

Fang Cheng  59:52

Yeah, absolutely. And I actually this kind of inspired me is sort of like why we example former retailer, I could turn this Thinking in the same line that really optimizes the return experience or to actually get the merchandising back faster. They're in the fashion industry. When season changes and faster fashion one style changes that didn't come back too late, will be heavily discounted and liquidated and it was a huge, huge loss because I couldn't get back out on the floor. I really Yeah. So they ended up like purposely designed this kind of advance refund. So if you drop it off, it dropped those carrier, if carrier scanned it, we trust you, and we're gonna start issue the refund. But this could become like an incentive because they do it faster, the sooner you drop it off, the surreal refund is getting. So I actually achieved the goal of optimizing the inventory replenishment from the reverse, which is the perspective but it's actually perceived as a great value for the consumer. There are certain Win Win opportunities right here. So I think it's just a don't trivialize it. It's actually the largest you could squeeze out about it. Just be savvy around that.

Josh Stone  1:01:01

Yeah, this was great. We're actually at time. So bummer, because we actually have some like other great questions. But like I said, like, we'll provide answers in the q&a to, you know, in the messaging to follow the webinar, but the recording the presentation. Yeah. And we're certainly going to continue to host more live events too. So really just want to thank everybody for attending. Emily Fogg, this was incredible. appreciate you sharing your expertise. And everyone yeah, hope you have a great rest of the day.

Fang Cheng  1:01:31

Thank you. Thank you very much.

Emily Pfeiffer

Principal Analyst, Commerce Technology | Forrester

Emily Pfieffer is a Senior Analyst at Forrester, where she serves digital business strategy professionals and providers with a focus on the technology that enables commerce.

Recent Article: The Top Three Solutions In B2C Commerce In 2022

Fang Cheng

Founder & CEO | Linc

Fang Cheng is the founder and CEO of Linc, the only CX Automation platform built for retail brands. With a Ph.D. in bioinformatics from NYU, Fang previously co-founded a business acquired by Amazon, and prior to that, she worked as a hedge fund manager.

Recent Article: Treat Returns as a Competitive Advantage that Increases Customer Lifetime Value

Aug 5, 2022

Check Out the latest


View All

Join Our Newsletter and Get the Latest CX Factor Posts to Your Inbox

No spam ever. Read our Privacy Policy
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.