How do modern brands create joyful customer experiences that last a lifetime? Charlie Cole, Chief Digital Officer of luxury travel brand Tumi, Joseph Ansanelli, CEO of customer support platform Gladly join us to talk about how to know your customer, how to anticipate their needs, and how to stand out in a sea of startup DTC players. Listen now!

Main Takeaways:

  • Charlie Cole (Chief Digital Officer, TUMI) and Joseph Ansanelli (CEO and Co-Founder, Gladly) join Brian and Phillip as their special guests on today's episode.
  • Most brands today focus on custom acquisition as opposed to focusing on the lifetime value of their customers.
  • Brands like TUMI are adapting their customer service to include new mediums of communication to meet customers where they want to be met.
  • Non-transactional experiences that exist in a single moment are what retailers are striving to capture digitally to create lasting memories and brand affiliation.

How Gladly Got Started: A Brief History:

  • Joseph starts by discussing how it was clear that the way in which consumers today engage, communicate, and transact has radically changed in the past decade and how this affected how companies interacted with consumers.
  • Gladly set out to not only transform the way people do commerce but also how a brand services, engages with and markets to its consumers.
  • As Joseph was coming up with Gladly, Charlie was one of the first people that he reached out to as Charlie was pushing the boundaries of what you could do in the direct-to-consumer world.
  • 'Given his professional history, TUMI was Charlie's attempt to work for a larger company and was known for making amazing things in a remarkably customer-centric way.
  • Charlie recounts how Joseph's initial pitch of Gladly made a lot of sense and was better than anything else on the market and how it fit with their goal of modernizing the customer experience.

The Slippery Slope of Personalization: Customizing Customer Experience With Big Data:

  • Charlie mentions that many data points are collected from customers, some voluntarily and some that customers might not even know that they are volunteering.
  • How do brands use this data to enhance the customer experience?
  • Customer "value" is usually interpreted as a revenue number as opposed to quantifying a positive retail experience.
  • Gladly allows brands to understand the entire customer journey and leverages that data to help the customer as much as possible.
  • Conversion rate is such a small part of the customer journey, and it bugs Charlie when eCommerce companies brag about it.

Treating Customer Like Humans: The Value of Connection:

  • "The best marketing is customer service, and if you treat people as people, it will pay dividends down the road."
  • Joseph brings up that one of Gladly's goals is to enable brands to meet customers in places where those customers want to be reached.
  • TUMI's phone number is now text message enabled, meaning that customers can elect to communicate via SMS as opposed to being locked into a phone call.
  • Brian brings up how Ingrid Milman (in her most recent appearance on the show) said that customer relationship is an even higher priority than the brand story.

The Bigger Problem: How Retail Has Evolved to Backseat Customers:

  • Charlie completely agrees with Ingrid's comment and says that one of the problems that we have as retailers is that most of our incentives are based on the acquisition of customers.
  • Most talks at conferences are based on how to boost acquisition metrics and are rarely focused on improving customer experience.
  • Joseph agrees that the primary goal should be to make lifelong customers and to get the industry-wide narrative to change, we have change incentives and what we measure as points of success.
  • He also brings up that KPIs for customer service should also be updated to reflect the number of people spoken to as opposed to speed or efficiency because people are at the core of customer service.
  • "It's less about how long things go, and more about how well things go."

Finding Your Company's North Star: Using Qualitative Data to Boost Lifetime Value:

  • Phillip asks Charlie and Joseph if we as a community of retailers think we are capturing customers, but in reality, are only capturing transactions.
  • When you think of enduring brands, they understand that it is not about the transaction and is really about the long term relationship.
  • Companies like Apple and Harley Davidson are the pinnacles of great brands that have customers whose love for the brand goes beyond the product to the point of people even getting tattoos of the logo on their bodies.
  • In Charlie's first couple months at TUMI, one of the first things they had to do was revamp their marketings as everything was evaluated on a last-click basis.
  • If you can qualitatively identify your company's North Star, it will help to steer away from transactional-based evaluations.

Digital Empathy: Consumer Communication Through Modern Channels:

  • Charlie and Joseph are asked if brands are concerned about how their voice is coming across in voice and chat.
  • TUMI provides chat and SMS and knows that consumers want to communicate through these channels, and you can easily to deliver empathetic communication through text because we all desire to communicate in that way.
  • Brands tend to be deathly afraid of customer service going off script, especially when communicating through SMS.
  • Brian brings up the story from the "Late-Stage Capitalism" episode in which his father made some amazing connections with employees from Costco and agrees that giving customer representatives the space to get to know their customers, that's when you start to see the benefits of lifetime value.
  • "Give people data to help them, don't give people data to program them".

Predictions for the Future: Evolving Data Capture:

  • Phillip asks where we are headed and what we can expect of the next few years as reality brands are planning for the future.
  • Charlie foresees a world in which you never look at a screen to know the status of your orders thanks to the advances in voice technology.
  • Seventy-five years ago, shop owners knew who their customers were and developed personal relationships with them, and Joseph wants to be able to enable relationships like this in a remote, online world.
  • There's a sense that the spoken word intent of a single, actionable expression of need is the future of voice technology.
  • The tricky (but fun) part for brands will be capturing the experiences of in-person shopping that people didn't know they needed and delivering those memorable experiences in a digital and marketable format.

Brands Mentioned in this Episode:

As always: We want to hear what our listeners think! How can brands envision a future where customers want to interact with them in mediums of the customers' choices?

Let us know in the content section on Futurecommerce.fm, or reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Linkedin.

Have any questions or comments about the show? You can reach out to us at info@futurecommerce.fm or any of our social channels; we love hearing from our listeners!

Retail Tech is moving fast, but Future Commerce is moving faster.

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Phillip: [00:00:07] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about cutting edge a next generation commerce. I'm Phillip.


Brian: [00:00:12] And I'm Brian.


Phillip: [00:00:13] Today we have an awesome show for you. Got a few special guests. Before we get into the show, I just want to remind you to like and subscribe everywhere podcasts are found. We are looking forward to a bunch of really great content. We don't want you to miss any of it. And so the best way to do that is subscribe. Also a catch me and Brian... We will both be at Commerce Next in just a week or two in New York City. And so look for us there. We'll be conducting some interviews. I'll be sitting on a panel with American Express and ShopRunner. And that should be really exciting. So without any further ado, I'd like to introduce today's guest. Today we have Charlie Cole from Tumi, as the company's Chief Digital Officer. Say hello, Charlie.


Charlie: [00:00:52] Hey, what's up, everybody? I'll be at Commerce Next too, by the way, so we can all hang out there.


Phillip: [00:00:56] Oh, no way. It's a party. Yeah, that'll be awesome. And also joining us is Joseph Ansanelli from Gladly, who is the co-founder and CEO. And say hello, Joseph.


Joseph: [00:01:08] Hi, everyone.


Phillip: [00:01:09] Brian, I know that you had met Gladly at Shop Talk just a few months ago. Maybe you could get us kicked off into this conversation, get us started here.


Brian: [00:01:16] I'm really excited to have both of you on the show. I think there's a lot of cool stuff that both of you are working on. And it was really great getting to meet up with you, Joseph, at Shop Talk. Because first of all, shout out to Robin Lee from [00:01:30] GGV [00:01:31] who connected us. It's always good talking with her and working with her.


Brian: [00:01:34] The second thing was when you showed me Gladly, I was super excited about what you had to offer as a clienteling platform. Clienteling has been a huge part of what we've talked about on this show this past year. Our last episode that we released, or maybe two episodes ago, talking about how clienteling us sort of like the pinnacle of a business, actually. And definitely excited to hear your thoughts there. Also excited to hear about your experience at Greylock, but maybe you could get things started for us. Tell us a little bit about yourself, where you've come from, what you've been up to the past few years. How Gladly came about. Give us the rundown.


Joseph: [00:02:13] Absolutely. You know, the big idea of why we started Gladly was really twofold. One was that it was very clear that the way consumers today engage, communicate, transact had radically changed over the past decade. You know, you think about the impact of smartphones, iPhone, etc. And we were trying to ask ourselves a question of if the way we communicate and transact is so different, what impact was that having on companies abilities to actually engage with consumers? So think about how we all communicate in our personal lives today. You know, the way I communicate with my wife, for example, I see her in person. We talk on the phone, we email, we text or on messenger. I have all these different ways that I engage with her. But I always keep my relationship at the core. And we were wondering why that was so hard to do in the context of a company and the relationship they have with their consumers. And we realized that the problem was not a desire or an intent or a goal of companies to have better relationships.


Joseph: [00:03:18] It was primarily that the software that all these companies were using had been designed 30, 40 years ago and was never really designed with this concept of really putting people at the heart of their customer service and their engagement that they have with consumers. And so we basically said, hey, look, we think we can reinvent this whole category of customer service and engagement with consumers and really helped to transform not only the way people do commerce, but also how you service and engage and market to them. And that's how the company got started and starting the company, Charlie was one of the very first people that I reached out to to talk because he was really pushing the bounds and really wanted to push the bounds of sort of what that meant in a direct to consumer world. And I said, I need to talk to this person. So I reached out and sort of shared the idea with him when it was literally just some slides. And he was like, hey, this is pretty interesting. And we just kept the dialogue going and we're really proud, actually, now to officially be working together. Gladly and Tumi together. So that was the background.


Phillip: [00:04:25] So Charlie, I guess maybe you could tell your side of the story there. Our listeners may not be familiar, but I've got a lot of your content, especially in speaking about sort of the future of luxury. And over the years, I've I caught you on a few podcasts. I've heard a little bit of the story. But for those who aren't familiar, maybe you could tell us a little bit about yourself and what your goal is there as CDO at Tumi,.


Charlie: [00:04:46] Tumi sort of was this happy accident where I had been in this combination of startups. I was a co-founder of a company called The Line, and that led to a company called Assembled Brands, which was really all about imagining what, let's just call it contemporary above brands, need to mean and this new direct to consumer way and prior to that I worked at an operating company with NTBG, and we sold and prior to that I worked in an agency and we sold that. So Tumi was sort of, I guess my attempt at kind of going to work for a big company. And I know that sounds a little weird to say because we sold a couple of companies for over a billion dollars. But to me, Tumi, is this this amazing brand. And it was also the first time, being brutally honest, that I've ever worked for a company that I was a consumer of. You know, I was selling women's luxury products. I was selling vitamins, I was selling advertising. But at the same time, I entered Tumi as an affinity. And Tumi was known for just making amazing stuff and doing it in a way that was remarkably customer centric. And as we started evaluating what customer centricity means, and Joseph sort of alluded to this, it's rapidly changing. Right? And this idea of customer expectations... I always think, too, everybody that listens to this podcast fully understands that they can get virtually anything they want in two days or less.


Charlie: [00:06:06] That's not a customer expectation five years ago, and two years from now, chances are that expectation will be one day or less. I just think that it's crazy to think that we all sat in our homes five years ago and thought we could just talk into the ether and have something tell us what the weather is outside. But now that's a customer expectation of what like voice is doing to, you know, the ability to gather information and... And look, we haven't even begun to fathom what could change. You know, are we going to have implants giving us levels of our blood sugar in the next five years? It's not out of the realm of possibility. So that's a little bit of a futurist way of thinking. We had to come to the drawing board as a company and talk about what we were not executing on well, from a customer centricity point of view. And to Joseph's point, I think one of retail's biggest follies and something that we all do is it's very much a look alike strategy when it comes to technology. I think back to a conversation I had with a friend of mine about seven years ago, and I asked him, hey, who are you using for an e-commerce platform? Oh, Demandware And he perked up and I was like, well, why you guys decide them? And he kind of said, oh, well, my CEO knows the CEO of J. Crew, and that's who they're using.


Charlie: [00:07:21] And I remember thinking that that was like this archetypical conversation that happened in retail at the time, and new technology is sort of shunned as "Well, It can't be as good." But the reality is that doesn't make any sense with how technology evolves. I mean, Moore's Law, all that sort of stuff. And so as Joseph said, he shot me ostensibly a cold call through a relationship we have a Greylock. And one of the things we always try to do it Tumi is have relationships with some of the best venture capital firms in the world. So we kind of see their platforms because we rely on them to innovate a heck of a lot better than we can. Sure. And when Joseph shows, emails like this makes all the sense in the world. But more importantly, when I show to the next person I showed it to was the group that runs our customer care in Vidalia, Georgia.


Charlie: [00:08:03] And I showed Cedric and I showed it to Chantay... I showed it to the group down there, and they were like, "This is so much better than what we have." And I think that's another mistake that retailers tend to make, is that I'm not going to be the person living in Gladly every day. I might live in the dashboards, I might live in the analytics, etc. But the folks that are actually managing the calls are the first person you should talk to when you're evaluating a customer care and clienteling solution. And it was literally within five, 10 minutes that Cedric and Chantay were like "This is it, like this is so much better than what we have." And I think that's something that is really a testament to Gladly because it's really easy to sell a piece of technology in a PowerPoint deck or a Keynote deck. It's really hard to show a slide, as Joseph referenced, to a person who's working 40 plus hours a week trying to help consumers and get an immediate response out of it. So it's a real roundabout way of answering your question, but we were trying to modernize our idea of customer experience, and to us starting with the most line level person, but more importantly, starting with probably the last place a customer wants to be. There isn't any customer on earth who wants to call in an 800 number or wants to start an online chat to solve a problem.


Charlie: [00:09:12] It's more of a need as opposed to a desire. So it's kind of starting there and working our way up in sort of the first step in and truly modernizing what customer centricity means to Tumi.


Phillip: [00:09:21] You touched on something there, Charlie, which is that you have customer centricity around what you do. And I would assume in luxury brands like that is, that's the core value proposition is that it's more personal and that there's something special there that's beyond just mass market. But I think there's a family of brands, right? So in that family, I think of other sort of maybe nostalgia or legacy brands. I mean, you probably have a broad sense of who your customer is beyond just the Tumi customer. How do you approach that? And do they differ between in-store and online? Like, how do you enable that everywhere where your customers are in all the different types of people that those customers, ultimately, who they are as people?


Charlie: [00:09:59] You bring up probably the the slippery slope that all retailers have to, kind of, navigate. And what that slippery slope is, we have access to so much customer data and some of that customer data is given very voluntarily and it's a fairly explicit relationship. Some of that customer data, let's just be honest... Customers may not be realizing they're volunteering. And what I'm talking about is obviously the cookie data that is now arguably, I think there's people on Capitol Hill today talking about whether or not they're abusing data too much. And so every retailer has to have that conversation internally about how are we going to use data? But I think you brought up the right question, which is how are you going to bring use data in a way to enhance the customer's experience? And for the last 10 years, you reference Commerce Next or Shop Talk, the last 10 years, we've all been going to these conferences. And the answer to this question of how are we using customer data was onsite personalization, a b testing, advertising, looking alike campaigns on Facebook... Right? And none of this stuff had to do with, "Oh, I'm actually using my customer data to drive a higher Net Promoter Score." I've literally never heard that at a conference. You might have heard, "Hey, we're using data to drive customer lifetime value," but value in that phrase is it is revenue, right?


Phillip: [00:11:25] It's a revenue number. Right.


Charlie: [00:11:26]  [00:11:26]Yeah. I mean, so we stopped and said, OK, look, these are people that bought something, right? They trusted us enough that they spent a good chunk of cash on a Tumi product that we know is amazing. But something got screwed up. We need to use their data in a way to add value that we don't know if they're going to buy something again or not. But we just make sure they have the best possible experience. And that's a different way of thinking about it. [00:11:52] And I will say this... It brings up a new set of challenges around KPIs. One of the conversations we're having right now within Tumi is whether or not Net Promoter Scores should be part of our in-store compensation plan. And so when you start evaluating customer centricity, you need to kind of balance the realities of business, but also that sometimes it's not only going to be about near-term revenue capture. And I think that's something that the Gladly platform does a great job of as it's like, "Look, in order to help this customer, you understand their whole journey." It isn't just you're helping an order, you're helping this person. And this is their browsing history and this is what they bought in the past and this is their email behavior. All of this information is done for one reason, and that's to help the customer as much as humanly possible. And that's this really cool, obvious.. and I think it was actually what Joseph said to me in our initial email. The biggest difference between Gladly and every other platform... Customers are treated like an order versus customers are treated like customers. And within Gladly you have to get a full view of the customer, which our customer service team just absolutely loved.


Brian: [00:12:52] So you're saying that right now you're actually passing data back, back and forth between your online and in-store associates, or your online purchasing and your in-store associates, and using it to sort of treat a customer like a person? You know, it's "B to Human," right? Business to Human not B2C. It's B to Human. Right? No matter where they're at, whether it's an in-home shopping experience or it's an in-store shopping experience.


Charlie: [00:13:21] Yeah. And you can you can go down that rabbit hole in a hurry. Right? And you can start saying maybe the experience of somebody talking to us for the first time, like a new customer on a mobile device, should have an entirely different Web site. And I think that this is... It's one of the metrics that just absolutely kills me is when e-commerce companies brag about their conversion rate. Right? Because conversion rate is such a small part of a customer's journey. And look, I'm not saying that... I'm a capitalist. Right? We are trying to close sales. I'm not trying to get too high on my soapbox.


Charlie: [00:13:55]  [00:13:55]But maybe you shouldn't be asking for the sale at every single step of the customer journey. I don't think that that's something that is too controversial. But more importantly, don't treat every customer session, as Joseph would say, as a ticket. Right? It's not I'm not ticket one, two, three, four. I'm Charlie. And I might have been with Tumi, and I might have bought 10 times over the last 20 years. And having that information to help a consumer is really important. So, [00:14:23] yeah. I mean, we need to leverage customer data and put it in the context of every single situation to help that consumer as much as possible. And yes, that help might be trying to get them to buy something. If they've if they've opened 44 emails about suitcases and they visit our store three times and spoke with the same associate three times. Our next e-mail should probably be about, "Hey, here's why you should buy the suitcase." But if all they've done is bought from us once and now they're on our 800 number asking for help on how to return it. Getting that information about that customer's history of how they got to that point allows our customer experience group to really help them in a more thoughtful way. And I think that's all we're trying to. You, as you said, treat everybody as humans as opposed to a statistic.


Joseph: [00:15:08] If I could add one other thing... I think... So I think it's this idea that the best marketing is actually customer service. It's this idea that if you treat people by as people, it's going to pay off in dividends, in spades later. Right? [00:15:27] And we actually this interesting consumer expectations survey, we do every year, for example, and we asked people, you know, what is marketing or service...which one is a more important factor of deciding whether you're actually going to purchase? Seventy five percent of the people say it's actually more about service than marketing. And so it's this idea that says, look, treat people like humans, treat people like people. That's going to pay off. And it is a different way of thinking about how you engage. [00:15:54] And I think that by thinking about designing software that helps folks like Cedric and the team in Vidalia, Georgia, to do that, it really changes in it. And, Charlie, if it's okay if I could share an example of one of the very first days we went live.


Joseph: [00:16:10] One of the things that we also want to enable is to have folks like Tumi be able to meet customers wherever the customer wants to be met. So this was a... I mean, literally it was the first day. One of the things that Charlie wanted to do was like, let's provide lots more ways to engage with consumers. Let's not just do the traditional phone number. Let's actually let customers SMS messages. And one of the team was actually calling out to a customer that had a bag that had been repaired and was calling back, calling out to the customer to tell them that it was on its way back. Now, the consumer I know about you, but I never answer my phone anymore.


Joseph: [00:16:47] This consumer got this number calling, didn't know was Tumi and hit that message button on their iPhone and sent back a text message, because Tumi's phone number now SMS enabled and said, "Sorry, I can't talk right now." And the team was like, "What do we do?" The text message shows up in Gladly, and we just said, "Text them back. They obviously prefer to engage over text." And so the team basically just sent a message back that said, "This is so-and-so from Tumi. Just wanted to let you know your bags been repaired. It's on the way back. It should be there in two days. And here's the tracking number." Customer immediately texted back and said, "Oh, my God, that's amazing. Thank you so much". That ability to not only know who this person is, but to meet them in the places that they expect to be met in the 21st century... That starts to change that relationship, if that makes sense.


Charlie: [00:17:35] I love that story. I love that story because it it articulates a perfect example of... It is not our job as a company to tell you how to communicate with us. It's our job to like get into your world and help you where you want to be helped. And I love the story because I think it was either Joseph or someone in their senior management team literally happening to be over the shoulder of our customer service rep. At our customer service rep is like, oh, my gosh, what do I do? And then when they got done, they were just stoked like, oh, my gosh, this is amazing. I didn't have to get back on the phone. I'll tell everybody a dirty, dark secret. No one wants to talk on the phone. Not a single human being on earth.


Brian: [00:18:12] Yes. I love this story, too, so much because we have a former head of e-commerce at Ann Inc on the show, Ingrid Milman. She's actually been on a few times now. When she was at Ann, (She's now at e.l.f. Beauty), she said that for her, actually, at this point, customer relationship is actually higher priority than even brand story. That's kind of a terrifying thought. Like we've been so focused on building these brands, and we've been so brand focused, so like inward focus, that we've lost track of the customer relationship. What do you think about that concept that actually your relationship with your customer is more important than your brand story? I'll ask both of you guys.


Charlie: [00:18:58] Joseph, do you mind if I go first on that?


Joseph: [00:19:00] Please go.


Charlie: [00:19:02] So I 100 percent agree with Ingrid's point on that. And here's... I think here's a harsh reality that we all have to face on the retail side. And Joseph, I'd love for you to piggyback on this, and there's a reason I want to go first. But I wonder if you've encountered this. One of the problems that we really have as retailers is that most of our incentives are around acquisition. Right? I don't think you'll find many executives who have lifetime value in their bonus plan. It's probably like a quarterly goal or maybe an annual goal, and that's where it ends. But in what we're doing with Gladly, it will pay dividends, but it's just not going to fit your standard compensation cycle. And that's where I wonder, like, you know, how do we actually change this as a retailer? Because, look, they went back to that, I think I said about store associates. I want our store associates to be compensated in a way that they're motivated to have you walking into a Tumi store, and you leave a customer for life. You don't leave with a bag. You leave as a customer for life. But a lot of times I think we wedge ourselves into a corner, Brian, because we just are so focused on your point, like acquisition, marketing and acquisition, acquisition, acquisition. Go back to all the sessions you see at every conference. Everything is about acquisition and how to optimize email and how to optimize paid search, that I worry sometimes that we as retailer get a little shortsighted. Joseph, I don't know if... You've been on both sides of the desk here. I don't know how you take that or if that's a little too simplistic.


Joseph: [00:20:25] I actually agree with that. I mean, I think it does start with what are the incentives and what people measure? And, you know, obviously this idea of saying, hey, look, this is about having a customer for life. And when you do the right thing by customers, they become customers for life. The data actually supports that 100 percent. Consumers say that they base their purchase decisions way more around their experience in the service they get than on so many other things. So I think if you deliver on that and you sort of focus on that versus the transaction. That's how you... That's how you achieve that, and I think that one of the things that we're trying to do with respect to thinking about the surface organization is historically that organization has been measured... The performance indicators there have been measured around how many tickets did we handle? How many cases did we handle? What was our efficiency? What was our average handle time? And we're trying to change the model to say, look, you should start by measuring, How many people did you talk to? Touch. How many... It's people at the core. We're not talking about workflow. We're talking about our customers And it's less about how long it took. It's more about "How well did it go?" as the more important measure, because I think if you focus on that, like the downstream implications are all super positive. And I think from a dollar investment standpoint, way more money goes into marketing. People think of marketing as an investment and they're always focusing...historically have always been about service as a place where you have to sort of drive efficiency, and you do have to drive efficiency...I think we do that across everything, but the real measure should be that lifetime value and that customer's experience and whether it's MPS or other ways of measuring it, like you have to change those measures a lot.


Phillip: [00:22:04] I might be showing my age a little bit here in just adding on to that, because I think that's a really important point. I think we're also in... You know, I started my journey in this industry right at the economic downturn. But if you look back now, like I'm pretty young in this world... You guys have probably been doing this longer than I have, but when I look back one hundred and twenty one months of sustained economic growth in the United States of America at the moment, and we're taking just in North America centric view of what global commerce is. Just take a look at what's happening around us. Do you get the sense, Charlie, and then maybe to you, Joseph, do you get the sense that we think we're capturing customers, but we're only really capturing transactions? That we can delude ourselves into thinking that in sort of great economic client that, you know, all this quanting we're doing and all these conversions that we're driving, that we're really freakin smart, like we're great at retail. But in actuality, we're just really great at the psychology of selling a product and not capturing a customer. And maybe you could both give your own take on how you're overcoming that philosophical challenge.


Charlie: [00:23:10] You first, Joseph. I went first last time.


Joseph: [00:23:13] I think that if you look at enduring brands, brands that have like a really great like financials, really great, just customer success, fanatical customers, they understand that it is not about the transaction. They actually understand that it is about that long term relationship. And if you look at brands where people have that... Tumi is a great, great example. I mean, I took literally a good friend of mine was... We spent the weekend together and he had a Tumi backpack, Charlie and I had my Tumi bag that I just got, and I may have offered, "Hey, if you need anything, I might be able to hook you up." And he said, "What do you mean hook me up? I have seven Tumi bags. I got the whole thing. Like, I love Tumi.


Joseph: [00:23:58] And that kind of loyalty, that's not a digital ad. That's not an email marketing campaign. That's about delivering on a great experience and a great product. And I think that those brands that get that, you know, they they understand that it's not about that individual transaction, whether it's Tumi or Apple, for example, like, you know, people love it. You know, I always like to talk about great brands. And if a brand... The pinnacle of a great brand is like Harley Davidson, I mean, people literally put the logo on their bodies. Think about that. Like that is not about a transaction that is about a love for a product that goes beyond this, just goes beyond what I think what we normally think about. I'm not suggesting surely your marketing strategy should be people tattoo Tumi, per say, but, you know, like that's the kind of loyalty that gets engendered where people just have this affinity. And it is part of their identity. And if you can make something that people feel like, hey, it's part of my identity and I have this strong affinity to, that's a game changer and that is a competitive advantage that is super hard to compete against. And I think that the greatest brands, they get that. And if you get that, you're gonna be in a really great place just as a business. But I don't think enough people think like that, yet.


Charlie: [00:25:14] Yeah. And I think I think to Joseph's point, and it's certainly sort of with reference on the question. We get too caught up in the tactics here and we forget about that long term vision. Right? And so I'll be very, very candid, in my first couple months it Tumi, so I joined at the start of 2016... One of the things we had to do as an e-commerce team was basically retrain the entire organization on how we're going to evaluate marketing because everything was evaluated on our last click basis. What is more transactionally focus, to your point as opposed to capturing customers and closing transaction, than if you're evaluating everything on a last click basis. And look, a lot of listeners to the show and a lot of retailers will now say it's all good, Charlie. Now we're evaluating stuff on a first click or view through basis or what's a new Google way to say it? You know, it's done on the T row ads. Right. So we value all visits into our... The reality is that it's still really, really hard for us tactically to evaluate a marketing channel on a lifetime value. There are companies out there trying to do it. There are companies out there applying, hey, this customer has the potential based on a machine learning algorithm to be a very high value customer. You should be willing to bid more for it. But I do think tactically that's a real challenge. Right. And so instead of trying to solve that really, really difficult challenge. Right. Where I'm sure there are layers in our equation that we are not optimizing towards lifetime value. I mean, maybe a person from Colorado is technically usually worth more than a person from California. And I should change my market number. Forget all that.


Charlie: [00:26:52] To Joseph's point, there is something to be said for just ensuring that we give a really, really kick ass experience. And if we do that, then lifetime value will shake itself out regardless if you're from Colorado or California. So I just think that the tactics that are out there make optimizing to lifetime value really, really hard because we're so focused on what we can quantify. And Lord knows I'm guilty of this. I feel like most of my content out there is about how rad analytics are. Right. But this is an area where you just have to strip off all the tactical layers and just understand your North Star as a company. And if you can do that in a qualitative way and more importantly, justify the resources needed to get there, and that's where it goes back to this... You probably have to have a slightly different lens than you usually do because our investment in Gladly... Can I point to revenue over a quarter? Probably not. I mean there's probably some I can...decrease return rates, etc. This to me is more about what we see from our customers perception of the brand. And you know, if we can get to the point where people are hiring sky writers to write "I love Tumi" in the air, great, but it's really more just about, you know, understanding what humans want and treating them in a way that that we feel like they deserve for giving us their cash. I mean, what's what's a bigger privilege in retail than someone that likes you enough that they fork over $500? Lord knows that they've kind of earned that right. It's just a harder thing to quantify and therefore optimize, too. So I do agree with I agree with the premise. We're a little too transactional.


Phillip: [00:28:21] I can't even imagine the conversation if... Let's say I'm in the skywriting business, and [00:28:27] I want to be in the room when someone asks the question, "But how do I express my brand voice in the sky? You don't understand. My voice of my brand is so special. You know how does skywriting bring that to life?" And, you know, it's funny as you say it like that and we all chuckle, but that's exactly what people are asking about voice now and text and chat now. You [00:28:52] know, there's very few sites that you can visit today that don't have some sort of real time chat medium or some sort of text communication medium. Do you think that brands, I guess, the same to Joseph, like are brands very concerned about how their voice is coming across in those channels? Like, is that something that you see that they sort of labor over?


Joseph: [00:29:15] Well, I think that Tumi, for example, provides chat and SMS, and I think that they know that that's how consumers want to communicate with them. And so they they have to be able to communicate that way. It is the preferred way that consumers want to engage is on these text channels. And I think that you can deliver empathetic, engaging experience over text channels very easily, because it's the way we all communicate. I mean, I can express emotion through words quite well. And I think that people that do it right starts with saying, look, I know who you are. So if you just say, hey, I know who you are is the very beginning of that conversation and you're not asking them to repeat themselves from the last conversation. You know, if that alone starts to say, hey, you know, I'm not going to ask you to repeat yourself. And I think by being able to recognize people for who they are, you know, look, the world is digital text channels today. And so people have to get really good at that, and people prefer them. So I think the right way... You know, people do it the right way, like it's going to go well. I think the people that try to automate that stuff too much and try not to engage with people like that's not the right... There was a company we talked to in the early days of starting Gladly. I won't say who they are to protect the innocent. They said, look, we really don't want companies to talk to us. We just want them to pay their bills. Like they're not going to think about it the way like Charlie does, which is like, look, I want to engage with consumers and I want engage with them on all the different channels, physical, digital, internationally. You just have to meet people were there and show that you know who they are, and if you do that, you're going to engage people regardless of the actual channel, because it's the experience that matters, not the channel.


Charlie: [00:31:03] And going back to that initial e-mail Joseph referenced, one of the things that is included in that that brand deck, which I assume is going to be framed in the Gladly office, or handed out at the IPO or whatever it is... And really the idea, Phillip and Brian, that we're talking about is how the brand voice is the scary thing. And it's it's very sacred and ethereal thing to brands. How do we make sure we control it? And that gets harder to do through mediums. And I think one of the things brands are deathly afraid of is the idea of a customer service rep going off script. Right. Like you have a template, you need to use that template. And that's the way you're going to get this back. And if you stay on template, we'll close the sale, whatever it is. I think one of the things that is going to happen, and we're doing it right now unknowingly, the more you talk to someone, the more you loosen up and the more the voice becomes natural. There's a small little tactic in that first deck Joseph talked about which I just think is so, so bad ass... Which is if you started your conversation with Charlie, and so Brian called in, and we had a conversation, and we went back and forth and Brian's gonna get back to me... If Charlie's still there the call gets routed to Charlie. So Brian just continues with this conversation with the same person. Regardless if it's text or WhatsApp or e-mail or Facebook manager. Like what a novel way to do that.


Charlie: [00:32:25] I mean, what what we're doing is we're building a relationship which we can put this concept of a relationship into ones and zeros. But by definition, Brian is going to be a little bit more disarmed and I'm going to be a little bit more empathetic because we've kind of gone on this journey together. So there is like very simple tactical applications which how we accomplish this. And I just love that detail as a truly human way. What a great idea. You get to keep having a relationship, and chances are you're going to be more open to solving a problem with each other on both sides of the device, if you can have that. That's something that I think that Gladly puts their money where their mouth is with that really simple feature.


Brian: [00:33:03] And it's not even just solving problems. It could be a relationship that goes a lot further than that. It could be a relationship that results in in product discovery and other types of really sales activity down the road as you begin to trust each other. We talked a couple episodes ago about actually my dad and the relationship he had with a wine vendor at Costco and how it developed into like this 20 year relationship and like that wine steward at Costco came to my dad's funeral. It was like this really beautiful retail relationship. It's there's nothing else out there like that that I've ever seen. I think you're absolutely right. When you give customer representatives the space to be able to get to know their customers and actually fall in love with their customers and not even the other way around. But you give them the tools to do that and make it a real relationship. That's when you can really start to see things payoff.


Charlie: [00:34:04] And I would go one step further than that. It's also a perfect way that if you try to... I don't have a better word than "data-fy it." Automate it, make it so, hey, customer service rep, our algorithms just gotten munched. And you should say this right here and now. If you had to overdo it, it does the exact opposite where you dehumanize it. Right. And so I think that that is... It goes back to that challenge I referenced before. Look, give people data to help them. Don't give people data to program them because, ultimately, this is a human interaction.


Brian: [00:34:32] I love that so much.


Phillip: [00:34:35] Yeah, yeah. I do, too. This is a challenge of scale, in reality. When you have so many people like, well, what I find in Brian's example is it's one to one selling, it's a one to one relationship. And the thing that's been lost, as you know, brands have grown as you know, as retail has grown is, and especially in this world of omni channel... There's a sense that we sort of have to be everywhere and be everything to everybody. We sort of lost that personal relationship. And that's why when we started 2019, we really felt like that's the, you know, the charter of retail brands this year, and the thing that we hear reiterated over and over, topic of our show is really just how do we recapture that relationship?


Phillip: [00:35:21] And that's what I think really intrigued us about this conversation, was talking to people that are doing it right and have the right, you know, the right type of tools and the mindset and the culture in a company to be able to do that. So I thought maybe we could spend a little bit of time sort of trying to, you know, we are called Future Commerce. I love, I love to predict the future. Where do you think, you know, the next four or five years are going? Like what do we have to...what are we going to have to overcome? What challenges are ahead? As retail brands are trying to plan for the future. And I guess we should start with you. Charlie.


Charlie: [00:36:04] Well, you alluded to it before. I do think that voice, of all of its promises and all of its deficiencies. I can totally picture a world that five years from now you never, ever look at a screen to check the status of your order. Right. Like you are constantly talking to your Google home or having Google homes and you automated messages or whatever it may be. And I just think that that's something we need to imagine now. Right. We need to make sure that we are ahead of how the voice device is changing, because, look, it's been very romanticized up to this point. But I do not think, just to be sort of a different view on the future... I do not think that Brian's going to be like, "Hey, Google, can I have Alpha 3 in black 22?" And, you know, I just don't think we're going to get there. But I do think, Brian, if he just bought one of those would be like, "Hey, Google, where's my Tumi order?" Right. Which you're gonna to talk to it like a human. It's going to have to articulate all that information. But more importantly, we are going to have to evolve to function in that world. Right. And that's a challenge. Where do I capture that data on my side? Is that something that gets edited onto your customer service record, blah, blah, blah, blah? But I'm I am very, very bullish on the voice channel as an order status checker, for lack of a more formalized turn. And I think that that's a challenge for retailers, because that means there's only a certain amount of coding and a certain amount of data that we're gonna have to figure out how to capture and use in a way to make sure that we meet your expectations of that channel. So that's one thing I'd volunteer initially that I'm really interested in bullish on. Joseph, I don't know if I just stole your thunder, but I'll hand it over to you.


Joseph: [00:37:39] I definitely think that that's a great change that's happening. And, you know, I think about kids, young kids today, like that is how they're going to experience the world. I think for us, the thing that we would love to help have an impact on... As you were telling that story before about your dad and the person in the Costco who was the wine buyer, and he had this, he built this amazing relationship, so much so that this person showed up at your dad's funeral, which is incredible. It's a relationship. And historically, if you think of sort of back to the future, you know, fifty seventy five years ago, the way that we engaged in, think about retail commerce, was very much like that where people knew who you were and they had these very empathetic personal relationships. I would love that if in five years we could say, or 10 years, that we could say that we helped transform the way people think about service and actually get back to more of that.


Joseph: [00:38:37] Because if you look at the last 40 years of what's happened, we've sort of come on to this very mass approach to how we engage. And we want to figure out how can you enable that kind of personal, one to one relationships, but doing it in a world that is much more online, remote, e-commerce, virtual, however you want to describe it. How do you how do we enable that so that there's just a fundamental transformation of how brands build relationships with consumers and make consumers feel just like they did when they walked into that butcher shop or that local coffee shop, and people said, "Hey, Charlie, good to see you again. Do you want your standard coffee with the almond milk and not too hot?" We want to help deliver that from a service experience. I think if we can transform it like it's going to have a fundamental shift in terms of the brands that win in the brands that don't.


Charlie: [00:39:32] Do I really? Do I really strike you as a complicated coffee orderer, Joseph?


Joseph: [00:39:40] No, no, no. Actually, I think you're like a black coffee, maybe for a little bit of milk. And that's actually my guess, but I'm not positive.


Charlie: [00:39:47] Yeah, I mean, good Lord. You're certainly not looking at profile my on coffee ordering. There would just be one page of "black, black, black, black."


Joseph: [00:39:57] You know, the idea that, you know, you think you walk in and they know exactly what you want. Like delivering on that where you're still having a personal connection versus just feeling like you're being treated like a case or a ticket. Like we really want to just transform that, and that would be our goal in terms of having an impact.


Phillip: [00:40:16] Interesting, we had a conversation last week in Seattle. I spoke with Brian in conjunction with Amazon Pay, and they're you know, we all shudder at the A word, I think. But the you know, it is Prime Day, I think. So we're allowed to talk about Amazon today, but there's the sense that, you know, they...that the spoken word intent of a single actionable expression of need is the future. So I'm totally on board with that. Now, whether that's, you know, voice enabled microwaves, I don't know. I think some people seem to think so. I'm interested to know how, you know, how brands can envision a future where customers want to interact with them, you know, in those mediums. And Charlie, you kind of opened us up with this, which is expectations are being leveled against you of exceptional service that you aren't setting, that other people are setting. They're expectations based on their interactions elsewhere that are now being given to you. And how do you as a company adapt to that, you know, in a ever in a world that changes so quickly? How do you adapt to that? And in a way that your customer feels like empowered or... I guess I'm not really sure what I'm even asking there. It's seems like it's changing quickly and ...


Charlie: [00:41:55] I love the way... I love where you're going with it. I really do. Because I'll give you a true story, and Joseph don't hate on me, because it's going to start with the fact that I was in San Francisco for six hours yesterday, and I didn't tell you. But I was in San Francisco for six hours yesterday. One of my colleagues was all the way out here from Australia. His name'ss, Marcio, and Marcio and I walked into a meeting and he saw the Amazon Go store and he's like, "Oh, can we go check that out?" And I'm like, "Yeah." And so I go in there and I walk in and I grab... I was like, "What do you need? Like, you're staying in a hotel. You wanna go get a bottle of water?" And he's like, "Yeah. Perfect." So I just leave with a bottle of water. And he's just utterly floored. Right. He was just like, "Yeah, you just stole a bottle of water." And I was like, "No, I didn't steal it. Right. Like, that's not what I'm about." But it was to him... this was something that... it was an expectation he didn't even know he had. That he wanted to go to the grocery store.


Charlie: [00:42:44] And so we continued talking about this. He's like, "So like, living in Seattle, do you just get your groceries delivered all the time?" And I was like, "Dude, no, I love going to the grocery store." And that's actually true. Like, I actually love going to the grocery store. And it's one of those things that I love taking my daughter, who's like 14 months old to the grocery store, cause PCC, my little organic grocer here. It gives every child a free piece of fruit. Right. If you go shopping with your mom and dad, like these are the little things where I actually think... I think the opportunity for retailers, and brands specifically, not multi-brand retailers, but brands specifically, are going to do the little moments and experiences in the stores that don't have to do about purchasing. Right. I actually think purchasing going can become the easy part because everything's me so bloody easy to get in a day and everything's ubiquitous and everything's available everywhere. And we have marketplaces, and we have resale marketplaces, and I can rent to buy and blah blah blah blah blah. I feel like the thing that's being completely disarmed is the ability to buy stuff.


Charlie: [00:43:48] Or as, I always called spear fishing. Right. I need an apple. I can have an apple in my house in two hours. I want or I can drive up and get one in five minutes. You know, cool. But how do I do these little experiences like that free piece of fruit in PCC that I didn't even know would motivate me to bring my kid, but now my kid, she's gonna be wired to go to PCC? They've always made this huge experience for me that makes it that much more special. So I think the fun part for brands and hopefully, Phillip, I'm answering your question is, the fun part for brands is finding those things that people didn't know what they needed and do it in a way that, sure helps him get affinity for the brand, but it isn't just about transactions. And so I'll give you an example we were talking about. The thing about luggage is if you break your luggage, just if you just think about it, chances are it's not going to be at home. Right. You're moving around. You pop a wheel in the Detroit airport. That is a moment that we can help you better than Amazon. How many times is a retailer actually have an opportunity to help you better than Amazon? Right. And so we've asked this question of... What does a year 2000, a year 2020 or year 2022 warranty program look like? It's not like, oh, I'm in a Detroit airport. I'm just gonna lug this thing around for three days. And then when I get back home to Seattle, I'm in a pack it up in a cardboard box and I'll ship it to Vidalia, Georgia, and then I'll wait, and then they'll fix my wheel, and then they'll send it back.


Charlie: [00:45:16] How ludicrous does that sound like five years from now? So it's a good example where this is not a transaction. This is the big, sticky, hard part of this world. And the other thing I'll tell you is Tumi, Tumi customers, they don't want to just throw that thing out. That's like a part of their life. They've like grown up with this bag. They want it fixed, and we know that. And so I think those challenges, Phillip, are the funner part of retail, about the non transactional pieces that differentiate really great brands.


Joseph: [00:45:42] I'd like to say, Charlie, that's about making a lasting impression with a single moment of time. When you can make that lasting impression, that's how you change the experience.


Brian: [00:45:52] Man, that is so true.


Phillip: [00:45:59] Take my breath away, why don't you. I don't know if we could possibly say anything better than that, because that's really what we're all about is... How as retailers, how are people in leadership in retail...how can they differentiate themselves? And that's how. It's not at the transaction. It's everything that happens after.


Brian: [00:46:20] And before.


Charlie: [00:46:20] And in the automotive industry... Like, think about this. The automotive industry is having to come up with... Think about this. They're now planning for a future where people don't own cars. Right. Like, that's insane, right? Like literally their entire business model has been to sell cars since Henry Ford. And now they're having to come up solutions for ridesharing and, you know, cars as you need them and... You know. So I just think we need as retailers need to start thinking about the exact same thing. Like what if it's not just about buying stuff? And this is where I feel like the overused cliche is, "We don't sell things. We sell experiences." Look, that's really easy to say. I get it. But Tumi, it's not going to launch the next Airbnb. Sure that has to do with travel, too. But it's really more about those other things have nothing to do with purchasing that the expectation of you spending $800 on a suitcase from us. We need to match those things, and you probably don't know what they are until other stuff happens... Where you have a child, or you're getting married, or it breaks... Your expectations going to change on a dime. And the more we can anticipate them and to Joseph's point, make that make that expectation a reality... It's where we're going to when down the road.


Brian: [00:47:29] I think it's a great place to wrap it up. That's... What an amazing conversation. Guys, this is exactly what Future Commerce is all about. Thank you so much for your insight and your thoughts.


Joseph: [00:47:43] We appreciate it. Thank you for having us.


Charlie: [00:47:44] Yeah that was fun. And I don't order complicated coffee. You know, if we get one thing out of this conversation. I've never had almond milk in my coffee.


Joseph: [00:47:58] Thanks for having us. It was great.


Phillip: [00:48:02] Thanks for being on the show. And thanks for listening. We do want you to lend your voice to this conversation. You can do that best at futurecommerce.fm. We want to hear what you are doing to transform your vision of what excellent customer experiences look like at your brand. And we'd love you to also shoot us an email. You can do that, Phillip, with two L's or Brian with an I @futurecommerce.fm. And we love to see you back here, so make sure you like and subscribe everywehre podcasts are found. And as we always say,


Brian: [00:48:30] Retail tech moves fast,.


Phillip: [00:48:31] And Future Commerce is moving faster. Thanks for listening.