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:

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

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