Season 3 Episode 4
November 19, 2020

[Step by Step] How Does CX Address Modern Customer Expectations?

Customer Experience is about anticipating expectations. The modern customer has plenty of expectations. For Native Shoes, leading with their values helps them to meet those expectations. Their brand promise - to live lightly - is woven into every interaction they have with a customer. To do this, they're using blended teams to help blur the lines between online interactions and offline interactions, creating a seamless, even channel-less, view of interacting with the customer. Listen now!

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Customer Experience is about anticipating expectations. The modern customer has plenty of expectations. For Native Shoes, leading with their values helps them to meet those expectations, online or in-store.

Blended online and in-store CX is the future

Rebecca Boxall is the VP of Marketing, Channels & Customer Experience for Native Shoes. Her viewpoint of CX is that today it requires intimate knowledge of how online and offline customers shop and make purchase decisions to provide superlative service. This is why Native have taken to running blended CX teams. Their commitment to cross-functional training in this way allow them to lead with their values, and weave their brand promise into every interaction, be it physical or digital.

We have people that are on the phones also running CX in stores. And for those that are in-store, they can also pick up shifts and hours in the customer service team and experience both sides. And I think there's value and insights to be gained from both experiences. -Rebecca Boxall, Native Shoes

In-store support teams are used to picking up product and demonstrating it in a way that online teams weren't. Bringing the blended CX team model into the business allows Native Shoes online reps to have the same physical, tangible, connection to the product that helps them to communicate on a deeper level with the customer. This creates internal advocacy and a clearer sense of voice of the customer within the business.

Key Takeaways

  • Everyone talks about tools; overlooked tools include team culture, business purpose, leadership philosophy.
  • Brand purpose and brand mission have to be woven into every touchpoint, in every channel.
  • The idea of "channel" is blurring. Customers fluidly move between channels.
  • CX is about providing quality interactions. Non-quality interactions can have "multiply-by-zero" effects, meaning that poor experiences nullify the good ones, no matter how good.
The word “selling” jars with me a little bit because I feel like selling and service are intrinsically linked and to me good sales and good selling is just about very good service and helping a customer get their needs met. -Rebecca Boxall, Native Shoes

Thanks for listening to Episode 4 of our Season 3 of Step by Step! Drop us a line at hello@futurecommerce.fm or Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify so you don't miss the next episode!

Phillip: [00:00:50] Welcome to Step by Step, a podcast by Future Commerce presented by Gladly, this is season three of Step by Step and we are talking about CX. Yes, customer experience. We're going to follow the journey of four incredible brand operators just like yourself, who are expanding their world of customer support into customer experience. This is the fourth episode of Step by Step. And if you're just jumping into the series midway through, why don't you go back and listen from the very beginning? If you're in leadership at a brand and you find yourself dealing with OKRs and you'd rather be dealing with OMGs, this series is for you. Today we are sitting down with Rebecca Boxall, the VP of Marketing, Channels, and Customer Experience at Native Shoes. Well, she is no stranger to delivering exceptional customer experience. We ask Rebecca the hardest question of all, which is how do you address modern customer expectations and how do you do that in a world that's more digital than ever? She has some amazing answers for us. She talks about how their mission driven approach allows them to connect their mission to their customers, and that drives lifetime value. I know you're going to love it. So let's sit back. Let's listen to Rebecca Boxall of Native Shoes as she teaches us how to evolve from support to experience Step by Step.

Phillip: [00:02:19] We have a special guest with us today, the VP of Marketing, Channels, and Customer Experience and Native Shoes, Rebecca Boxall. Welcome to the show.

Brian: [00:02:26] Welcome.

Rebecca: [00:02:27] Hello. Thanks for having me.

Phillip: [00:02:29] And thanks for joining. I feel like we're fast friends, even though we've never truly met.

Rebecca: [00:02:33] I do. I feel like we're besties that go way back.

Brian: [00:02:36] Yes.

Phillip: [00:02:36] It's kind of true. And this is our second or third attempt at telling a really complete story in a very tumultuous year. But we'll get to some of that. We were talking in this series, this Step by Step five part series, about what it really means to have a true, like, differentiated customer experience. Like how do you take customer experience to the next level? I'm sure we will dive into some of that today, but not to take anything for granted. Let's start with what is Native and what is your role at Native?

Rebecca: [00:03:12] Yes. So Native Shoes. We are a kids and adults footwear brands. We lead with our purpose to make it easy for all to live lightly. We've got a big sustainable focus in terms of our production and our materials and we sold around the world. I am the VP of Marketing, Channels, and Customer Experience, so I oversee all of our sales channels, eCommerce, retail and wholesale, our brand and digital marketing, and our customer experience, including our customer service team.

Brian: [00:03:45] So cool. I love the brand. It's such a beautiful, beautiful, uplifting brand. Tell us a little bit about your ethos at Native.

Rebecca: [00:03:55] Yes, so we're very much purpose led and being purpose led means that it's a function of your culture and your guiding light, really, in terms of whatever you're doing. It's not just something that shows up in your marketing department. Our purpose is to make it easy for all to live lightly. It's underpinned by a few pillars, one being "Ask more what ifs." So we're big about asking what if we did things this way? Or what if the world looked like this? Or what if we could ask people this question? And so that takes us into sort of big ideas and small unlocks in the day to day business. "Tiny activism" is another one of our pillars. This is one of my favorites. It's really based around the the idea that small acts add up to big change, and we can all be tiny activists in our day to day for the planet and for our life. And for some people, the act of activism is fighting for policies and being at the forefront of conversations and other people's activism is being a great recycler at home or buying a pair of Native shoes, which has a light footprint on the planet and is made thoughtfully and consciously for the world. So that's one of my favorites. "Do the kind thing" is another one that I love. And gosh, couldn't be more important in a year like this. Kindness is about being kind to all kinds. So being kind your neighbor and kind to nature and kind to the world and how that also translated internally within our culture is when you're trying to solve a problem within the organization and with a peer, what would be the kind thing in terms of how to interpret the interactions you having that day? That person's rubbed you the wrong way or is seemingly not cooperating for some reason. So "Do the kind thing" has lots of applications and is an important pillar. And so we are purpose led and it's been a developing... And I don't think evolving and embedding your purpose in your organization is really ever done. And whilst it has always been in the fabric of our company, it's definitely come to the forefront particularly in the last three years.

Phillip: [00:06:49] There was something you said there about... Well you said two things. One was treating each other kindly and then the other was it's been a bit of a year. {laughter}

Rebecca: [00:06:59] {laughter} A little bit.

Phillip: [00:07:03] If there's ever a year we need a little bit more kindness it's this year for sure. In your customer support role, are you finding that it's more challenging right now to live that out or are people a little more understanding? I tend to hear from certain folks that, depending on the brand and depending on where you sit in the organization, especially in a support role, customers are being a little more flexible than they used to be. What is it like at Native? That's the first question. And the other part of that is like, why do you think that is? Why do you think that is? How does that come to be? And how are you seeing that play out?

Rebecca: [00:07:41] We have lovely customers at at Native Shoes and I am always grateful and always taken, always humbled, by the the goodwill that we have out in the world. Look, I think the pandemic has brought out in all of us good and bad, and there's certainly been some to both ends of the scale. I think we are aware that people have been stressed and coming up against a lot of things that have nothing to do with this shoe purchase that can come out. And then the other side of things is that people are also really banding together and have a sense of community and we're in it together. And I think we've just come out of our busy season, which coincided with the pandemic. So we also had high volumes and a pandemic culture to lead through and even through a busy season there is also always the constant conversation and reminder about what it feels like to be at the call face and in customer experience and what it means to show up kindly and with great generosity to people that might not be having their best day on the other end of the phone.

Brian: [00:09:08] It's so refreshing to see a brand lead with kindness. I think that's something that's really, really powerful as we kind of all said. Obviously, we've seen a lot of evolving this past year. I love that you sort of said that you've embedded sort of evolving your identity into sort of the core of the brand. I feel like customers have evolved more quickly in the past year than perhaps we've seen in a long, long time.

Phillip: [00:09:39] It's true.

Brian: [00:09:40] So talk to me a little bit about your customer and we is that you're seeing them change, their identity evolving as well.

Rebecca: [00:09:50] I think our customer is evolving in terms of where they shop. We've certainly seen our customers migrate to online channels. And we talk a lot about the shift to digital and eCommerce out in the retail world right now. I have also seen a desire to shop in an in-store experience, if it's safe and if it's not too far from home. So we have also been very thoughtful about how we've evolved our in-store experience. And I mean, going back to your question in terms of the customer goodwill earlier, Brian, having seen customers line up outside of a store to go in to try some pair of shoes is pretty amazing and pretty exciting to see. And I've been quite... I've been pleasantly surprised at the sales that we've been able to achieve through a store where we've had reduced hours and reduced team members and by nature, reduced service.  [00:11:03]I think overall customers are being increasingly discerning in terms of where they spend their dollars right now because times are a bit uncertain. And so really leading with the value and the function and if a customer could get away with buying one item that fulfills multiple purposes now is the year that that's going to happen. And so I think we're seeing that in terms of some category shifts between now sort of EVA styles, shoes and boots. But in a lot of ways we're very fortunate because kids' feet keep growing, whether there's a recession and a pandemic happening or not. [00:12:00]

Phillip: [00:12:01] It's an interesting category to be in. I would not have thought when I look at... This always gets me in trouble, Brian, when I start mentioning peer categories.

Brian: [00:12:12] Uh oh.

Phillip: [00:12:12] You know, this is where PR starts to have a heart attack. You know, VF Corp just put up massive numbers for their Q2 and as did many others, Adidas, Nike. You look at it across the board, folks are still wearing shoes, even though the thought leaders on Twitter would have you know that they're only wearing sweatpants and they haven't seen a shoe in seven months, it doesn't seem to actually be the case. And I think this speaks, if I may be so bold, I think the speaks to the fact that, hey, maybe not everybody's alike, but also we're craving some sense of normalcy and folks are looking for this multifunction, multipurpose piece that I think they'll find it. They're going to find it. And you touched on that. That was, I think, such a brilliant piece of insight there, is that you have a product that is good for many members of the family and fulfills many needs.

Rebecca: [00:13:22] And it all lasts, too. [00:13:24] I think with that discerning purchase, people are looking for value and confidence in the brand and the quality that they're buying now as well, which is not a new thing at all. I just think it's amplified during these times. [00:13:39]

Phillip: [00:13:40] And there's this idea of multipurpose, and let's bring it back to CX. I'm sure Gladly would appreciate that. But this idea, too, that every channel is where all customers live now. It used to be that you might have a certain kind of customer that frequents one channel. That's not really the case much anymore, is it? Is that how it works for Native? Are you striving to bring them closer together? What's the channel strategy there?

Rebecca: [00:14:11]  [00:14:11]I think customer experience transcends channel. The division and the ideal is that whether you're purchasing and interacting with our brand and our shoes in one of our wholesale partners or through our eCommerce business or in our stores or in our past and future when we opened Pop-Up stores, it just should feel the same. It should feel the same if you're looking at our Instagram content or talking to someone on the phone. It just should feel consistent. And I think customers expect you to meet them wherever they're at and service their needs wherever they want to interact with you, which I think is great.  [00:15:05]It poses particularly being able to scale up. And when you're on a growth path, it's a unique and exciting challenge to build an org and a philosophy in that way.

Brian: [00:15:19] Mhm. Yeah, I would imagine that we're talking about connecting products to customers in different ways, different places, and in every place and every way. I would imagine that your mission and the message of your mission, you've got to have that right there along with that sort of wherever you are. How does that sort of play out?

Rebecca: [00:15:43] Yeah, I was reminded actually, because I mean, we've talked about this before. It's been a tough year to be a retailer. There's been a lot of things if you're leading a retail organization, there's a lot of things that have been thrown at you that, in most cases, many of us have not had to lead through before and certainly lead teams that haven't experienced something before. And so I was reminded at points throughout the year about how important it is to always come back to purpose and always lift up to work. Work from there. Lead from there. And soul from there. It's very easy and understandable to to get sucked into the very practicalities and the operations of the day. But it's an easy a place to lead from and an easy a place to create vision and even in a conversation about, hey, things are a little challenging right now, but here's what we're working towards. Remember what we're working towards. And yeah, it's been a constant for me throughout this year as well as other years, but I've definitely viewed it in a different way this year. We sat down and we've been evolving. Our eCommerce business has been growing quite a bit and our retail business has been evolving as well. And so we sat down not long ago to revisit our customer experience philosophy, relative to the customer facing channels to start with. And then I want to continue to branch that out across the other departments in the business. And we created a little one page... I'm a big fan of the one page visual to explain a philosophy or a strategy or something. And so we created a little one pager that was going to be our blueprint for creating the next phase of customer experience and at the top set our purpose to make it easy for all to live lightly and the pillars of our experience that sat underneath that were storytelling, selling, service, and insights. And underpinning all of that is quality. And that could be quality of the products or quality of the content, quality experience. Whatever it is, it should be a quality thing that we're putting out in the world. And I think without the purpose pulling that up, to me, it feels less inspirational and a lot more broad for the teams to then go and bring the subject matter expertise to.

Phillip: [00:19:55] There's a recurrent theme in this series that seems to come up over and over again, it's this idea that there's a shift happening. And if more customers are looking to digital first, that some of the pre purchase questions are things that might shift to online where a traditional customer support mechanism might be better suited or trained to handle post purchase support. Is that something that you have dealt with at Native? And in my follow up to that, in a la Brian Lange's multipart question would be, what is your sense of the sort of your omnichannel mix and how do you sort of train and hire against that?

Rebecca: [00:20:45] Yes, so I'm going to answer the last part of your question first, because I like to live on the edge that way. This year I appointed the same individual to the customer experience, which is our online customer service team, customer experience team lead and the store manager of our flagship store here in Vancouver. And it really came about because we had some people movements and we had some great talent in the business. And I thought, you know what, [00:21:18] I'm excited to see how this could evolve our customer experience and run a blended roster. So we have people that are on the phones also showing up in-store. And for those that are in-store, can also pick up shifts and hours in the customer service team and experience both sides. And I think there's value and insights to be gained from both experiences. And as we scale and as we grow, my goal is to try and keep this is as integrated as possible for that reason. And there're a lot of efficiencies also around language and training.  [00:22:06]And as you scale up and scale back down around peak season, the onboarding and off boarding associated with that and strengths in building that sort of voice of customer hub within the business.

Brian: [00:22:24] Yeah, I love this. I love this so much. It's like it's sort of the ultimate omnichannel. It's when you take your org and you recognize that they can actually be more than what you think they can. It's a blending of old world and new world in a way that reflects within the org, that reflects the way the market is acting. And I think back to like our Retail Rebirth Report, which we did a webinar with you on and the fact is, our new flagship is our digital channel. And so when we think about who should be engaged in our flagship, of course it should be the people that are engaged in our flagship store experience. It's super unique. I love what you've done.

Rebecca: [00:23:16] Yeah. I think the challenge of the online customer service team is what you miss from the store experiences being tactile with the product and having to pick up the product, pick up the shoe and talk to a customer and with the shoe in hand and be pointing at things and explaining things. And that's just particularly being connected to the product is one of the bridges I was wanting to link up in this move. In terms of the pre purchase and the consideration phase shifting channels, yes. Yes, I think so. I have no data to support this, but I'm curious about how much that's actually changed versus how much as an industry we're paying more attention to it now. I mean, the Internet's always been there. Social media has been pretty popular for a while now.

Phillip: [00:24:22] But the intern runs that, Bec.

Rebecca: [00:24:30] {laughter} There's some kid doing social. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:24:32] Right.

Rebecca: [00:24:32] And I mean, our eCommerce conversion rates aren't ninety nine percent. So there's... I'm curious as to whether we're just paying more attention as a collective these days. Having said all that, yes, we're actively evolving our online customer experience team to feel empowered and equipped with the tools and the content and the training to support that. And it comes back to that storytelling pillar in a little one pager. It might help them feel like they can story tell about the brand, story tell about product, story tell about the material [00:25:20] innovations... The word "selling" jars with me a little bit because I feel like selling and service are intrinsically linked and to me good sales and good selling is just about very good service and helping a customer get their needs met.  [00:25:44]It's included in our model right now because there is a bit of a distinction, in terms of how we've approach service historically, but potentially at some stage I'll merge that back together. So it just sits under the banner of service, which is just about being helpful and informative and wanting the customer to feel happy.

Phillip: [00:26:09] Ok, so let's flip the script a little bit, because I think we could certainly dig down on that. But I would ask you the opposite question. If good selling and good service or hand in hand and they have a multiplying effect on the happiness of the customer, what are some multiplied by zeros? There's this concept of it doesn't matter how complicated the equation is, if you introduce a zero to multiply by, it nullifies the whole thing. You know, that's the... Brian and I use the analogy you go to a five star restaurant, if the sewage is backing up in the restroom, you're never going back. Right?

Rebecca: [00:26:47] {laughter}

Phillip: [00:26:47] So it doesn't matter how great the food is.

Rebecca: [00:26:50] Has that happened to one of you? Because that's very specific.

Phillip: [00:26:53] I'm so traumatized. I keep bringing it up. I can't stop bringing up. Credit where credit's due. This is from Eric Jorgensen and he has a great book about this idea of career amplification wherein I've just stolen his exact metaphor.

Rebecca: [00:27:12] Love it.

Phillip: [00:27:12] But what are some multiply by zeros that you're trying to avoid? I think that these certainly exist. I've had bad experiences. And I'm more prone to evangelize bad experiences than good ones.

Rebecca: [00:27:25] Our human brains do that.

Phillip: [00:27:26] What's your take there and sort of how do you avoid those in the organization?

Rebecca: [00:27:31] Things that just undo all of your good work? It's funny the things you get caught up on being sort of right or wrong about. There's things in the warranty policy and giving out gifts or gift cards and promo codes for poor experiences. And those conversations you find yourself in about oh, people could really take advantage of that. I'm like yeah, but that will be a small number of people, but most people will use it well and have a positive experience. That conversation's come up regularly across my career about that people could really abuse that. It's almost never happened. It's like it's just it almost never happens. And it's not to say that people don't go out and abuse particular programs or things like that. That's always going to be there. But [00:28:25] on the whole, most people don't set out to take advantage in that way. And so make it right for as many people as possible and just let the cheeky monkeys be the cheeky monkeys. [00:28:42]

Brian: [00:28:44] That's a tweet that's coming out of this. Or maybe that's the show title or something.

Rebecca: [00:28:50] That's some true wisdom I've been touting there, isn't it? Cheeky monkey. {laughter} And the other thing I've been very conscious of in writing this planning is around wait. Wait times... You're going to run into things where the products not met expectations or there's been a delivery messed up. Or delivery delays has been a big one this this year. You know yourself. You just don't want to wait very long to have this resolved or at least be heard. I think once you felt heard the resolution, I think has a bit more grace time, but helping customers be heard as quickly as possible, you could have had a great experience right up to the point that you... And you might not even be that mad that you got the wrong color. Oh, I got the wrong color. I need to get this sorted out. But if it takes four or five days to take hear back about your worry, I think you'd be questioning again whether you'd repeat purchase.

Brian: [00:30:00] That's true. In that same vein, what are some of the overlooked challenges that you're seeing with sort of the changes that are in the air right now? Are people having trouble with affordability of shoes? You've got a fairly affordable shoes, so I wouldn't imagine. But with the recovery still on the way, what are some of the things that you're struggling with right now that maybe would be a little bit sort of unexpected?

Rebecca: [00:30:32] Oh, I'm trying to think if anything that's caught me truly, truly unawares, which is like a weird thing to say in a year that's been very unexpected. We talked in before off the back of the report that you did. We have seen  times like this before and there is an element of formula to them and I think recession or pre recession and tough times. Humans have similar responses to them. I think price. I think value. Storytelling around value is really key. I mean, there's a lot of payment options out there as well. We just implemented AfterPay with that in mind that not everyone will necessarily be in the position to buy everything they need for back to school all in the same go. And so what else could we have there as an option should you need it? Ultimately, I think people are just buying less and going to be more discerning. And so putting yourself out in front to make sure that you are the top choice for that discerning purchase as people are buying shoes, but they're buying less shoes than they did in previous years as an industry.

Phillip: [00:31:58] That's because they've got all their liquidity wrapped up in sneakers that they're trying to resell at the moment if they're anything like me.

Rebecca: [00:32:07] {laughter} Yeah, it's so interesting that six weeks of the March, April, where everyone was like, oh, my gosh, I'm in my active wear taking a business meeting. And I think we have... Which was cool for a couple of weeks. But I think we've evolved now to being wanting to feel if we still are working from home and many of us are, I think we've evolved to wanting our own like working from home style and not it just be the same outfit that you're wearing from relaxing to working.

Brian: [00:32:39] We still need that differentiation between our work time and our off work time.

Rebecca: [00:32:45] Agreed. Agreed.

Phillip: [00:32:47] I have one last observation and it's just been such an amazing conversation. Always is with you. Thank you for joining us.

Rebecca: [00:32:55] I feel like I could talk to you both a whole day and not even notice. I feel like you just chat chat chat about the world and shop and retail and have a great time.

Brian: [00:33:06] Some day.

Phillip: [00:33:06] We might have to take you up on that at some future...

Rebecca: [00:33:09] Challenge accepted. {laughter}

Phillip: [00:33:10] Because there is a brilliant talk that the former SVP of General Merchandise over at eBay, a man named Michael Dearing, gives. It's like a master class on the idea of pricing and how to develop a pricing strategy. And the concept of price has nothing to do with value. There are two totally independent things in that you can be sort of taught to value something at any given price if you tell the story the right way. I tend to believe that that is a multiplier where we talked about, you know, multiply by zeros that take that nullifies anything else you've done. I think that the idea of storytelling around value and part of that value being exceptional support and service experiences is the differentiator here.

Rebecca: [00:34:04] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:34:04] And just kind of bringing that back home, what's your reaction to that? Do you believe that the price sensitivity, when you understand the value of engaging in the brand and the layers of story that are baked into it and the support mechanism and the service that you deliver and how it's exceptional in its own right, do you feel like that's a multiplier in differentiating in your space?

Rebecca: [00:34:31] Yeah. How could it not be? Because the flip side of it is if we offered terrible service and no storytelling and it was very perfunctory, you know it would go in the other direction. It's in me as of value. It's the right thing to do if you're fortunate enough that a customer wants to interact with you and buy your products. That's a privilege and it should be treated in that way and should be at the forefront of our service and philosophy and conversations. Yeah, it's certainly a multiplier of value.

Phillip: [00:35:08] Well, OK, well, we covered a lot of ground. Thank you so much for coming on.

Brian: [00:35:13] It was amazing.

Rebecca: [00:35:14] Thank you. Thank you again for having me on. Always love chatting.

Phillip: [00:35:18] Thank you so much. And where can people go grab some Native shoes for the whole family.

Rebecca: [00:35:23] NativeShoes.com. We'd love to have you.

Phillip: [00:35:26] Thank you. Thank you, Bec. Thanks for listening. And we'll continue this series, this Step by Step series, with our next episode coming up next. Well, thank you, Rebecca, for joining us here on the show today, and I want to hear from you, what are the multiply by zeros in your business? What are the things that are absolute deal breakers that cause the most friction and pain with your customer? Drop those to me in an email. I want to hear about them. Send it to me at hello@FutureCommerce.fm. If you want to take experience to the next level, if you want truly differentiating customer experience and not just customer service, you can do that. You can make every conversation personal. You can have a radically personal customer service with Gladly. That's right. Gladly is a radically personal customer service support platform that is the only people centered platform with channels built in to everywhere that your customers want to speak with you. Find out why Crate & Barrel and UGS and Chubbies and Godiva and Porsche and Rothy's and Ulta all trust Gladly with their customer experience. Gladly, customers save 40 percent on average annually from consolidating their technology. Why won't you? Go get a demo? Do it right now. Go to Gladly.com/FutureCommerce and find out how you can drive 10 percent more revenue on average from your contact center. Start that lifelong conversation where your customer service heroes are going to be 20 percent more efficient on average. I don't think I can praise it enough. You need it today for your business. Tell them that Phillip sent you. Tomorrow we round out our series of this third season of Step by Step by sitting down with Jeff Newman, who heads up customer care at Porsche. It's a brand that we all know and love. And Jeff is someone that you're going to fall in love with when you hear how he thinks about delivering next level customer experience. Thanks for listening to Step by Step.

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