Bringing Authenticity to Digital Retail Experiences With Tecovas CRO Kim Heidt

Gladly Team

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5 minute read

Online shopping has surpassed brick-and-mortar as the dominant form of retail, leaving CX leaders with the challenge of trying to replicate the personalized, in-store experience in the digital realm.

At Gladly Connect Live 2024, Tecovas Chief Retail Officer Kim Heidt joined Gladly CEO Joseph Ansanelli for a conversation about enhancing the online customer experience. Leveraging her extensive background in both in-person and digital retail, Heidt shared her approach to creating authentic connections with customers and hiring passionate support staff.

Hiring Passionate, Customer-Centric Staff

Hiring individuals who are not just skilled, but also deeply passionate about the brand and its values becomes increasingly important in the digital space, Heidt emphasized. Employees who embody a brand’s ethos are better at creating memorable experiences for customers. “Everyone in our company, I can say, loves our product. If you don’t love your product, your customer is not going to love your product,” Heidt said.

A hiring process that prioritizes passion as much as past experience or certifications helps retailers ensure their team will enthusiastically represent the brand and its mission in all interactions, even when conversations are confined to online.

This approach to hiring wasn’t exclusive to frontline support staff. As CRO, Heidt recognized the importance of cultivating a culture of passion and authenticity from the top down. Therefore, she brought on high-level staff who could help her carry out her vision with an emphasis on “training, communication, and engagement.”

Heidt explained that “when I started at Tecovas, the first person I wanted to hire was an expert in comms and engagement because getting hundreds [or even] thousands of employees to march in the same direction and to understand the why behind things — that is not easy to do.”

How Gladly Can Help

Passion isn’t something that can be taught — but it can be identified during the hiring process if organizations know what to look for. Use this Gladly service team hiring checklist to ensure every new team member is ready to passionately represent the brand.

Reinforcing the Brand Throughout the Experience

In a physical store, a customer is surrounded by the brand at all times — through the products, marketing, and customer service. However, shopping online is more disconnected from the brand experience. Leaders have to find a way to reinforce the brand to make the experience feel as intentional and captivating in the digital space as it does in the real world.

To start, ecommerce brands should craft a unique voice and bring it into every communication, including online support interactions. Heidt shared an example by pointing to her boots on stage and saying “When I bought these boots, I opened the box and it said, ‘giddy up, y’all.’” The note is included with every sale of cowboy boots to reinforce the Tecovas voice in three short but memorable words.

This through line of the Tecovas brand — from the product itself, to the website branding, to the customer service interactions — demonstrates the power of holistically applying a brand voice across the overall experience.

How Gladly Can Help

Using intelligent solutions like Gladly Answers and Knowledge Base, agents have immediate access to their entire brand catalog and resources. With these tools handy, agents can answer any question a customer may have about a product or service, recommend alternatives, or even upsell products they think the customer might love. In other words, agents gain the power to reinforce the brand throughout the digital experience for both the customer's and the company’s benefit.

Building a Culture of Authentic Communication

Leaders have a responsibility to their staff to be transparent in their interactions, especially during challenging situations. Not only does authentic leadership create a healthy work environment, but it also influences the way agents interact with customers.

“There’s personalized experiences, and then there’s personal experiences,” Heidt said. “I think we’re really going to be expected as retailers to deliver authentic communication.” Authenticity is a building block of trust that helps agents foster meaningful connections with customers, leading to increased loyalty and brand advocacy.

How Gladly Can Help

Authenticity can compound to improve customer relationships the more shoppers continue to interact with a brand. Upgrading from a legacy ticketed support platform to a conversation-driven system like Gladly can centralize all customer communication — regardless of time or channel — into a single hub. Through this, agents can better see the totality of a shopper’s experience and speak to them using their customer history as a guide.

Balancing Kindness and Clarity, Internally and Externally

Support agents walk a delicate line between empathy and decisiveness when dealing with customers. Prioritizing positivity in communication is necessary for both morale and customer satisfaction — but this shouldn’t come at the expense of quickly and effectively resolving shopper requests. Luckily, the two are not mutually exclusive.

“One of our values is [being] clear but kind,” Heidt said. “Be really direct in your own authentic way.” Following that approach, agents strike a balance between being empathetic and straightforward during service interactions in a way that customers appreciate.

How Gladly Can Help

Leaders should inspire agents to take a kindness and clarity approach. Gladly provides numerous learning resources through Gladly Connect for teams to improve their empathetic support, active listening, and other developable soft skills that improve an agent's ability to effectively communicate with customers.

Bringing Online Retail to Life

By hiring passionate individuals, connecting the customer experience through cohesive messaging, and leading with authenticity, retailers can elevate their online CX to offer the same level of service as an in-person shopping experience.

To learn more from Heidt and Ansanelli, watch their full conversation during Gladly Connect Live 2024. Their discussion doesn’t have to exist in a vacuum — you can continue your growth and development in the world of CX by joining the Gladly Connect community to share, learn, and engage with like-minded leaders across this fast-changing industry.


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