Year One — Insights and Innovations From the Gladly Connect CX Community

Gladly Team

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5 minute read

In 2022, Gladly launched its very first customer experience community — Gladly Connect. The community was aptly named, as one of its core tenets was to enable connection through collaborative learning. This enablement was built on the shared insights of customer experience (CX) enthusiasts, and elevated through the curation of customer-forward, trending opportunities and solutions around topics such as customer engagement personalization, customer service center efficiencies, the power of AI and automation, and the mental well-being of customer service agents.

The focus areas we explored over the course of Gladly Connect’s first 12 months drew upon the insights of professionals from globally recognized companies. Names like Nordstrom, Meta, Crate & Barrel, Zenni, and POC — all known for their innovative approaches to CX — contributed to this study, where they shared unique insights and forward-thinking strategies for personalizing their customers’ journeys. They revealed how they’ve designed world-class support organizations by orchestrating memorable customer experiences that transform fleeting interactions into long-lasting relationships.

Personalizing the Customer Experience

Jim Gallagher, VP of Customer Care, Nordstrom

At Nordstrom, we firmly believe that exceptional service is the cornerstone of having a successful business. To achieve this, we remain committed to focusing on the customer’s time as the key ingredient. Pay attention to the details that matter to the customer and empower your people to use good judgment in every situation. Many times, if you put too much pressure on average handle time (a typical contact center metric), the customer is the one who loses out. Rather, index on customer effort, a measurement of how much time or energy a customer needs to put into resolving an issue. This puts the focus back on the customer experience, the ultimate outcome for continued business success.

Nordstrom and Gladly began a partnership in 2021 to transform a case and ticket-based interaction system to a continuous conversation model for Customer CARE. 2022 is the year we move from onboarding and integrating to delivering innovative and transformative customer service experiences. Modernized, omnichannel front doors that allow customer conversations to span multiple mediums without losing context is the Nordstrom level of service our customers expect.

We are also working on tighter workforce management integrations to enhance our employee experience further while they serve customers. We all know that at the heart of a great customer experience is a workflow that allows the employee to focus squarely on the customer they are working with. This also minimizes the tools and systems they need to be empowered by to solve issues while giving them the flexibility to bring their ‘best’ to work every day!

Creating Scaled Customer Support Solutions

Greg Crabb, Sr. Manager, North American Ops and Executive Escalations, Meta

Most customer support operations fail by taking each problem as a single interaction. My primary initiative for 2022 is to capture customer insights to solve the larger issues that many customers are experiencing. Rather than handling the situations one at a time, I am hoping to create a customer experience roadmap to reduce overall contacts.

When you engage with customers about a specific issue, it usually requires multiple organizations to solve. I think I have seen the most impact in creating service-level expectations with stakeholders. This helps ensure alignment and prioritization when an urgent customer issue needs to get figured out. This also applies to using resources in the most efficient way possible. My team doesn’t need to spend as much time following up — we can lean on the service level agreements we have with the different teams we rely on.

Customer Routing and Artificial Intelligence

Kate Showalter, Vice President of Customer Care and PMO, Crate & Barrel

In 2022, [we began] focusing on getting each customer to the best-matched associate, based on their past CSAT responses, spending pattern, and brand. As a Gladly customer, we continually look at updating language in the Gladly answers (knowledge-base solution). This year we are also changing some of the tone in our emails. This is in response to our customer’s changing preferences. Gladly makes this process very easy and puts the language at the associate’s fingertips for every conversation.

In the first quarter of this year, we also started using quick reply buttons for chat and integrated them with our artificial intelligence platform. With this, we have been able to more clearly understand what a customer is asking for, get them to a self-service option, route them to our Chat Bot, or connect them with the correct associate. We have customized our chat experience for different parts of the business so that some pages push self-service, while our design services pages, for example, take the customer directly to a live associate.

The Mental Health and Professional Satisfaction of Customer Service Teams

Brian Kershon, Director of Global Customer Service, Zenni

At Zenni, we have implemented many mental health and well-being initiatives for our customer service heroes. These initiatives include access to an all-in-one wellness solution app, regular workshops, reminders on how to access and utilize mental health resources available to us, fun and incentivized exercise challenges like our recent 7-day walking challenge, and company-wide virtual events that bring our Zenni employees and families together for light-hearted activities (we have done everything from Paint Night to a Bagel Making Class).

At Zenni, we really try to remove any stigma around mental health struggles and encourage our teams to prioritize their health and take advantage of the numerous resources made available to them.

Lizzy Smith, Customer Service Manager, POC

At POC, our mission is to ‘protect lives and reduce the consequences of accidents for athletes and anyone inspired to be one.’ We look to our mission as inspiration and guidance for everything we do — to protect our customers and our ‘POC Family.’ We believe and invest in cultivating an environment that works toward developing happy, healthy mental and physical lifestyles for our employees. The people who work for our brand are avid outdoor enthusiasts and feel the best way to ‘reset’ is to be outdoors and participate in the sports we design products for. In recognition of the POC culture, our leadership team is always looking to increase workday flexibility so employees can recreate outdoors as it works with their schedule.

Over the last decade, POC has supported employees to get outside (especially in times of high stress) to take advantage of our company-wide ‘Powder Policy.’ For those that participate in winter sports, a powder day is what we live for! When the weather forecast expects snowfall of six inches or more, our team is encouraged to close the computer during work hours and spend time outside skiing, snowboarding, or riding their fat bike. During the summer months, we encourage our team to spend time on their bikes by starting the day an hour later than normal or planning longer lunches. We will even close the office down early to ride our bikes together.

[On the professional satisfaction side of things], if there are two things you implement to drive confidence within your customer support organization, get your team together to discuss the busy season and set up an internal support plan. When we initially implemented our emergency procedures, our team came out on the other side of the busy season feeling supported and accomplished instead of worn down. Our employee retention after the holiday season was better than ever after we put this in place.

The second and equally important recommendation is to celebrate your team’s wins! Make sure your team knows how much the company appreciates their hard work. Companies are composed of people, and we can’t hit our targets alone. Ensure that your team knows what they are working toward, and share your appreciation for them with every opportunity you have. This goes a long way!

Wrapping Up the First Year of the Gladly Connect Community

Through insightful dialogue with these industry leaders, it’s evident that the future of CX encapsulates a dynamic mix of personalization, operational efficiency, progressive technology, and a firm commitment to employee welfare. Between Nordstrom’s strategic endeavors to reduce customer effort and facilitate seamless customer interaction, Meta’s initiatives to aggregate customer insights to address more extensive issues, and Crate & Barrel’s integration of AI for optimal customer routing, we witnessed a relentless pursuit of customer satisfaction.

These leaders also emphasize the indispensable value of the human touch within their organizations.The focus Zenni and POC place on their employees’ mental health and professional satisfaction is a testament to the critical role of a nurtured and contented workforce plays in the ability to deliver unparalleled customer service.

From our findings, it’s clear that customer experience enthusiasts — Gladly customers and non-customers alike — are pushing the boundaries of technological innovation and nurturing a culture of support within their teams. As the Gladly Connect community grows, this balance of customer focus and employee welfare will be instrumental in driving the future of customer service.


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