It’s a hot summer in 2016, and Melanie Travis has a work retreat she needs a swimsuit for. But trying to find a one-piece she’d feel comfortable wearing in front of colleagues proved a challenge, with most featuring cutouts that felt a little too risqué, while others veered far too matronly. Add to that the painful experience of shopping for a suit—sifting through disorganized racks and facing cramped dressing rooms with unflattering fluorescent lighting—Melanie knew there had to be a better way.
That’s when the idea for Andie Swim was born: a place where women could find classic, timeless suits they could try in the comfort of their homes, with ready support from trained experts there to lend a helping hand through a shopping experience that makes a lot of women feel their most vulnerable.
“With our previous platform, it was hard to make customers feel like they were being treated as human. They became tickets, and they would get ticket numbers with automated messages like #do not reply above this line#"
It’s Julie, Not Ticket #26791203
At Andie, advice from their support team (or Fit Experts, as they call them) goes beyond just capturing measurements, to understanding and working around the sensitivities their customers have around their bodies, like stretch marks or surgical scars. And that made it all the more important to create a safe space to share those deep-seated insecurities.
Yet while Fit Experts did a great job creating a warm, inviting experience, the support platform they were using was sending out a distinctly opposite message, according to Andie’s Director of Operations, Karen Zhou.
“With our previous platform, it was hard to make customers feel like they were being treated as human,” Karen explains. “They became tickets, and they would get ticket numbers with automated messages (like #do not reply above this line#). We really wanted customers to feel like they’re contacting a friend when they’re contacting Andie.”
“We've seen Gladly improve the interactions between customers and our Fit Experts because we have that continuity where agents can see all of the history in one place"
Since switching to Gladly, Andie’s Fit Experts no longer have to worry about ticket numbers or robotic messages undermining their efforts. And that’s because Gladly doesn’t route tickets at all. Instead of tickets, when a customer reaches out, Gladly routes a full record of that customer to a Fit Expert—their name, their past communications over every channel, and their past transactions with order numbers—all encouraging a seamless, human communication between Fit Expert and customer.
“When customers call in, we know who’s contacting us before they even introduce themselves,” Karen explains. “We’re able to greet them by name and save them a lot of time with finding their order details because we already have all of that information.”
“We come off as having one-to-one customer service, but in fact it's really one to many. And that's really thanks to Gladly"
“We’ve seen Gladly improve the interactions between customers and our Fit Experts because we have that continuity where our agents can see all of the history in one place. And if someone wants to hop on the phone, the same person can contact them that they’ve been emailing with before, so the conversation just continues.”
A Personal Experience for Thousands, From a Team of 5
Having all of a customer’s conversation history and past transactions at their fingertips have also empowered Andie’s small (but mighty) team of Fit Experts to deliver what feels like a personal, concierge experience to each of their thousands of customers.
By giving Fit Experts immediate access to a customers’ history rather than having them ask a customer to fill in the gaps every time, every customer can feel like they have their own personal stylist who knows them.
“One of the key opportunities that Gladly unlocked for us is being able to scale up the amount of support that we provide while not having to necessarily hire a trillion people,” Melanie explains. “We come off as having one-to-one customer service, but in fact it’s really one to many. And that’s really thanks to Gladly enabling us to offer that kind of personalized service at scale while keeping our headcount relatively small.”
Customer Context and Shopify Actions at an Agent’s Fingertips
Like many online businesses today, Andie runs their operations over Shopify.
And Karen credits Gladly’s Shopify integration with enabling her team to help customers faster, and make better, more informed swimwear recommendations to their customers by pulling their customers’ transactions from Shopify right into the customer’s Profile.
“The integration between Shopify and Gladly has been super helpful because we can see a customer’s order history all in one place in Gladly,” Karen explains. “Swim is a tricky category for fit, so being able to see all of the different sizes and styles that a customer has tried helps us provide the best recommendation moving forward.”
In addition to that, the integration also empowers Fit Experts to take common actions—like start an exchange or cancel an order—without having to leave Gladly and navigate to Shopify. That helps save Experts time and effort, and helps customers get their issues resolved faster.
“With Gladly, there’s really no way to miss a customer’s other interactions because they’re all right there in one place"
No More Time Wasted Avoiding Agent Collision
Andie often has customers reach out to them multiple times—whether it’s to follow up on an old issue, or add more context—and their previous ticket-based platform would heighten the risk of multiple agents responding to the same customer by creating a new ticket each time they reached out.
To avoid that situation, Fit Experts would have to first search the platform to identify any other tickets from the same customer, and then assign those to themselves. This not only wasted precious Fit Expert time, but sometimes they’d forget to do it, and a customer would end up getting multiple responses.
That meant wasted effort on an Expert’s part, and it wasn’t the best representation of Andie to their customers. “With Gladly, there’s really no way to miss a customer’s other interactions because they’re all right there in one place,” Karen says.
Self-Service Helps Both Customers and Fit Experts
Self-service was a new channel that Andie introduced after switching to Gladly, and for Karen, it seems there’s no going back.
"Since adopting Gladly, the most dramatic shift we've seen is that our ratio of customer contacts to orders has dropped from 0.6 to around 0.3"
Leveraging Sidekick, Gladly’s self-service channel that can be offered up on every page of the website, has really helped her small team by allowing customers to answer the more simple, rote questions on their own. And that’s helped reduce the volume of questions that reach the team.
“Since adopting Gladly, the most dramatic shift we’ve seen is that our ratio of customer contacts to orders has dropped from 0.6 to around 0.3,” Karen says. “That means that inbound volume is much lower, and I think a lot of this is attributed to the self-help features that Gladly provides.”
And that has helped Andie respond to their customers faster. In fact, even during the heightened volume in March due to COVID, Andie saw a 35% drop in average wait times across their channels.
“It’s been really helpful to see Reporting on self-service. That way we know what are the top questions that customers have”
According to Karen, questions on return and exchanges tend to be the biggest driver for support, averaging about 30% of their total support every month, and “having that answer readily available in Sidekick helps customers get what they need on their own.”
But key to the success they’ve seen with Sidekick has been Karen’s keen attention to the data behind it, and making the updates needed to ensure that their customers’ needs are met.
“It’s been really helpful to see Reporting on self-service,” Karen explains. “That way we know what are the top questions that customers have and can think of ways that we can make the answers to that clear on our website or in other parts of the customer experience.”
Service That Makes a Splash
For Andie, customer support is so much more than just answering one-off questions—it’s about building relationships with customers that keep them coming back time and again, and spreading word of their great experience with Andie with friends, family, and beyond.
Andie’s Fit Experts already have the personality and skills to build the kind of relationships that make them customers for life, and with Gladly there to provide the technology to help, there’s really no stopping them.
Want a deeper dive into the Andie story? Hear Andie Swim founder Melanie Travis talk about customer service and the customer experience in the Radically Personal podcast.