Customer Experience and Retention Roundtable Recap

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by: Holly Kuldell11/18/2021

Quick Summary Read through the highlights from our webinar with Klaviyo, Okendo, and Gorgias on how to increase customer retention throughout the holiday season.


Not everyone has an extra 45 minutes in their day to watch a webinar. However, the information given during this online event was incredibly useful and deserves to be shared in all ways possible. That’s why we put together an article with the best points made during the roundtable that featured:

  • Lizzie Nirenberg, Senior Manager of Ecosystem Marketing at Klaviyo

  • Nicole Baqai, Senior Strategic Partnerships Manager at Gorgias

  • Luis Espinal, Agency Partner Manager at Okendo

  • John Surdakowski, Founder and CEO of Avex

Continue reading for insights on how email marketing, UGC/reviews, and customer support can improve customer experience and grow your eCommerce business. You can also follow along with the recap here. 

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What's one thing merchants can do, especially during Black Friday/Cyber Monday, to ensure that new customers that are gained are also retained going into the new year?

Luis: It’s super critical to follow up with your customers after they've received their order to really ensure that they're happy and to capture any feedback that they have about either the customer experience onsite or with their product, typically in the form of a star rating, and review, video, testimonial, etc. 

This is also a great moment for brands to get feedback about the product in general and collect data from their customers, or even provide incentives in the form of a coupon or discount code. By thanking them for purchasing something and leaving your view, you can get them $10 off their next order, they can hand it off to a friend or family member to use it for themselves. 

With Black Friday/Cyber Monday in particular, there’s going to be some shipping delays to expect. So it's definitely key for brands to be accurate with their outreach. The last thing you want to do is create needless friction with any of your customers who might be seeing like a shipping delay.

If you ask them to review your product that they haven't received yet, they can get a little fussy about that. So just be sure to accurately check if the order has been delivered. It’s super easy to do with Okendo – we actually have a wait step in our view request sequence that won't trigger that review request sequence until the customer's order has been delivered or flagged as delivered in Shopify.

Lizzie: Data, especially your customer first-party data, is going to be so important. We've seen all the headlines across every single news channel around data privacy. So building trust with those who are already in your customer database is going to be so important. 

Number one, as he said, build trust with those who have already been in your database before they may have purchased from you. One of my favorite stats that we had gotten from some of our Black Friday data in the past was that 60% of our customers' sales came from a contact that engaged with the brand prior to q3 of that same year, which means that 60%, more than half of sales, came from somebody that had either come to your landing page, they may not have bought from you before, but it means that they had already previously engaged. 

Make sure you're collecting data, but also leveraging the data that you already have. So using your popup forms, using quizzes, ensuring that you have different tags and different product lines to understand more about them. And then once you collect that data, like I said, using it.

It's the same thing as if you ask somebody what their name is, and then you ask them five seconds later, it's just a really bad experience. So once you have that data from Black Friday, using it, analyzing it and continuing to build and nurture relationships through personalized outreach in all the channels that they also want to be reached out on.

Nicole: I think retention goes hand in hand with customer service and customer experience, which is the bread and butter of Gorgias. One thing we see after the holidays is once you've created that sale, how can you actually continue to deliver an amazing customer experience, whether it's being proactive about how Luis was mentioning shipping delays.

Maybe you have a popup on your front page that says, hey, if you're reaching out to ask for your orders, we're experienced two to three weeks of delays, or I hope it's not that late, but just some sort of proactive response so that you're already answering the question before it's already asked. That way, you can mitigate a lot of those customer service inquiries that your team is going to be really bogged down with. 

Another thing I like to touch on is segmenting those customers, figuring out who's spending the most, maybe bucket them into a VIP customer tier. So that afterwards, you deliver this amazing experience, but now if they ever come back to your site, you know exactly who that is. They write in with their email you can bucket them into, or segment them into a VIP tier, and then treat them with so much love, that they're just going to want to keep coming back and purchasing from you. That's a great way to retain those customers and just really understand who that customer is right when they enter your website based on their previous purchase history and their engagement with you.

Lizzie, are there any flows or certain approaches that merchants can take to create a better customer experience, especially around the holidays? Similar to the last question, but more targeted towards flows or approaches that you'd recommend?

Lizzie: Number one, if you aren't using automations, please stop everything that you're doing and just go set them up right the second because you are leaving money out on the table. Leading up to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, your welcome series, your post-purchase, browse, abandonment, cart abandonment, shipping, all of these general notifications, go back and audit them and make sure they still make sense in this world. I know that automations are a “set it and forget it,” but there are a lot of changes, so just make sure that they're accurate.

Number two, you should make sure that you're setting up the price drop trigger that we just released that within Klaviyo. So that's a great way if somebody has browsed the product, if they abandoned it, if they had previously bought it before, to have a trigger to let them know, this product is on sale. It's a great way to bring somebody in if they're a window shopper, and maybe the price was too high. That's something that is already set up in your Klaviyo account if you're using Klaviyo. 

The other thing, and this is so important today, is back in stock alerts. It's a great way to collect user information, especially for those that are looking for a specific product, maybe it's out of stock, maybe it's low inventory, and then that way you can reach out to them when it is back in stock. And regardless, you're collecting information. 

Lastly, a strategy that I would definitely recommend, especially with acquisition costs going up and everything that is going on, I would just make sure that you are thinking about leveraging an omnichannel strategy. Matching email with SMS. If haven't explored SMS, make sure that you're at least during Black Friday/Cyber Monday collecting phone numbers and SMS consent. So if you're not ready for implementing SMS, at least start collecting those phone numbers. That's going to be crucial as time goes on. There's going to be a ton of brands sending out emails, so SMS is a really great way to cut through the noise and trigger automations such as requesting a review. 

We actually just announced on the Klaviyo product event that we are launching an integration with Gorgias for customer service for two-way texting and SMS, which is so exciting. So somebody will be able to respond back to a text and it gets put directly into your Gorgias account. Then a customer service rep will be able to follow up directly from the Gorgias interface. So it's a great way for engaging with your customers on a one-on-one basis. 

Nicole, what should merchants do to provide a better customer experience, especially around the holidays going into the New Year?

Nicole: So Lizzie really hit the nail on the head with the automation piece. I think first and foremost is the omnichannel experience. Over the holidays we see SMS, email, there are so many new different channels, you can converse with your customers to really understanding who is that customer that you're talking to. Are there new channels you can acquire during this holiday season to actually converse with your customers more? Instagram, we've seen, is a huge channel, Instagram DMS are massive for reviews which I know Luis will talk about after, but I think you know that's really important. 

If you're a customer like me, I read like 100 reviews before I ever purchase anything. So if you know that that's your customer, doubling down on that channel so when we talk about omnichannel, that's really being active on so many channels or doubling down on the channels you know that works right? Not everyone is going to be a phone caller. My mom is a phone caller for example, she only will be on phone. Whereas I'm more I just want to I don't want to talk to anyone on the phone, I just want to chat, etc. So I think that's the first point for omnichannel experience. 

Then the second point is conversational commerce. We've seen this topic grow tremendously over this last year. While new channels are emerging, such as chat and SMS, people actually want to talk in a more friendly tone, right? It's not just email, it's not just phone, but actually having someone shop you or shop with you throughout a website experience is a great way to actually drive conversions because that way, you actually feel like you're shopping with a friend. We are all at home nowadays, given the pandemic and working from home, and the entire world is shifted. Feeling like you can actually have that same in-person experience as if you were in a store recreated online is going to be super important. So figuring out ways that you can connect with your customer on that front as well. 

Then the last point is automation. So automation we touched about, and that's really mitigating where you're having those repetitive inquiries, such as, where's my order? That's the number one most asked question in customer service. How can you actually ease it up for your customer service team, and make sure that they're actually getting to the more important questions such as what sizes did this come in, or a really angry customer, really figuring out how you can prioritize the more urgent matters. So you're not just going to those where's my order questions, which can easily be automated. Automation is your best friend. 

Like Lizzie said, if you're not using it, definitely look into it. Because that's how you can actually lift or reduce lift on a lot of other touchpoints, and make your life way easier. Automation segmenting customers, figuring out what is higher priority, as we go into this Black Friday/Cyber Monday season when everything feels urgent.

You can actually execute on personalization with that automation. So, Hey, John, Here's your order, it's coming at this time, here's your tracking, you're pulling in those variables are actually, you can pull that in really easily with the click of a button, or just setting up a rule on the backend, which is a fancy way of saying how you can quickly create an automated response to that customer. That way, you're personalizing it, you're pulling in customer data that is relevant to the customer with still having that really personalized tone. So you're lessening the load on your customer experience team, but also still keeping it really personalized, so that customer feels really valued.

Luis, how do reviews and user-generated content play a role in providing a great customer experience and retaining customers? Where does Okendo fit here?

Luis: When you're thinking about the customer experience, you're really talking to pre-purchase and post-purchase, right? Brands can really leverage social proof in various forms. So user-generated content, like photos, videos, ratings, reviews throughout the entire onsite experience, to really add an extra layer of authenticity throughout the entire customer buying journey. 

If you take someone like me, for example, I have really long, dry, frizzy, curly hair. So if I'm in a buying journey to purchase shampoo and conditioner, I want to really enrich my buying journey. One way you can do that is by filtering down review content, to see other reviews from customers that are similar to you and make it more of a contextually relevant experience. So if I can drill down and only see reviews with folks who have similar hair to me and see it actually worked for them, or it didn't work for them, I’ll be much more likely to make the correct purchase.

With regard to post-purchase, it's an important touchpoint for brands to really impact customer experience and increase retention. You can leverage Okendo from a review standpoint, to go and reach out to a customer after they've placed an order. See how much they love the product, play the video, give them some type of discount code, and most importantly, to your point John, using integrations to really make your tech stack work together. 

The three technology platforms here today in the fireside chat all connect together and integrate. For example, brands can use the Okendo integration with Klaviyo to leverage that zero-party data were captured with your Okendo, sync it up into Klaviyo’s customer data profile. And from there, you can create custom audience segments, create really hyper-specific campaigns with curated copy for a specific group of customers that have self-identified themselves certain ways.

We also have an integration with Gorgias as well, which is just great because you're able to do things like set up rules on the Okendo side to flag or automatically create a helpdesk ticket for any reviews of under certain star rating. So that way, the customer service team can go into Gorgias and action that customer issue. They can also do things like make sure to leave responses to customer inquiries directly on the review page, so that even if you get a bad review, customers will still see you're addressing that problem, and you're properly servicing the customer. So that way, they're so much more likely to make a purchase because they know they'll be taken care of.

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What are ways merchants can integrate these different tools to provide better customer experience for increasing retention?

John: Integrating Klaviyo and Gorgias, you could segment customers and send targeted campaigns based on Gorgias’ different events. To me, personalization is key. We've always focused a lot on personalization from onsite, as well as email. When it comes to onsite, we do use like Dynamic Yield a lot for personalization, A/B testing, and segmentation, really trying to personalize the experience as much as possible and create really custom and unique digital experiences there. 

Looping that into email, making sure that email is personalized segmenting and creating your different lists and being able to tailor your communications to your customers is insanely important for retaining. Then utilizing Okendo to send review requests via email and looping that into Klaviyo’s SMS tool for notification, so to write reviews, bringing them back to the website using Okendo to flag negative reviews in Gorgias.

Email Segmentation Tips

Lizzie: When you're talking about on a scale from one to five, an amazing way to segment your audience, is a four is good, but you could be a little bit better, and a five is awesome. So they may be on the path to being a VIP, once they reach a certain threshold. Three is kind of that like, you have to win them over to sell. Anything below may result in getting put over to Gorgias. 

We found like the three and four and even like the two, I've seen some brands that will trigger a personalized no HTML, no branded email from the CEO that says, hey, reply back, let us know, we could do better, what did you like, what didn't you like, we're always trying to improve, and we want to get feedback. Again, the personal touch and making them feel special is always a great thing. If you're able to connect that to Gorgias, it's a great way to collect even more information. 

That was a really cool thing that I'd seen done, and it actually ended up leading to a really great revenue amount, because then they would go and click through and go to the website to be like, oh, what does the CEO do and talking about what the brand does, and getting the story and all that.

Final Points: Improving Customer Experience for 2022

Lizzie: Going into 2022, I would stress that even more of go through the exercise of both your site as well as your competitors, and see what is it like to go to your website. Do you get a pop-up? When does it come? What is it like to browse and abandon and if you put this much money in your cart and really think through the full experience as a consumer, not as the brand and maybe like I said, go through as like go to your competitor sites, you can see what their experience is like. 

Then really take note of where all those different customer touchpoints are and what data are you collecting. Because data privacy, hiding emails, it's going to be so important that you built a transparent trusting relationship with your customers so that they don't want to hide their email address. 

With that, you want to make sure that all of your data is centralized into one place. So you not only have all these different data points, and you're collecting, but they're actually actionable so you can analyze them. You can use them through email or SMS or with your support channels or on your website for onsite personalization, or leveraging your reviews across your website or anywhere else. That would be my one piece of advice as a takeaway is just make sure that you can access your data, and you're aware of all the opportunities for collecting and storing data.

Luis: Capturing data directly from your customers–reviews is a really easy way to do that. They're already leaving a star rating, so writing some copy down, super simple, for them to just check off a few other items about their like age, gender, etc. and then you can leverage that third-party data for retention marketing for retargeting, etc. 

Outside of that, really leveraging testimonials and any type of content from your customers that is already being provided post purchase to help any new customer growth for your brand's revenue. We've even seen some really cool things from brands where they'll take like 10 different pieces of UGC content and create a GIF, UGC mash up and use on social media. So there are definitely a lot of ways that you can get creative with the zero party data and all the content that you're getting from the customers already, too.

Nicole: There's obviously so much you can find from your customers. So anything they're telling you, whether it's interviews, figuring out if they're asking for a rose flavor, oh, maybe that's a way to iterate your next product, right? If you only have lavender, figuring out how you can all you can pull that data. 

But also, I think it's important that you actually have full control to turn any experience into a positive or a negative one. If someone's having a really negative experience, train your entire team to upsell–how can you turn this customer around? When you're eating at a restaurant, and maybe the food's whatever, but the service is spectacular, you're going to tip. It's the same thing. If you put yourself in the customer's shoes, what would you want, what would make you have a really great experience. If someone is commenting something super negative on Instagram, and you can actually track them back that their shop (if they purchased on Shopify, for example) and be like, Hey, we saw this comment, we've gone ahead and refunded your order or part of your order. We'd love to call you and figure out what exactly happened, so that we can mitigate this in the future. 

Same thing goes for those really, really loyal customers. If I am commenting heart eyes emojis, I love this brand. Figuring out ways that you can actually compliment them back, if it's coming from the founder, or if it's coming from anyone, those are really great ways you can actually upsell and retain that customer, keep them really happy and build more of a personality behind your brand. 

In Gorgias, we can actually segment positive comments from negative comments, kind of how we deal with reviews as well. So you can figure out ways to segment the positive comments and actually use those questions as product feedback, use the positive comments as ways to upsell and really activate and go deeper with those customers, and then use the negative comments to actually turn them into good experiences, but also as product feedback in general. We do the same thing within, we write any negative experiences that customers have with Gorgias and we put that in a product feedback board. Figuring out processes and ways to really implement that across your entire customer experience strategy is going to help you as you kind of prepare for the new year and then the rest of this year for the holidays.

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