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How 3 CX Leaders Are Doing More With Less and Seeing Success

  

Today’s brands face the challenge of balancing growth with limited resources. How can teams scale operations without inflating costs and maintain personalized customer experiences? In a recent panel at Gladly Connect Live 2024 on “Doing More With Less,” CX leaders from Crate & Barrel, FTD Flowers, and SelectBlinds discuss strategies for boosting efficiency without increasing expenses.

How Crate & Barrel’s Christina Sheehan Is Elevating Performance by Nurturing Associates

When Christina Sheehan, Associate Director of VOC for Customer Care at Crate & Barrel, hears “do more with less,” she thinks beyond reducing the budget. “Of course, it means a reduction in the P&L (profit and loss). But how do we still provide amazing customer service? That doesn’t go away. How will we work with our cross-functional partners to solve the root issues that make customers call? If you have less budget or staff, how are you still performing at or above current capability?”

Christina believes that to do more with less, you must shift your attention to up-leveling your agents and provide a sense of accountability. “How do we up-level associates to be more proactive and thoughtful when a customer calls? [They should be] proactive and reach out so customers don’t have to call back, there isn’t endless churn, [and] using the tools we have from Gladly like Customer Profile and Hero AI for tone and empathy… [we’re not just] thinking about solving immediate problems, but also anything that could be happening in the future.”

“We’re relaunching the idea that [the agent] is the customer’s hero; they own the conversation,” continues Christina, who is adamant that deflection is never the answer. She gives an example as to why. “While well-intended, some of our associates were giving away gratis cards when customers would call; they were using those in the place of good, personalized customer service. But that’s not why the customer is calling in. They’re looking for empathy, not to be brushed away. When we dug into that and put some accountability in place — we can’t just give away cards; we need to solve problems and show empathy — it actually improved P&L.”

To achieve these results and maintain morale in the team, even in the age of AI, Christina says it’s imperative to focus on new hire training in addition to providing additional training classes to get associates with work experience that extends beyond their immediate role.

“Smaller team sizes have allowed our supervisors to coach their associates, so we’re not doing a ton of new hire training but really creating career paths, up-leveling skill sets, and focusing on retention…and [that’s also] the way we’re trying to tackle [the fear of AI and job loss] — providing extended training so they can see that [Crate & Barrel] is investing in them.”

Key Takeaways from Crate & Barrel

  • Redefine “Do more with less”: Shift focus from budget reduction to enhancing customer service through cross-functional problem-solving and accountability.
  • Proactively up-Level agents: Empower agents to be proactive and empathetic, leveraging tools like Gladly’s Customer Profile and Hero AI for improved interactions.
  • Invest in training and development: Prioritize ongoing training and career development for associates, focusing on up-leveling skills and fostering retention amidst AI integration fears.

Suggested Reading: Making Customer Service Your Business — A CX Leader’s Guide

How FTD’s John McCahan Is Reducing P&L With Tech Consolidation

For John McCahan, VP of Customer Care at FTD Flowers, “doing more with less” boils down to increasing productivity, especially during seasonal peaks. “It’s a challenge to adapt to that consumer demand [during seasonal peaks]. There’s a strategic drive [to] reduce the contact rate and why customers contact us so we can deal with important issues.”

However, achieving those goals wasn’t always easy with legacy systems. “The reality is that our old world had a lot of systems and touches,” admits John. “And the way our business model of third-party vendor fulfillment works, florists don’t have all the tech; we have messages flying at us in a lot of different directions — the comms were siloed, emails were slow, chat we avoided, and the chatbot just stacked chats and agents would have to ask questions all over again.”

But all of that has changed since Gladly came into the picture. “Using Gladly has taken us from eight different systems, and now we’re in one. And taking what could’ve been three emails, a phone call on hold with a chat that would’ve taken six different agents, they’re now all flowing into one conversation. We’re able to meet that customer where they want to meet us — [multiple] touches become one touch.”

Another example of how internal consolidation has helped make his team’s lives easier?

“Our peak season is Valentine’s Day,” says John. “It takes a week to recover from everything from that one day. This past year, after one year and four months with Gladly and AI in voice, we were able to have a 41-second ASA (average speed of answer). My workforce team contacted me the day after, saying all queues were cleared at 11 p.m. It was such a revolution in efficiency and time. Our agents felt and saw [the difference]. We were able to hire a lot less in peak season.”

Key Takeaways from FTD

  • Focus on productivity: Prioritize productivity, especially during seasonal peaks, by reducing contact rates and addressing customer issues efficiently.
  • Acknowledge legacy system challenges: Is your legacy system causing issues such as siloed communication channels and slow response times? Check out this handy guide that does the legwork of identifying what makes a CX platform suited to today’s customers.
  • Prepare for peak season success early: Waiting until the last minute to prepare your customer service team for the holidays can cost you time, money, and resources. Starting early with a peak season prep checklist will help set your business up for success and separate your call center from the competition.

Suggested reading: 5 Steps to Reduce the Cost of Customer Service and Still Deliver Quality CX

How SelectBlinds’ Simas Tamosaitis Is Using AI to Increase Efficiency

Simas Tamosaitis, Director of Sales and Customer Service at SelectBlinds, thinks that “doing more with less” doesn’t have to mean an overworked team. “How do we work hard but not harder? How do we leverage resources for good CX while reducing bottlenecks and eliminating unnecessary costs and waste?”

For Simas, the answer lies in AI. “This is where Gladly AI comes in. Two years ago, we made the mistake of going all digital and went too far, but we weren’t meeting the customers where they wanted to be met; we needed to give the customers and agents the tools to make things digitally friendly so they have more resources. We’re huge on reviews, so we looked at those, and that’s what showed us that we went too far.”

He believes that AI also helped empower his agents. “Keep your staff happy and engaged,” says Simas. “Invest in your staff to make sure they understand core competencies, have seasonal knowledge, etc. Give them the tools so that they know what they’re doing. Create processes to help customers go the AI route and then hand them off to the agent.”

Ultimately, Simas emphasizes that a limited budget shouldn’t hinder your exploration of new technological opportunities, advocating for a growth mindset at all times. “I’d say even if you’re happy with your current offering or think you’re not ready, take the meeting. I was happy with our platform, and then I got a cold call from Gladly; it piqued my interest, and I’ve never turned back.”

“Same thing with AI, take the calls, ask questions, and figure out what makes sense for where you’re at and start to do the recon now to understand how you might already have something to solve for this, or if this is something you need to start looking for. It’s not going away, so it’s better to embrace it and get knowledgeable now.”

Key Takeaways from SelectBlinds

  • Integrate with AI for efficiency: Utilize AI, such as Gladly Sidekick, to enhance customer experience without overburdening the team, focusing on reducing bottlenecks and unnecessary costs.
  • Embrace technological opportunities: Maintain a growth mindset and explore new technological opportunities, even with limited budgets, by being open to meetings and discussions to understand potential solutions.
  • Adopt AI – early: Embrace AI technologies early, figure out what you want it to solve for and start taking meetings with vendors to understand their potential benefits and if/how they can address current challenges and enhance operations.

Suggested reading: Reducing Customer Service Costs With AI

Book a demo with Gladly today to discover how we can help you achieve more with less.

Plus, don’t miss out on joining the Gladly Connect community, where you can connect with other CX leaders, stay updated on industry trends, and gain access to exclusive events, learning resources, and mentorship opportunities.

Register now to access all on-demand Gladly Connect Live 2024 sessions and panels to delve deeper into how to do more with less and discover innovative strategies and industry insights to enhance customer relationships and bolster brand loyalty.


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