Officials at Urban Outfitters have gained key customer experience insights during the past years, thanks to their partnership with Medallia.
 
Loyalty360 talked to Caitlin Szpakowski, store operations and customer experience manager for Urban Outfitters, about what company officials have learned, particularly from the past two holiday seasons.
 
Can you talk about your company’s learnings from the holiday season and Urban’s approach to customer experience?
Szpakowski: With having Medallia for two years now, I think the past two holiday seasons we’ve been really impressed with the information we get back from our customers. This past holiday was especially insightful for us considering that we have a whole year of benchmark scores to go off of as well.
 
Can you talk specifically about a few key takeaways from your findings, and how you plan to address opportunities and maintain success this year?
Szpakowski: Staff Engagement on the Sales Floor. Last year we focused heavily on the overall fitting room experience for our customers, and saw success with improved scores for 2017 and through the holiday. Unfortunately, that focus took away from dedicating time and training from the sales floor as well. We’ve been able to review this feedback with our store leadership team and already have plans in the works to get our staff engagement scores up while also maintaining experience throughout the customers’ entire retail shopping experience.

We saw a lot of success in the fitting room experience this past year and, additionally, we had a lot of feedback speaking to how well our employees know our product. With the way our product cycles and all the different brands that we carry, product knowledge can be very challenging to retain. However, through consistent and detailed information coming down from home office to our store teams, our employees were able to engage with the customer and confidently answer questions about product using tools we provided.

Holiday Shipping Cutoffs. We did a lot of work this year to make sure we delivered within our promised cut off deadlines—i.e. ordering before 1:00 p.m. local time, have your package before Christmas with standard delivery, etc. We collaborated with different teams like transportation and our distribution centers to make sure the cutoffs we were communicating were ones we could commit to. Unfortunately, we did see some areas of the country for domestic orders as well as international orders that did not meet the cutoff we promised. There are definitely some circumstances that were out of our control [i.e. weather, carrier delays, etc.] but going into this year we are able to identify key areas we can address to meet these cutoffs. We would not have had that information without the feedback from our customers this holiday season.

While we might have missed the mark in some of our cutoff promises, overall we had a great holiday season for shipping SLA [service level agreement]. The majority of our packages either delivered on the date we promised or earlier. Feedback in this area was overwhelmingly positive this past holiday, which was really amazing to see, which is driving us to address our previously stated opportunity since delivery timing is imperative for the holiday season.
 
How does Medallia support your CX efforts?
Szpakowski: So many ways! We took a lot of time over the past few months getting through our feedback and mapping out action items for this year. We have this incredible tool that allows customers to tell us what is really happening when they are shopping with us, and it’s incredibly valuable to us. This year, we are going to dedicate more time to create tools that will help our stores understand and address the feedback they receive on the daily basis to improve our overall experience. For direct, we are reviewing the feedback a little differently to map out the entire experience from the time we receive the order, how and where it’s packaged, to the point where it’s delivered. We are working on how to take all of that information plus the feedback and share it with the appropriate teams to work on improvements.
 
CX is seen as the key differentiator among brands today. Can you talk about the power of effective CX and where you see it headed in the future?
Szpakowski: I think the biggest shift in CX for anyone is the Internet/social media/real time information. Customers don’t want to wait days or even hours for their issues to be solved or their feedback to be heard, they want the answers and solutions in the moment. We’ve seen this a lot over the two years since we’ve launched our @UOHelpMe handle on Twitter. We are getting back to customers within four hours vs. 24-48 when they send us a DM about their issue. Especially with our customer who would rather send us a DM then talk to someone on the phone. @UOHelpMe has really helped us move in the right direction. We continue to grow this and challenge ourselves to get that four hours down to one to two hours and to real time with things like text/messenger updates on order status/inquiries.

At the end of the day, we wouldn’t be here without our customers, and we owe it to them to listen and act on their feedback. Collecting feedback and not making it effective will not keep customers or help gain new ones. We need to continue to improve and meet the needs of our customers as they change, so really effective CX is the backbone to success. At least that is my opinion.

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