Last week, I attended the #ServiceTalks event hosted by Stella Service at the New York headquarters of Warby Parker. Given it's well-deserved recognition for raising the bar on customer service, it was no surprise to learn Warby has been an early adopter of the StellaService's new product, Stella Connect. Stella Connect is a "twist on customer service that humanizes brand experience and incents customer service reps". (I wrote about Stella Connect here when I learned of the tool.)
In an effort to be agile, Warby admirably launched Stella Connect manually. It’s now automatic and links to a customer’s overall profile with the company. When Warby uses Stella Connect to survey customers following a customer service call, the response rate is an impressive 60%.
Stella Connect’s premise is that customer service reps doing a great job don’t always get adequate recognition. Survey results help address this. Before Stella Connect, CX advisors were recognized when Warby customers mentioned a positive CX interaction on social media and the social team shared it internally. Warby also scanned NPS comments for mentions of advisors.
In deciding to invest in Stella Connect, Warby considered ROI. They see the tool as reducing the time it takes to measure advisors and adding to the marketing benefit that comes from better interactions (Warby customers often come through word of mouth and 50% of NPS comments already referenced customer service).
At the event, Stella Service CEO Jordy Leiser interviewed Warby Parker's first employee and now Director of CX, Mara Castro. She revealed a number of new-to-me facts about the company.
- 60 employees who started in customer experience now work in other parts of the company.
- Advisors start with basic customer experience, get feedback on how they’re doing, and then gain access to other projects in the organization by applying and interviewing for them. This is a 3-6 month opportunity to create one’s own project and manage it. In determining its CX hiring needs, Warby factors in the time advisors will spend on this other work, which they feel is important for employee retention. The key to success in gaining access to other projects and moving through the organization is demonstrating an understanding of the customer. Advisors go through the customer journey from prospect to home try-on to store experience to product purchase and they give feedback on all of it.
- Employees are encouraged to sign up for customer experience or retail store experiences up to monthly.
- When Warby started, CX used a shared Gmail account and Google Voice number that routed to advisors’ cell phones! Then, they progressed to NetSuite for e-mail and a number of phone systems and finally added a homegrown version of Zendesk. Early on, they knew they wanted to customize experiences across retail channels and that the home try-on program and optical prescriptions would introduce complexity. With a large tech team in-house, they felt it would’ve taken as long to customize an off-the-shelf solution as to build their own. An ongoing challenge has been having the right technology to scale at every level of the business. In various cases, they’ve built what they needed and then iterated on it.
- The CX team can influence decisions ranging from outbound messaging to tech. First, everyone in the company can submit ideas for what they think the tech team should work on. Certain employees have voting power and then the tech team prioritizes among ideas with the greatest number of votes. This is all managed through an internal app. Second, Warby typically sends any e-mail marketing to a partial list first and waits for customer feedback more re-sending more broadly.
- Early learnings in CX were in interviewing and hiring people who really wanted to be in these roles. When advisors don’t really want to do customer service but aren’t deemed ready to move on, Warby may help them find new jobs outside the company.
- The team was clear from the beginning that efficiency of CX calls was important, but quality of interaction was most important. The scorecard used for advisor feedback incorporates both, as well as values and the extent to which each individual is a strong team player. A total score is reviewed monthly. Rather than competing among each other, advisors are compared against their own history and goals.
- The company also has an 80-person customer experience operation in Nashville, Warby’s only office besides NY. Leadership considered Denver, Salt Lake City and Louisville, as well, but chose Nashville for its relatively large population of people with 1-2 years of experience who want to work in service, other tech jobs in area, nearby local universities, affordable real estate, and culture. Advisors in Nashville tend to be happier in their roles longer: After 2 years, nearly all of the starting team is still there.
- Customer experience role models include Zappos (where Warby visited early and from which they’ve hired), Apple and Nordstrom.
- Because Warby is a fun place to work and has applied learnings on whom to hire, too much extra effort to motivate customer experience advisors isn’t required. But the questions advisors get can be repetitive and Stella Connect will help make sure deserving team members are well-recognized.
Again, all of this is based on what I heard at #ServiceTalks. Please correct me if I’ve gotten anything wrong. Thanks to Warby Parker and StellaService for a fun and inspiring evening!