4 Simple Steps To Empower Your Team

HIII Y’all!

To all the new folks that joined in the last week, WELCOME.

We are nearing 10,000 subscribers, and I can’t thank you all enough for taking the time to read my weekly musings on CX, Retention, and the world of ecommerce as a whole.

This is all surreal for a kid from Jersey without a formal high-school education.

Just a few years back, I was traveling through Serbia and Macedonia aimlessly, with no idea what on earth I’d do as a career.

Dollars poor, all I had was a boatload of credit card points and a deep yearning to better understand people.

I thought that would take me on a journey to become a therapist (a story for a different time), but I had yet to discover the magical world of ecommerce.

Fast-forward a few years, and I have built a career doing what I love, landing jobs at fantastic brands, and being able to support the CX and Retention ecom community as a whole.

I can’t thank you all enough for playing a small role in this. I appreciate you coming along for the ride.

If you have enjoyed my content so far, I’d love it if you can share it with an ecom friend or colleague. It’d mean the world.

Over the last few weekends, the Gorgias squad and I have been working on this CX guidebook, which is a true passion project for me. It’s free, and I would have killed for this when I was getting started.

Instead of pushing you all to read the entire thing in one go, I am going to share some of my fav excerpts this week.

Let's begin with two topics I really like: Simple ways to support CX teams and some tips to prevent CX burnout.

I truly think you’ll enjoy it.

This week’s newsie is brought to you by Gorgias.

My favorite part of my job is connecting with CX folks from all around the world. For the longest time, all I ever wanted was a CX community, and now this community is real 🥺.

Gorgias has teamed me up with other CX leaders at the forefront of the DTC space to organize a CX Webinar event just for you:

Join us for a unique opportunity to gain real-time insights from industry pioneers and learn from the best in the field as we navigate the current landscape.

I can't wait to see you all on the 28th!

1 More Thing 📣

I worked out another special deal for everyone who's been sharing this journey with me.

Zoe Kahn leads CX & Retention at Chomps, and she's helping five brands fine-tune their CX programs going into the holiday.

So here's the deal:

If you sign up for a Gorgias account before 9/30/23, you enter to win a free 3-hour Holiday Workshop with Zoe, where she'll build your gameplan:

  • Team & Help Desk Optimization - Is your team prepared for a smooth BFCM?

  • Success-driven KPIs - How do you track your team's success and identify areas for improvement?

  • Revenue Driving Tactics - How can you turn inquiries into opportunities?

  • Plus, the Gorgias team will also give you two months for free when you sign up and mention me!

Pt. 1: Empower teams with strategies to succeed

Breaking policy, apologizing sincerely, offering a refund, and being transparent are the four main techniques I like to equip my team with. The policies and processes I implement allow my team room to get creative.

🌞 Breaking policy:

I'm always going to consider breaking a return policy or refund policy if it's going to make a dramatic positive impact.

I tell my team that breaking policy is a lever you can pull. So, if you feel like breaking policy is going to create a memorable experience or avoid an awful experience, then you should consider doing it.

Whether that’s a full refund, an extended return policy, a reshipment, etc., a policy is a good guardrail, but without tactical empathy, you might as well be a robot.

If you're not comfortable giving your agents carte blanche to make exceptions, you can set parameters.

Set up a system where you only break policy for your most loyal customers or specific cases where you know it could demonstrably increase their experience and likelihood of feeling good about your brand.

For example, there was a streetwear brand that I was very excited about a couple of years ago. I made around 10 orders in a year and a half, and I spent over $1,000.

I had an incident where I ordered a pair of shoes from an Adidas collaboration marked as final sale. Even though I had the same pair of shoes at home, the same size in this pair didn’t fit.

When I reached out asking for a refund, they wouldn’t give it to me. If the team had looked into my account and seen that I was probably a top 10% customer, they could have made an exception for me.

But they didn’t want to break policy because they were following a rule book. And they lost a really loyal customer.

I don’t believe that teams should change the policy for everyone, but creating an exception for a customer who has hit a certain number of orders and generates over a certain number of revenue for the business makes a ton of financial sense.

Overall, take a look at your policies and the customers who have generated significant LTV for your company.

Determine the threshold where you want to make policy exceptions to keep your loyal customers happy.

❣️ Apologizing:

When used correctly, an apology might be one of the most powerful tools in your CX toolbox, yet I rarely see brands use it.

Many folks are so terrified of taking accountability and making it look like they messed up that they avoid apologizing at all.

In reality, an apology can be a powerful way to let the customer know that you're genuinely disappointed alongside them and understand that this is an issue that needs fixing.

It means you’re ready to get creative to find a resolution that works for everyone. Consider validating and empathizing by saying something like:

“I know what it's like to try a new brand and have the experience feel like an absolute mess. This is not our best behavior, and I am so sorry about that. Here’s how I’d love to make this right for you…”

💳 Refunding:

If somebody has the most awful experience ever, I don't want that to make the rounds.

Sometimes, it’s better to spend the $50 to get this person out of our inbox and away from public channels like reviews and social media. And that's mostly by gut.

The trick, though, is not to use refunding like a band-aid, cure-all solution. Sometimes, a small refund can be more insulting to a customer than a real apology.

🪞 Transparency:

When you can (and when your legal team approves it if you’re a big corporation), share what’s going on behind the scenes with an upset customer.

For example, at the luggage brand that I was at at the beginning of my career, we went above and beyond with transparency.

We told customers what we'd been doing in the factory for the last 30 days and even sent a link to a YouTube video that showed us testing the luggage, producing it, and even lines of boxes ready to ship.

In that situation, we overloaded them with information because these people were backing a suitcase on Kickstarter that didn't exist yet. They wanted to feel like their investment was actually bringing a product to life–so that’s what we gave them.

Most brands don't need to take factory footage. But some transparency around what went wrong and how the team is going about fixing it can go a long way.

For example, a brand has inventory issues because of supply chain problems from their manufacturer can explain what changes they are making and give a realistic timeline.

Pt. 2: Learn effective skills to stave off burnout

When you deeply care, each unresolved issue or unhappy customer can feel like a personal failure. And when you meet these moments day in and day out, the emotional toll adds up.

This emotional juggling act is a reality for many of us in the CX profession.

We're not just voices on the phone or names in an email. We're people who carry our emotional baggage. We bring our human hearts to work; sometimes, they get bruised.

This is, unfortunately, part of CX work, but managing upset customers doesn't have to feel like walking on a tightrope above a pit of hungry alligators.

🧠 Practice mindfulness:

This isn’t just a suggestion to “be present” or “live in the moment.” In the context of CX work, mindfulness means being aware of your emotional responses as they happen, understanding the triggers, and developing strategies to mitigate the negative impact.

This could look like recognizing when a customer’s harsh words are starting to get under your skin, taking a moment to acknowledge that feeling, then deliberately choosing to respond calmly and patiently instead of reacting impulsively.

Being mindful is a skill that takes time to develop but is immensely rewarding, allowing you to manage your reactions and maintain composure during stressful situations.

🙅‍♂️ Create and respect boundaries:

It can be tough to disconnect, especially in an age of hyper-connection. But it's crucial to designate “work-free” zones in your life, whether certain hours of the day, specific locations, or even mental spaces.

Remember, being constantly “switched on” doesn't make you a dedicated employee ––– it makes you a ticking time bomb of stress and burnout.

As a CX operator, it’s essential that you model these boundaries for your team.

🔉 Understand what you can control and communicate it effectively:

You can't always fix everything, and that's okay. What's important is showing the customer that you're doing everything you can to help.

When I worked at my first brand, we could not expedite product deliveries because they were still in production. But we did everything else we could. We shared detailed factory reports, videos of product QA testing, and more with our Kickstarter backers.

This approach not only helps manage customer expectations but also gives you a sense of accomplishment and control in situations where the solution isn't straightforward.

💌 Don't underestimate the power of peer support:

Share your experiences, both good and bad, with your colleagues. You'd be surprised how comforting it can be to know that others are grappling with the same challenges.

This can also open opportunities to learn new coping strategies and problem-solving approaches.

If you are a one-person or don’t have a support network at work, consider setting one up with industry folks.

It can be as simple as a group chat or regular catch-up meetings where team members can share their experiences and provide mutual support.

I love leaning on other CX players to vent and share good ideas, and I regularly do so.

I love the community of 1,000+ CX’ers we have built on Discord for this exact reason.

🏅 Celebrate every win, no matter how small:

It’s easy to get lost in a sea of complaints and forget about the positive interactions you’ve had. Make a habit of acknowledging your successes.

A customer’s issue resolved, a thank-you email received, a crisis averted–all cause for celebration.

Regularly reminding yourself of these small victories can boost your morale and motivation, helping you maintain a positive outlook even when things get tough.

This could also look like shouting out wins in meetings and Slack channels for CX leads. An agent getting recognition from their manager can boost morale individually and across an entire team.

🧖 Invest in self-care:

This isn’t just about bubble baths and scented candles (although, who can resist a good sage or palo santo candle?). Self-care is about caring for your physical, mental, and emotional health.

This could mean regular exercise, a balanced diet, ample sleep, or engaging in activities that help you relax and rejuvenate. It might seem obvious, but it's surprising how often we neglect these basic needs, especially when busy or stressed.

Remember, you can't pour from an empty cup ––– taking care of yourself is beneficial for you and crucial for your ability to support your customers effectively. The emotional gauntlet of CX work can be brutal.

But with conscious effort, the right strategies, and a supportive work environment, it's possible to survive and thrive in this space. And remember: it’s okay to have bad days. They're just as much a part of the journey as the good ones.

That’s it for this week!

Any topics you'd like to see me cover in the future?

Just shoot me a DM or an email!