How to Add an Extra Set of CX Hands this Holiday Season

Hey Friends,

Happy Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving to those who celebrate, and a big old Happy Thursday to the rest of you.

It’s been a bit over a week at my new gig at Yotpo, and I’ve learned more this week than I’ve learned in the last few years combined. These folks move quickly, are super sharp, and truly get it.

I’ve got so many ideas to bring Customer Retention and Experience front and center, and I can not wait to share more with you over the coming weeks and months.

One thing is clear, though. In the last few years, there have been hundreds of courses, roundtables, learning experiences, dinners, communities, and conferences around DTC, and 95% of them have focused on the growth side of the house.

I’ve chatted with hundreds of CX and Retention operators in the last few years, and while most of them acknowledge that retention is a focus, nearly all of them have no concrete plan as to how to level up, and even fewer have actual achievable KPIs.

Especially with regard to CX teams, the convergence of CX and Retention is clear. When folks have a great experience, they tend to come back. The service recovery paradox pushes this up a few gears.

But most CX’ers are still stuck in the weeds, answering “where is my tracking number” questions again and again and again.

What if you can leverage the power of technology to get predictable and easy answers to your customers (with empathy, of course) and then have you and the team focus on the high-touch conversations where you can break the script and deliver magic?

I’ve got a practical roadmap to do just that, and it’s just in time for the post-BFCM chaos in the inbox.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

This week’s newsie is brought to you by Siena AI. They're doing something pretty unique in the CX space that I think deserves your attention.

Imagine an AI agent that doesn't just respond to your customers but truly understands them. That's Siena AI for you. They've crafted a customer service experience that feels more human, blending empathy with technology in a way that genuinely stands out.

Why Siena AI is a cut above:

  1. Empathy at Scale: Siena’s AI brings your brand’s personality into every interaction, ensuring that every customer feels heard and understood.

  2. Efficiency with a Personal Touch: From subscription management to addressing complex queries, Siena’s AI is like your top-performing team member, always ready to help.

  3. Intelligent Problem-Solving: Their core reasoning-based engine system goes beyond pre-defined scripts. Siena is able to take action by using reasoning and decision making to navigate the complexities of customer service with ease.

Siena currently scores a 4.81 out of 5 on the CSAT scale based on 50,000+ customer satisfaction surveys sent by their customers

  • Kitsch: Boosted revenue by $46,340 in just 90 days with Siena AI.

  • Simple Modern: Automated 79% of their support tickets, significantly streamlining their process.

  • Everyday Dose: Saw a 60% decrease in first response time and a 45% reduction in resolution time.

For my readers, there's a special treat. Siena AI is offering an exclusive 3-month free trial

Just schedule a chat with their team and mention that Eli Weiss sent you. It's a fantastic opportunity to see what empathic AI can do for your customer service.

Siena isn't just another AI tool; it's a partner that can help transform your CS into an experience your customers will love and remember. Check them out, and let's keep pushing the boundaries of what excellent CX can be.

CX 🤝 TeChNoLoGy

If you are like me, you’ve been on countless website support pages trying to engage with a bot at some point in your life. Those irritating, soulless chatbots make you want to hurl your phone through a window. 

When I joined Jones Road, like most high-growth consumer brands, we had some hectic months, and some were pretty standard. Staffing a CX team with ups and downs like that puts you in a unique situation.

You can either pull in outsourced temporary support during holiday seasons and race to make sure they are trained on every single nuance of team strategy, tone, etc.

Or you can be a bit overresourced some months and stretched on others, but keep your team internal and agile.

Since the evolution of ChatGPT and all the new tools built on GPT-4, CX was the first place the tech folks set their eyes on.

With a big chunk of CX inboxes flooded with monotonous “where’s my order” type tickets, it felt like an easy way to make CX a lot more efficient.

Like lots of CX leaders I spoke to, I was hesitant about “outsourcing” my customer relationships to the robot overlords. But what if there was an easy way to remove all the potential issues and leverage AI to be more efficient and more empathetic?

Phase 1: Shifting My Mindset

The transformation in my mindset began with understanding the true potential of AI. We weren't just looking at a tool to handle mundane tasks; we were exploring a technology that could augment our team's capabilities. 

This shift resonated strongly with Sam Altman's (RIP… or back as ever?) vision of using technology to amplify human abilities, not supplant them.  

I asked myself, “What if we started small, focusing on automating routine inquiries?” These were tasks that, while necessary, didn't require the unique human capabilities of empathy and complex problem-solving.

By automating these, we could free our human team to focus on what they do best – handling complex, high-impact customer interactions.

So, for phase 1, we only had AI targeting and tackling conversations that were specifically about return policy and steps needed to process a return. 

We fed the AI our return policies, general tone, and general approach to returns and immediately shaved off hundreds of monotonous tasks.

The AI not only read the ticket but also understood where the customer was in their journey based on their Shopify history, and was able to respond to them quickly and thoroughly. 

The benefits of this approach became evident quickly. Our response times to customer queries plummeted, leading to a noticeable uptick in customer satisfaction. 

Efficiency wasn't the only gain; our team experienced a boost in morale. They were no longer bogged down by repetitive tasks and could engage in more meaningful, fulfilling work.

Phase 2: Tinkering 

Balancing AI efficiency with human empathy is increasingly crucial. One of my biggest fears was that it would feel robotic and worse than an old-school auto response. 

We ensured that our AI tools were not just technologically advanced but also fine-tuned for nuanced, empathetic engagements.

This careful calibration meant that our AI tools could handle basic queries with a level of sophistication and care that closely mirrored human interaction.

This transformation didn't happen overnight. It required careful planning, a step-by-step approach to integrate AI into our existing systems, and a continuous process of feedback and iteration. 

As we refined our approach, the line between technology and human service started to blur, creating a seamless and efficient customer service experience.

Tools like Siena can easily pull in all your data related to your products, etc, and then connect with your Gorgias and Shopify account to be super detail-oriented and actionable when responding to customer inquiries. 

But on top of that, they learn from your macros, your team's best responses, and the instructions you give them to make sure it feels like your own team.

Phase 3: Extending the Power of Your Empathic Bots 🤖

After successfully automating AI for returns and noticing a positive impact, you can easily work to expand the AI's scope in your customer experience strategy based on necessity.

Here’s a roadmap to scale up AI integration:

Addressing Simple Product-Related Queries: Start by automating responses to frequently asked questions about your products. These can range from size and color options to care instructions. AI can efficiently pull this information from your FAQs and product details, providing quick and accurate answers.

Automating Order Tracking: The next logical step is to use AI for tracking inquiries. It's a task that, while simple, consumes a significant amount of time. AI can access order status from Shopify or your order management system and relay this information to customers, reducing the load on your team.

Weekend Inbox Management: Gradually transition to having AI take over the entire inbox for a weekend. This approach allows you to provide consistent customer support without the need for an extensive weekend team. It's a big leap but a calculated one.

Initially, keep a close eye on the AI’s responses. Assign a team member to oversee and grade these responses for accuracy and tone. This step is crucial to ensure the AI maintains the high standards of your brand’s customer service.

Pro Tip: Start with a ‘shadow mode’ where AI drafts responses but doesn’t send them. This way, you can gauge its proficiency and fine-tune responses before going live.

By gradually scaling up AI integration, you ensure a smooth transition and maintain the high quality of customer interactions. This phased approach also allows your team to adapt to and embrace the new technology, ensuring a harmonious blend of AI efficiency and human empathy.

A Real-World Example - The Kitsch Success Story

Kitsch, a prominent beauty and hair accessories brand, faced the challenge of managing an increasing volume of routine customer inquiries during their growth phase. They decided to integrate AI to automate responses to these inquiries with specific goals in mind:

  • Timely Responses: Ensuring quick answers to simple queries.

  • 24/7 Support: Providing round-the-clock assistance for product questions or returns.

  • Streamlined Solutions: Offering straightforward processes for exchanges, shipping, and more.

The introduction of AI into Kitsch's customer service operations led to remarkable results:

  • 56.5% Automation: Over half of common customer questions were handled automatically.

  • $46K Revenue Increase: Siena AI contributed to generating $46,000 in revenue with a 10% ticket conversion rate over a 90-day period.

  • 2-3 Hour Faster Resolution: The average resolution time for customer inquiries was reduced by 2 to 3 hours.

These results showcase the power of AI in transforming CX. By automating routine queries, Kitsch not only improved efficiency but also enhanced the overall customer experience. Their team could focus more on complex, high-value customer interactions, contributing to increased satisfaction and loyalty.

Kitsch's journey highlights the art of intelligent scaling in customer service. By starting with targeted AI integration, they augmented their human team's capabilities without replacing the personal touch that customers value, and they saw great results. 

When considering AI for your support team, make sure you focus on tools that align with your brand’s ethos and can solve problems while upholding your unique customer interaction style.

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!


Eli 💛