Setting up a CX team

Let's build a lean, mean, CX machine 🧑‍🔧

Hi Readers!

Eli here, up in Northern Israel this week, right near the Sea Of Galilee.

It’s been a difficult week watching the news out of the SCOTUS, and I want to start the newsie with a quote from Bobbi Brown:

"I'm outraged. I'm shocked. I'm heartbroken. But, I'm also fired up. This is not the time to be sad or cynical. We have to channel our anger into action and do something. Today, I'm going to conjure up my best "inner- Michelle Obama" and follow her advice: get involved, help others and reach out in support of organizations like Planned Parenthood and The United States of Women. Together, we can use our collective power and resources to reshape the future."

- Bobbi Brown

If you’d like to lend your support, you can donate to any of the following organizations:

Extremely proud to be at JRB, a female-founded and led brand that supports reproductive rights.

I don’t have a natural segue for this, but … for this week’s newsie, we’ll be chatting all things “Setting Up a CX Team: Priorities.”

But before we get into it, a very BIG announcement: 🚨

Beyond stoked to announce that Gorgias is the new sponsor of the newsie. For those who don’t know, Gorgias is the helpdesk that I use at Jones Road, have used at OLIPOP, and the one that most DTC brands I know use and love.

Prior to Gorgias, I have used Zendesk, Freshdesk, Front, Intercom, and a few more, and Gorgias is my favorite by a mile for quite a few reasons. We’ll get into that as we go along, but it’s not just me – Gorgias is the #1 most installed helpdesk on Shopify. 🚀

Two other quick updates before we hop in:

1. A few weeks back, I had a FANTASTIC conversation with Tina Donati from Alloy Automation about some tools in my CX tool stack. My interview was turned into a chapter for this fantastic e-book about all-things DTC tools, called Stacked 3.0.

When choosing technology, brands want to make sure they’ll get a clear ROI, increased efficiency by removing tedious manual work, and seamless integrations with the rest of their stack. After reading Stacked 3.0, you’ll know how to build a tech stack that’s profitable, scalable, integrated, and optimized.

2. Just released the second Episode of my Down To Chat podcast. 🎙️

Cody and I chat all things brand building, playing the long game, and scammy retention tactics. Apple | Spotify

Now let’s jump into it.

Close your eyes and imagine: You’re a DTC brand selling t-shirts. You’ve “traveled the world to uncover the most luxurious cashmere” from the backs of this a herd of endangered llamas in Tibet (is that where cashmere comes from? idk).

You hop on the podcast circuit to let the world know they are about to meet “the best jersey t-shirt they have ever seen.”

You workshop a brand name and come up with ✨cloths™ ✨.

Genius. The vibes are stellar.

You kick off by sending free t-shirts to thought leaders, gurus, and thread bros.

“I don’t need a positive review, just say what you really feel,” you type furiously in your Twitter DMs.

Your bougie unboxing experience pops off on TikTok.

Now you’re part of the Twitter thread of the week:

“Here are the top 10 DTC brands to watch, buckle up 🧵👇”

You hire the perfect growth team and start click clackety on the TikTok ads + UGC machine. You are in business. 🚀

Three weeks into the launch and you’ve shipped thousands of tees. You then realize that customers have questions, shipping has been a mess, and sizing can be a bit funky. The emails are flooding in, and the outsourcing agencies are knocking on your door. ✊

Here’s how to get a CX team set up quickly, with a minimal budget.

I’m gonna split this into three parts.

  1. Vibes

  2. Tools

  3. Processes

1. Vibes:

a. Outsourcing: I’ve seen way too many smaller brands immediately outsource CX to focus on growth and “other stuff.” Yes, some external partners can promise fantastic response times and even keep the voice “on-brand,” but few—if any— can build your brand for you. Great CX is an investment in your brand. Brands like Chewy go viral weekly for creating fantastic customer moments like these, moments that would never happen with outsourced partners.

Google "Chewy Customer Service" and click "news". You'll see dozens of articles with stories like this. Great CX is part of their brand identity.

Especially with omnichannel brands, it is imperative that you keep your customers close to you given that you won’t hear much from retail purchasers, who are unlikely to go to the trouble of reaching out to the brand they bought at Target.

At OLIPOP, retail made up for 70% of our business and less than 1% of the tickets. Customers' definitely had questions and concerns, but they never made it to us. If you want to engage with your customer's concerns and improve everything about your product and brand—and you should—it’s important to hold onto as many customer relationships and conversations as you can.

Additionally, external partners will generally not pass along the data they get from customer conversations, and the conversation flows are not nearly as customizable as what you can create weekly or biweekly internally.

b. Bandwidth: With a small brand, it’s pretty common to have 20-50 tickets a week at most—definitely not enough for a full-time gig. This email is all about priorities, and how to get started. While it’s not viable as you get to real scale, I strongly recommend that founders start out spending 30 minutes a day in the inbox talking to real-life customers. Generally, 30 minutes is more than enough to tackle the tickets and create some basic processes such as macros, tags, and automations.

Once your inbound gets a bit busier, you can easily hand it off to a marketing coordinator or anyone else on the marketing team to dedicate an hour or two a day towards it until it becomes a full-time gig. Then you can hire full-time.

c. Culture: When we think about brands that create magical customer moments, it’s rarely the penny pinchers or the brands with leaders that are constantly muttering “bUt WhAt’S tHe rOi” as their mantra under their breath. In order to create fantastic customer experiences, it’s imperative that you drill “service” into your brand identity and put the customer first. In every conversation.

Especially when you start your CX function, putting the customer on a pedestal is the only way to create something magical, and it really does start with the way you put together the team, tools, and processes.

CX culture is so important when you are setting up a team because it truly defines how you view the department. Is this a marketing tool and an investment in brand?

Or is this a fire extinguisher?

One of these creates lifelong customers, the other doesn’t really work and, well, is annoying as hell to work at. 🤓

2. Tools. 🧰

The key to a great CX setup is choosing tools that work well with your tech stack; and that your team can easily handle.

As to priorities, having a helpdesk is mission-critical. The rest of your CX tools tack can follow as the $$$ becomes available.

Most brands either stick to Gmail or get a really complex and expensive setup. Imho, focusing on a scalable solution early on is important, and you’d rather start collecting customer quantitative data early on.

Here’s what I would want from a helpdesk.

  • Ability to make any order updates within the helpdesk (edit addresses, cancel orders etc)

  • Feels like a conversation, not a ticket (i.e. I dislike the zendesk ticket number)

  • The option to set up canned responses (macros), as well as automations to save time

  • Integrates with email, live chat, phone, SMS, and social so you can do it all in one spot

  • Integrates with tools you already use such as Klaviyo, your reviews tool, etc

  • Fantastic support if anything goes wrong

If you’re on Shopify, Gorgias has every single one of these things and is a no-brainer. I’ve recommended it to countless DTC brands and have only heard great things.

It integrates with just about every other Shopify app you’d use. From Klaviyo to Postscript, Wonderment to Retextion and Loop, and so much more.

Once you have your helpdesk set up, you have a functional, if barebones, in-house CX function!


3. Processes 

a. Tags: Critical to getting a CX function set up is creating processes that turn customer experience from reactive to proactive. What that means for a very early brand is ensuring you can be learning and iterating from customer feedback.

When Joseph and Jerry reach out to complain about the length of your cloths™ tees, you’ll want to know if this is a broader problem others might have or if they are just short kings. What you think is ✨qUaLiTaTiVe FeEdBaCk ✨ might just be a non-issue for 99% of your customers.

Tags fix this.

Within your helpdesk, set up tags for feedback or issues that come in that should be tracked.

“But Eli, how do I know which issues need to be tracked?”

That’s indeed a good question. I generally like to think about it like this: Is this an issue you can see being an issue that would come up again? Or is this really bizarre and is probably a one-time thing? Both of those can be tracked, but you want to keep tagging to a healthy amount so that it doesn’t take 10 minutes to tag each ticket. In an ideal universe, I recommend having 30-50 regularly used tags max.

Solid reporting, without a large lift.

Pro tip: you can set up automations that automatically tag tickets in Gorgias. E.g. if there are keywords like x or y, tag the ticket as “urgent” or “delayed.”

Aside from tagging for learning, tagging can also be used as a way to catch urgent issues. For example, you can set up automations that tag any email with the words “cancel my order” or “need to change shipping address” to be tagged as “urgent” so your team can tackle those tickets first. This saves us a silly amount of stress every day. 🙃

b. Macros: Macros are the canned responses, the quick replies, the backbone of an efficient CX squad. You can reply to an email with a detailed and comprehensive response in a few clicks, without typing it all out.

Like any other tool, it’s important to make sure it is creating efficiency instead of eroding it, and I highly recommend making sure you are making and using macros correctly.

Here is what I mean:

Don’t create a macro for every email you need to respond to—create macros when you have an issue coming in multiple times. Too many macros get really confusing to sort through.

Additionally, macros are great, but you should always leave room for personalization. Even if it’s just adding a personal line in the beginning and end, it is super helpful. A great example of that is our shade-matching macro. It looks something like this:

We encourage personalization at the beginning, middle, and end of all macros. It’s supposed to save time, but not substitute for a personalized experience.

c. Rules: A bit more advanced, Rules give you the ability to automate a bit more within your helpdesk. Think IFTTT for Gorgias: You have the ability to auto-tag, auto-reply, and a bunch more.

Some use-cases for rules at JRB:

  • Tag all SMS tickets as urgent so we can reply to them first

  • Auto-assign social tickets to community associate

  • Auto-assign NPS to an “NPS response squad” team

  • Notify agent if ticket assigned to them has responded

  • Add tag “shade match” if an email has the words “shade,” “help with color,” etc

  • Auto-close OOO email replies to our email campaigns

  • OOO reply to chats that come in outside of business hours

And so much more.

Getting creative with rules can completely change your CX game and ensure you are being efficient and getting the most out of your small (but mighty) CX team.

That’s it for this week. Hope you have enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you love the newsie, I have 2 tiny requests.

  • Please share with 1 friend. I’d absolutely love to get it into the hands of more owners and operators.

  • I love suggestions on what people would like me to write about—please reply with your suggestions! :)

Until next week,

Eli ❤️

Brought to you by Gorgias