For online retailers, servicing customer questions and queries is one of the biggest challenges associated with the channel. The ‘old world’ of store retail has conditioned shoppers to expect there to be someone on hand to answer their questions about products and services before they buy. Online, this is often hard to replicate.
One of many retailers that has wrestled with this is The Kooples, a French fashion retailer that has some 350 stores across Europe and the US and which sells a large proportion of its items online in all regions. Like all retailers it faces the issue of being deluged with customer queries, often prompted by making an order and it wanted to find a way to more effectively handle these.
The problem is not unique to The Kooples. Research by InternetRetailing for its white paper The Human Touch: Unlocking the power of conversational marketing, produced in conjunction with iAdvize, found that 50% of retailers see making a quick and effective response to customer queries as being a key part of improved customer experience, with 90% of them already using in-house staff to handle the calls.
But herein lies the problem: the more sales that are made, the more calls received and the further stretched the staff become to handle those questions well. This was the issue facing The Kooples Global Head of Client Experience, Nam Tran. And he found a novel – although increasingly popular – solution.
Tran is very keen on getting customer service right. As a student he had a bad experience with an online retailer. Faced with an issue about an item vanishing from his basket, he called the customer service department. He told them of his issue and how desperate he was to buy it and…
“They hung up on me: they said they couldn’t help and hung up,” he says. “I was really upset and shocked at how bad they were and what a bad experience it was.”
The incident forgotten, months later, Tran saw an advert looking for customer services interns at The Kooples so he applied. Tran has worked his way up from there to…