What do DTC brands have in common other than a shared fundamental business model? The answer is the importance of customer experience. In this piece, James Marlow, VP & GM -UK & Ireland, Dixa tells DTC Daily that in a crowded marketplace where lost subscriptions or brand loyalty is just a click away, the experience customers have when dealing with a DTC brand direct is just as important as advertising.
It’s no wonder then that there is growing interest in CX technology and in particular, a new category called Conversational CX. This headlines a new group of technologies that have evolved beyond basic ticketing and queue-based service systems to platforms, enabling DTC brands to have meaningful and useful conversations by uniting data from every channel and replacing tickets with more intelligent decision-making about how to handle customer interactions.
This is particularly important in the DTC space because digitally-born DTC brands understand that sales performance depends on their ability to communicate with consumers naturally, fast and fluidly. Brands will thrive if customers feel the experience has been more than transactional; and DTC brands have realised that the experience of buying the product makes customers feel like part of a community, bringing them closer to the brand.
Working on the simple principle that you should try to treat customers as friends and use technology to do so, enables a brand to rethink how customer service should be structured. For example, in real life when you’re talking to a friend, you expect them to be able to switch from Facebook Messenger to phone and remember what you’ve just been talking about. So, using unifying customer interaction data across every channel from text or phone to Whatsapp – and so enabling customers to use any channel they choose – enables a brand to talk to people in the way they expect. With this technology, customer service agents can pick up a conversation that may have started on email and run with it on the phone or on Messenger.
Why Rapha is ahead of the CX curve
Cycling apparel company Rapha is a prime example of a DTC brand developing a strategic plan to use and develop conversational CX tech to replace a rigid, ticket-based functionality that has been deep rooted in CX management to date.
Rapha’s brand philosophy is all about the relationship between the customer and the brand as a trusted advisor and fellow enthusiast. Not only does Rapha sell product, but it also shares experiences as its staff are directly involved with customers as fellow cyclists at brand events and in club houses. This means customers get a very personal and rewarding experience when they meet Rapha staff face to face. To then treat customers as a number in a queue when they phone in, text, message or email for advice or about availability of product would break every aspect of the brand’s ethos.
Conversational CX is elevating human interaction
Enabling human agents to access all the data from every channel that a particular customer has generated in past and current conversations is critical to making this work effectively, and ultimately, to optimise sale and brand affinity.
Rapha uses conversational channel-neutral CX to translate its values across the customer experience. The technology in-turn empowers service agents to make more independent and personal decisions about how to solve or answer a customer question or problem most effectively. They are, after all, experts with opinions as well.
This approach also means Rapha’s support team can focus on delivering human interactions, rather than thinking about needing to juggle several systems all at once. By providing support across multiple touchpoints, the customer service interaction is now much more efficient and effective, resulting in increased customer satisfaction retention.
CX at the heart of marketing
This revolution in CX tech enables customer service to become a leading element in the brand to now play a larger part in a customer’s brand experience – but not to the point where it is all-encompassing or too much from the customer point of view.
Instead, brands are in a better position to personalise outreach. Understanding conversations enables them to know when to reach out at the relevant moment in the customer journey or when new product emerges or a new event or brand initiative is launching that fits with the likely interest of the customer.
The richness of the data that channel-neutral conversational CX produces, coupled with its orientation to the way people want to communicate, means that innovation and evolution of platforms to suit brands’ specific needs is far more likely.
We think there is also a natural shared attitude between digital-born DTC brands and the new generation of business-to-business technologies, of which conversational CX is a part, that is fostering a symbiotic client/tech vendor relationship.
Ultimately, DTC says it all – these brands are about the transformative power of new technologies, and the customer experience is a huge part of that. Adopting a data-driven, channel-neutral conversational approach to service can enable brands to create new worlds where employees, customers and business partners treat each other as friends.