Doug-29Doug Logue is a product marketer / front end developer at WIHP (World Independent Hotel Promotion). He’s also the co-founder @geticonify. This is a wonderful story by Doug about the integration of online and offline customer experience. Doug originally wrote this on his medium page in the post, “Tory Burch Sells $300 Coronas.” He was kind enough to let me share it.

In Doug’s words,

Toronto“Let me paint you a picture. I wake up in Toronto, on a bachelor party and have this nagging notion that something is wrong…

Then it hits me. I forgot to order my pregnant wife’s gift before leaving the country just days before her birthday. Panic immediately sets in. Now keep in mind I didn’t bring a laptop or tablet and chose not to get an international data plan for my phone.

windows tory burchI race down to the hotel lobby and jump on one of their ancient machines running Windows Vista with IE as the only browser choice — my nightmare begins. I pull up Gmail, run a search for “bday ideas,” and click on the link for a pair of Tory Burch shoes. Find the right size, add to cart, choose expedited shipping, proceed to checkout… and realize that I forgot to grab my wallet when I ran out of my room.

No sweat, PayPal to the rescue! Or so I thought. After checking out with PayPal, I receive a confirmation email from Tory Burch where I notice the shoes were shipped ground and won’t arrive until after my wife’s birthday. By this time my friends have started to gather in the lobby and we’re ready to head to the Blue Jays game. I quickly forwarded the email to customer service and asked them to please change the shipping option.

imgres-1After the game and a few pints, we end up at the Loose Moose (it’s a bar, I swear) where they have free WiFi. I check my email and read the response from customer service.

“Unfortunately Mr. Logue, when you checkout with PayPal you don’t have the option to upgrade your shipping method.”

I reply asking them to cancel my order, so that I can repurchase the shoes using my debit card and choose two-day shipping.

“Unfortunately Mr. Logue, we can’t cancel nor modify your order at this time.”

Frustrated, I decide that it will be easier to just wait until I get home to repurchase the shoes at an actual Tory Burch store.

WS_toryburchTwo days later, and with just 24 hours left, I make my way to the store [Waterside Shops in Naples, Florida] and immediately have a much better experience than I’d been having online. A very nice woman named Michelle introduces herself and asks if she can assist me with anything. I begin to explain my situation and ask what she can do. Michelle tells me that once my online order arrives to simply bring it in to her store and she’ll return them no problem. She grabs a new pair of shoes, swipes my debit card and tells me that it isn’t going through. Wonderful.

She remembers me saying that I just returned from Canada and thinks my bank may have put a hold on my card. I give my bank a call, get put on hold, transferred, hold again, and then Michelle emerges from the back of the store like some kind of customer service angel…

corona bottle

“Would you like this Corona or perhaps a glass of wine while you get this sorted?”

What an unexpected surprise! My mood immediately changed. Not because of the free booze, but because Michelle saw that I was having a rough day and went above and beyond to make me happy. Eventually, Chase lifts the hold on my card, Michelle charges it and wraps my wife’s gift. Now this is where most transactions end, but she was just getting started.

The next day, I receive an email from Michelle thanking me for my purchase and reminding me that whenever the original order shows up I can bring it in and she’ll return it for me.

Lindsay Logue

Lindsay Logue

A few days later my wife and I head back to Tory Burch. We walk in and Michelle greets me by name and introduces herself to my wife. While she’s returning the original order, my wife begins trying on shoes and I take a seat. Within seconds, I have a Corona in one hand and an iPad in the other. These people are good. Michelle knows that if she can make me comfortable and keep me preoccupied, my wife will have more time to drain the bank account.

After the return was complete and my wife was done browsing, we left the store. A few days later, I receive another email from Michelle.

tory burch shoe kaitlin wedge“Hi Doug, It was a pleasure meeting your wife, Lindsay. Just wanted to check in and make sure she was completely satisfied with her new shoes. Also, I noticed her trying on the navy blue Kaitlin Wedges in 8.5. Would you like me to put these on hold for a future purchase?”

This was the first time I’ve seen online marketing being fused with an offline transaction. Marketers like myself, use software to show you ads for products you recently searched for or viewed in hopes of getting you to complete your purchase. The fact that Michelle was doing this manually really impressed me.

One of the things I liked most was the personalization of this email. Michelle used my name, my wife’s name, the type of shoes she tried on, the size of the shoe, the color, and included a picture. I’m sure that Tory Burch has some type of CRM that populates the email with my basic information, but the shoes my wife tried on didn’t have a tracking pixel embedded in them. That information had to be entered manually. I’m not sure if this is common practice at their stores or exclusive to Michelle. Either way, I highly recommend other retailers find a way to merge offline interactions with online communication and vice versa.

Estimote

Estimote

These tactics are usually only seen in the B2B space, where the sales cycle is much longer than an in-store retail purchase. However, I believe these practices will become commonplace in the very near future. Especially with the introduction of geofencing technologies including Estimote and Apple’s iBeacons. Merging the offline and online worlds is something I’m extremely interested in and will be exploring in the coming months.

Needless to say, I follow up with Michelle and thank her for offering to hold the shoes. At the time, I wasn’t ready to make a new purchase. About a month later, I receive a phone call from Michelle.

“Hi Doug, This is Michelle from Tory Burch. Is now a good time to talk?”

Normally, I would identify this as a sales call and say no. However, my previous experience with Michelle kept me on the line.

“I just wanted to call and let you know the shoes your wife was interested in are now 30% off.”

Did a sales rep really just call me and tell me a product was on sale? Sure I get email coupons and alerts for generic sales all day long, but once again this was personal and specific. Since the holidays were right around the corner, I told Michelle to move forward with the purchase. Michelle saved me from having to fight holiday crowds and traffic. She saved me from having to distinguish what “super cute” shoes my wife had been trying on that day. And she saved me 30%! This was a new level of customer service that I wasn’t familiar with, but could definitely get used to. This experience has coined a few sayings in the Logue household…

“Honey, I want… just email the link to Michelle.”

“This would never happen at Tory Burch.”

“$300 Coronas just taste better.”

Soon stores and physical items will send reminders to your mobile device about which pair of shoes your wife tried on. Until then, find a Michelle.”

Takeaways:

Did this happen by design or by coincidence? It turns out that its by design. The 10-year old Tory Burch puts the customer at the center of everything they do. [In depth article by Andrew Nusca of ZD.net] This is CX design. A discipline of creating experiences that my friend Mike Wittenstein says, “are so delightful and memorable that your customers are excited to share the experience with others.”

Tory Burch touches six Purple Goldfish in this single story: Added Service, First Impressions, Convenience, Waiting, Throw-In’s and Follow-up.

Here are a handful of things you can learn from this omni-channel retailer:

1. It takes People – Tory Burch created positions that put a proactive focus on their most important customers. Michelle Sroda is a Visual Merchandiser Associate in Naples, Florida. The organization also has a Sales Lead that sits between the GM / Assistant GM’s and Sales Associates. The responsibilities for this “LOTF” (leader of the floor) position include:

  • Delivering exceptional customer service through transformational experiences.
  • Developing and maintaining staff selling and service skills
  • Managing personal client book and generating store business
  • Acting as store leader when general managers are not present
  • Resolving customer and associate issues

2. Get the right people onboard – Tory Burch hires employees that have a passion for service. And they don’t rush the process. According to Glassdoor, it’s  lengthy, “An involved interview process. At least 2 hour long interviews are scheduled with management after an initial phone interview. These interviews can take up to two weeks. A background check can take 1-3 weeks.

tweet by katelyn T3. Technology that enables – Tory Burch has developed a tablet based system called “Client Book.” According to an article in Internet Retailer, “this client book service enables customers to keep track of previous orders, wish lists and other information from an online accounts. A shopper might put something into her wish list late at night, for instance, and a store associate keeping track could have that item ready on the shopper’s next store visit or prepare recommendations for other products.”

[In case your curious, the average order value for Client Book customers is 62 percent higher than Tory Burch’s typical customer]

4. Little Something Extra – Love the signature touch of offering a glass of wine or a bottle of Corona. It’s a small sign that shows you care. It’s similar to a handwritten note. The Client Book has got that covered as well. It alerts store associates to a customer’s birthday, enabling them to reach out with a personalized card.

5. Measure, measure, and loop – Similar to Apple, Tory Burch utilizes NPS (Net Promoter Score) as their de facto tool for measuring loyalty on a store by store and day by day basis. They use a SaaS solution from Medallia. The biggest win according to the company, “has been the increased level of customer-centricity at all levels of the organization based on having incredible data and incredible insights and the ability to actual use it.”

Final Story:

At Shop.org‘s Annual Summit in Chicago, SVP of Global Retail Matt Marcotte (formerly of Apple Retail) shared an example of how the brand’s “Client Book” helps to blend digital and traditional retail while making customers feel valued along the way:

If you can’t see the video, Andrew Nusca of ZD.net paraphrased:

In one case, a married man came into one of our stores, asking for assistance from a store associate. He wanted to purchase a gift for his wife. He explained that he didn’t know where to turn, but saw the company’s logo on his wife’s shoes and assumed that she shopped at the store, so he came. The associate looked up his wife’s name in Clientbook; turns out she’s shopped at Tory Burch both in person and online. Anything she bought in the last two years showed up, with photographs. So the associate made suggestions and he goes off happy. The wife comes in the next day and asks to see sales associate. That’s never good—usually it means that something’s gone wrong. The woman says, “I don’t know what you did, but it’s the first time in 20 years he’s ever gotten in right.” So the associate shows her Clientbook. No return necessary; the husband is a rock star. She leaves. Three hours later, her friend comes in. Turns out the wife was talking about Clientbook at lunch and she just had to know what it was all about.

If Tory Burch is setting out to create transformational experiences that are so delightful and memorable that customers are excited to share the experience with others… MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Today’s Lagniappe (a little something extra thrown in for good measure) – Founder Tory Burch spoke at Stanford last summer. Tory made the case that women should be as ambitious as men: