In this podcast episode, we discuss how to measure and enhance customer experiences to boost your brand. Our featured guest on the show is Craig Stoss, Director of CX Transformation Delivery at Partnerhero.com.
On the Show Today You'll Learn:
- Why it is crucial to differentiate CX and support services.
- Why emotional appeal and clear product info are important.
- The significance of personalization in customer experience.
- The ideal company size for superior customer support services.
- The power of personalized CX for brand loyalty.
- How to boost loyalty through personalized CX.
Links & Resources
About Our Podcast Guest: Craig Stoss
Craig has worked in over 30 countries with clients in e-commerce, aerospace and defence, hightech, and finance building better products and customer experiences. Currently, he leads the CX Transformation team at PartnerHero, where his team consults, implements, and administers tools in the Customer Service tech stack, including helpdesk, chatbots, AI Agent Assist, Workflow automation, and knowledge management. In his spare time, he writes content on CX topics and builds Lego with his son.
Listen & Subscribe on your Favorite Podcast App:
Please support the show if you liked today's episode:
- If you love the podcast, please get someone else to listen, too!
- If you enjoyed this episode of the Ecommerce Coffee Break podcast, please head over to Apple Podcasts, leave a rating, write a review, and subscribe.
- Share the podcast with your family, friends, and co-workers.
- Tag the podcast on Instagram @clauslauter and let me know what you like about it.
- If you like the content and would like to support the podcast, you can buy me a coffee here.
- Become a guest on the show or sponsor an episode.
Craig Stoss: I'm very well Klaus.
Thank you so much for having me. Greg c
Claus Lauter: CX a very well-rounded type topic tell me a little bit, what do you understand on the CX for the listeners who don't know what it actually means?
Craig Stoss: CX sometimes gets conflated with support. And I think the biggest piece that I like to talk when I talk to people who don't know the industry is, they're different.
Support is an element of customer experience, but customer experience is everything that your customers know about, feel, experience. From your brand and that could be people you don't even know yet, like, just seeing a banner on a website a flyer at a market or something. How do they feel when they hold that flyer?
really interesting. What is the sense they get? From your brand, are you ethical brand? Are you an edgy brand? That's all part of customer experience. , and that transforms into support. What happens when they want to refund? How smooth is that process?
How easy is it to get that refund or that delivery shipment reshipped or whatever it might be? It extends through the whole customer journey. And that's the key piece that we really need to understand in the industry of e commerce, especially because, it's pretty easy to go to another e commerce brand that that's a competitor.
So keeping those customers and making sure you have their attention and getting your message across is really important. Yeah. I think that's very
Claus Lauter: important that you just pointed out is not the help desk. That's part of it. It's far a bigger picture than this. Now going into e commerce store and you're right, you just one click and you're at a competitor store.
So you want to make sure that people stay , in your funnel and go all the way through. Give me an idea on what's the usual, customer journey when they get really the first glimpse of the customer experience with I think the
Craig Stoss: The first thing is that sometimes brands not against marketing, but it's sometimes brands over index on the marketing side and forget to tell you what the product actually does. They focus on trying to get you to feel something before they tell you what you're actually trying to sell them.
You have to balance those two things. And so when someone comes to your website, it's very nice to have a beautiful background with, someone at a spa and being very happy and relaxed with your product. But highlight your product is, my main advice, right? It's someone who doesn't understand what you do, especially someone who has never heard of you to just come across your brand, maybe from an Instagram post or something like that needs to know.
Well, why am I here? What am I even looking to purchase from this brand? That's really important is to balance that feeling with the, well, here's what I'm actually trying to help you solve. And I think that's the second point that I'll make is. People buy things to solve problems.
The problems might not be a problem that , it's impacting in, the sense of critical situation or a health issue. But they might be things like, I need to dress , for a fancy event. That's a problem. , it's a problem they're trying to solve.
And every brand is solving a problem, beard trimmers solving a problem because I don't want to straggly beard all of those things. Help them understand why you in particular are really good at solving that problem. Those things just draw a customer in because they think, oh, this person understands me.
They understand what I'm going through. This company can help me solve my problem. And look, by the way, I feel really nice because of the good color scheme and logo and, the ethical nature of the company or whatever it might be that you're projecting into the website marketing.
Claus Lauter: I think the old saying is you have only one chance to make a first impression. Also should apply for e commerce. No, it's easy to fall into the trap with AI and all the technology that is available there to hide behind technology. But at the end of the day, making business selling. Product services should be human to human now at partner hero.
com. You do quite a bit to help with that. Give me an overview of what you help with in regards of the customer experience.
Craig Stoss: Yeah. Partner hero, is a CX services provider. So we offer outsourcing services for your support as well as all the. So services that go around that, such as we will, my team specifically will help you structure your help desk.
So the tickets are organized, categorized, solved in priority order. We will create your AI chatbot experience for you. So you can help more customers or self service will write your knowledge base articles for you so that if you have FAQs on. Shipping or, information about your product that you want your clients to have access to.
We will help you produce that. Where we really help is on that post sale type experience. So the sales happened and now the customer has an issue with your product. A shipment was delayed. The wrong product was received. Something was broken in transit. Something is the wrong size or shape or color, whatever it might be.
And that's where we come in and we help you. By deciding with you what is the right way to solve this problem? Is it a chat bot? That's a very common AI is, in the news every day to these days. Or is it a human touch? We will provide those humans to help you solve , your problems in a very human way, whether that be through phone or email responses.
Or is it a self-service model? Is it something simply, you know what, I don't need, people, I'm a very simple business. I just need a well-rounded. FAQ page that people can go to and self search and help themselves. All of that we provide services around, including, branding of that help center so that, when people go to it, it feels like it's part of your brand.
For example, that's really where we play and my team specifically is in the business. As you said earlier, consulting on what's best for you, implementing that, the thing that you want and then administering it on an ongoing basis.
Claus Lauter: I think data and reading the right data is a big part of your business.
And basically bringing in all the bits and pieces that you have learned from a customer together to provide them with the right service. How does that work? Okay. Thank you.
Craig Stoss: I'm a huge believer in personalization of experience this is not an e commerce specific example, but it's, I went to a restaurant and one of my favorite experiences I've ever had in a restaurant was it was a place I had frequented that often, maybe once or twice a year.
It was a fancier restaurant. And I hadn't been in over 2 years and I decided to take my girlfriend, now my wife, because it was a favorite restaurant of mine, and we walked in and as we were walking to the table, the host said to me, Mr. Stoss, thank you for returning to our restaurant. We noticed that you purchase this type of wine.
It's no longer in our cellar. Here's 3 similar wines that we've selected for you. What an amazing experience, that just shows they know who I am. They recognize I have a trend that, that I like from when I visit their restaurant. And then they help me replace that, put that together with how you do that in e commerce.
When someone comes to your website, you largely could based on how you gather your data, know a little bit about their demographics from say, Google analytics, a little bit about their purchase history because they have an account with you. Their location, something about that.
How do you apply that data? Into making their experience better, whether that be removing from some friction from them, , by, suggesting items as I just that's my in rich example showed, or maybe it's just by a more personalized reading, , hey, welcome back Klaus. We hope you really enjoyed that shirt you bought from us, a month ago, is the color still holding up, just a simple question like that to show.
Hey, we recognize who closes. We recognize he bought a nice shirt from us, and checking in on the customer experience so far of that purchase. You have the data or you can have the data to do those types of things. I think that is a very important part of personalizing your customer's experience.
And again, showing that you value them as a person, not just someone who spends money. And that I think is the differentiator. It's something that e commerce businesses Can do more than brick and mortar businesses, because the data is there through various widgets and elements of the online experience.
It's inherently there and so you can just make use of it already. You don't have to do anything special. You don't have to do surveys or mailers anything because the data is collected just by me visiting your website. And that is so powerful. and Instagram and these sites using our personal information to market to us. Why don't we make it so that that personal information is used to provide value to us? Our feeds are always selling us the products we want. Why don't the products use it to help us provide more value back to us?
That's the thing that I'm really passionate about. Yeah,
Claus Lauter: I can totally relate to that. I used to work in hospitality business for a long time. And then what you said, the customer experience that you want to provide when you're working in a hotel and a restaurant is exactly what you said. You want to make them feel welcome.
You want to make them feel part of the family that you know them at not just being a client that comes and goes and you don't. Really remember them with e commerce, obviously that's can be quite seasonal, depending on what you sell. Now we're going into busy season, and a lot of merchants struggle with, the pure amount of pure volume that comes in to keep.
customers happy. How do you deal with that? What kind of solutions can you provide?
Craig Stoss: There's two solutions. I think specifically partner here could provide, for you, but I think in general you can use , multiple services for this type of thing. One is. Obviously, staffing up your support and your shipping departments in advance, getting people ready to handle the extra volume that comes in, what's coming.
And so you can probably predict with some relative amount of certainty. What you need for staffing, and that could be again, people thing, or it could be, prep, making sure boxes are pretty stamped with your logo and pre folded and ready to go. And then the 2nd thing is the automation piece,
automation has had a little bit of a bad rap up until about the last year, because we see automation is very robotic decision tree. Lots of clicking lots of, oh, I don't know what you're saying in that type of experience, which no one wants. I will fully agree with that. The newer technologies, that exist.
Remove almost all of that. our partner Sienna, for example, has full array of tone and branding, settings that you can make to the point where you actually can put in keywords what your brand or you can put in very important things to your brand that you want to make sure the bot is saying to your customers as part of the conversation.
On top of that, we moved away. With the generative AI model that's come out in the past year, we've moved away from keyword matching decision trees because now these bots recognize human language much more clear. They understand synonyms. They understand that you might say my order was broken and someone else might say, oh, the box was destroyed.
And those are the same thing. And that is really important because we don't want to teach our customers. They have to speak our language as e commerce merchants. We want them to speak their language and be able to have their own experience. And I think those are two things. If you consider them in advance, you prep for that, whether that be people or technology, you can put that and make that available on your website and, through your help center, however that works.
You have much more success going into the holiday season.
Claus Lauter: Give me an example of a typical customer or of a customer that's working or who's working with partner hero. What's the sort of from the first contact? What's the onboarding process? How does that look like?
Craig Stoss: The key word in partner hero is partner.
We have team of solution designers who are involved right from the first call. To understand your business, understand what you see the problems as. Maybe suggest other problems that we observe based on the conversation and then understand what we need to provide to you. What combination of people, process, and tools do you need from us?
So if it's just people, if it's just like, Hey, you have all the, you have all the robust infrastructure that you need we just need some people to help you with it. We could do that. Oh, you need some consultation process. Let's pull in my team. Oh, you need some consultation on, tools.
Well, again, my team can implement those tools for you and make sure they're up to speed. Oh, you don't understand the quality of your support and where your customers are concerned. We have QA and workforce management teams that can analyze your data and say, this is what we think you need.
But that starts from day one with us. Once we have that initial consultation. Once we think about what you need from us, we provide a proposal and you say yes no, or hey, I want to tweak this or like, I need to be able to do this other thing we can stand up a team, generally speaking, within 3 to 4 weeks.
Maybe even less depending on the nature of your business. We do have a team that we call the flex team that works only part time for your brand, they work across multiple brands. Those can be stood up within days because. They're already employed. They're already there. All they need is the knowledge and the hours they work for your brand they will stand up really quickly for you.
So we have several different models depending on the speed and the needs you have, but it a typical sales process could be days to weeks, certainly not months depending on the needs you have.
Claus Lauter: Are there specific industries, verticals or niches that you work more with?
Craig Stoss: main businesses are in e commerce.
We have a lot of food delivery companies. And then we see some really interesting brands coming in. We do have a lot of like, healthcare insurance companies as well that work with us. I mainly work with e commerce brands within my business.
Claus Lauter: On that, what's your perfect customer?
What kind of size do they have? What kind of volume do they have?
Craig Stoss: Perfect customer is a hard one because we do have so many different we start at the very small, really well, like I said, this flex model where you will need. Maybe 2 hours of help a day, very simple, very small scale.
bread and butter is probably between maybe the need of generally 5 to 20 agents or people working for you. So if you're a small meat in business, that's a pretty normal size support team. And then I would say up to 50 is our normal. And then we do have several clients, that are higher than that into the high double digits or even triple digits, our bread and butter, where we play mostly and where my team comes in mostly is that five to 20 people working your post sale support team,
Claus Lauter: when you set agents.
Now, a lot of merchants out there are multi location, multi language what kind of languages do you support? Is it only English or other languages as well?
Craig Stoss: No, we hire on staff, Spanish. French, German, English, generally speaking Portuguese as well. Generally all the time. We have staffed Italian.
We've staffed Japanese, various other European languages, but yeah, generally speaking, if you're looking for English, Spanish, French, English. Portuguese, German, more or less we have those people available the time. And then the good news is technology wise, technology partners on the bot side, they handle up to like, 150 languages each.
Out of the box. You can have an online experience with any language you want.
Claus Lauter: Okay. No, that's good news. Tell me a little bit about the pricing structure. How does that look like? I understand you have different offers and different, so it might be a bit difficult, but what, so like a general ballpark.
Craig Stoss: Yeah, so we, our pricing structure is such that, there's really 3 types of products that we tend to blend those together in a blended model of charging. The flex model is an hourly based charge, because that is typically low volume, low utilization, depending on the product you get.
I believe it's between. 10 20 per hour of utilization, something in that range, the dedicated model, which is where you have a team that's only working for you. That is 8 hours or 9 hours a day every day a per person charge and depending on the skill set needed, it can range quite greatly.
It depends frontline. it's In the low thousands type per person per month. And then for my services, we charge a monthly fee for an all inclusive service. So my charge is a month. And that includes all of your consultation, implementation and administration of all your tools that you're used by the team over month.
Including any of your support or like if something goes wrong, we would fix it for you. Like any of that ongoing administration effort is included. Okay. No, that makes
Claus Lauter: sense. Very good. I think partner heroes is a very good solution if you're specifically in your growth mode and you want to grow quickly and you need the resources and you can't build them up quickly enough in house.
And I think partner hero is definitely a great solution for that. Before we come to the end of the coffee break today, is there anything that you want to share with our listeners that we haven't covered yet?
Craig Stoss: Thank The biggest thing and I've already talked a little bit about it is personalization.
We live in a world now where people are just used to personalization. Netflix shows you the shows that you want to watch. You can watch them anytime you want. Uber Eats recommends food to you. Everything we do now is about catering to you as an individual based on your preferences.
As the generations are shifting into that millennials, the millennials will start having kids. My son can't believe that my parents who still use cable can't turn on his show with his, when he wants it. We're getting into that mode where everyone expects personalization.
And so I just wanted to make it clear that I think the companies who will retain customers. We'll do so by providing those personalized experiences in the most natural way that benefits the user, the customer themselves. And not just the merchant. It can benefit the merchant, it's moving from only benefiting the merchant to now benefiting the customer.
The customer should be focused and key of everything you do in your business. Because that's at the end of the day with all the customers, you don't have a business. cool. Craig, where can people find out
Craig Stoss: more about you guys? So partner. com has been mentioned before. If anyone's interested in reading more about CX, I have a lot of content on my website, stoss.
- If you'd like to talk more, I am on LinkedIn and would love to talk more about these types of
Claus Lauter: services. I would put the links in the show notes and you just want to click away. Great. Thanks so much for your time today. I think that was a very good overview on how customer experience can help a business growing.
And I hope a lot of people will check out PartnerHero and become new customers of yours.
Craig Stoss: Thank you very much. It was a pleasure, Klaus. Thanks so much.
Enhance your eCommerce business with PartnerHero. Our comprehensive support solutions, which include 24/7 customer assistance, expert marketplace insights, and self-service infrastructure, will empower your brand’s customer experience. We prioritize exceptional customer service, maintaining language standards, multi-channel support, and user/system assistance. Visit us at: https://pages.partnerhero.com/ecommerce-coffee-break Talk to us, and lets create a tailored customer support solution for you!
Explore Lantern, the Shopify app that will revolutionize your store’s shopping experience. Utilize AI-generated quizzes, intuitive flow builders, and precise result paths to decode your shopper's needs. Gather emails and use platforms like Klaviyo, to seamlessly curate tailored interactions, deepening the bond with your customers. No coding, just pure strategic enhancement. Visit trylantern.com and message their support with “I want my coffee break time” for an extended 30-day free trial, or visit the Shopify app store.
Get notifications when new episodes are released. Unsubscribe anytime.
In your inbox for free. Every Thursday. Consumed in 3 minutes or less. Join over 4,500 Ecommerce Merchants, Founders, and Marketers.