Many of us view customer experience wholly from the perspective of the interactions a customer has with an organization and believe companies that are ‘customer-centric’ are those that work tirelessly to ensure that each consumer touchpoint is positive and seamless. But how often do we consider the ways we’re cultivating relationships with our customers beyond the transactional process? How do we prioritize supporting our customers’ relationships and caring about their well-being after we’ve concluded our business with them? We all aim to deliver value to our customers, and today, this extends to people’s need for increased human connections.
Here’s why: Two in five Americans report that they sometimes or always feel their social relationships are not meaningful, and one in five say they feel lonely or socially isolated, according to the US Health Resources & Services Administration. In a world where we are increasingly dependent on technology, genuine human connection is suffering. As customer experience professionals, we need to evolve from simply focusing on making transactions as seamless and speedy as possible to creating experiences that truly allow customers to connect and express themselves, both with our brands as well as with the important people in their lives.
At 1-800-Flowers.com, our mission is to deliver smiles, and our vision is to inspire more human expression, connection and celebration. As we continue to evolve, we look for the technologies and innovative solutions that best serve these special moments of connection and expression.
For example, here at 1-800-Flowers.com, we have a loyal customer who sends our Floral Christmas Tree to her brother every year because his late wife was the one who decorated for the holidays. This thoughtful gesture brings her brother joy and allows her to connect with him from across the country in a deep and sentimental way. In the end, this customer’s experience with our brand is not defined by her order method, how she paid, or how the order was fulfilled, but by the emotion that we help her convey through this connection, which has blossomed into a family tradition for her and her brother. This is truly what distinguishes our brand.
We continuously lean on digital tools that enable our business to be more responsive, engaged and convenient, in order to help our customers connect with the important people in their lives. In fact, 1-800-Flowers.com recently won the 2019 Modern Retail Award for Best Digital Transformation due to our early adoption of conversational commerce, where we became one of the first retailers to operate on all five major voice and messaging platforms: Facebook Messenger, Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple Business Chat, and Samsung Bixby. We have done this in order to connect with our customers on a more personal level, recreating the 1:1 “shop floor” conversations that are a pillar of our brand’s history, as well as to make their shopping experience more seamless across all devices. By meeting customers on the emerging touchpoints they utilize every day, we’re able to better empower them to express, connect and celebrate with their loved ones.
We have also introduced SmartGift, an experiential gifting feature that allows the recipient to digitally “unwrap” the present for a preview, accept or exchange the item, then select a preferred delivery address and date. SmartGift provides our customers more flexibility in how they send gifts and empowers the recipient in the gift-giving process.
Simplicity, seamlessness and convenience are now baseline components of a good customer experience. As we begin this new decade, ask yourself how your customer experience can go a step further and help create real human connections. Below are a few thought-starters to help you begin the conversation:
- Understanding the greater context for how and why a customer is using your product
- Creating physical experiences that bring people together
- Increasing opportunities for customers to connect with human agents at your organization
- Utilizing rewards that create memorable moments and experiences
- Fostering communities of like-minded customers
- Empowering frontline employees to build 1:1 relationships with customers
At 1-800-Flowers.com, we expect to continue to introduce even more personalization, community building and enhanced service through the use of artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies. Every decision our brand makes about the customer experience is centered around how to encourage increased and better relationships for our customers. It is our belief that, by doing this, customers will be more emotionally connected to our brand.
As Director, Customer Experience, 1-800-Flowers.com, Jenna is responsible for developing and executing a differentiated omnichannel experience for the floral brand’s top customers.
Before joining 1-800-Flowers.com in September 2019, Jenna was the Chief of Staff to the CEO at Glamsquad, a beauty startup in New York City. In this role, she managed the development and launch of an integrated partnership with CVS Pharmacy and led strategic planning for the executive team. Prior to this, Jenna was in Global Strategy at PepsiCo and a Private Banker to ultra-high net worth individuals at J.P. Morgan.