Shoe Carnival: A 90 Day Transformation

At Shoe Carnival, unacceptable wait times and frustrated customers during the beginning of the pandemic illuminated the need to make an immediate change in the company’s customer service partner.

David Hudspeth, Customer Service Manager at Shoe Carnival, joined us at Engage21 to share how he:

  • Shaped an entirely new program
  • Stood up a new customer service partner
  • Created a customer service program and standard operating procedure based on customer feedback.

If you couldn’t make the session, here’s a summary.


Omnichannel Measurement

Although Shoe Carnival was a little later to the omnichannel game than some other retailers, they have more than caught up. They started really tracking and managing customer experience with the e-commerce business, but have now expanded to include stores and contact centers, growing to 12 measurements of key customer touchpoints across the enterprise.

David shared that although that volume of feedback can be overwhelming at first, “there are things that are universal to all channels…then things that are unique to an online versus store experience.”


Shaping a New Program

Shoe Carnival was already considering a huge overhaul when the pandemic hit. They were redesigning their customer service model and had just decided to bring order management, fraud, and payment all in-house. They estimated that the switch would take about 9 months.

When COVID stay-at-home orders were implemented around the country, Shoe Carnival’s physical stores closed and its online business exploded. The existing customer service partner who they’d already been considering replacing couldn’t handle the volume and wasn’t able to make the transition to remote contact center workers very easily.

As a result, CX was clearly suffering. Average speed-to-answer was often two hours or more, which caused people to hang up, call again and email – all of which exacerbated the problem. Customers were unhappy and front-line employees were overwhelmed.

David knew something had to be done. His team pivoted and set up a new program with a new partner, including case management, training, knowledge management – plus the new order management system, fraud and payment functionality included. And they did it all in 90 days!


Support from Leadership was Essential

One thing that really helped was having the support and personal attention of the CEO and the entire executive team. David’s team provided daily updates and reports to leadership throughout the changeover period.

David stressed how important it is to gain the trust of department heads, channel owners, and managers by showing them tangible impacts of higher customer satisfaction (CSAT) and Net Promoter Scores (NPS). Key performance indicators like that only matter if they translate directly to bottom-line impact and paint a picture of what’s happening with customers.

An example: customer feedback indicated that people felt logging into the loyalty page was overly complicated. The team did some A/B testing and used Digital Behavior Analytics to see how they could make the program work better. The team was able to see there were changes that had a huge impact on people joining the loyalty program.


Collecting Structured and Unstructured Feedback

While direct survey data was a critical part of Shoe Carnival’s program, David’s team also relied heavily on text analytics of unstructured data across web chat, email, social media, and call notes to drive enhanced insight and identify pain points early.

Using this kind of unstructured feedback, David’s team was able to identify why customers were struggling with the loyalty program and fix it by streamlining the process.


Managing Expectations When You Can’t Change Reality

When COVID hit and carriers became overwhelmed, satisfaction with Shoe Carnival’s “ship-to-home” program “fell off a cliff.” David said his team felt really helpless because the delivery chain was out of their control. He couldn’t make changes to USPS to get customers their orders faster.

But there was something he could do: communicate better with customers about what was happening so they knew what to expect. They did a total overhaul of their communication system and have continued to track it and tweak it to make improvements, and they’ve seen scores rebound without any actual changes to the delivery process.

Watch more customers share their stories from Engage2021!

Client Voices, CX Best Practices, Events, Retail

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