Vera Bradley is an apparel retailer that specializes in women’s accessories and handbags that cares deeply about the satisfaction of its customers. We sat down with Vice President of Retail Melissa Latham to talk about why the company measures satisfaction across the entire customer journey and how customer experience (CX) intelligence is invaluable to its business strategy.
And for more about how Vera Bradley is a best-in-class VOC leader, watch our interview with Melissa via the video below.
What are your business goals and what are you measured on?
Our goals at Vera Bradley are to drive sales. We are measured on sales performance. We look at conversion, ADS, and we certainly look at customer satisfaction as one of our most critical KPIs.
Why is it so important for Vera Bradley to measure customer experience?
The customer experiences everything. We certainly love our products, and we think we make the very best and pay attention to quality, but if the customer isn’t having the best experience, she won’t come back. It’s so important that we know that she loves how we’re interacting with her, that she’s happy with our pricing and our merchandising — but most importantly, our service and the way that we take care of her. Without her, there wouldn’t be Vera Bradley.
How do you make sure to capture, measure, and improve the entire customer experience, wherever customers interact with your brand?
I think our associates do a really good job connecting with our customers to let them know about the services that ForeSee provides, and how to fill out the survey at the end of a transaction. We have a really significant capture rate: 85% of all of our customers who make a purchase actually talk about us through ForeSee surveys — providing us with invaluable data. I’m really pleased at how the associates remind customers to talk about us, to see if we can make any improvements to the experience.
What are the biggest issues that the retail industry faces that CX intelligence can help solve?
Probably the biggest challenge we’re facing today in retail is the lack of traffic. A lot of our business is shifting online. Knowing that, it’s even more important that we are providing the best level of service possible. We have to provide the customer a [quality] experience — [and recognizing the importance when they] make the decision to drive in the car, come down to see us, and put in all of that time. I want to make sure that we’re giving [them] the very best experience that you can’t always get online. We really use our customer insights and all of the feedback that the customer is providing us to make sure we’re delivering the very best experiences we can.
What ForeSee products does Vera Bradley use and why?
Recently we have expanded our assortment of tools from ForeSee. We currently use a store purchaser measure for both full line and factory, as well as digital, both browse and mobile. We have started to look at returns and exchanges to see how we can improve that experience. An example of our most recent addition has been Buy Online and Pickup In-Store [aka BOPIS]. We’ve been able to develop a survey that targets those customers for this very new adventure we’ve launched.
And more recently, we’ve [started to focused on] learning about our Store Non-Purchasers. We’ve created a survey and found out why a customer may be standing in our store and not making a purchase. She’s either browsing [via mobile device] for price, looking where we’re sold elsewhere, or she could just be competitive shopping. We’re learning who’s returning to actually make the purchase with us — whether it’s on the web or back in the store.
Can you talk about any specific results or outcomes that ForeSee helped your organization with?
In retail it’s really important to focus on your customer experience especially during holiday. We’ve isolated that period of time utilizing the feedback that ForeSee provides to really fine tune our training. This past holiday season, we were able to increase our overall customer satisfaction by one point during the busiest time of year.
We have been with ForeSee since 2014, [and] have learned so much about our customer. Her wants, her needs, her desires, and what her experience really should be. At Vera Bradley, we use this information across all departments. Whether it’s our merchandising team, our design team, our marketing team, digital, and certainly within the stores as well. I don’t know how we would move forward with not knowing what our customers think of us and expect from us. The data we get from [ForeSee] is invaluable, and it keeps us really connected to those expectations, especially in the retail division. It is the one tool that I would never say I’d give up.