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12 DTC Brands Share Why Customer Experience is The Future of Marketing in 2021 and Beyond

12 DTC Brands Share Why Customer Experience is The Future of Marketing in 2021 and Beyond
Table of Contents

Customer experience and customer retention. The two areas that direct-to-customer (DTC) brands in the eCommerce space will need to double down and focus on this 2021. You'll also discover how they both go hand-in-hand from key insights we compiled directly from these 12 DTC brands.

Last year's eCommerce quickening pretty much added fuel to the fire— online spending is at an all-time high. But so is online competition and customer acquisition costs.

Shopify Plus just released their annual report that spells out what this means for everyone in the eCommerce space. These are the 5 trends they predicted to be the future of eCommerce in 2021:

  1. eCommerce boom fuels record online competition
  2. New consumer behaviors are reshaping future retail 👀
  3. Fulfillment emerges as competitive differentiator
  4. Brand building challenged by marketplace dominance
  5. Retention becomes top priority as acquisition costs spike

With all these 5 great insights at our fingertips, we asked 12 key players from DTC brands to share why customer experience is the future of marketing for this year and beyond. We asked:

  • What are the top 3 ways you're building better customer experiences?
  • What's the biggest mistake brands do when it comes to building their customer experience?
  • How do you find out what your customers really need and want? From where do you get their insights and feedback?
  • What's the biggest lesson you learned about your business from direct customer feedback?

Let's jump right into it, actionable golden nuggets are included.

Aaron Spivak, Co-founder @ Hush

What are the biggest mistakes brands make when building their customer experience?

Tracking the wrong KPI's and trust the wrong data sources when making decisions.

What's the biggest lesson you learned about your business from direct customer feedback?

We have a bigger impact on our customers lives than we think!

How do you find out what your customers really need and want? From where do you get their insights and feedback?

We survey them like crazy to pull insights.

What are the top 3 ways you're building better customer experiences?

  1. Prioritizing the customer journey.
  2. Providing best in class support (phone and chat)
  3. Creating contextual value for the customer 1:1

Sam Mendelsohn, Founder @ Sozy

What are the top 3 ways you're building better customer experiences?

Currently improving our packaging to be sustainable, improving our blog site design, lastly working on setting up processes to recruit more influencers and models that are of color or diverse backgrounds and body types.

What are the biggest mistakes brands make when building their customer experience?

Looking too much at analytics and conversion rate optimization (CRO) techniques, rather than using their brain and just placing an order on their own site and seeing what sucks and what is awesome.

How do you find out what your customers really need and want? From where do you get their insights and feedback?

The founder of our brands responds to all social media comments and messages.

It gives us direct insight into the customers, who they are and their needs and wants from the brand.

What's the biggest lesson you learned about your business from direct customer feedback?

They care about environmentalism, diversity in models, fair wages in manufacturing

Paul Davis, Founder & Head of the Board @ Mosi Tea

What are the biggest mistakes brands make when building their customer experience?

They don't set up a foundation to track and understand where parts of the customer experience is broken.

Everything needs to be tagged and tracked... every conversation.

From there you can understand the time and cost around certain issues so you can focus on them and fix them.

What are the top 3 ways you're building better customer experiences?

Comes down to quantitative and qualitative customer data

  1. Understanding "what's happening" and where the customer experience breaks down (do this with customer support operations platform).
  2. Feedback loops and deep understanding/research with customers to know what they like and don't like (review software, testimonials, etc.)
  3. Segment customers based on purchasing behavior to give personalized content and marketing (no batch and blast)

How do you find out what your customers really need and want? From where do you get their insights and feedback?

Customer support data is one of the best ways to understand this... so you have to have a good help desk product, reviews, and various feedback loops.

But there has to be a source of truth, so a product like Boostopia is great for understanding and tracking support operations.

"Customer experience" can't be just a buzzword or something you want to improve... it has to be a business strategy that everyone is on board with and empowered to improve.

What's the biggest lesson you learned about your business from direct customer feedback?

Where our customer experience/journey is broken :)

Devon Sevy, Head Popper & CEO @ Sizzlepopcorn

What are the biggest mistakes brands make when building their customer experience?

The biggest mistake is treating customers only as customers and not building long lasting relationships or community around their brands.

Your brand or idea can be copied or mimicked but your community cannot be duplicated.

Community and people first then a great product. Don’t aim for perfection aim to be there for your people and they’ll be there for you.

What are the top 3 ways you're building better customer experiences?

Being a COMMUNITY-based DTC (brand) these are the top 3:

  1. Community server where members can congregate and engage with each other. Platforms such as Discord are perfect for this.
  2. Access to team members and company directly on Twitter and Discord. Open DM’s responding to tweets and all mentions. Offering more than popcorn, offering a place to be.
  3. Chat feature on-site and quick response ticket customer service through ticketing platforms.

How do you find out what your customers really need and want? From where do you get their insights and feedback?

Partnering with content creators and influencers really allow you to speak directly to your customer base and get real feedback.

Either from the content creators themselves or directly from their communities that they have a direct pulse on.

It’s a fast track to finding your product-market fit. Get on calls and exchange DM’s with your brand ambassadors, content creators, and influencers.

What's the biggest lesson you learned about your business from direct customer feedback?

The biggest lesson is that people want to be spoken to, heard, and recognized. Quick shipping is a must for repeat business along with open communication, encouraging product reviews, and staying true to your word.

Building trust within your respective community is priority number 1.

Word spreads fast, what you do will make or break your brand. Basically, you have one chance to make an impression and maintain your reputation.

Devon's got a point here. A conversational approach can take you places this 2021.

Read the latest case study of how an Australian skincare brand used mobile messaging to provide real-time product recommendations and drove 30x ROI.

Kristen Jones, Director of Marketing @ The Groomsman Suit

What are the biggest mistakes brands make when building their customer experience?

Not taking the time to truly understand what a customer's needs & FAQs are.

When you truly understand these needs + questions, you can center your landing pages, paid advertisements, and content around the customer. By doing this, you are able to help remove any barriers or reservations they may have about purchasing.

How do you find out what your customers really need and want? From where do you get their insights and feedback?

You can find a lot of questions in the comments of your advertisements. A lot of time on paid advertisements, our customers will ask questions about colors, sizing, and our exchange policy.

I've used this to help update our pre-purchase automation with FAQs and we now offer the option to reply with any outstanding questions they might have when abandoning carts, in addition to asking for feedback in our post-purchase follows up!

We also collect reviews on Facebook, Google, and on-site. This can help affirm that we're doing the right thing OR bring something we may doing wrong to our attention.

What are the top 3 ways you're building better customer experiences?

  1. We do our best to make our support easily accessible in a customer's moment of need. Some examples of this: Using Gorgias as a way to quickly respond to support tickets (whether they're via SMS, Email, Instagram DM, or FB Comments).

    We have a line in our Abandoned Cart automation that lets them know they can reply and a real person will answer, and we have a phone line they can dial at any time during the day.

    Being available to answer questions as needed is crucial to capture a customer while they're in a decision-making mindset!
  2. We brought the in-person showroom experience, digital! Our customers can quickly find their size using our virtual fit-finder or set up a virtual appointment with a stylist to plan their look.
  3. In addition to the last point, we have the option for a 7-day free home trial + free swatches. This allows our customers to order their suits to try on before fully committing.

This helps them to gain confidence in our suiting options while getting to confirm they've chosen the right size + color.

If they don't we offer free exchanges + return. If it's perfect, they just keep the trial and incur the charge!

What's the biggest lesson you learned about your business from direct customer feedback?

Our customers love our support. Being readily available to answer questions or provide support while couples are making a big decision for their wedding day, has proved to be a main driver of revenue for our business. Not sure where we would be without or customer support gurus!

The Groomsmen Suit successfully streamlines and automates their customer support tickets to be there for their customers during the crucial turning point before a purchase. And they use Gorgias to give them the competitive edge.

Have you seen the latest sleek integration between Cartloop x Gorgias? Check out what this can mean for you and your team here in this product update.

Shadi Ghanim, CEO @ Fashionsta

What are the top 3 ways you're building better customer experiences?

We’ve created a model to reach our goal of providing members with the best customer experience by connecting them with brands, listening to their concerns, and quickly resolving issues.

Plus creating an omnichannel feedback loop through CS, Social Media, and direct contact through Facebook groups (community).

How do you find out what your customers really need and want? From where do you get their insights and feedback?

Our main source of feedback is from our interaction with our subscribers on our social media platforms and interactive Facebook group.

What's the biggest lesson you learned about your business from direct customer feedback?

That you truly cannot please everyone, and that you have to stay positive and hope that the majority of the collective is pleased. Often times a product you think everyone will love, turns out is not a favorite, and vice versa.

Natalie Lennick, Founder @ Green Ablutions

What are the top 3 ways you're building better customer experiences?

Green Ablutions delivers an outstanding customer experience through our innovative products, environmental impact and purchasing experience.

Green Ablutions was founded on a promise to make our world a better place. Sustainability is the foundation of our business. Every vegan, cruelty- free and plastic-free bar replaces up-to 3 plastic bottles.

All packaging is made from recycled paper that can either be re-recycled or home composted, ensuring nothing ends up in landfills or polluting our environment. Products are delivered using renewable and carbon neutral methods.

Best of all, 10% of all sales benefit sea turtles endangered by ocean plastic pollution. In less than 3 clicks, conscious customers can look great and feel great about their purchase.

What are the biggest mistakes brands make when building their customer experience?

Don’t make it hard for your customers to learn about your product or buy it. Product ingredients and use/care instructions should be clearly identified on your website.

While subscriptions are convenient for repeat customers, they can be a hurdle new ones who want to try before making a commitment.

Ensure your website is designed for both desktop and mobile experiences as more users are shopping from iPads and phones than ever before.

How do you find out what your customers really need and want? From where do you get their insights and feedback?

When I was first starting out, I would take my products to local outdoor markets and craft fairs. The best way to get customer feedback is by speaking directly with your customers face to face.

This allowed me to fine-tune our brand message and packaging before reaching out to a broader audience. Instagram polls are a fun way to learn consumer preferences and engagement is high due to convenience.

Lewis Fausett, COO @ Patrick Adair Designs

What are the biggest mistakes brands make when building their customer experience?

The biggest issue is communication. We sell made-to-order jewelry. As you can imagine, as you scale a business in this industry your lead time can get changed drastically (someone quits, you sell 300% of the rings you thought, etc.).

We have best in industry return rates and customer satisfaction rates because we always go out of our way to communicate with our customers and ensure they feel taken care of.

The easiest way is to just communicate and listen. Most brands try to get too fancy and forget to do this.

What are the top 3 ways you're building better customer experiences?

  1. We spend a lot of time making sure that our customer's have access to world class support. This occurs through a 24/7 live chat and email support. This helps customers feel like their valued and that they always have the help they need.
  2. We allow customers complete customization. The hard thing with jewelry is that people often want their pieces to be unique.

If you go to a jeweler this can cost you thousands of dollars even for a simple piece, with our streamlined process we can let people get custom products for a fraction of the price in just a few weeks time.

  1. We have videos detailing the design process for our entire product line. This means that customers can see in-depth overviews of the design and creation process.

This is the best way for them to really see all the details of their piece of jewelry and shows them the true love and care that goes into it.

How do you find out what your customers really need and want? From where do you get their insights and feedback?

We use surveying as well as direct responses from them through our customer support processes.

Surveys are almost always designed using google forms and emailed to customers. I know that this seems simple, but we often have found that the easiest way to get things like this done efficiently is to keep it as simple as possible.

What's the biggest lesson you learned about your business from direct customer feedback?

The biggest lesson is that when building a luxury brand you often get customers interested who aren't in buying your products, but they love to browse for your products.

The majority of people we have contact with as a brand will never purchase, but they'll follow all of our product releases.

This often is a result of them not being able to afford our flagship products. This was an amazing insight to find that the majority of people talking to us aren't actually able to afford our products and has greatly changed our business strategy.

Ashwinn Krishnaswamy, Co-Founder @ Oklahoma Smokes

What are the top 3 ways you're building better customer experiences?

Direct interaction with our customers through Tiktok and IG. Specifically ask them to comment on videos with product feedback, respond to surveys/quizzes, and showcasing their feedback and our improvement.

SMS marketing. Taking a very personalized, casual, and empathy-driven approach!

What are the biggest mistakes brands make when building their customer experience?

Treating them like robots. Not interacting 1-to-1 because they don't think it "scales." Need to treat it like a relationship, and give more than you ask for.

How do you find out what your customers really need and want? From where do you get their insights and feedback?

By asking them! Build real and genuine relationships with them through social channels.

What's the biggest lesson you learned about your business from direct customer feedback?

That we have 3 customer segments (tobacco cessation, weed cessation, and anxiety relief) when the thought only the 1st (tobacco cessation) would be our audience. Also to resolve problems quickly, effectively, and giving customer benefit of the situation.

Tom Worcester, CEO @ Lunchbox

What are the top 3 ways you're building better customer experiences?

We run a community-centric organization, which means our marketing stack works a bit differently than traditional paid DTC.

We invest heavily in our loyalty program, which rewards our customers with free concert tickets for sharing our products with people in the events space.

Our content and community teams are focused on generating content specifically for members of our community, the lunchbox fam, which drives organic referral rate.

We act more like a media company to our core base than a DTC company, and have infrastructure in place to really dive deep into 1:1 relationships at scale.

What are the biggest mistakes brands make when building their customer experience?

A major mistake we see people make is being overly transactional. These are your CUSTOMERS, and they've placed a degree of trust in your products & brand by purchasing. Reward them! Educate them!

Ensure that their voices are heard, and give them the opportunity to co-create with you, whether that's your next product line or your next campaign idea.

How do you find out what your customers really need and want? From where do you get their insights and feedback?

We regularly interview our customers through our Facebook group and incentivize them with free product & limited-access rewards for participating.

They're able to engage further with the brand, share their experiences with our products, and as a result, feel connected to whatever we launch yet. A team motto we have is "User interviews solve everything" because they quite simply do!

What's the biggest lesson you learned about your business from direct customer feedback?

What you think is right is only an idea. When you ask your customers what they think and bring a data-driven approach to whatever comes next, you transform your 'idea' of what right is directly into reality.

Amanda Goetz, Founder @ House of Wise

What are the top 3 ways you're building better customer experiences?

Relationship building and community are at the heart of the House of Wise brand.

We’re focused on fostering two-way conversations with our customers, capturing customer feedback so we can effectively and efficiently review our wins and our greatest opportunities for growth.

Ensuring our community of users is helping drive our tech stack priorities so they can have the best experience when browsing our site and products.

As we build our incredible community of Wise Women, we want each user to know their feedback is valued and taken seriously.

This encourages them to keep sharing with us what they love and where we can improve, ultimately creating a best-in-class experience for them, and a better brand for us--it’s a win-win.

How do you find out what your customers really need and want? From where do you get their insights and feedback?

Customer insight is hugely important, especially as a new DTC brand who is continuing to grow and improve every day.

Our team is actively listening to customer feedback across social, as well as seeking feedback from our users through proactive customer surveys, DMs and through our private Slack channel for our #WiseWomen.

What's the biggest lesson you learned about your business from direct customer feedback?

If you ask your customers for feedback, listen and make action plans around their pain points. Customers who provide feedback are doing brands a service, so make sure you’re listening and creating actionable insights from what they have to share.

Chris Meade, Co-founder @ Crossnet Game

What are the top 3 ways you're building better customer experiences?

A beautiful email sequence that helps educate and motivate customers. A dedicated FB group just for purchasers to engage and interact. Tournaments & Events in the local communities.

How do you find out what your customers really need and want? From where do you get their insights and feedback?

Interact! There is nothing better than picking up the phone and calling your customers directly. Especially in the early days.

Learn where they found it, how they like it, what would they improve, what questions they have. Even at scale, jump on the customer support email. See what questions and inquiries are coming through.

Summary of a Bulletproof Customer Experience in 2021

"Customer experience" can't be just a buzzword or something you want to improve... it has to be a business strategy that everyone is on board with and empowered to improve.

—Paul Davis, Founder & Head of the Board @ Mosi Tea

So, are you ready to jump on board and carve out a solid business strategy for your business?

From these amazing insights from 12 DTC brands, here are 5 key takeaways of what a bulletproof customer experience looks like in 2021:

  1. Take a human approach: They'll love to feel as if they're speaking to a real person behind the brand
  2. Be customer-obsessed: Provide great and instant support, always be accessible during their moment of need
  3. Talk frequently and directly with your customers: Reward them frequently, educate and provide value to them
  4. Go omnichannel: meet them at each crucial touchpoints of their customer's journey
  5. Personalize your messaging: balance the quantitative and qualitative data from your customers

Congrats, you made it to the end! The power lies in your consumers now more than ever. Here's our favorite quote from this round-up that sums up exactly how you can serve up the best customer experience in 2021 and beyond.

Being available to answer questions as needed is crucial to capture a customer while they're in a decision-making mindset!

— Kristen Jones, Director of Marketing @ The Groomsmen Suit

From what we've learned, humanizing the key touchpoints in your customer journey can build better relationships with your customers and drive more revenue this year for your business.

Did you know that Cartloop Live Experts are fun to talk to? And yes, they're a team of people who will be there for your customers 24/7. They keep the conversations alive with your shoppers by providing instant support and answering all the nitty-gritty details  — product information, technical assistance, and personalized product recommendations.

Start having 1:1 conversations in real-time with your customers today with Cartloop. Book a demo with us or try it out for your Shopify Store— the first 14-days are on us!

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Yong Jun-Li

Jun-Li is a content person at Cartloop. When she's not writing a blog article, you can find her collecting a new hobby or doing yoga.

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