Pet Friends - Customer Experience as a Growth Engine Using Channel.io
The Pet Friends Experience
You enter Pet Friends’ website and get greeted with a pop-up message. Normally, you’d find pop-ups annoying as they tend to be irrelevant to you, but this one catches your attention. They notify you about a ‘first-time buyer’ promotion, and that select items are on sale for only 10 cents. You can’t help but wonder ‘What’s the catch?’ It’s late, and you’re not even sure if you’ll even get a response. You click the chat widget half-expecting to be greeted by a generic chatbot, but to your surprise, an agent responds right away and they reassure you that there is no catch. Feeling reassured that the pop-up wasn’t just another click-bait, you click the ad. As promised, it takes you to a list of sale items for 10 cents. You select one your dog will like, and place it in the cart. But you don’t stop there. You’ve unknowingly browsed their entire catalogue of sale items and now you’re thinking to yourself, “Why not?” and add a few more items before checking out. Your order is delivered the next day, perfectly packaged. You receive messages thanking you for shopping, along with more discount offers.
You realize at this point, that your shopping experience was perfect.
A Customer Centered Approach
First launched back in 2016 as an O2O company, Pet Friends began its journey servicing animal hospitals, spas, hotels, and pet cafes. After realizing that a majority of the customer needs were concentrated around product delivery, Pet Friends made the decision to shift their business to pet product sales, and developed the ecommerce site they have today. After launching the site, the company made the decision to take a ‘customer centered approach’ for company growth, which interestingly, reflected many of the core values of Channel.io.
Pet Friends Korean Homepage
It's not unusual to see businesses today talk about ‘Key Progress Indicators’ to keep track of their performance, and understandably, growth-hungry startups tend to measure KPIs that are more heavily dependent on the actions of their customers. Pet Friends however, took a different approach and decided to track progress by measuring their own response times and their ability to develop stronger bonds, the latter being something very difficult to measure. It was clear that the company placed great importance on their CS quality.
Pet Friends Operations Manager Hee Rak Park
Operations Manager at Pet Friends, Hee Rak Park stated, “I check Channel.io’s statistics, and always try to keep the first response time under 3 minutes. For all other conversations, we really don’t mind how long the conversation takes. In fact, we encourage deeper conversations. If you can get close enough to the customer to call each other nicknames, joke around and be informal, customers really remember you and ask for you by name.”
The Importance of Customer Experience
The current pet market is saturated. The same product can be found on multiple open market platforms, so there is very little that pet vendors can do about their prices. Because of this, many vendors find themselves frantically looking for ways to stand out from others. Some companies try to have more product variety, while others focus on improving the quality of goods. In contrast, Pet Friends chose to stand out with their customer service.
“We wanted to differentiate ourselves by focusing on overall customer experience. Currently, we have over 100 pet friends employees working tirelessly to grow our company, and although we currently have heavy lifters in the marketing and MD departments, most of our growth in the early stages has to be credited to our Customer Management team. If you survey customers on the reason why they use our services, one of the top 3 reasons will always include, ‘because they love our customer service.’ It was Channel.io that allowed us to achieve the level of service we have today, and the reason we have such strong relationships with our customers.”
This emphasis on customer experience can even be felt in their marketing campaigns as they’ve been designed to truly personalize the experience for their customers. The ads that are shown were designed to differentiate between first-time buyers, returning customers, and VIPs, with promotions relevant to each group of visitors. The ads not only urge customers to take advantage of sales and discounts, but it also creates opportunities for customers to see Pet Friends’ catalogue of products that may be relevant to them.
“Channel.io is the reason we have strong relationships with our customers.”
Pet Friends HQ & the staff hard at work
The Growth Engine of Pet Friends
Building and maintaining strong relationships with customers is definitely not an easy task. Park stated that by including Channel.io as part of their service, they were able to show customers how much Pet Friends actually cared about their needs.
“We decided to use Channel.io, because we wanted customers to be able to rely on us to always be there with the right answers. By knowing what products the customer was looking at, and what conversation we had the last time we talked, we are able to personalize the experience for them. When a returning customer realizes that we recognize them, it goes a long way to building credibility and trust.”
Marketing Recipe available on Channel.io.
Park also pointed out that chatting allowed a single manager to handle several customers at the same time. Phone lines and email ticketing can get busy, and slow down the customer handling process, but with chat, they were able to minimize headcount and still manage the inflow of customers without draining resources. They were also able to use Channel.io’s unique, multiple-choice chatbot feature to help customers navigate and find the answers they’re looking for, and minimize the number of inquiries.
“The support bot honestly handles about 50% of simple inquiries and has been sufficient to answer many of our customers’ questions, while our customer management team handles the other 300-400 inquiries a day.”
“The support bot handles about 50%."
Listening to the Customers
Pet Friends added that on top of providing great service, it was really important to listen to customer feedback. But a lot of the times, customer feedback can end up being meaningless without it being backed by proper data. Park mentioned that Channel.io’s CRM system allowed them to pull data instantly without having to go through the development team, share the data with the team, and resolve problems that arise quickly and efficiently. All of this translated to reliability for customers. They could trust that they were being heard.
“If we didn’t build this sort of trust and reliability, it would have been impossible for us to achieve our 83% repurchase rate. Channel.io is the perfect fit for an operating team that wants to build a customer-centric and customer-friendly business.”
Original interview by Mia