Chloë Thomas is an Author, International Speaker and Host of her own podcast, eCommerce MasterPlan Podcast. Chloë has been working in eCommerce since 2003, learning how to increase orders, up customer retention and recruit new customers cost effectively. Working with businesses from the High Street right down to start ups, eCommerce MasterPlan is the result of Chloë’s years of experience, the books, blogs and courses have all been created to help eCommerce business owners and Marketers to make the right decisions as they build their own path to eCommerce success. The eCommerce MasterPlan Podcast exists to bring a weekly dose of inspiration direct to the desk of eCommerce business people all over the globe. Power Retail Australia named Chloë as one of the 10 top eCommerce Commentators in the world and within 6 months of launch, the podcast was already the top eCommerce podcast in the UK. Chloë is also the Author of “Customer Manipulation: How to Influence your Customers to Buy More and why an Ethical Approach will Always Win.”
- Tell us a little bit about yourselves and your journey
- How do you feel about Customer Service in the UK?
- Give 2 companies that you really admire in terms of they are doing customer service and doing it well
- What are some everyday solutions you believe can help improve customer experience?
- Can you share a little more about the book, what inspired you to write it and who the book is targeted to and how can it help them?
- Do you find that companies are moving towards marrying the relationship between marketing and customer service? Or is there still a divide in terms of there is a marketing department separate from a customer service department?
- How do you stay motivated every day?
- What is the one online resource, website, tool or app you cannot live without in your business?
- What are some books that have had the biggest impact on you?
- If you where sitting across the table from another business owner and they said to you that they feel they have great products and services but they lack the consistently motivated human capital, what advice would you give them to turn their team members and turn their business around to create more success?
- In doing your research for your book Customer Manipulation, do you find that if the company has poor leadership, that it translates into a poor customer experience?
- What is one thing you are working on right now that you are really excited about – something that you are working on to develop yourself or your people?
- Where can our listeners find your information online?
- What is one quote or saying that you live by or that inspires you in times of adversity?
- Chloë grew up in the United Kingdom (UK) in a rural area called Cornwall (located right down the far South West of the UK), she stated the she was lucky to get into Oxford University and from there was lucky enough to get a job at Barclay’s Bank working in Marketing and quickly realized that smaller businesses is where she wanted to go. She left the very large bank and started to work in retail for a High Street Retailer in the UK and that sparked her love for data and marketing, and how you can improve results and optimize. Over the last 13 years she has been honing that skill until 4 years ago she launched eCommerce MasterPlan and so now 4 years and 4 books later here we are!
- Chloë stated that she thinks that the UK is okay at Customer Service but is nowhere as amazing as it is in America. She said one of her favourite things to do in America is to go to the mall and find a nice Department store and wander around until someone goes “Can I help you?” It is just amazing how they care about you. There’s more customer service ethics in America, it is more valued as a job in the Hospitality and Retail Sector but in the UK, eCommerce Sector, it has been heartening over the last 12-18 months to hear everyone from the smallest to the largest businesses talking about how important it is to listen to the customer and to deliver what the customer needs and that’s a real turning point because up until then the conferences were just full of bright, shiny, exciting new pieces of tech and clever marketing campaigns but now, everyone’s talking about the customer and that’s a real benefit. Chloë stated that there is a paradigm shift in terms of how people are being more adjusted to customer experience. It’s because the industries have come of age, they are no longer in that early adaptor stage and now moved into an early majority at which point people have got to stop trying to be bright and shiny, you’ve got to say, “We are great at what we do, this is who we are, this is why you should buy from us and why you should buy our products.” Which is more powerful and interesting and quite a relief for her as a consumer as well.
- After asking Chloë if she could share with us one or two companies that she would recommend as offering great customer service – she lightly shared that she will share some unconventional companies as possibly everyone is expecting her to share Zappos and Amazon. Chloë shared that the companies that she admires are Project Repat (https://www.projectrepat.com), an American company who turns t-shits into blankets, so they’ll take all your old college t-shirts, cut them up and sew them up into a blanket and send them back to you. They really nailed one of the most powerful ways in eCommerce of helping customers, which is to gather the email addresses as quickly as you can and then build a phenomenal welcome sequence. What they are doing is absolutely fascinating on that clear focus and their welcome emails are beautiful. They listen and respond to what the customer is worried about. The other is a UK company called Miso Tasty (https://misotasty.com/#) which sells Miso Soup which Chloë says she thinks is a brilliant business name. They spend a lot of time getting their product right and they realize they’re going to be bringing new flavor sensation to the UK, it is an Asian flavoring that they are not used to. She stated that what she loves about Miso Tasty is the way the products are structured; they reduced the risk to a customer buying, not wanting to spend £20 (which is difficult) on buying this thing to try it out. What they have created is a 2 soup pack that only costs £2 and they can do free postage and packaging. So for customers to try out their products on their website, it only costs them £2 and that’s less than the cost of a pint of beer and it’s just amazing how they thought of the customer’s journey.
- Chloë Thomas shared that often people think Customer Service and they immediately think of the Call Centre down the corridor but real Customer Service embodies the entire process and experience with your business – it is everyone’s responsibility to do true customer service and that is why she truly appreciates the 2 businesses mentioned above Project Repat ad Miso Tasty. For example – It is not about waiting for someone to pick up the phone and say, “How long do I have before getting those T-Shirts to you before I have to buy again?” – they have listened and placed it in the welcoming email so they provide that knowledge to the customer without them having to call up. Chloë says of course there is a financial benefit to the fact you will get more conversions and less people having to answer the phone but there is the whole embracing of that experience through your marketing, strategies and products which is really important.
- Chloë shared some everyday solutions that she believes can help improve Customer Experience is everything really. She shared that she thinks a couple of really simple tools would be User Testing – usertesting.com which is a fantastic site where you can go and just put up almost a job where someone from a certain segment of the population takes a look at your website and answers some questions. For example – you could put your website up there and say buy a lawnmower and then you get a video of that person trying to buy a lawnmower on your website and talking you through it and it is such a great way because sometimes we all sit around with great ideas saying, “Oh I think we should do this website, or oh I think we should do this with the website…” but to actually get some real human data on how someone who has never seen your business before is struggling with it is a great way of improving your user experience. It is great because if you have been looking at your analytics and you find people are dropping off somewhere or they are not going to that page and you can’t figure out why…..User Testingis a great fast track to solving that problem!
- Chloë Thomas then shares the other everyday solutions she would recommend for a business is Web Chat Services – that service that pops up on a website and says, “May I help you?” She shares this one in the UK is getting a lot of big players in eCommerce, they are playing around and working out how best to use it, rather than thinking of it as a customer service tool, think of it as a sales tool as well. When they notice places where people are getting stuck, they’ll activate it and say, “Can we help you?” or “What’s happening?” Usually found on product pages or elsewhere so they are creating a very tailored service for the customer and that is something which is a really easy solution, it doesn’t cost much to put in place and it’s something that even a small business can do and can make a massive difference to customer service and therefore the sales.
- Chloë shared that the reason she called the book “Customer Manipulation” is because as it all gets more competitive online and consumers are able to voice their opinions so much more easily and as marketers we want to be successful. We need to embrace the fact that every email sent is aiming to manipulate someone to buy from us, every tweet we send is aiming to manipulate someone to think better about us. If we can embrace that then we can get under the skin of the science of manipulation and the way of using manipulation but it is our choice whether we manipulate for good or for evil. If you choose to manipulate for evil then you are very quickly going get found out and it will be the end of your business. Chloë also shared the inspiration for her book and she says it had been a few years since she has done a big book and she had this model that she sometimes refers to as the “Customer Journey” or the “Customer MasterPlan” lurking around in her head and making its way onto slides, chats with clients and networking and then finally it was ready to be turned into a book. The role of the model is to help people, rather than thinking they need to do Social Media or to think they have a problem turning visitors from their website into enquirers to people who have given their email address and what is the best way of solving that problem. Can Social Media have an impact on it and which part of Social Media might it be? It’s kind of another way of the industry growing up rather than thinking oh email, oh Social Media, oh pop ups, it’s about thinking this is our current problem and the problem is turning visitors into enquirers, it’s getting people to the website, it’s getting enquirers to become first time buyers, it’s getting first time buyers to become repeat buyers and what are the ways for doing that. The book is structured into the 5 stages of getting people from those different customer relationship levels to the next one and filled with changes you can make to your website, improvements you can make to customer services, improvements you can make to marketing and also to your products where relevant to take you up and to encourage your customers to move between those customer relationship levels.
- Chloë Thomas says everything that she writes is for the small business owner, so someone with a team of less than 10 and usually for a team less than 5. It is very much for an owner/ head of marketing to help them work out where they should be deploying their resources and lots of ideas of what they can do. However, she knows bigger businesses and other persons have used the book to improve relations in heir B2B’s.
- Chloë thinks the businesses that are doing customer service well and who will do well in the future are seeing it as one group (Marketing and Customer Service), you may have different departments but they are finding ways to make sure they are working together because there are so many over laps and if you want to do customer service well, it’s got to be through everything you do in the business. Chloë shared that on her podcast a couple episodes back (Episode 55) – she had the head of Brand from Tesco, one of the five largest retailers in the world (https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/055-tescos-tamara-duschl-talks/id1005744797?i=1000371058713&mt=2) – she asked her guest just out of interest on the eCommerce side what does the eCommerce team do and what does the Marketing team do as per getting people to the website. The guest stated the eCommerce team sits in one building and they look after the website and Marketing team looks after the promotions and the traffic and they are in a different building. So Chloë shares Tesco does have a way to go as you can’t mothball the conversation – everyone needs to be integrated for a seamless Customer Experience.
- In asking Chloë how she stays motivated everyday she stated that she is just very lucky to be doing something that she loves and has spent some time over the last few years working out how to structure her days and her work load so that they suit her and having to do the things she likes and not having to do the things she doesn’t. She stated that motivation is something that comes naturally and wished she understood it as she reckons she could write that book but she can’t explain it.
- Chloë shared that the app that she use frequently is Asana (asana.com) , which is a team and task management tool for organizing. She uses it to organize herself and part-time/out-source people in her business. She further stated in her business that it is her and a lot of part time people so it does keep it all together. There is a web version and also available as an App.
- Chloë shares that 2 books that have had the biggest impact on her are: “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown which is all about prioritization and working out what you should be focused on in your business and your life. It helps you on the journey to becoming a person who knows how to prioritize as well as giving you tricks and tips along the way. The other book she loves is “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain which is all about introvertism. She stated that this book helped her to embrace who she is and to learn how to make the most out of it. Chloë shared she is an extremely introverted person and that book helped her tremendously.
- In answering our question on what’s the one piece of advice she would give a business owner who lacks the constantly motivated human capital – Chloë lightly shared she would just change the people as often times it is easier to motivate new people than old ones but that’s not very possible at times due to legislation and other things. Therefore, Chloë shared that is starts at the core, what is the vision of the business, what is the mission, and what are the values. Often times when businesses take a leap forward or an about turn from a bad pathway, it’s because they got really clear about what their vision and mission is and they have reintegrated that into the business and got that back to the heart of what they do. If you can get your people embracing that and believing that and understanding this is what they do then it becomes a lot more straight forward.
- Our trigger question for Chloë was how did she feel leadership and the lack there of translates into a poor customer experience – she shared she thinks that a business with poor leadership will struggle with delivering good customer services. She made reference to Tesco, stating the problems they have had with falling profits and sales was because the leadership got lost and they lost track of where their mission was and the vision and what they brought to the world. They quickly realized unless they go back to their roots, they are finding they are getting the success back again. That would be an example of where bad leadership led to a decline in customer experience and now they are turning it around.
- When we asked Chloë what’s the one thing she is excited about that is going on in her life right now – she stated this is her favourite time of the year when this podcast is being recorded (August) that she is not traveling for conferences for a few weeks so she is excited about analyzing lots of data, doing reports and surveys to work out what is the next thing she should do. She is weighing some options as to what her customers need her to produce next in terms of should it be an online course, should it be a Master Mind group, should it be a Membership Site or maybe even another book. She’s super excited about all that probably for launch in January 2017.
- Chloë says listeners can find her on her website eCommerce MasterPlan Website , she also shared the best way to get in touch with her is through Linked In and Twitter (@chloe_ecmp).
- Chloë Thomas shared that the quote that she always uses to keep her focused during times of adversity and challenges is “Keep Optimizing” (a quote she came up with) which reminds her that if something hasn’t worked, then that’s okay because we’re just going to optimize it, we’re going to learn and move forward, or if she is trying to make something too perfect before putting it live, she’ll remember this quote.
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- eCommerce MasterPlan Website
- “Customer Manipulation: How to Influence your Customers to Buy More and why an Ethical Approach will Always Win” by Chloe Thomas
- User Testing
- Project Repat
- Miso Tasty
- “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown
- “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain
- Chloe Thomas Twitter
- eCommerce MasterPlan Twitter
- eCommerce MasterPlan Facebook
- Chloe Thomas LinkedIn
- eCommerce MasterPlan LinkedIn