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Uncommon Goods Scales Up for the Holiday Season with a 47% Self-Serve Rate

About

Cool, Unique, & Unusual Gifts

Uncommon Goods hand picks creative, original gifts and experiences that go beyond the ordinary–with a positive impact on both people and the planet. As a certified B Corporation, the company holds itself to a high standard of social responsibility. Uncommon Goods offers a starting wage that’s 100% above the federal minimum, sells products that are fur/feather/leather-free, usually prints its catalog on recycled, FSC-certified paper, and donates nearly $3 million (so far) to its partner non-profits. 

Not only is Uncommon Goods focused on helping the planet, they’re also focused on helping their customers. The company strives to provide personalized customer experiences at each touchpoint. By providing white glove customer support to each of their customers, regardless of the issue, Uncommon Goods builds customer loyalty.

As is the case with many e-commerce businesses, the holiday season is incredibly busy for Uncommon Goods. Each year, the support team scales from 17 agents to 300 agents. For Thomas Mascaro, Customer Service Manager, good customer service is an essential part of creating happy customers and happy employees. 

Customer service is on the front lines of hearing what matters most to our customers, so we take the information we hear from them and share it with our other teams. This way we all understand what’s important to the people shopping with us… where we’re succeeding and where we can improve.

– Thomas Mascaro, Customer Service Manager
Challenges

Scaling Up for the Holiday Season

Every holiday season, email and chat volumes grow exponentially for Uncommon Goods. On a typical morning during the holiday season, the support team used to wake up to about 300 emails in their inbox. 

With a year-round team of 17 agents and a seasonal team of 300 agents, ensuring everyone ramped up on company programs, products, and processes was challenging. With a remote and distributed workforce, it was difficult for newer agents to understand where to find the right answers to resolve customer questions. 

Even with the help of 300 seasonal support agents, they couldn’t respond to all inquiries in a timely manner. With a commitment to provide quick responses to customers, Uncommon Goods has a service-level agreement (SLA) to respond to all customer inquiries within 4 hours or less. Depending on the complexity of the inquiry, agents could be busy with responding to just a handful of emails each day. It was clear that agents were simply being spread too thin. 

So, Uncommon Goods turned to Forethought to help scale their support organization to prepare for the holiday season.

Solution

Personalized, White Glove Experiences

Today, Uncommon Goods uses Solve to help their customers resolve simple questions instantly and Assist to empower their agents with relevant knowledge the second they open a case.

Self-Service for Fast Resolution

With Solve, Uncommon Goods allows their customers to self-serve. Solve resolves inquiries at scale by instantly interpreting the exact need of their customers, and using previously resolved tickets, their knowledge base and other data sources to deliver the most accurate response. 

With Workflow Builder, Uncommon Goods builds automated workflows based on their customers’ intent. It also helps their support engine stay up to date and scale faster by recommending workflows to build based on common questions and issues. Some of the intents for Uncommon Goods include shipping information, order tracking, and more. 

Workflow Builder has been helpful for us. It made the set-up process much easier. The intents the Forethought team suggested that we use have performed very well.

– Thomas Mascaro, Customer Service Manager

Improving Agents’ Productivity & Response Times

With Assist, Uncommon Goods surfaces relevant knowledge articles, macros, past tickets, and notes directly within their agent’s helpdesk and into non-helpdesk forms like email. Instead of searching through multiple systems, agents easily found answers to their customers’ inquiries by searching the knowledge base and website right within Zendesk.

When a customer submits a ticket, Assist provides their agent with a relevant help center article to attach to the case. It also applies macros–templatized responses that live in helpdesks–with placeholder texts to the agent. Agents will then personalize the message as they see fit before sending to the customer.

It was very apparent in our reporting that Assist improves agents’ productivity and response times. We’ve come to rely on Assist as a way of giving our agents answers to customer issues.

– Thomas Mascaro, Customer Service Manager

With hundreds of new agents being onboarded each season, Assist helps them ramp up by equipping them with relevant, easily accessible information.

Results

Automating to Scale Support

With Forethought, Uncommon Goods scales their support processes. Uncommon Goods provides self-service options to their customers while maintaining the personalized support experience its brand is known for. 

We hit our self-service goals last year and we were blown away by just how much deflection was actually happening. There are so many customers who have been able to get a quick and accurate resolution to their issue without ever having to speak with an agent.

– Thomas Mascaro, Customer Service Manager

Uncommon Goods achieves a 49% deflection rate via email and a 46% deflection rate via chat. With a 47% self-serve rate, 2,100 resolutions per month, and $18K in savings per month, Uncommon Goods has been able to scale its support organization.

  • 49% deflection via email
  • 46% deflection via chat
  • 47% self-serve rate
  • $18K in savings per month
  • 2,100 resolutions per month
Future

Looking Ahead

Looking forward, Uncommon Goods plans to continue scaling for the holiday season. This means continuing to shrink its hiring over the next few holiday seasons and focusing on growth through support AI capabilities.

Uncommon Goods plans to adopt more AI capabilities and keep refining current capabilities like response times, website information and FAQs. When it comes to working with Forethought, Uncommon Goods appreciates the continued partnership.

I really love that we’ve had such a strong partnership over the past two years. We’ve provided customers with the same level of service they’ve had all along, but now with AI instead of additional headcount.

– Thomas Mascaro, Customer Service Manager

Think outside the bot.™

Everyone hates traditional chatbots.

See a demo of Forethought today and learn how Intelligent Support Automation is driving efficiency and ROI for top support teams.

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