The Ultimate Customer Experience — in conversation with Julie Roehm

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Customer experience is at the forefront of every business in today’s world. Today I am in conversation with the expert of experience — Julie Roehm, Chief Experience Officer at Party City. I am eager to learn more about her thoughts on the customer journey and what changes she has brought about at Party City.

Julie, in an article by Mckinsey and Company, the author stated “A primary barometer of customer experience will be how businesses meet customer needs with empathy, care, and concern. Now is the time for customer experience leaders to position themselves at the forefront of long-term shifts in consumer behavior that result from this.” As Chief Experience Officer, how are you planning to ensure empathy, care, and concern to the customers at Party City?

“First of all, I think this is a super interesting quote. Customer experience teams need to be the voice of the customer — their biggest advocates. We are all here to serve the customer, however, we often focus entirely on a specific business metric like the cost of goods, pricing, sales, etc. So much so, that it becomes easy to lose sight of the customer, without even realizing it.

“Empathy for the customer experience needs to be experienced by employees themselves. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the awareness and impact of empathy to a new level, and especially so at Party City. I think the vast majority of our 12,000+ employees shop at Party City with some frequency. And truth be told, many of them are aware of the fact that we do not always provide the best service. Yet, employees may feel as though they can’t make a difference because they don’t know who to tell or that if they do, nobody will listen. Others have become complacent and simply accepted this experience as the status quo.

“To help rectify this problem, we have established a private Party City Facebook page for employees. This gives our front-line team members a platform to voice their opinions, post pictures of the good and bad, and exchange ideas amongst themselves, not just to and from “corporate”. Empathy is inclusive of the customer and the employee. If the employees’ experience is subpar, our customers’ will be too.

“When COVID-19 was at its peak and our stores were closed, we brought dozens of our regional team members online to answer phone calls in our call center. The experience was eye-opening! Listening to and helping customers with online orders, shipments, returns, refunds, etc. provided another customer perspective to our employees. These people usually work in the store or with store personnel, and they now gained a whole new sense of appreciation and empathy for the customer. Better yet, it brought about change! We are now looking to include call-center phone work as part of our regular training, to ensure that all employees are in tune with the customer experience.

“Our mindset is “it can be done”, “customer first” and “people matter”. When these three ideals are your guiding light, a relentless improvement on a quest to deliver the ultimate customer experience becomes a way of life.”

Great Julie, thanks a lot for sharing, we’ll speak again soon.

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