Sageflo’s 3×3 Podcast: Episode 2

Mary Judkins of Lands’ End

In episode 2 of our 3×3 Podcast, Julian sits down with Mary Judkins from Lands’ End to talk about the challenges and successes of ensuring legendary customer service during a global pandemic. 

Podcast Excerpts

Julian Scott: What were some of the challenges of moving a customer care team to a work from home model once the pandemic hit and how did you resolve those? 

Mary Judkins: We were fortunate in that we already had the majority of our staff working from home, and our challenge became how do we acclimate those that were still in the office to a home environment as agents. And then in 2020 as we geared up for peak, how do we recruit remotely and then how do we train remotely?  

We really had an awesome learning and development team that pivoted on a dime and redesigned curriculum, redesigned syllabuses and learning, and brought on new tools and did all of the learning and development at home. We had some great collaboration and partnership with different departments, like our IT and Employee Services departments. 

The advantage we found is it really opened up our talent pool, so we were able to recruit across regions of the country and really continue to have some exciting new folks join us who are very excited about the brand but didn’t live close enough to be able to be a part of the brand. There were challenges and those challenges brought with them opportunity, as well. 

Julian Scott: Lands’ End is known for its amazing quality products and its legendary customer care, if you don’t mind sharing, what are the top three things that allow you to provide that best in-class customer experience? 

Mary Judkins: I’ll always say we continue to be rooted in our heritage, which comes from our founder, Gary Comer. And what he would say and is really a cornerstone of our service practices is: take care of the customer and everything else takes care of itself. Whenever we look at the top three things that are important to us, we always ground ourselves as a customer care division in his philosophy.  

What we’re really looking at is access to information. Today we are a digitally driven company in a digitally driven world, and we need to make sure that our customers can get serviced the way they want to be serviced, and that frequently means that the information is available to them upon a lookup. We need to make sure we have platforms and information available to our agents to give them deeper knowledge.  

I would say second is agent autonomy. We absolutely do not script our agents, rather we give them guided questions, so that they can understand what the customer’s really asking for. And what that does is it helps us get to the root of what they want and allows for a natural conversation, instead of a stilted conversation, whether it’s on a chat or when it’s in old-fashioned voice technology.  

And then strategy. We are always looking at our strategy as an eye to what is possible on the horizon, because we all know we need that infrastructure to support the new things that will allow our customers to have effortless and easy experiences. We don’t want to get the favorite candy of the day, but let’s get the flavor that’s going to really help us be able to sustain that legendary customer service. 

Julian Scott: With so many agents across the globe, how does Lands’ End ensure a customer experience? You just mentioned that you don’t give scripts and you give a lot of leeway to the agent to solve the problems, but what is that uniform magic that Lands’ End sparkles on everything to make sure? 

Mary Judkins: In order for the customers to have a great experience, the employees have to have a great experience. Across the organization there’s collaboration, there’s partnership. And all of that collaboration then doesn’t just stop at a level; we make sure that all of our people are very familiar and immersed in that. That does take time and onboarding to assure immersion in the culture of customer service and staying true to the cornerstone of our brand.  

We have ongoing learning. We have tools for everyone to access knowledge and that’s shared globally both on the consumer side of the business and the business-to-business side of the business. It is the partnerships and collaboration to make sure that happens. And I will put a little plug in for Sageflo. One of the things we have been excited about this past year is Archiver and our ability to be able to know exactly what a customer is referring to when they say, “I want that red shirt that was in my email three days ago and I can’t find it.” Having access  in Archiver to promotional and transactional emails has also helped us across the organization be able to service that customer. 

I think the other thing is we are a culture, we are a company of inclusion. When you are and you live that culture of inclusion, you know that partnerships make a difference. And that diversity, whether it comes from the diversity of the person themselves or the diversity of the area that they are supporting, the willingness to understand each other really does make the difference and helps us serve up great service. 

View the podcast episode here to listen to the entire discussion about the challenges and successes of ensuring best-in-class customer service during a global pandemic. 

Posted by Aaron Smith

CEO at Sageflo