The Need for Speed: Quick Responses Lead to Improved Customer Satisfaction at Priority Bicycles
I grew up working in a bike shop. Apart from learning the mechanics of how bicycles work, I learned that success means providing empathetic, high-touch service. After more than a decade in the software industry, creating and selling intangible goods, I wanted to return to my roots: creating products from high-quality materials and providing ultra-human customer service.
Working in software often involves delivering large-scale projects that require a lot of time and money to complete—and there’s a decent chance people aren’t fully happy at the end. I wanted to make something tangible that would make people really happy, every day. So, I quit my job in 2014 and founded Priority Bicycles.
I launched my brand as a Kickstarter project that summer. Within weeks, Priority Bicycles had a massive nationwide following. I surpassed my initial funding goal of $30,000 and raised $565,000 in just 30 days. It was an amazing start for our brand. However, it was also a wake-up call for our existing infrastructure.
My entrepreneurial dream had become a bona fide company almost overnight, which meant we needed to scale our systems fast to connect with customers and deliver the products we promised. People began contacting us with questions, and we had to find a way to address their inquiries quickly while standing out in a saturated industry.
Omnichannel Support for Omnichannel Service
We initially relied on a simple customer support system to manage customer communications. The platform handled our emails well, but that was all it did. We needed more for a few reasons:
- Priority Bicycles offers customer support 365 days a year, and connecting with people fast is a core value for our brand. If somebody has a problem with their bike, we want to respond to them as soon as possible so they know how much we prioritize their satisfaction.
- We have always been an online company with a focus on omnichannel communications. We needed an omnichannel solution to meet our customers on whatever platform they prefer, whether email, social media, or SMS.
- I also knew our brand would continue to grow, so we needed something that could scale easily. I’m a big believer in acquiring easy-to-learn tools to serve our purposes tomorrow, not just today. It made sense to adopt a system we could grow into, not out of.
My team weighed the alternatives, but nothing impressed us as much as Kustomer. The company was fairly young then, but they had something special. Their combination of technology, an experienced leadership team, and integrations that consolidated data into a single platform was unique. I knew we were looking at the right solution for our company.
Multichannel Use Cases for an Online-Only Brand
We onboarded the platform in less than a month and immediately started to see improvements in customer experience.
The first thing I loved about Kustomer was the ability to create a robust, scalable multichannel communications network. Not only did Kustomer seamlessly manage our email conversations with customers, but it also allowed us to connect with even more customers through various channels.
A great example is our use of WhatsApp. Most of our customers don’t initially connect with us through the app, but it’s a great way to share audio and video files. If a customer calls and says, “My bike is making a funny sound,” it could be any number of things. But we can diagnose the issue much faster when they can use WhatsApp to send us a several minute video clip capturing that sound and the surrounding experience.
Kustomer’s integrations allow our team to pull up customer information on whatever platform they choose. Our teams can tap into this 360-degree view of the customer without feeling chained to a particular method or medium, reducing possible friction. This flexibility makes it easy to answer questions or comments within an hour or less.
Every company wants to respond to customer concerns quickly, but it’s even more vital for an online brand. Our customers can turn to a competitor in seconds with the click of a single button. If customers don’t get a response within a reasonable amount of time, it’s hard to build brand loyalty. Kustomer enables us to connect with customers quickly so we can make and maintain good relationships.
Using Kustomer as Part of a Cross-Functional Strategy
We grow the business by adding new models and expanding our customer base. But doing that is a privilege. We don’t have the right to bring on new products and new areas of business unless 100% of our customers are happy.
Our commitment to our customer’s happiness extends throughout the organization, and our users span all of our departments, including:
- Our product team, who uses the Kustomer platform to identify opportunities for expansion. We want to make the bikes our customers want, not the ones we think might be needed. We continue to evolve all of our products based on customer feedback.
- Our marketing team, who listens to customers about locations for in-person events. We’re an online brand, but many customers invite us to events. They share why their town is a good locale and other relevant information. We also learn about collaboration opportunities with other brands, which is a big part of our marketing strategy.
- Our warehouse team, who uses Kustomer to stop problems before they start. Whether they see a wrong address or notice damage to a specific product line’s packaging, our team can go the extra mile to listen to or communicate with our customers.
And, of course, our support team relies on Kustomer to address incoming requests. Auto-assign is a much-beloved feature that evenly distributes the workload across all available agents. It means everyone can focus on their individual queue, not just the company queue.
Another thing we love is the built-in reporting tool and the wealth of data it provides. We’re big fans of the heat map, as it’s helped tweak our staffing schedules. And since we have a very seasonal business, this data ensures we put people in the right place to support the workflow accordingly.
I’m particularly fond of Kustomer’s sentiment analysis, which helps us better understand how customers feel about our brand. Visually seeing customer sentiment before engaging with a customer makes it easier for agents to determine the urgency of a request and the best way to approach the customer.
Accelerating Time to Value
Priority Bicycles has grown 50–100% year over year since 2017, and just as we’d hoped, Kustomer has scaled with us. It’s allowed us to handle more cases each day and continue to meet our high standards—even though we have more customers. We’ve also seen our customer satisfaction rates increase and call handling times decrease significantly.
But chief among all our benefits from Kustomer is the ability to onboard new agents quickly and effectively. We’ve added dozens of new team members over the years. Most of our 40-person staff have worked in a bike shop, which means they’re familiar with customer service, but they haven’t managed any digital customer support systems. Kustomer’s easy-to-use interface flattens that learning curve for agents. As we expand our team and acquire new products (including Xtracycle, our fourth brand), Kustomer enables us to smoothly onboard new agents so they can start connecting with customers quickly.
Kustomer ensures we’re living up to our values as a customer-centric organization. I can’t imagine a better customer support tool for agents to know what’s happening with the customer, respond, and share information across the team. Trying to do all this without Kustomer would’ve been an extremely tall order. We’d move slower, we’d take longer to respond, and we wouldn’t be able to handle the load effectively. There’s also a good chance we’d have to hire more people since our agents couldn’t handle increased requests.
Exceeding Expectations in a Crowded Industry
We started our Kustomer implementation with only phone and email channels, and in hindsight, I wish I had activated more on day one. Meeting more customers on the channels of their choice is crucial for long-term success, and the more options a company gives customers to communicate, the more agile the company can be.
Priority Bicycles makes products in a very crowded industry. The quality of our products is superior to our competitors, but the ability to always be there for our customers is one of the things that sets us apart, even from larger competition. If someone emails a big company, they may not get a response within an hour, or even a day. But whenever you reach out to Priority Bicycles, you can count on getting an answer fast from a knowledgeable team member. It’s a big part of what we do—and we owe a part of our success to Kustomer, who helps us do it.