How 3 Klaviyos Are Helping DTC Brands Navigate the Coronavirus Crisis | Coronavirus Series

dtc customer success suport rob julie tiffany

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series that explores the impact the coronavirus crisis is having on the world of ecommerce. Explore daily insights surrounding the coronavirus crisis or check out these additional resources to help you navigate your marketing strategy during this time.

The coronavirus crisis has made a huge impact on direct-to-consumer (DTC) businesses that have had to adjust their ecommerce marketing strategies and goals to survive a new world that none of us have encountered before. 

In recent months, you’ve probably had more questions about how to run your business or market to your customers than in your lifetime. 

As a customer-first business, Klaviyo’s success and growth teams have been working hard to adapt in the face of the crisis and help you grow despite the unique hurdles you’re facing.

To better understand what customers are concerned with during this time, I (virtually) sat down with three Klaviyos who work directly with customers every day to learn more about what they’re seeing happen across the ecommerce industry.

 

Alex: What’s your role and what does that entail?

Julie: I work with our customers who don’t have a designated customer success manager at Klaviyo on developing education sessions and content to help them become the best marketers they can be—not just the best users of Klaviyo. 

I try to understand how we can help them advance their marketing strategies and obtain the most return on their investment. That includes developing training on Klaviyo features, best practices in marketing, and recently, I’ve helped to develop content to help our customers handle all the changes—positive and negative—around the coronavirus crisis.

"I work with our customers on developing education sessions and content to help them become the best marketers they can be—not just the best users of Klaviyo. "

Julie Hayes, senior growth success manager

Rob: I’m a dedicated customer success manager so I work with customers to help them use the data they’ve captured about their customers effectively and develop email and SMS marketing strategies that help them achieve their goals. I work with multiple individuals across different brands and use the platform to help them grow.

Tiffany: I’m a customer success manager based in the London office. My main responsibilities include supporting a portfolio of customers ranging in sizes across all industries and my focus is to be an advocate for those customers. 

It comes down to understanding their business and ensuring that they have the right level of support to be able to achieve their goals in Klaviyo. By diving into the customers’ accounts, I can then provide quick wins and strategic recommendations, which I deliver through quarterly reviews or ad-hoc calls to ultimately help our customers drive revenue.

 

Alex McPeak: What made you want to work at Klaviyo?

Rob Allen Jr: I felt like Klaviyo’s mission and values align well with my core belief of helping customers and showing empathy, so given the opportunity to come on board here, I jumped. I essentially wanted to feel like I had an impact at the company I worked for. I felt Klaviyo presented a unique opportunity for me to work with customers to help them grow their businesses.

Tiffany Mills: I used to work with Justin Khaksar who heads up Klaviyo’s EMEA office. After he left, I was always quite keen to maintain a professional connection with him and follow him in his next role. 

Once I connected with him and learned a bit more about Klaviyo, it sounded like the perfect opportunity, particularly around the idea of being one of the first people to enter the London office and being a part of molding the office culture, but also having the opportunity to make a big impact—that was really attractive to me.

"It sounded like the perfect opportunity, particularly around the idea of being one of the first people to enter the London office and being a part of molding the office culture, but also having the opportunity to make a big impact."

Tiffany Mills, customer success manager

Julie Hayes: I actually attended a webinar that Klaviyo hosted on customer success automation. I was just blown away by the caliber of the content, so I set up some time to learn more. A couple of conversations and an interview later, I was sent an offer letter and joined Klaviyo as a member of the growth success team.

 

Alex: What does your day normally consist of?

Rob: Day-to-day, I’m meeting with customers, going over where they are with some of their initiatives, understanding how I can assist if there are any escalations, and making sure I work with them diligently to relieve any issues so they’re in good standing.

Tiffany Mills
Tiffany Mills, customer success manager

Tiffany: Typically my day consists of prepping for meetings such as quarterly reviews or having catch up calls with customers. During these calls, my focus is understanding their goals and having strategic conversations about how they can achieve them within Klaviyo.

This also requires plenty of collaboration across internal teams. For example, I typically work with support on technical questions or with engineering on scoping out more complex solutions.

Probably now more than ever, I’m also proactively reaching out to customers in terms of providing them with Klaviyo updates, blogs, events, or other content that I think would be relevant to them. 

Julie: I usually start my day responding to a handful of emails, helping our Klaviyo customers with any strategy questions, and learning a little bit more about how I can help if there are any areas of knowledge that they’d like to level up. I’ll usually start working on some educational content or internal projects like Klaviyo NOW, a series of guides my team created to help businesses navigate the coronavirus crisis.

 

Alex: How has your role changed since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic?

Julie: Our team primarily works with small business owners, who are typically people that use Klaviyo for their ecommerce side hustle or they’re the only proprietor of their business or maybe they just have a few people on staff. 

This group has been hit very hard by the pandemic. They’re either seeing lower than average sales and having to lay people off, or they’re seeing higher than average sales and they’re scrambling to try and keep up with all of the demand. 

There are also supply chain issues and just a host of other concerns that small business owners are facing, so I spend a lot of time reviewing data and talking with small businesses about what’s working, what isn’t working, and figuring out how we can share that knowledge amongst all Klaviyo customers to help everyone make it through with their businesses succeeding.

"Our team primarily works with small business owners...This group has been hit very hard by the pandemic. They're either seeing lower than average sales and having to lay people off, or they're seeing higher than average sales and they're scrambling to try and keep up with all of the demand. "

Julie Hayes, senior growth success manager

Rob: This is a unique situation. I’m looking closely at trends and making sure that we follow the best practices as well as ensuring that customers are setting themselves up for success so that they can clearly navigate through the crisis.

Other than physically working from home full-time, my day-to-day work has been similar in the sense that I’m regularly working with customers by auditing accounts and analyzing performance. I think what’s changed is how and what we’re looking at, and what we’re prioritizing has shifted. 

Tiffany: Obviously, there are no onsite meetings. Everything is done purely over screens. This also includes internal meetings as well, so team meetings, office socials and activities, and customer calls are all done online. 

My conversations with customers have also changed in terms of speaking more about the impact of the pandemic and what those individual customers are now focusing on.

 

Alex: What are the most common questions you’re hearing from customers? What are they most concerned about?

Rob Allen Jr., customer success manager
Rob Allen Jr., customer success manager

Rob: Customers want to know what other customers are doing. With this being a unique situation and no one really having gone through this before, they want to make sure that they’re setting themselves up for success while also being sensitive to the nature of what their customers are going through. 

They certainly want to change things and adapt accordingly, but I want to make sure that I’m helping them to do that in the right way. There are a lot of questions about what other customers are doing, industry trends, what I’m seeing on my end, and what they can do moving forward. 

Customers are concerned about staying in business and getting through this. There’s a lot of uncertainty at times and customers want to feel like they’re putting their best effort in the right place, which is what steers the questions that they’re asking now. 

Many of the questions I’m hearing from customers are similar to what I’d answered before, but there’s a little bit more uncertainty and urgency to what they’re doing. People want to make sure that they’re setting themselves up for success so they can ride this out.

"Many of the questions I'm hearing from customers are similar to what I'd answered before, but there's a little bit more uncertainty and urgency to what they're doing. People want to make sure that they’re setting themselves up for success so they can ride this out."

Rob Allen Jr., customer success manager

Tiffany: Common questions tend to be what should I be focusing on in Klaviyo? Where do I start and what are other customers doing? What are other insights that you’re hearing from other customers who are similar to us and how can we do the same within Klaviyo?

As far as concerns, a lot of my customers have reduced their number of staff. A lot of people work from home or are on furlough, which means that they’ve taken on more responsibility across the business.

Recently, I’ve had conversations around supply chain issues. Customers are concerned with keeping up with the number of orders that are coming in versus how they actually meet these orders and get them out to customers since they’ve reduced staff. 

Julie: A lot of customers are concerned about frequency, tone, and wording with emails. From the onset of the coronavirus, consumers were pointing out the fact that they were receiving a hoard of communications from businesses that they haven’t heard from in like seven years, sending an email about how they’re handling the coronavirus crisis. 

Our customers don’t want to be like that. They want to make sure that they’re connecting authentically with their customers and having a really strong brand response to what’s happening, so the number one question is how they can do that.

We also have a lot of questions about pivoting their businesses. We have a lot of customers who primarily sell through their brick-and-mortar locations and they’ve had to move fully online, so how do they do that? They’re looking for best practices in moving to ecommerce, strategies they can employ, and creative ways to recoup lost revenue. 

 

Alex: How are you helping customers during this time?

Tiffany: I’m still running quarterly growth reviews and highlighting key recommendations on what customers should be focusing on, but I’m also changing and adapting our style towards customer retention and providing them with more ideas around how they can adapt their content to communicate effectively. 

On top of that, I’m being proactive with customers and reaching out to them to share what similar brands are doing, providing them with insights and examples, and mentioning what other customers are doing that could be relevant.

Julie Hayes, senior growth success manager
Julie Hayes, senior growth success manager

Julie: I get to work, internally, with a fantastic team of Klaviyos to get out content on how to navigate ecommerce during the coronavirus—everything from helping with subject line questions to tone and how to pivot brick-and-mortar businesses to ecommerce business. 

I work on a daily basis to get that all into the hands of our customers. This has primarily been through a live session series where we’ll go through and talk about examples of what’s working, what’s not, and how to implement these ideas. 

We’re actually going to be releasing the second series of these that’s going to be more of a deep dive into specific industries. Rather than broadly talking about what you can be doing, we’re going to show marketers what similar brands are doing and sharing that knowledge.

Rob: What I’m doing now is very similar to what I was doing before in the sense that I’m continuing to audit, analyze, look at performance, and provide insight. I’m sharing as much information as I can with our customers about what I’m seeing in the trends and making sure that they’re set up for success. 

There are certainly best practices and, at the end of the day, there are a lot of things that stay the same when it comes to foundational elements like deliverability and performance. But there’s a lot of things that are very different too—messaging content, how to leverage social media in the right way, and making sure that customers align themselves with their own values, while also being empathetic to their customer base.

 

Alex: How has Klaviyo helped you to better serve the customers you work with during this time?

Rob: Klaviyo has really helped me better serve our customers by over-communicating everything. With us being in different locations and not all together in the office, it’s been huge that we’re constantly talking about what we’re seeing with the trends in the industry, like with the daily surveys we do, which ask ecommerce brands and consumers about their recent experiences with sales and shopping, respectively. 

What’s great about Klaviyo is there are so many different levels of expertise within our staff that I can freely ask for help and there’s no hesitation—I can ask anybody anything and it’s only helped me serve the customers I work with better. 

Julie: In my time working with many customers at different companies putting out a lot of educational content, I’ve worked with a lot of email platforms. And Klaviyo is not just the best at ecommerce, it’s actually great for customer outreach. By using Klaviyo and leveraging our customers’ data, I can target specific groups of customers with the exact content they need at the right time.

Tiffany: Our daily polls, videos, and insights surrounding how brands say they’ve been impacted and what’s happening with consumer spending behavior have really helped me to provide information quickly to our customers and be able to share those within my daily conversations with them in a way that’s constantly providing value. 

From a personal perspective, I feel like Klaviyo has been extremely supportive in helping us adapt to working from home, like with how they provided us with a $1,000 expensable budget to ensure that our surroundings are comfortable and productive. Ultimately, if I feel supported, then I’m able to effectively help my customers as well.

"Our daily polls, videos, and insights surrounding how brands say they’ve been impacted and what’s happening with consumer spending behavior have really helped me to provide information quickly to our customers and be able to share those within my daily conversations with them in a way that’s constantly providing value. "

Tiffany Mills, customer success manager

 

Alex: What stands out to you most about how the Klaviyo team has adapted during this time?

Julie: It’s very easy to get caught up in the transition from a fully in-office staff to fully remote and everything that goes along with it. But what really impressed me is that Klaviyo, across the company, has adapted to taking it in stride and kept our north star: the customer and their experience. 

Every single conversation I’ve had, from the weeks before we went remote to the weeks after, has been about how we can best assist our customers to maintain their business or handle the new influx of customers and help them through all the challenges that they’re experiencing.

"Every single conversation I've had, from the weeks before we went remote to the weeks after, has been about how we can best assist our customers to maintain their business or handle the new influx of customers and help them through all the challenges that they're experiencing."

Julie Hayes, senior growth success manager

Tiffany: Two things that stand out are the emphasis on sharing value added content with our customers and our wider network and while also being transparent with our customers about the situation. I think that’s been quite a big deal, as well as the internal transparency.

We’ve been doing a great job of keeping that momentum up in terms of communication even though we’re all working from home. I don’t feel like I can’t connect with anyone. I still feel that we’ve maintained that open communication, which I think is vital to feel that you’re not on your own, you’re still part of the team.

Rob: How quickly we’ve been able to adapt has been so critical to the position that we’re in. It’s been so important that we knew that this was coming and then, within a matter of 48 hours, we’re all working from home. 

We’re still continuing to progress the way that we had planned originally, we’re just doing it from remote locations. And I think that’s been so meaningful in continuing to make sure that we’re there for our customers and we’re continuing to show support for them.

 

Alex: What advice do you have for business owners and marketers who are trying to navigate and survive the pandemic?

Tiffany: I would recommend following a similar plan of action to how Klaviyo’s adapted to the situation—acknowledging and recognizing the situation, being transparent in the way that you communicate across your networks as well as internally. 

We’ve been able to pivot and adapt ourselves to support our customers, partners, colleagues in a really crucial way. Now more than ever is a really vital time for brands to personalize their communication that they’re sending out to customers and to ensure that they stay empathetic to their situation. For customers, act upon the insights that you’re seeing in the industry and use that data to drive business decisions.

Rob: Be patient, but also be willing to adapt and change. What you did five months ago may not work now, but be willing to take those calculated risks to adapt and I think you’ll be surprised at some of the outcomes that you’ll get. 

The customers that I’ve worked with who have made those changes or have been testing and switching things up have shown tremendous success compared to some of the customers that have been a little bit more hesitant. And for our customers to continue to outlast this, without there really being a timetable, I think you have to be willing to adapt to survive.

"Be patient, but also be willing to adapt and change. What you did five months ago may not work now, but be willing to take those calculated risks to adapt and I think you'll be surprised at some of the outcomes that you'll get. "

Rob Allen Jr., customer success manager

Julie: Be human, be real, and be transparent—that’s what people respond to. When you think about emails that you get that really resonate with you or you see any type of marketing that resonates with you, it’s usually because they’re authentic and real. 

My favorite adult human development theory from higher education really applies in all scenarios, but especially right now—Schlossberg’s theory of mattering. People want to know that they matter and they want to know that they matter to you. When you, as a small business owner, send your customers a thank you after they’ve purchased something and tell them what the purchase means to you, that elicits a really powerful connection with that person and increases that brand loyalty. 

We’re all in this together and acknowledging that can go a long way in having really authentic brand conversations.

Looking for more information? These resources may be helpful to you as you adjust your marketing strategies to navigate the coronavirus crisis.

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