How to Scale Your Customer Experience, With Ben Segal

Episode 52 Ben Segal, Senior Director of CX at Pair Eyewear, shares the CX story of Freshly, a NY-based meal delivery company. Building a CX program from zero in a hyper-growth company is a tough challenge. Ben describes what he did to achieve a successful outcome and what he is doing differently at Pair Eyewear.

Episode 52

Episode Summary

Useful CX procedures and practices.

Some good CX practices that Ben put in place while working at Freshly and Pair Eyewear are summarized below.

  • Having a senior CX Manager to train your employees on CX practices. This person would ideally be an original, meaning a veteran of the company who knows everything about the company’s culture, values and how it evolved over time.
  • Looking at Customer Surveys focusing on those people who rated negatively and commented. Understanding what made them leave a negative review and what’s stopping them from being satisfied with the service.
  • Looking at CX as a thermometer of what customers are thinking. Related to the previous point, it is important to track comments and understand who they are directed to.
  • Classifying customer enquiries using automated tagging. It allows your company to track popular messages and redirect them to specific teams that can solve the issues.
  • Looking at potential problems from the beginning and preparing a proposal of some key points that could solve the identified issues and improve CX.

Main takeaway.

According to Ben, the key question businesses should ask themselves is what procedures they can put in place now that won’t break as they grow and can build the foundations for good CX practices.

The main lesson Ben took away from Freshly and is now applying at Pair Eyewear is to put those procedures and practices in place early, without waiting for the perfect moment to do so. Too often businesses wait for when they will be big enough and earn enough money to hire a CX team, instead of realizing that starting early allows you to build strong foundations and not being forced to play catch-up later.

What would the CX world look like if all businesses took Ben’s advice and started thinking about implementing and investing in CX in their early stages?


This article summarises podcast episode 52 "How to Scale Your Customer Experience" recorded by CX Insider. For more information, listen to the episode or contact Ben on his LinkedIn profile.

Written by Alessia Trabucco



Full episode transcript

Ben: Our CEO used to talk about this all the time, and it felt like we were building the plane like while in flight, and that was definitely the case because, you know, we were live, we were shipping, yet we were still definitely building the business and changing week to week, all while we were breaking records every week and continuing to add to the team. And things can get very messy. What I found was, you know, you put a procedure in place and very quickly, that starts to break as you grow and you need a new procedure. And so you start to think, hey, what can we put in place now that's going to scale with us?

Valentina: In this episode, Ben Segal, senior director of the eyewear and a former CIA director at Freshly, will tell you the story of building customer experience, culture entirely from scratch and how to plan ahead your strategies. This episode is full of real case scenarios and practical tools which can help you scale your CX team. So stay tuned and enjoy the next 20 minutes. Hello, everyone, and welcome to another CX Insider podcast episode. Today's guest is Ben Segal. As I mentioned before, Ben's got many years of experience in the CX sphere, starting from Boston Bruins and New York Yankees, the Freshly and today Pair Eyewear. What's different about today's episode is that it is solely focused on Freshly's and Pair Eyewear's CX story. So you will hear a lot of detailed examples and advice on scaling your CX team. But first, let's read some facts. Freshly, is a New York based prepare a meal delivery company founded in 2012. When Ben first joined the company in 2016 they had under 100 people and were shipping 36000 meals weekly. When Ben left the company, almost 400 people were working only within the CX team, and they were shipping about 1.2 million meals per week in 2020. Freshly was acquired by Nestlé for almost a billion dollars. If you were thinking of starting a business in the meal delivery industry, this is a sign for you that it might not be an entirely bad idea. One of the things I was wondering about was what they did CX culture look like when Ben joined the company.

Ben: When I joined in 2016, it was still somewhat new. They were, I think, a company called Three Foods. It was much, much smaller just in the local Phoenix area. And so in 2015 was when they came to New York and said, we're going to establish ourselves as a major brand. I mentioned this because the CX culture sort of started from that much younger company that was operating out of a small kitchen in Tempe, Arizona. They hired a girl and he was just Sharna. If she's listening, shout out to Sharna. And she's fantastic. And she was one of the first people that they hired when the company was like five people to to answer phones and deal with customer inquiries. And we kept her all the way through. She's even still there today. And that sort of built what was the original CX culture of we keep from within. We promote from within. And the very first person who ever took phone calls at Freshly wound up being like a senior training manager who was in charge of making sure that everyone that came through Freshly CX got that original training and was hearing from one of the originals who knew the co-founders personally, used to work directly right next to them, knew how we made the meals, because she used to work in the kitchen. And that sort of hands-on knowledge was able to be transmitted across a team that then grew into the hundreds. And it really started to feel like everyone lived, ate, breathed Freshly. And it came from ensuring that we kept one of our originals and valued that knowledge and experience and leveraged it in a in a training position.

Valentina: Making sure that you constantly train and educate your employees about your values is customer centric management 1-O-1, but when you're a hyper growing company, you not only need to deploy and upgrade new technology almost all the time, but you need to plan what technology you will need in the long-term future.

Ben: Our CEO used to talk about this all the time, and it felt like we were building the plane like while in flight. And that was definitely the case because, you know, we were live, we were shipping, yet we were still definitely building the business and changing week to week, all while we were breaking records every week and continuing to add to the team. And things can get very messy. What I found was, you know, you put a procedure in place and very quickly, that starts to break as you grow, and you need a new procedure. And so you start to think, hey, what can we put in place now that's going to scale with us? For one example, I'll mention like, you know, Agent Dashboard's. So how would agents see their metrics and be able to improve? The very first dashboards we had were just, you know, Google sheets that we made look like a scorecard that we would manually update. We would go in there and physically type in the numbers. And once the team hits like 20, that becomes like a real chore every Monday for either myself or the vice president to sit there and do a big export out of Zendesk and then type in all the digits into everyone's Google sheet and then reshare it with them.

Ben: So, my idea was this like master dashboard, we had one big sheet. We would upload all the data to this one sheet, just copy and paste all the columns. And then everyone had their own Google sheet, which would have these import range functions in there. And so once I pasted the information into one, all the dashboards would update and it seemed like this beautiful thing. And then you get to like 100 and that starts to break because people have left. There's new people that have joined. You have to keep making new sheets with all those new functions. And so you wind up looking for, you know, tools that do this easier, better as you scale. And so I think that's definitely something we learned as we were growing the team to to get those tools and processes in place early that you can scale with. Things don't break as often. And I'm trying my best to learn from that now at and really establish a strong foundation so that we can grow without breaking, you know, 15 times along the way.

Valentina: Customer feedback is often considered a goldmine of insights, especially negative feedback. And you've all heard a stat that I don't know, 96 percent of unhappy customers don't complain, and then they tell their friends. So how did Ben tackle the challenge and increase customer service engagement?

Ben: I think there's like a two-prong answer to this. There's just the core. Like, how do you manage? How do you measure it? And right now, and this was true at the beginning, freshly as well. You know, in Zendesk, to just offer a straight up, thumbs up, thumbs down. I'm satisfied or I'm not satisfied. And this survey would go out after any interaction with customer experience. We're lucky to see 16, 17 percent engagement with that survey. And then the score we get back from that is the percentage of how many people gave a thumbs up. What I would do is look at those who rated negative and especially those who rated negative with comment and read through those comments and understand what was driving someone who just reached out to us. Clearly, they took the initiative to want to have an engagement with customer experience. And at the end of it, still didn't feel good about it. What was stopping them from giving a thumbs up? And a lot of times what I found was it was issues that they still had with the business. So they would say, you know, Ben, help me out in this chat. Ben's awesome but company stinks. And here's why. Because, you know, I ordered this and it still didn't ship. I know they gave me credit, but, you know, I still didn't get my thing I wanted.

Ben: And so the negative CSET wasn't actually about the customer service agent. Rather, it was about an issue with the business, even though in the comment they mentioned agent was awesome, but I'm still unhappy. So, there's only so much you can get from those CSET surveys and the commentary that's left there. We decided to go with a tool called Stellar Connect, and we're going to roll out a larger, more, I guess, personalized survey where you'll see a picture of the agent, a little bit of background about the agent, be able to potentially like almost tip the agent. Like, I want to give them an extra hour off or buy them a cup of coffee or buy him a pizza and really make that connection to the agent, not necessarily the company itself. I think we'll see higher engagement in the CSET surveys there, which would give us a more true number and will be truly rating the agent rather than the business. On a side note from that, I don't think that's the only place you should go to find out what's driving your customers sentiment. So we use automated tagging. Great company called Laying Down. Jorge is the founder and CEO over there. He's one of my good friends at this point.

Ben: And Laying basically looks at all open tickets that come in, decides what the OpenText was actually trying to say and applies a tag in real time. So, what that does at the end of the day is I can look back over all my open tickets and see what the customers were reaching out to us about, whether they rated CSET or not. I can know what the intention was when they reached out to us based on that OpenText, you know, natural language processing and the automated tagging. So with that, I can track trends and know that people mentioned 'did not receive'. And that was also paired with negative sentiment. And I have a true percentage. This was accounting for 27 percent of my tickets last week. Whoa. We have a real problem. And I can really go after this with with data now and go to the logistics team, go to production team and say, guys, this is what's driving the contacts and this is what has the most negative sentiment attached to it and really drive change in the business. And looking at CX as sort of the thermometer of what your customers are thinking and, you know, putting that voice a customer process in place early has been super beneficial at Pair Eyewear. And was it at Freshly as well.

Valentina: In 2020 Freshly decided to expand to a B2B market as an employer, you could order hundreds of meals for your employees or trade shows. This expansion was certainly challenging in terms of scaling the team. And Ben will tell you how they managed the situation.

Ben: Definitely, we needed to retrain the team. We needed to have specialized teams, some that dealt with, you know, our customary B2C market and then new ones for the B2B. The problems wound up being really similar. Right. It's food they were shipping. And so there's issues with taster's, issues with quality. And whether you're shipping to a business or to a family or an individual, the core issues are basically the same. But what got interesting was how to manage billing, how to manage shipping for all of that. And so we wound up getting really good and close with the data team, with the finance team, with the logistics team to start to figure out how to best support these larger accounts now that we're starting to purchase meals in bulk for larger organizations. We also had to bring on another tool like Zenda Cell and see how that integrated to our normal Zendesk instance and see how the two could work together, because we were not going to be the salespeople, but we were going to work closely with the salespeople and support them. And so a lot of that started to become our day to day as we rolled out to freshly for business. And the other one was Freshly Fit. Sort of creating this like sub brand underneath the larger freshly that was focused way more into health and lifestyle and fitness.

Ben: And the meals were still produced in the same place. But we changed the recipes for Freshly Fit versus Freshly Core and not took a lot of retraining. And so having tools in place to get that information out to the team, to get them new lessons or update macros, update FAQs, all of that was really, really difficult to do because we were ready at that. You know, a few hundred people in the department scale and changing the business fundamentally, like Freshly for business or Freshly Fit was definitely a challenge to sort of like, you know, turn a ship once it's gotten that big. But it was a fun challenge, and I think we did the best we could. Looking back on it, so definitely prepared me for what I'm going through at Eye Pair I wear now where we're launching an adult line for the first time. The company was started going after kids, and we're now going to have full adult blind glasses. And so it changes everything we knew about the brand. And now I have to retrain this team again on, you know, how we answer this and how we go, how we go forward, how we roll out new features and how we make sure the team is all well informed and are providing the best service possible.

Valentina: So far, we talked about building six culture within a company, planning and deploying technology to support a CX team. But one trend we haven't covered just yet is being personal. In the case of Pair Eyewear, a brand which allows you to design your own glasses, their USP is all about being personal. But how do you ensure the customer journey feels personal as well?

Ben: At Pair Eyewear when you go through the process of saying, hey, I want to, you know, purchase glasses and and submit, you know, my prescription, you upload a picture of your prescription or we get in touch with your doctor, a CX agent needs to manually go through and verify that the prescription is correct, that we have all the data that we need for it. We're following up with you or with your doctor to make sure that we get something like, say, pupillary distance. A lot of prescriptions don't come with that. And to get glasses, correct, you really need that little bit of information. So if we notice that it's not there, we'll do the work to reach out to you personally and get that for you before we submit it to the lens lab for production. So almost every order is going to have some CX interaction where an individual is going to be paying personal attention to you in order to get your glasses order placed. That's true for your first order with your base frame. Then you can come back and, you know, make as many purchases for the for the customizable tops as you need. And there's a lot less, you know, process that's needed when you come back to repurchase tops. But basically, when you get into the Pair family, you're going to meet someone on my team and they're going to be helping you right from day one. So I think inherently we have a very personal CX department. And I think I haven't looked at this recently, but I think the ratio is really one to one. Like, if we have an order, we're going to have a ticket for that order. So we really need a lot of the tools in place to help us scale that. We got to find other ways to automate it and still make it feel personal. But at this point in the company CX is super personal. And anyone who's purchased from Pair has likely had an interaction with someone on my team. And again, we're getting back over 90 percent CSET now, which feels really good. And the customers are happy when they're engaging with customer experience.

Valentina: To conclude today's episode, I asked Ben to look back and tell me what he learned at freshly and is now doing differently to pair eyewear and what he would recommend you guys to do if you are in a position of planning your future. See strategies.

Ben: I don't want to say that anything was bad at Freshly. I'm prefacing everything by saying I'm very proud of all that we've built over there still today, have a great relationship with the team. And it'll be one of the things I'm most proud of for the rest of my career and the journey that we had it freshly together. So I am not saying anything to, you know, put down anything that we did at freshly. But I would say that we did not have some of the tools earlier on in the process that we wound up needing anyway later on. And I think there was almost this thought process that we're not big enough yet. We don't need a tool like that or, you know, we're not at that point yet. We're not enough people. We haven't raised enough money. We're not shipping enough meals. Whatever the reason was, it always was some excuse of we don't we're not at that scale. And I think if I could go back, I would say we're going to do it anyway at some point, let's set the foundation now and avoid all of the headaches that we could have. So in saying that I am trying to do that at Pair. One of the first things I did when I came in was looked at what I saw as all the potential problems or what was leading to the issues they were seeing, and then put together a proposal of four or five, six different tools that I knew could get us out of the issue world that we were in and really set the foundation for a best in class customer experience, like automated tagging, like better CSET surveys, like agencies, tools. Lorris is another great one that we use.

Ben: So these are some of the things that I think Freshly we would have dismissed out of hand early on at this point for sure, and said, no, no, no, we're not there yet. And I am instead changing that to say maybe we're not today, but let's do the work to get it in place right now and we'll grow into it and we'll be much better off for it and prepared for when the business continues to grow. We won't be playing catch up. So I think that's one of the biggest things for sure is getting your best in class tools in place early and not waiting for this, you know, day in the future, that who knows what the requirements will be to determine that, hey, that's the day that we're big enough to go with one of these tools. We did that early. That includes working with the BPO. I think that that was something that we were against at Freshly for a long time and wound up needing to go all in on BPO, and they're really the majority of the front-line contacts now. We did that early at Pair. I guess, out of need, even prior to me arriving there. But it makes life so much easier once those relationships are locked in and you have your tools, you have your BPO in place. We're working on a chat bot right now with Aida. Those are some of the key things that I think I've learned from my time at freshly to say, hey, let's lay a foundation now and we'll be in great shape as the business grows. And we won't have to be playing that catch up later.

Valentina: I hope you enjoyed the episode as much as I did. I'm probably going to order some food now as I get hungry from talking about meal delivery the last couple of hours. If you have further questions because we mentioned a lot of information today, please don't hesitate to send us a message in Arlington Page Connect with Ben as he's more than happy to continue the conversation. And I will see you in two weeks.