1-800-Flowers.com Using Technology to Win Customers’ Hearts This Valentine's Day
1-800-Flowers.com is rolling out new digital features this Valentine's Day to optimize the customer experience on one of its busiest days of the year. With new ways to shop on-the-go, including ordering via chatbot or voice assistant; new payment options, including one-click transactions; a dedicated self-service customer service hub; concierge advice; a destination for enhanced order status tracking; and more, the gift-giving experience has never been more convenient or stress-free.
Tom Hartnett, president, consumer floral, 1-800-Flowers.com, is interviewed to learn more about how the retailer is using technology to make it easier for customers to shop this Valentine's Day and throughout the year.
Total Retail: What are some of the different ways that consumers are going to be able to use technology when shopping 1-800-Flowers.com this Valentine’s Day?
Tom Hartnett: We’ve introduced several new ways to shop and transact with us this Valentine’s Day. Mobile shoppers can now order gifts from 1-800-Flowers.com via chat or voice across a variety of platforms. Using Google Assistant-enabled Android devices and phones, customers can simply say “Hey Google, talk to 1-800-Flowers” to order flowers. They can also use Google Assistant to shop selections from the brand’s “Fresh from the Farm™” collection on Google Express, for delivery nationwide. We’ve also just launched an enhanced voice-enabled Alexa skill with “one-shot intent” for more streamlined dialogue, making it quick and easy to order flowers through Alexa-enabled devices. These new ordering methods, coupled with the launch of our easy-to-use customer self-service portal, are designed to make the customer experience more convenient.
TR: Why is 1-800-Flowers.com bullish on the future of voice-activated shopping?
TH: As a company deeply focused on the customer experience, it’s incredibly important for us to be where our customers want us to be. We know that changes in consumer behavior are being driven by technology, so it’s important for us to embrace new innovations early on to learn along with the customer. We saw the emergence of voice-based technologies, including Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, as an opportunity to further enhance the customer experience wherever, whenever and however gift-givers choose to shop with us.
TR: How does 1-800-Flowers.com plan to use chatbot technology for customer service? How about for other applications, such as product recommendations?
TH: We leverage chatbot technology for customer service by combining automation with live customer service support, upon request. This has enabled our customers to use the platform as a one-stop shop, where they can seamlessly purchase product, receive delivery confirmation information and, if needed, chat with a customer service representative. Chat bot for Facebook Messenger is an end-to-end commerce channel, so our customers can handle all their needs without ever leaving Facebook. This streamlined transaction and customer service experience is helping our customers provide the right gift for the right person at the right time.
TR: What are some of the different ways that consumers will be able to pay for their Valentine's Day purchases? Why does 1-800-Flowers.com believe it’s important to offer customers multiple payment options?
TH: Our customers can now enjoy the convenience of expedited checkout using several payment options, including PayPal, Apple Pay, VISA Checkout, American Express Checkout, Amazon Pay and Masterpass — whether shopping via mobile or desktop. Mobile and app customers can also get special offers from Apple Pay and the iOS App Store, while eligible PayPal customers can access exclusive 1-800-Flowers.com savings across desktop, mobile, web and apps. We’ve continued to identify and implement new payment options to ensure we’re making it as easy as possible for gift-givers to shop with us.
TR: Can you talk about 1-800-Flowers.com's strategy for integrating technology throughout the customer journey? How do you decide what to roll out, and when? Internally, what teams are making these decisions?
TH: We're proud to have a culture of innovation throughout our entire company. Our strategy for innovating in our business is to engage early, learn, adapt and commercialize. For example, we saw an opportunity to create our new self-service portal, a digital platform that allows our customers to easily modify their orders, whether changing the delivery address or card message, without having to speak to the customer care team. Our team is obsessed with service, and we're focused on continually identifying enhancements to streamline the customer experience and remove friction.
As a company, we look for team members who thrive in a culture of innovation — intellectually curious, willing to experiment, and not afraid to fail. We have team members across several departments contributing to our AI and tech-focused initiatives.
TR: How does 1-800-Flowers.com measure the success of a new technology that it has integrated into its business, particularly those that are customer-facing?
TH: With a history of early adoption, we understand how rapidly technology shifts consumer behavior. We don’t choose what’s next, our customers do. For us, it’s about being where customers are and learning along with them. We're constantly iterating on all of our platforms to provide the best experience we can based on customer feedback and interaction. Overall, there's a clear indication that customers prefer these new technologies, as we continue to see good response and embracement.