Retail

Kustomer: A CRM Platform Actually For Customers

It’s hardly an exaggeration to say that for many, the dreaded call to customer service is the cultural touchstone for impersonal bureaucracy. (Only trumped, perhaps, by the infinite line at the DMV.)

But customer service doesn’t have to be that way. Especially if Brad Birnbaum, cofounder and CEO of the newly launched customer relationship management (CRM) platform Kustomer, has anything to do with it.

Birnbaum has a 20-plus-year history of creating successful customer service software. For one, he cofounded Assistly (now Desk.com) in 2010. It was sold to Salesforce in 2011, which uses it as their SMB solution for customer service to this day.

Kustomer started when Birnbaum and cofounder and CTO Jeremy Suriel looked around at the state of CRM systems.

“In the industry at large, we saw a lot of different solutions to customer service, but many of them are five years old or approaching 10 years old,” says Birnbaum. “They were written in a different era, created before social media and mobile.”

Most significantly for Birnbaum, legacy CRM systems fail to offer companies a holistic view of the customer: “They don’t track spending patterns, sentiment, what the customers are doing — they’re just about the problem and the resolution. Companies don’t want to treat their customers as problems. They want to be able to provide an optimal support experience. But to do that, you need to understand the customer.”

That’s where (the aptly named) Kustomer comes in.

Kustomer was officially started in September 2015. Its CRM platform was in closed beta testing with two dozen companies for months before officially opening to the public on Nov. 15.

“Anybody with customers will benefit from Kustomer,” said Birnbaum. “Initially, we’re targeting eCommerce companies because we see so much power and value in the Shopify integration we’ve already produced.”

Birnbaum says that an integration for Magento is upcoming, with more eCommerce integrations to come.

“The goal is to combine traditional cases of CRM data with tracking data and sentiment data — and with that, you can provide an amazing customer experience,” he said.

Here’s the short version of what Kustomer’s platform offers. It can keep tabs on orders, transactions, any hits on the shopping cart page, failed transactions, successful deliveries, etc. — anything the business using the platform so chooses. All of this is stored in a customer timeline that is readily accessible to customer service reps.

“You can see that the customer found your website from a Facebook ad from one of your campaigns,” said Birnbaum. “You may see that they added the product to their shopping cart, that they completed the transaction — there, an order object is created — and then you see a delivery event two days later. You’re building that rich customer timeline of actionable data.”

If a customer calls with an issue, all customer service has to do is pull up the timeline. From there, customer service reps can take action. Birnbaum used a retail example of a customer receiving the wrong-sized pants: “You can find exactly what they ordered. You can take action on that order — send a different size of a pair of pants or issue a refund.”

And it’s all accomplished via the Kustomer platform. “Some of it is automatically done for merchants; some of that is one click away. Kustomer brings it all together in an easy-to-use, simple way that is massively time-saving,” said Birnbaum.

This just isn’t possible on a traditional CRM system. Kustomer could prove to be an incredibly powerful tool for online retail customer service providers and beyond — really, Birnbaum said, for anybody with customers.

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