Universal Store’s omnichannel journey: revamping customer experience
Universal Store, Australia’s hub for women’s and men’s fashion, needed to centralize its customer support channels for seamless customer experience. With Zendesk, a string of seamless integrations, and generative AI, the company brought efficiency and visibility to its team. As a result, Universal Store outpaced industry response times, enhanced customer satisfaction and retention, and automated processes like item returns. All while keeping the team size unchanged.
"I can now focus on 10 employee superstars, rather than having 12 team members that aren't as strong. The efficiency gains that we've seen mean that during peak periods, we don't have to recruit extra staff."
Customer Experience Manager at Universal Store
"We are extremely pleased with our partnership with Zendesk. Whenever we have questions, we receive prompt responses, demonstrating genuine customer care within Zendesk."
Customer Experience Manager at Universal Store
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Founded in Brisbane, Australia, Universal Store is a one-stop shop for women’s and men’s fashion. Since 1998, it has grown into 88 physical stores and an online e-commerce platform. “What sets us apart from competitors is our devotion to continuous improvement and our commitment to selling the best products,” shares Adam McPherson, customer experience manager at Universal Store.
McPherson’s team’s goal is to make customer experience as smooth as possible. “The best customer experience requires almost zero effort from the user,” explains McPherson. “From receiving a sale notification to checking out, it should be seamless.” When something in this journey doesn’t go according to plan, the customer support team intervenes, committed to resolving any inquiry or shipment issues. “Our job is to inform the customers, assist them with their request, and reintegrate them into the flow,” continues McPherson. For that, the company needed a holistic customer view and a system that allows agents to provide real-time responses to inquiries.
Disparate channels, disjointed interactions
“Previously, we were juggling between a live chat platform, a ticketing platform, and a phone platform,” recalls McPherson. “Handling inquiries in all different places disrupted communication and affected our service and response times.” Universal Store needed a new solution to centralize customer focus across all channels for enhanced efficiency and coherent customer experience. “My vision was to have a platform allowing team members to handle all customer interactions without switching windows,” shares McPherson.
After thorough market research, the company chose Zendesk. “Our goal was to find a solution as close to omnichannel as possible,” McPherson explains. “And Zendesk offered that. We adopted it as a single hub to meet our customers on their preferred channels and get a holistic view of each person and interaction.”
For a truly omnichannel experience, Universal Store had to support various integrations, including the ticketing platform, email, live chat, phone, and messenger. “We also tried to understand which platforms could integrate with our e-commerce system, and most solutions lacked this capability,” recalls McPherson. “Another system to merge was our customer data platform, which feeds us consistent customer information. Zendesk was the only solution that could provide this.”
Bringing all communication channels together with Zendesk was quicker than McPherson anticipated. “The platform is very intuitive. Though I’m not highly technical, I completed the migration within a workday.” This included a Shopify integration and a live webhook—or callback mechanism—to funnel customer data from Zendesk to the company’s customer data platform (CDP), ensuring an up-to-date customer profile repository.
Unlocking instant service
Now that the customer support team had all channels and information at their fingertips, it was time to set sights on new goals. “We established new service level agreements (SLAs) based on trigger keywords to prioritize the most critical customer inquiries and resolve them as soon as possible,” notes McPherson. For example, if a customer inquires about their order’s tracking, the system identifies keywords like “where is my” and “tracking,” loading the necessary information.
The next step was using Zendesk Generative artificial intelligence (AI) to draft responses to customer inquiries automatically. “AI interprets customer emails, automatically assigns an urgency level, and replies in real-time,” explains McPherson. “Agents can refine these responses before sending to make them sound less robotic and more personalized.”
Automating gruesome processes
Significant time savings were also achieved on other processes, like returns. “Previously, agents would need to manually type out emails detailing the refunded items, the reasons, and the refund amounts,” observes McPherson. Today, refunds are issued within seconds. “When an item is returned, our warehouse team accesses Zendesk, executes a macro—or prepared actions—that guides them through the return, processes the refund via the app, and automatically notifies the customer,” says McPherson. “With a Shopify integration, the process is even more streamlined. I can adjust customer orders in Zendesk while dealing with a customer live.”
In light of these adjustments, Universal Store quickly observed a rise in efficiency. “Being available on a single platform enhances our response times. Essentially, customers are getting the help they need more rapidly,” shares McPherson. Today, Universal Store boasts a median first reply time of one hour, 21 times faster than the industry metric. The team also fully resolves queries in a median of four hours, compared to the industry benchmark of 65.
Same team, upgraded service
With agents freed up, they can focus on delivering the best outcomes for the customer. “If a team member has five minutes to respond to a customer and they create a draft in 10 seconds, the extra time goes into formulating a robust strategy for turning a potentially negative experience into a positive one,” says McPherson. With 10 agents, Universal Store is well-equipped to resolve more than 7,000 monthly tickets. “We don’t need to recruit extra staff during peak periods anymore,” he adds.
The transition has also enabled the team to understand the users better. “Previously, we relied on more generic data, with limited capacity for effective measurement,” shares McPherson. “One straightforward yet impactful feature from Zendesk, which our previous providers lacked, is customer satisfaction surveys. They have been instrumental in our growth, offering insights into customer perceptions and motivating our team, rewarding their performance, and highlighting areas for improvement.”
Setting industry benchmarks
The unified customer view has led to the ultimate pay-off: happier clients. Compared to the industry average of 80 percent, Universal Store maintains a CSAT score of 92 percent. “Our customers report a positive experience when interacting with us,” adds McPherson. “I think this leads them to repurchase from us and continue their lifecycle with our brand.”
Moving forward, the company aims to drive a higher satisfaction rate. “We share the belief that every customer and every interaction matters,” concludes McPherson. “We’re guided by the motto ‘be better than good,’ and Zendesk is helping us continuously improve to achieve this.”