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How Orvis identified and resolved friction across the customer journey

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Executive summary

Since its founding in 1856, outdoor apparel and equipment retailer Orvis has excelled in two areas: superior outdoor equipment, and superior customer satisfaction. Today Orvis is an international, multi-channel retailer with approximately 1,700 employees, 87 retail stores, and 100 outlets in the US and UK. They also operate a wholesale division, supplying top-quality gear to more than 500 independent dealers worldwide. The award-winning Orvis website offers more than 5,000 products and attracts 32 million visitors each year.

At this scale, it can be a challenge for Orvis to maintain the “customer is always right” level of service that made them famous — especially in today’s rapidly changing consumer environment. Orvis needed a way to understand the behavior of their millions of customers, both at scale, where trends and emerging issues become apparent, and in individual interactions, where the deep qualitative context about specific issues lies. Less than 25% of businesses deploy comprehensive, omnichannel analytics tools to track consumer behavior in this way and with Khoros CX Insights, Orvis saw an opportunity to lead instead of follow.

Orvis partnered with CX Insights to aggregate data from every customer touchpoint, from phone calls to chat sessions, emails, SMS, surveys, social media, and online reviews. To enable actionable, relevant insights, Orvis worked with the Khoros team to implement a customer classification model based specifically on Orvis’s business processes and products. Once the model classifies interactions, the platform analyzes contextual details from each one and uses intuitive data visualizations to reveal common patterns, anomalies, and emerging trends. Meanwhile the complete text or call recording of every interaction persists in the system, so the Orvis CX team can drill down to the actual conversation level.

Like all retailers, Orvis receives some customer service inquiries about product returns. Returns, of course, often indicate that something has gone wrong, and provide an opportunity to turn a negative customer experience into a positive one. They also present a high cost to retail companies due to lost revenue and logistical expenses. For these reasons, Orvis was determined to limit avoidable returns, and prioritized reducing return-related calls through business process optimization. To do this, they needed to qualify and quantify what their customers were telling them.

Prior to using the CX Insights platform, Orvis’s CX team listened to recorded calls randomly and used spreadsheets to track issues and opportunities for improvement. With the new platform, however, they used AI to identify conversations about returns, tracked more customer interactions, and uncovered issues and insights in a fraction of the time. The software revealed how agents responded to each request, whether the agent immediately processed the return or suggested an exchange for another size, a different color, or a similar Orvis product.

Analyzing this data helped Orvis discover that its return process was cumbersome for both the customer and agent, leading customers to return products far more often than exchanging them. Even more importantly, this cumbersome process was occasionally frustrating customers — an experience that was not up to Orvis’s high standards.

The company modified the process to make exchanges easier, resulting in far greater revenue preservation, happier customers, and a 2-minute reduction in call time. Most importantly, Orvis quickly implemented training that enabled its agents to convert 58% of Orvis’ return calls into exchanges.

Orvis took these insights beyond the contact center, as well, revising their website and re-engineering their email cadence to add clarity. As a result, the company saw a 43% reduction in customers calling for return instructions, a 20% reduction in calls from customers asking for receipt confirmation, and a 37% reduction in calls alerting the company that a customer had sent a return.

In another example of process improvement, Orvis used CX Insights data to quickly identify that its number one non-sales interaction was customers wondering about the status and location of their order — an inconvenience and possible customer experience detractor. They rolled out an opt-in, SMS “order status” update for customers, resulting in a significant reduction in calls of this type and a clear improvement to customer experience.

Khoro’s disruptive technology is helping Orvis build on the stellar customer experience that’s helped them stay successful for 162 years. Charles F. Orvis would be proud.

How they made it work

  • Multi winner


    incoming customer service volume to find return-related inquiries.

  • Multi Empowerment


    efficiency in analyzing data from customer service inquiries.

  • Multi 191


    the returns process to improve customer experience.

  • Multi value


    website content, email cadence, and marketing campaigns on the fly based on qualitative customer response data.

Implementation and configuration was fast and easy. I’m a big fan of Khoros CX Insights.
— Lisa Lavin
Director of Customer Experience


With Khoros CX Insights, Orvis reduced handle time, converted more returns to exchanges, improved customer experience, and deflected inquiries away from their contact center — all without adding additional support agents. Their ability to quickly categorize and analyze support inquiries helped them identify areas for improvement in their contact center, website, and email cadence. They have even improved supply chain management, reduced calls about out-of-stock items, and began customers about shipping statuses via SMS. Khoros is helping Orvis prove that even a company who’s delighted shoppers for 162 years can turn to digital-first technology to continue its legacy of incredible customer experience.

  • 20%

    reduction in handle time for calls related to returns

  • 58%

    of returns converted to exchanges

  • 19%

    reduction in volume of inquiries about store hours, locations, and inventory