Orvis Taps Customer Analytics To Help Convert 58% Of Returns Into Exchanges Featured

  • Written by  Bryan Wassel
Orvis Taps Customer Analytics To Help Convert 58% Of Returns Into Exchanges

Orvis has been in the mail-order business since 1856, and even after 163 years the outfitter still struggles with a problem common to all retailers: dealing with returns. Orvis took a 21st-century approach to these challenges: to better track the customer experience and determine where the most friction was being generated, the retailer implemented the Topbox customer analytics solution.

“The challenge for most contact centers is getting to the root cause of customers’ issues — understanding what’s causing them and where we can make process, product or service improvements,” said Lisa Lavin, Director of Customer Experience at Orvis in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “With limited resources, you want to make sure you’re targeting the most critical areas.”


Orvis discovered that its shoppers were confused about the retailer’s return policies in particular, leading to a noticeable drop in customer satisfaction in addition to a large number of calls. Topbox’s analytic tools helped the retailer determine where their instructions were insufficient, allowing Orvis to correct the issue and clarify its returns policy.

“[Customers] don’t want to have to make a call, chat or send an email,” said Lavin. “They want to have easy returns at their fingertips. We revamped our digital returns service instructions online, we improved the instructions and communications in order confirmation and shipping papers that are delivered with the package, and it was significant: we saw a 43% reduction in returns questions. Because we were able to analyze this data with Topbox, we knew exactly what they were asking for and where we needed better communication.”

The analysis also helped Orvis improve the interface for call center associates, who handle 1.5 million calls annually. The software automatically determines the disposition of the call, reducing the average call time by 8 seconds. Additionally, Orvis was able to improve the system for handling exchanges, reducing the average transaction time by 2 minutes — and in turn helping to convert 58% of return calls into exchanges.

“For the customer, the experience was much better,” said Lavin. “It was less transactional, more engaging, and there was more conversation about the products. Nobody wants to do a return. Being able to have that easy transaction and quickly get something back out to them was really a win for the customer.”

Additionally, Orvis saw a number of other benefits from its implementation of the solution:

  • 20% reduction in calls related to returns in general;
  • 20% reduction in calls requesting receipt confirmation; and
  • 37% reduction in calls with customers asking if their order had been shipped.

Analytics Improve Abandoned Cart Personalization

Orvis initially partnered with Topbox to analyze voice and text data, but the retailer also gained the ability to analyze survey data alongside abandoned cart metadata. This feature lets the retailer better understand why specific shoppers failed to complete their purchase, enabling a greater degree of personalization in abandoned cart emails.

The reason for abandonment “could be ‘Shipping was too much,’ ‘I couldn’t find my promotion code’ or simply ‘It wouldn’t work,’” said Lavin. “I’m actually working on a targeted campaign to market to these customers. Rather than getting a standard abandoned cart email, now I can say ‘Here is what I want to do for you based on what you said.’”

Sharper analytics also have helped Orvis improve its order acknowledgement emails, reducing confusion about when multiple packages arrive at different times, and they will help power further customer relations improvements in the future.

“It’s going to help us down the road,” said Lavin. “We’re going to be integrating it with a customer data platform, and we’ll be able to pass over a lot of the metadata to Topbox and further personalize those interactions with the customer.”

Orvis also is working with solution partners including Aptos, Bazaarvoice and Bizrate, and the retailer earned a Customer Engagement Award from Retail TouchPoints for its reserve online/pick up in store (ROPIS) system.

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