How Pura Vida brings customer service to life in a digital-first world

NRF Nexus: Connecting conversations — serving the modern consumer
Sheryll Poe
NRF Contributor

In Costa Rica, the phrase “pura vida” is meant to convey a happy, stress-free life. Pura Vida’s Customer Success Manager Dan Brady wants to make sure that spirit inspires customer service at the jewelry and lifestyle brand founded in 2010 and owned by Vera Bradley.

In fact, Pura Vida’s 25 customer service representatives are known as “customer advocates,” an important distinction according to Brady, who spoke at NRF Nexus.

“We’re not just about servicing our customers, and providing responses and answering their inquiries, and giving them what they need. Of course, that’s a very basic level of what we should be doing,” Brady said.

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“But for us, making our customers successful also means making sure we’re relaying feedback that we hear from our customers, day in and day out, to the right department for consideration on ‘Hey, how can we provide better service in the future, how can we make better products moving forward,’ and just making sure that we’re setting up our customers for success too.”

Putting technology to work

To enable efficient and effective customer experiences, Pura Vida relies in part on technology including chatbots and AI to handle basic inquiries and tasks. The brand’s AI, named “Lauren,” can resolve 15-20 percent of inquiries in any given month, Brady said. “The thing that I love about AI is it works 24/7, 365. Never has a bad attitude, works on the holidays, nights, weekends.”

Pura Vida’s chatbot, which went live a few months ago and is powered by Kustomer, has a similar success rate. “What this chatbot really does for us [is] it collects what the customer, or non-customer, is reaching out about prior to being connected with us,” he said.

“Since deploying this, we’ve actually seen 25 percent greater productivity on an advocate level, so they’re answering 25 percent more chats than they were previously, and the average handle time is down 50 percent.”

The tech is also popular with Pura Vida’s young customers, who tend to prefer self-service options when it comes to customer support experiences. “I like to jokingly say that our target demographic is 16-30-year-olds, and they don’t even like picking up the phone to call their parents,” Brady said. “They don’t want to pick up the phone and call our CS team unless they need to.”

The channels of the future

Pura Vida customers have also embraced marketing and customer service via social and instantaneous messaging channels, including WhatsApp and text. “SMS is very popular and a growing channel in the industry,” Brady said. “For us specifically, social is our second most popular channel. We have 2.1 million followers on Instagram alone, so it’s about being where your customers are.”

All of this allows Pura Vida’s customer advocates to gather a wealth of information on the brand’s customers. “We’re on the front line,” Brady said, noting that customer advocates can keep track of what drives the customers and what new self-service options they respond to. “The goal is to reduce the number of contacts and when they do contact us, provide a great experience.”

One piece of feedback that Brady’s teams have heard, and Pura Vida has responded to, is a request for a higher quality line in addition to its signature jewelry. The brand is currently working on a demi-fine collection made of higher quality materials and stones. “Being advocates for customers, I can’t tell you how many requests we’ve had for this,” Brady said.

For Brady, it goes back to keeping his customer advocate team happy as well, which means receiving and acting on feedback on what Pura Vida could be doing better for team members. “Anyone who oversees a customer success team, you’re constantly collecting surveys from customers and the same for our employees,” he said. “The statistic that I’m most proud of: When we recently ran a survey, we had a 96 percent employee [customer satisfaction] score.”

That positivity means good things for Pura Vida, Brady believes. “We want positive vibes to be passed along to our customers as well,” he said. ““The future is definitely bright in the world of customer experience and customer success.”

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