Another Cloud Podcast

A podcast designed to bring you stories from the smartest minds in IT, operations and business, and learn how they're using Cloud Technology to improve business and the customer experience.

Finding Success at CROCS

with Alex McBratney 

Don't have time to listen? Read the full transcription.


Brian, Alex


Alex 00:00

Hello, and welcome to another cloud podcast, a podcast designed to bring you stories from the smartest minds in it, operations and business and learn how they're using cloud technology to improve business and customer experience. All right, welcome to another cloud podcast. Today. I am lucky to have our guest Brian Gustin from crocs on our podcast today. He is the Director of Business Operations and customer engagement over at crocs. Brian, welcome to the podcast.


Brian 00:32

Thanks for having me, Alex.


Alex 00:33

Yeah, we love having you on. I love the fact that we had a chance to talk beforehand, cuz there's a lot of cool things going on with crocs. You've been there a while and just your experience in customer success and engagement is really intriguing. I think a lot of people can glean a lot of knowledge off of what you have to share today. So why don't we just take a couple minutes just to step back and give us a little introduction on who you are, where you where you came from your career to land at Crocs, and how you got into this customer experience engagement world.


Brian 01:03

I've been really lucky to be on the wild rocket ship that's been crocs. I used to say we were we were just a plucky startup in a little town called Norwalk, Colorado, outside of Boulder. And we're growing up really, really fast. And I've gotten to be along that ride. So starting out in a wholesale sales job, and a little over 15 years ago. And so really remember those early days, that kind of a startup company where when our first million dollar day, and oh my gosh, that was so exciting. And let's go pop champagne in the office. And when the company had its first IPO, it was just those times when you were a lot of hats, and everybody pitched in to do what needed to be done, made a lot of mistakes along the way. But along that journey, we sold 720 million pairs of shoes. So it's been really incredible growth over that time. So I've gotten to work in a variety of jobs in our customer service and kind of supply chain worlds, getting to run inventory planning, and our warehouse in Ontario, California for a while. And I've really settled into a job where I get to work with our wholesale customers, our consumers and our groups, it's in the supply chain. So I get to stay kind of connected with how things work in the warehouse and in our manufacturing operations, to make sure that at the end of the day, we're serving our consumers and and whether they're buying from Crocs, calm our stores, or from our wholesale partners.


Alex 02:44

Yeah, that was that's a great background and having, you know, six to almost 16 years there. And being able to jump from different departments and really learning the business of crocs and how they how things operate, have transformed probably how you view customer success, how you view the customer, you know, customer experience, talk a little bit about just what that transformation has looked like for you, as you've gotten knowledge from these different departments and how that's translated into your approach today. Yeah,


Brian 03:11

absolutely. And, to at the risk of being repetitive, as I think I said before, I just have felt really lucky of getting to go on that journey. Because I feel so much more well rounded in supporting our consumers today than I would have been if I didn't have that background of experience. And so when I'm sitting with an agent in our call center, and they're complaining about why is this late and and then we're disappointing our customer, I can really think about the upstream depths of well, it could have broken down here here. And well, I know we have a project going on here that this is going to really make this better. So but unable to kind of share that transformational journey, as we said that even down to our agents to try and help them understand. Of course, no one is calling us to say, Hey, I had a great day wearing my crocs to the beach yesterday, high five thanks. And well we do love and we get letters from from, especially kids that talk about how much they love our product. We get we deal with the complaints. And so on that side of it getting to understand both where we come from and where we're going on that journey to help our agents and and CSRS understand this is what the futures gonna look like. And how much better at already is. So yeah, it's fun to get that full perspective.


Alex 04:37

Yeah, I love that story. And just the ability to be able to take that and not many people that we've talked to on this podcast have that long of a tenure at one company. And so being able to take the startup or this you know, fledgling business fledging business to where it is now where you sold over 700 million pairs of shoes, you know, seeing how that contact center has transformed it. Customer Experience is transformed in just the how the technology right, that's available to you nowadays is has changed yet? How has that played a part just in the context? And yeah,


Brian 05:10

yeah, it's good and bad to have to hear to be here that long. On the one hand, I've got a lot of history and can understand. Yep, we tried that back in 2006. And it didn't work then. But it might work now, because we're in a different place. And, and we've got different funding, I constantly have to remind myself, okay, how would I think about this, also, if I just came in, off the street, and that didn't have to challenge my team sometimes to have, just because we've tried it before and failed, doesn't mean, it isn't a better time to try it now or that with different resources and opportunities that that we could do it. So from our call center, we've gone on a real journey of what started as just a couple of agents, oh, the phone's ringing, we got to bring in more bodies. And we just had to kind of grow it to what we have now working with a partner where we have 24 by five operation, and are really trying to have a follow this non model. So we're located in Eastern Europe. And so well, we can have folks that are answering calls from English speaking customers from all around the world, and are able to have that center open 24 hours Monday through Friday, helping our customers on what originally was just Hey, we got to make sure we're answering the phones to obviously, email is is a part of our call center, but our live messaging helping customers either on chat through the website, SMS, Facebook, Whatsapp, that's our fastest growing channel. And we even look at the heat maps of the times when customers are talking to us. And it's happening from five to nine o'clock East Coast time in the US. So it's folks are are lining us up as they're shopping, maybe on their couch watching Netflix and and croc shopping, and getting help on on whatever's going on, on their, on their purchase journey with us. And it's cool that the technology has evolved and our ability to to really work globally. And and have the resources to help customers around the world at any time of the day has been great.


Alex 07:22

Yeah, it was really interesting as as our, you know, mobile technology as has grown right from the iPhone to which was, you know, 2g technology you couldn't? How many apps Did you have on your first iPhone, right, there's none, just your music, to where we're at now. So I see that, you know, it's kind of like the users are pulling companies in the direction where they how they want to be serviced. You know, with that mobile technology changing so much, it's allowed the contact center to, to play catch up, and to take those technologies and those ways that customers want to be interacting with, with the, with their brands that they work with.


Brian 07:59

Definitely, it's really incumbent on companies to listen, our motto as a company is Come as you are. And our mission statement is for everyone to be comfortable in their own shoes. And so how I translate that in customer service is I tell our team, we need to be as comfortable as a service experience as it is when someone's experiencing our product. And so that means meeting them where they are on their mobile device, trying to make it as easy as possible for them. And then whatever channel they want to contact us in. So we've really tried to be democratic and listen to what our customers asked for in that respect.


Alex 08:37

Yeah. Going back to the how, you know, when you're expanded globally, and you have this 24 by five support model. And starting from where you started with just a couple agents and growing from there, how is the experience of growing to an international context and our support model from when you just had it us base to the to the expansion globally, how lessons learned things you would tell to another contact center leader like, Hey, don't try that or do it this way thing, you know, lessons learned and things like that? Yeah.


Brian 09:05

So for us, especially working with a partner and just stepping foot in, in Bulgaria for the first time for me, it was okay, well, there's a level of culture shock for me to experience what it's like here, but I could also see the signs of Western culture everywhere. And of course, the probably the cliche of there used to be McDonald's and every quarter of wherever country you were well now at Starbucks Of course. And so you see the western brands and and the western pop culture and entertainment that agents wanted to talk to us about it. They when they found out Oh, you like basketball. Oh, but wait a minute, you're, you're you're from Denver, that's where your kids plays. And we followed him when he was in Europe. And so of course, it made it easy to connect on a cultural standpoint of like, Okay, this team can understand and talk to an American consumer. When European, Australian etc, they're really connected to the world in a way that we wouldn't have been years ago. But you bring up an interesting point in the lessons learned is that cultural norms, though, are something I didn't take I took for granted very early on. And so, for instance, in our company, we tried to be very quite open and take the customer's point of view. And even if quote, unquote, that's against our policy, or we weren't in the wrong, we want to try and do the right thing by the customer. That's our brain. And TNA wouldn't be crushed if we weren't well, following the rules, or but that's not the policy in our agents even arguing with me and training of but Brian, how can you do that? What if they're lying, and really trying to say, that's okay? I would rather err on the side of someone's lying to me. But one out of 10 times, and please those other nine out of 10, that were not doing anything wrong, they were just trying to have a good experience with our product and our company. And so thinking about it, it's really something again, if I were looking at a different place, internationally, I'd really talk about, okay, what are your cultural norms around trust? And rules? And how do we really incorporate that into the agent training?


Alex 11:29

Yeah, and I think you probably saw a lot of that, you know, Eastern Europe, right, German Swiss, it's very black and white to those cold. Yeah, I operate very engineer, mathematical. You know, and I can, in the Western cultures seen as flamboyant, and like, you know, hodgepodge, maybe. But that's certainly a huge, huge change,


Brian 11:49

certainly, and where we are at former communist country that's joined the EU trying to embrace West, what we kind of think about is Western norms. It's, you could still see some of that kind of tendencies and thinking of the should you trust the individual or not. And so it was an interesting lesson for us to learn through that. But of all the things that you could work on trying to do is, let's train our team to trust our customers. Right? That was a fun one, compared with what could be in many other cases,


Alex 12:27

would you say? So? How long would you say it took for them to grasp that, you know, crop culture, and like, trusting the customers, even if they kind of feel like maybe the customer is not being trustworthy? letting that go? And just, you know, being the breath they want to breathe?


Brian 12:43

It kind of takes a good month for new agents that come in, even still today? Is it just because they're not used to that? And they, they're used to thinking like, I'm enforcing the policies? And do I don't want to get in trouble? Well, maybe I could do this, but then Am I going to get in trouble? From our quality control. And it's actually the more funny thing is our quality control has really had to be 180. of actually, we want you to be more trusting and forgiving, and break our rules, be the hero to the customer is how we've had to train and train, retrain the mindset


Alex 13:20

Really? Yeah. No, it's a great, it's a great lesson to be learned, right? Especially for a retail brand, where you have a lot of, you know, enough calm influencers and people that are collaborators that you just want the brand image to be a certain way. And so if if one of them breaks, and they want to say as a manufacturer malfunction, when really their dog bid it and rip it apart or something, it's just taking him for their words, sending him a new pair or whatever it is that you guys do. But I think that's great. Switching gears a little bit, we talked before this podcast about what you guys are doing, you know, philanthropically and how the pandemic has really changed. You know, your culture within the company, and what you guys are doing and how you're supporting just the frontline workers and whatnot. Let's talk about that.


Brian 14:08

Yeah, it was a really cool story. Obviously, a lot of companies had to really rationalize very quickly, what was the pandemic going to mean for their business? And, of course, the company had a corporate strategy, both offense and defense of what do we need to do to manufacturing to support our team members, but it was not even two weeks into the, to the first shutdown of the pandemic. And in April of 2020, when the leadership of the company said wait, we also have a responsibility to look out for people on the front lines that could really benefit from our product. And so if you think about a nurse or a doctor, that at that time, everyone was washing their potato chip bags, when they brought their groceries in like people were just afraid of everything you brought into your home of I don't want to bring something that I can't clean into my home. Well, our product is perfect. You could literally take it off on your porch or your garage, hose it off, leave it there, you'll know. Okay, it'll be good. So for those, especially frontline health care workers that were so important for our country and taking care of all of us, for us to be able to take care of them, that they could have a product that they could know it was safe, and not have to worry about bringing something home to their family, there was a real responsibility that the company felt of helping. So we started a free pair for health care program, where it was a daily sign up on our website, where the frontline workers could add their information to be chosen to get a free pair. In total, we gave away 860,000 pairs of shoes, which was so amazing from the the philanthropic side of being able to help those people from my world in the call center, though, it went from our number one calls being where's my order? And can you help me with an exchange, I need a new size and choose to how can I sign up, I hear there's free crocs I want in or I missed the drawing Do I have another chance what's next, in total, with 29 million people that were contact that reached our website during that period. And you can imagine our context, and there we went 5x on our number of volume. So it really laid the roadmap for us and what we need to be working on going forward. And that's how we can deal with surges. And knowing, okay, our partners in Bulgaria did a great job, they doubled their staff, within a month, all while they were working with their own lockdown and moving to a virtual environment. So I can't applaud their partnership enough for what they did. But it was not even half of what we would have needed to service people in the SLA is that we want to keep so it's really led us to we need automation and technology to be in our roadmap to help us with being able to surge react very quickly to spikes like that, especially when they're for unique reasons.


Alex 17:04

Yeah. And I mean, it's, we see this a lot in the security side with it, you know, stressing the system, and you basically, you know, you, you put it to the test, and then you're able to find out where the weak links are. So you know, it's a self imposed stress test to see, okay, like, if we're going to scale up by x, you get to see really quick where your shortcomings are and where things are going well, when things are going not so well. What sort of technologies do you see being at the forefront from those abilities to want to be able to scale quickly? And then? Well, this next question, awesome. Next question later, I'll let you start there. You can go in so many directions with that. But yeah,


Brian 17:43

definitely, we're looking at how bots can play a part. And we've launched a bot on our website right now, and are looking at how we can increase that into into voice and other channels. It's really important that we make sure it's a good experience, it has to feel like crocs. We don't want it to feel like, Okay, I'm being forced down this path. That that that we've all had, as our own consumer selves, add experiences. Yeah. So it's really important for us that we're taking baby steps in that road and and want to make sure we're listening to customers and making it very user friendly. But that is a front end. Ultimately, a customer doesn't care or not, I believe if they're talking to a bot or a human, if it solves their problem. So we've got to make sure we have something that is very forward problem solving on the front end and intent capturing to say, okay, nope, you asked me something completely left field, I'm getting you to an agent immediately. I'm not going to let you spin your wheels on on something that I know I as a bot can handle.


Alex 18:54

Yeah, you know, what you're saying is absolutely true. And like where I where we see a lot of, you know, breakdown in the customer experience is when people try to over automate, thinking they're helping the customer, when in the end, it's like, oh, like before I could, you know, go through a phone tree. Now it's all voice activated, and it's not working so well. Or it's I was used to talking to an agent after three rings. Now I'm getting pushed down some AI experience that they don't like, you know, so a lot of times it's tech can get in the way of the brand and what you're trying to experience experience for the customer, right, try that that brand experience. And it's interesting to see some of the lessons learned and how long have you had the bot going now and like what were some of the learning experiences and things you do differently just with the bot.


Brian 19:39

And we been live since July and have been pretty happy with what we have so far in terms of our kind of our self help rate from a customer point of view. And just as you said, we wanted to try and start simple and not over engineer Hear it. So we only have a couple of intense off the bat, we have the option very quickly to, okay, strike one, it didn't work, that opportunity to work. Do you want to go to an agent instead of those trees where you have to try 10 things before you get to the end to try and talk to us? Yeah. So that was really important to us is we didn't want to hide that that function in the process. The big lesson in the coming change for us is, we've got to integrate our systems and our back end of Okay, we've we've kind of shown there's, there's value here, and our consumers are willing to use this. Now we need to invest in the back end technology to improve the number of self service intense. So if you think about that, the most common reason somebody doesn't like their pair of shoes is it just doesn't fit. They want to get a different size. So for instance, that's something that we want to map, how could you do that with just a bot and not have to have a human? I've got a size nine, and I'd like a size 10? Yeah, pretty simple intent. But as you can think about what are the machinations that we've got to go through in terms of a return and a refund and a reshipment, and then new credit card authorization, and all of the different touch points in there, there's a lot of integrations to make that happen. But trying to to be self sufficient on that, and just be easy to work with. That's our brand DNA. So that's, that's got to be our mission.


Alex 21:28

Yeah, absolutely. And that's, I mean, that's what we all want as consumers, right? This, make it as simple as possible. And I think, you know, like you said, you know, starting simple with a bot and not over complicating it with so many workflows that you can think of, but it's that crawl, walk run approach, right. And it's the same way, when people first get into the cloud for the contact center, you can think about all the wonderful things you can do with these platforms, like Genesis and contact and talk to us, they can do so much. But you can't just jump right into like the Ferrari without first learning how to drive, you know, drive a stick shift, right? And so that's where that crawl, walk run comes into place. Where do you see AI coming in? Do you think you'd like to be part of the mix as bots become smarter, and you sort of train it to use machine learning to get past some of those, you know, hurdles that might come up just with a with a regular bot? Yeah,


Brian 22:21

I think definitely on how we can try and train our bots to understand the customer's intention questions, that they're coming back is going to be really important. And just in a couple of months of being live, it's very clear. Well, that's, that's easier said than done? And do we have the right setup and partners to be able to deal with that inbound flux of learning that you need to help the machine? I think some of the other areas that I think about automation is how can we help our agents. So if we're going to try and, and have all of that kind of low hanging fruit, be self service by a bot, then inherently what we're sending to our agents are the more complicated problems, or the things that require a human touch? And so where can we take out some of the annoying call center steps of the past of well, Can you spell your name for me? But what was your email address? Again, what's your address and, and all of that stuff that boy, we need to automate that. So that happens immediately for the agent, and then on the same line, help their journey. So if we can have a bot press a virtual button to say exchange the size nine to a size 10, I need to create that automation behind the scenes for the agents to so so that they can do that. So that's kind of what's on our roadmap to thinking about automation.


Alex 23:44

Yeah, you know, I'm glad you brought up the agent experience, because a lot of times we talk about the customer experience, but if the agent experience isn't good, and they're frustrated, then eventually all trickles down right down to the customer. So one of the things we talked about before is, you know, taking systems and disparate disparate systems, maybe working on multiple screens, or multiple different programs and boiling from three down to one. How has that experience been now that you've gone from three big systems down to one that they can work from? And how's that improve the agent experience?


Brian 24:17

Yeah, that's on our roadmap, we have one line item. That's all of our things we're working on for customer experience. And another that's for agent experience, because it has to be hand in hand. And we are working to integrate our CRM to our front end ordering portal. So when our customers place an order and immediately will show up in our CRM, we can then see that the warehouse status and all of that so we're not live with that yet. But as you mentioned, the journey is going to take us from an agent needing three different logins multiple screens up retyping. That it's a crappy experience for them. It's adds to our training time. They competence and what really, they didn't join this job to like navigate multiple screens, they joined it to help people. And so we make a lot of barriers to that when we make them have to jump through these internal hoops. So we know it's going to have a great impact on our handling time, by not having just putting this information right up in their face, not making them have to go look for it. And of course, then we know it's going to have a knock on effect on the customer satisfaction because the agent can focus on them and not focus on their screens.


Alex 25:31

Yeah, I've had that myself that same experience where I was brought in to work for job, and they were using Salesforce as a while back. But, you know, it's complicated the system, there's multiple systems. And so what happens is you go, you know, hey, Sally, or Hey, Joe, like, you've been here for two years, and No, really, I come over here and help me. And all of a sudden productivity starts to go down, because your champions or your leaders that no, it really well, are getting pulled over to help the new person. And that just, you know, sucks, time has times expensive, especially, you know, the more butts in the seat that you have, it's time is money in a contact center.


Brian 26:07

Yep. And it, I get very grounded, when I think about that, too. If I was a new agent, who started working for a company who I never got to sit in their classroom, I never got to touch the product. I never got to actually shake hands with any of my co workers, because I'm working from home and the pandemic. Sally is, yep, she's a team's message away to try and ask her those questions. But while I'm on the phone, and trying to be confident and and project to the customer at what I'm doing, I don't have the Sally that can get over my shoulder. So we've really left them on an island. And so that's, again, part of the automation of, can we take advantage of some of the evolving tools of the bot, still listening while the agents taking the call and giving recommendations for the agent on the next steps to? How do we simplify the screens so that they don't have to look at 27 things are on corners, but we're really surfacing. Okay, the customer said it's an exchange, we're going to show you a screen that's really formatted just for the relevant information about an exchange. Or you can say, No, you didn't hear that, right. But this is about something completely different, and quickly pivot out of it. But that's the vision that we're working toward.


Alex 27:26

Yeah. And I think, you know, whether it's the customer experience, or the agent experience, it's almost like we have to take apples approach to it, right, make it. So stupidly simple, right. That's why everyone loves Macs or apples that are very intuitive. Like your kids can get on it immediately in search, swiping and knowing what things do. And that's where you need the agent and the customer experience being is just extremely simple. You mentioned the onboarding during the pandemic. And this has been a challenge for a lot of companies that we've talked to were what were some of the wins, and I call them a challenges that you face, you know, like your Belgium team having to ramp up during giving away all those pairs of crocs to the frontline workers, and having to train people and get them up to speed remotely.


Brian 28:11

Yeah, it big challenges. And as I said, I really applaud our team that was able to do that very fast recruiting, and the really care for that, that agent in in it. And really extra time to pivot of, alright, you're going to we're going to do a virtual interview, you're going to come in, we're going to have a box for you. That's your kit of of your workstation, it's going to have instructions for you to be able to take it home. And here's the number you can call if you have trouble. And once you get set up this, this is your classroom time that you're going to log into the virtual classroom. And they really did a great job of quickly ramping up into that. I think, for us and a lot of companies, I think the challenges are right, from the initial days of people kind of resettling into routines and what jobs and and as certain in person things went away. Now it's okay, do you have the labor pool available to you? And that's certainly been a challenge to think about. Okay, if we needed to double in size again, how would we be able to do that? I don't know. And so that's what's driving the bot? Yeah, the evolution to need to be part of it.


Alex 29:34

Yeah, we hear you know, all the time about how companies are having a hard time filling, filling seats, filling spots, whether it's a context and or just restaurants and hotels, because people are on in America, you know, still on unemployment, and they're making $19 an hour on unemployment right now. And so that's, that's been a challenge and then just the competitiveness of the market for when there are openings, you know, and


Brian 29:57

yet, that's where it's really as an employer You really have to think about that agent experience. Both just what does it mean for them to take your call? But what does it mean to work for you for your brand for your contact center? Because they're going to have a lot of other options? Yeah. And it's not just to say, Oh, well, we have a great company culture, they'll stay for that. You have to be thinking about all of the reasons why someone is thinking about working for your company and staying with your company and constantly thinking about that.


Alex 30:31

Yeah, absolutely. So switching gears a little bit. And we're, you know, as we get closer to the end here, we talked about collaborations before, and we, you know, we were joking around on a pre call about, you know, Lightning McQueen and bad company, and just all the different partnerships that that crocs have talked a little bit just about the brand. And what's what's new, and what's, what kind of collaborations are out there that you guys are excited about, or that you're able to share with the audience?


Brian 30:57

Yeah, the collaborations have just added a really new fun dimension, to the way that we interact with with our fans. And so many of them, thankfully, have come from really organic artists that have been interested in crocs even before the opportunity to work with us. So post malone and a Justin Bieber, really pick things off. But then we've had Kentucky Fried Chicken. And the next one coming out is Hidden Valley Ranch, the the salad dressing now on your shoe, and things that you just would never have think, Okay, well, how does that have anything to do with the shoe, but they're brands in the ether. And they really resonate with our consumers. And so it's obviously generates buzz and excitement generates call center demand of people wanting to know, when is the next one, what can I get? And so we've really seen great momentum from that.


Alex 32:05

And we are joking around about the the employee line, right, the employees get the jump ahead of that. We quickly found out that no, employees don't get the jump in front of line.


Brian 32:14

No, we have to get in line with everybody else. And I have obviously told you how long I've worked here, I have never gotten to the front of the line myself. So I'm still waiting and entering all of these lines myself to someday get to the front.


Alex 32:33

Yeah, yeah. Um, gosh, there's so many things we can talk about one of the things going back to just the business side of it that I want to find out and just with retail, and while already couldn't be on the call for today, and he's in retail, as well as where do you see the shift happening? Or do you see a shift between people calling in using bots, email, web support, you know, whatever that might look like? What shifts do you see happening on the channels that people are coming in on?


Brian 33:02

Yeah, definitely a big shift toward the messaging, whether that's through traditional desktop live chat, we're seeing a lot more growth in Facebook Messenger, SMS, and WhatsApp. But they can also interact with this live chat on their mobile device. And it really is that multitasking of I, if I just have to sit there and wait and talk to you and just do that one thing, it's, that's not especially our younger consumers, their inclination is not going to be I'm going to go pick up the phone first. And I'm going to send a text message for anything in their life. And so that's been an important shift for us is to make sure we're there and available on those channels, too.


Alex 33:46

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, we see a shift. It depends for us. We've seen it, it just depends on the vertical or the industry, where some, a lot of times voice is still number one. And we see a lot of companies that have just had an email 80% email support, you know, so it's interesting to see the changes. I think with retail, I can absolutely see it going more the messaging side, because that's the e commerce way, right. People are used to doing it online. So it's quick, you're on the website. Well, there's the Help button right there. pop up the button, off you go. But as far as the last question, because I'm excited to talk about all this stuff, but the last question I had was just supply chain, right. We've had a lot of issues with materials, that you know, distribution because of trucking during the pandemic, like has any of that been, how did you manage through those times? Or how badly How bad was it for a manufacturer for


Brian 34:44

Yeah, I think there have been multiple waves of it from the initial surge of COVID around the world and that shutting down things and and kind of realigning what it was going to take. So there was that first surge which accompanied a pullback in a lot of physical retail too. So that was okay. At manufacturing, it may be slowing down but and all the supply chain, but also so is all of the demand except for on on our comm which which surged through that as people could shop at home and get the product delivered to them and not have to leave. As we've gone through kind of an early recovery from that, we're now facing what I think a lot of people might have thought were temporary supply chain disruptions, and you hear it, oh, that suez canal is jammed up. And as soon as they get that clear, will be in the clear. And starting to realize No, a lot of this is just the new normal of shopping habits have changed. supply chains around the world haven't caught up. So costs are higher for shipping. And so as a company that has a lot of brands that are still facing that, internally, it's a lot of collaboration. And so there's not a single day that I'm not talking with the warehouse with logistics with planning with our commercial teams. And we're all trying to stay aligned on what's the current status, what are the current priorities, and being really nimble. And so for instance, a collaboration that was supposed to launch on a Tuesday, well, it's the containers of late so can we get marketing and get everybody lined up at lunch and next week, and up until the container gets here, we can't launch? So let's let's all be nimble and make that change. So it's been through that collab internal collaboration Yeah, that we've been able to navigate that.


Alex 36:35

Yeah, I can imagine I was in, I was in Southern California for a conference earlier this week. And the amount of container ships sitting outside the port of LA is astronomical, and they just look like these giant ganic. Just gigantic ships full of containers, there's probably at least a dozen of them anchored out there just waiting to come into the port


Brian 36:58

for x that last week was the record number of containers. So we were looking at that on a dashboard every week with a little map that shows here's the total containers, here's the number of them that have crocs on them. And so it's for someone with a call center customer service background, that we're literally talking about, what's the status of different ocean liners in different container numbers? It's a different world, we'll probably be in that. And I think, I think ahead to like the upcoming holiday season. If you haven't started, you're going to start hitting pshs everywhere of shock now. For people that weren't prepared, and we just had a meeting the other day of what was our what's kind of our holiday preparedness, and what's our our shipping timelines to the customers and knock on wood. I feel really great about where we're at. And because we're doing really proactive made a plan. And we think we'll be able to really service our consumer demand through through the full holiday season. So that's really cool. I'm sure other people are really scrambling on and what is that going to mean for their contact center demand? Yeah, but you got to be thinking about it. It is kind of a new normal.


Alex 38:10

Yeah, I was, I was having lunch with my wife today. And we were talking about Christmas coming up. I was like, we better figure it out quick, like forgetting bikes, or whatever, because they all sold out during the pandemic. And it was really difficult to get bikes and just toys, right for kids. And, like, we got to find the stuff now because I don't want to have that all run out when as it gets closer, just like you're saying. Yes, no, it's amazing. And I, you know, and I, I know it helps because you can even translate that message down to your agents, because then they can talk to a customer saying, hey, well, here's what the status is there's, you know, 30 ships sitting outside of La with our product on it. And you can kind of empathize and say, give them like behind the scenes on what's, what's going on in the world and how this is affecting everybody and whatnot. So I think that's great.


Brian 38:54

Yeah, yep, absolutely.


Alex 38:56

So one last question, Brian, before we go behind you, you've got all those crocs Do you have a favorite pair that you wear or that you have is one of them behind you? which is which is your favorite one?


Brian 39:08

I thought that we and I don't know if we have it in this room. We did a Grateful Dead collaboration. Oh, I wouldn't classify myself as a deadheads, but I thought that those were really the coolest and LeBron James had a pair and like it was just like okay, this is the epitome of cool when like our number one basketball player thinks this product is cool and and Yep, I did do that. Yeah, absolutely. I'm still waiting for my


Alex 39:39

they're still on a ship outside las. O'Brian man thank thanks so much for jumping on and I've certainly learned a ton about what you guys are doing you guys have a great product and you're prepared for the future and I just can't wait to see you guys get to that you know billion mark as far as you know, shoes delivered. So but thanks for being on this podcast.


Brian 40:00

Thanks, Alex. It was a pleasure.


Alex 40:03

Well, that wraps up the show for today. Thanks for joining. And don't forget to join us next week as we bring another guest in to talk about the trends around cloud contact center and customer experience. Also, you can find us at Adler advisors com, LinkedIn, or your favorite podcast platform. We'll see you next week on another cloud podcast.