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Frank And Oak writes the playbook on building strong customer relationships 

Thriving in a World of Zero Tolerance Shoppers

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Roger Emeka knew that Frank And Oak was all about connecting with consumers from the time he left his banking job to take a role as a customer service agent at the innovative, direct-to-consumer apparel retailer. 

He saw it eight years ago, when he started at the Montreal-based merchant with a keen sense of casual fashion and he sees it today from his perch as director of customer service and operations. All retailers talk about connecting with their customers; Frank And Oak has made an art of it — quite literally. 

Browsing its digital site is like flipping through a glossy, rotogravure magazine of days gone by. Speaking of magazines, Frank And Oak produces one, The Handbook. This is no lookbook or camouflaged collection of product pages. This is an honest-to-goodness magazine with lifestyle stories about food, beer, interior design, sustainability and, yes, fashion. 

The retailer offers its Style Plan, a subscription service that provides personalization, member pricing and a box of fashion delivered to a customer’s door on a regular basis. It’s like being on a shopping excursion with a trusted friend who can spot the top or slacks or jacket that is you.

What you need to know
  • Frank And Oak practices sustainable practices as a way to better connect with consumers. Shoppers prefer to patronize retailers that promote social good. 
  • The retailer displays empathy for customers by doing things like launching a page dedicated to brick-and-mortar reopening in a time of coronavirus. The page lets shoppers know what to expect in unprecedented times.
  • Frank And Oak turned to Signifyd to bolster its customer relationships by ensuring that legitimate orders were shipped and by adjudicating item-not-received claims with precision.

Frank And Oak goes to great lengths to maintain sustainable practices and to communicate those to its customers. The company is a B Corporation, an independent certification that means Frank And Oak creates value for its employees, local community and the environment. Behaving in a socially responsible way is an attribute that consumers have said in survey after survey that they appreciate and sometimes demand from the retailers they shop. 

Frank And Oak thrives on empathy for its customers

To grasp the extent of Frank And Oak’s empathy and compassion for customers, look no further than its page announcing the reopening of its brick-and-mortar stores in the midst of COVID-19. It is a textbook example of what retailers need to do in a time when anxiety is running high and some shoppers might be hesitant to enter a physical store.

The page includes a store locator, of course. But it also transparently lays out what shoppers can expect — social distancing, limits on the number of shoppers at any one time, limited-at-best access to fitting rooms, hand-sanitizer stations, sanitation routines for clothes that have been tried on, contactless payment options, assurances that staff members will wear masks. And, as important as all that, a message to customers: “We’re thrilled to see you again.” 

In other words, Frank And Oak was Emeka’s kind of place. That doesn’t mean building a strong rapport with customers wasn’t a work in progress for some of his time there. Soon after Emeka became responsible for operations and fulfillment, he zeroed in on ways to better communicate with customers. For instance, he wanted to make sure shoppers understood the best ways to take advantage of the Style Plan offering and to manage the delivery of Frank And Oak products. It’s how a customer-obsessed retailer thinks. 

Emeka, along with his team at Frank And Oak also continued to improve the customer experience through better risk management. 

A little background: Like a significant number of retailers, Frank And Oak had built its own fraud protection system and it relied on in-house staff to review questionable orders. Their system was sound in theory, looking on the fraud-protection side for red flags based on email addresses, purchase history, delivery addresses, and at times, doing internet research. But it was also time consuming.

“It was just a very manual process and it was done by one individual, sometimes two,” Emeka says. “They basically couldn’t really go on vacation.”  

And working with limited data — Frank And Oak only had access to its own order history — there was a gnawing fear that fraud reviewers were either approving too many fraudulent orders or declining too many legitimate orders. 

For a guy who geeked out on superior customer service, the thought of inadvertently denying a legitimate customer an order they should have received was crazy-making.

Those were the sorts of challenges that Frank And Oak realized Signifyd could take on, allowing Emeka and his team to focus on serving customers.

The retailer turned to Signifyd’s Revenue Protection and Abuse Prevention solutions, which combine machine learning and big data to instantly sift fraudulent orders from legitimate ones and automate the management of non-fraud chargebacks. Together the two solutions provide a financial guarantee against fraud chargebacks and non-fraud chargebacks, such as those resulting from item-not-received (INR) claims. 

Signifyd Abuse Prevention frees professionals to focus on their actual jobs

No longer would Frank And Oak’s finance team have to decide which non-fraud chargebacks they should push back on. No longer would the team have to round up the documentation to dispute a claim brought by a customer.  And no longer would Emeka need to worry about whether the retailer was challenging a legitimate claim, thereby destroying any relationship he and his team had worked to build with that customer.

Instead, he could spend his time working on ways to avoid the misunderstandings that lead to chargebacks in the first place. Signifyd helps there, too. Emeka says Signifyd’s Zuhair Saadat, Frank And Oak’s dedicated client services manager, will point out when the retailer’s chargeback rate is creeping up.

It’s a sign, Emeka says, that he needs to dig into the company’s processes — subscriptions, for instance. Is Frank And Oak doing too good of a job getting those orders out quickly? Maybe they should give customers a little more time to decide on that month’s offering. 

It’s one more way to make life better for customers, which, you’ll recall, is why Emeka joined Frank And Oak in the first place. 

“I think the big takeaway for us is how do we respond to customers quicker,” he says. “How do we give them more?”

For now, especially given the Signifyd experience, Emeka is focused on going bigger on automation to help serve customers better. Never mind that Frank And Oak is already a leader in building customer relationships. With Emeka driving the initiative, it’s a job that will never be completely finished. 


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Mike Cassidy

Mike is lead storyteller at Signifyd. A former journalist and a retail geek, he covers ecommerce and the way technology is transforming digital commerce. Contact him at mike.cassidy@signifyd.com; follow him on Twitter at @mikecassidy.