The value of curating a high-quality customer experience has never been more important than it is today. In fact, 80% of customers say they’ve switched brands due to a poor customer service experience, and with customer acquisition costs on the rise, sellers must hold onto as many customers as they can to improve margins and grow their business.
Katharine Palmer, Business Analyst at the sustainable jewelry company Brilliant Earth, understands the value of a good customer experience. More importantly, she knows firsthand how smooth front- and back-end business operations can impact customer satisfaction and revenue.
She recently sat down with Extend to talk about Brilliant Earth’s experience implementing product protection with their ERP software, powered by NetSuite.
The following interview has been edited for clarity and accuracy.
I think a big reason is accidental damage. Insurance often doesn't cover common accidents for an engagement ring or any sort of product that Brilliant Earth sells. Customers need coverage when accidents happen, like if a diamond falls out, or a prong comes loose. I think Extend offers really great, wide-ranging coverage that supplements the insurance that we typically promote. I think it helps a customer feel well-protected in all aspects of how often and where they're wearing their product. It gives them peace of mind.
We had an in-house warranty program prior to Extend. It was a post-purchase option that a rep would have to tell the customer about, so it was never something they were able to purchase upfront — that was the main difference.
It was probably customer experience: the customer being able to see Extend product protection in their cart right at checkout and add it to their purchase. Plus, Extend helps us drive additional revenue through sales of protection plans.
NetSuite is the backbone of our business. Everything basically integrates into NetSuite, whether that's ecommerce, any other portal integrations that we have, or any other ways that we communicate with vendors — it all basically stems from NetSuite. The whole order flow goes from ecomm into NetSuite as a sales order, and we push that through the fulfillment process. It helps us automate and streamline processes across channels.
Yeah, Extend values our values. And the partnership that we've had so far has been really great and supportive; the Extend team is interested in our product and wants to make sure that we're doing well. I feel the support from the implementation team I've been working with for the past year now — they care about our mission.
Our first integration took about four months, when we added the Extend API to our ecommerce site to fetch offers and list the protection plan offering on our website. We started by implementing that to a small amount of web traffic, and then we watched how successful it was before ramping up visibility and offering Extend to 100% of users. That went pretty smoothly. Everyone was super helpful regarding all of our questions and addressing anything we needed help with.
And then this past March, we implemented offer generation and contract creation out of NetSuite, as opposed to having that come from our front-end website. That took about a month and a half. That was pretty smooth, as well. I think it's been a really great partnership so far.
A big part of it was providing the base code for both phases. That was a huge starting point for our developers — to have all the APIs already set up — because that wasn't anything that we had to develop. And then, since we’re so customized in how we do our business and how we have products related to each other, our sales orders aren’t really set up in a standard way; there was a lot of customization that went into both implementations.
The Extend project team was a great sounding board to bounce ideas off of and to explain what I was seeing and how our processes are set up. They also provided best-case scenarios, recommendations, and solutions for how to solve different problems.
Since we’re probably unlike any other NetSuite instance that the Extend project team has worked with, it sometimes took a little more discussion to explain and show our processes. But after that, and after they understood what was going on on our side, they were able to provide recommendations. Even if they didn’t have firsthand experience with it, they were able to offer suggestions on what they think would work best, based on the information I was able to provide.
It's in the cart. We also have an FAQ landing page in the footer, but the main point of interaction would be in the cart.
Let’s say you place an order for an engagement ring — there could be a potential scenario where you purchase your band in yellow gold, but you've changed your mind and you want it in white gold. Or maybe something happens with the diamond that you purchased, and it's no longer available.
Because Extend essentially works on a product-by-product basis, those changes might void the contract that you initially purchased on the website. And because we only had offer generation on the website and contract creation somewhere else, anytime there was a change on an order after it already synced to NetSuite, there was an immense amount of manual work for several of our internal teams. That probably added about six to eight hours a week for different team members across three or four different departments.
The reason we switched to contract creation and generating offers from within NetSuite is to cut down on that manual process. That’s been a game changer for our post-purchase needs. If anything has changed for your order, or if you have a post-sale need, which is anything that we consider to be an exchange, an upgrade, resize, or anything like that, we can now offer protection plans on that new sales order right from NetSuite. If they had Extend on the first sales order and they had to resize it or they wanted to exchange a piece of it — that was also creating a lot of manual work to go back to the website, place a new order, cancel the old one, all of this messiness that was really impacting our team.
But it also impacted the project team from Extend because we were sending a weekly list of contracts that needed to be canceled, contracts that needed offers, etc. Switching to contract creation in NetSuite made it a more seamless process for our internal teams and helped with customer experience.
Definitely. I think when we first had this implementation, there were a lot of scenarios where customers heard about Extend, either through the website or something else, and they didn't purchase it initially, but then they came back and wanted to add it to their order. At that time, in the beginning of the integration, we weren't able to offer post-purchase plan attachment because it was too messy and there were too many hoops to jump through. So now we have the ability to fulfill that want for the customer. If they call in after they receive their items or in the middle of the production of their item, they can add a protection plan.
Everyone is really happy with the performance of Extend, and they understand why it's important that we have it, and why we added Extend product protection in the first place.
Since putting contract creation into NetSuite and having it flow in that way, customer experience has been better. too. The Extend project team has been great and helps us find the best ways to get around problems and educate our team on the programs and who's involved. From the feedback that I’ve heard through our reps, customers enjoy it. I think it's a better offering than we had previously with our internal program.
I've been told that our internal team is very happy with Extend. And with our internal team being very happy with it, they're more comfortable in selling it and being able to speak on it. And because our internal team is so happy with it, it’s promoting our ability to sell it better for those post-purchase scenarios.
And because we're so confident in the product that we're selling, that obviously gives more peace of mind to the customer in why they would want to purchase product protection. We're offering customers protection for many possibilities of what could happen to their products. I think that creates a great customer experience.
Iron out every single process that product protection can touch and where you would want to implement it. Since our scenario is so complex, there were a lot of things we didn't think about right away, and we had to make quick adjustments in order to address certain scenarios. But understanding your processes and wanting to provide a great customer experience — if that's your main goal, I think anything else can get done in order to achieve it.
But also: expect things to go wrong, in a sense. Expect timelines to not be met every single time. I think this was somewhat stressful with our first phase because we talked about it and were excited about it as a company, but then we had some internal hiccups along the way that pushed our initial timeline. That was somewhat stressful because you want to deliver and you don't want it to be held up for any specific reason. But I think in terms of any integration — small or large, easy or difficult — I think being prepared for roadblocks is a good mindset to have.
Brilliant Earth’s success with Extend product protection and NetSuite isn’t unique to them. Many businesses running on NetSuite are taking advantage of the Extend SuiteApp — the only product protection provider vetted and trusted by NetSuite to be included in their library of powerful business tools.
Learn more about how Extend + NetSuite can help automate and streamline your business.