Imagine being in the middle of an operational transition after taking over the management of an international fashion brand and, all of sudden, COVID-19 takes over. This was the case for the new team at footwear brand PAEZ. Francisco Lacerda, at the time Operations Manager at PAEZ tells about the 'perfect storm' and how the company navigated its way through it by focusing fully on customer service, together with Salesupply.

A year of maintenance

“Before the COVID-19 outbreak we wanted to maintain a strong offline presence in our main markets - Portugal, Spain, France, Italy and Poland. We were preparing for a normal summer, while managing the further transition of the company to our team in Portugal. We had everything prepared for the summer, we were ready to go,” says Francisco.

Ready to rumble

“March 1st was the starting shot of the marathon, we were excited and ready for what we called ‘a summer of maintenance’. We were not necessarily aiming for extreme growth, but to get a hold of the business with a small new team. We wanted to establish good, close relationships with our ongoing customers. However, this did not proceed in the way we imagined.”

The perfect storm

“On that faithfull day, March 15th 2020, we received emails from most of our distributors saying that they wanted to cancel their orders. They did not want us to send the products because they would not pick them up from the warehouse (due to the lockdown) nor would they pay for them. From that point on, everything was on hold and the distributors were very uncertain if they could reopen their business. This week was all doom and gloom.”

As if this wasn´t a big enough challenge by itself, PAEZ experienced serious IT issues around that time resulting in a period of almost 40 days where customers were not able to reach them.
On top of this, COVID hit Spain hard in early spring making fulfilment very difficult since their logistic hub was based in Barcelona.

COVID-19 task force

PAEZ had a customer service backlog of over a month and new complaints kept raining in, both through the customer service channels as well as on social media in the form of very negative reviews. “We created a dedicated COVID-19 taskforce to service our customers and recover customer satisfaction in the fastest and most effective way possible. The task force consisted of representatives of logistics, back office, customer service and PAEZ people. We would meet twice a week to discover and handle ongoing issues and to prevent them. The customer service team of our partner Salesupply played a big role during this process,” says Francisco

“We took customer cases one-by-one and our tagline ´Walk the talk´ was clearly present in all our customer communications. The customer service team of Salesupply was very open towards our customers, they shared our issues with them and, most importantly, they showed genuine empathy and went to great lengths to solve their issues”

Ultimately, this created a lot of good will, the negative comments on social media started to disappear and were even replaced by positive ones. This change in customer experience was also clear in order history. “We experienced quite some repeat purchases from customers that had issues with us earlier that year. They mentioned that their first experience was horrible, but their second experience was excellent and they received their purchase within two days,” Francisco concludes.