Your Call is (Actually) Important to Us: How Traeger’s CX Team Became its Most Data-Driven

Lisa Johnston
Lisa Johnston profile picture
Traeger Grills

Anyone who’s ever involuntarily shuddered at the endless loop of music on hold knows the pain points of customer service call centers.

Whether it's languishing for hours before speaking with an agent, navigating a confusing labyrinth of options, or leaving the interaction with your issues unresolved, one need not be in the industry to understand the detriment of a poor customer service experience.  For Traeger Pellet Grills, a manufacturer of outdoor cooking products, the company knew an average customer wait time of two to three hours before reaching an agent was simply unacceptable, especially as it grows.  

The company, which receives tens of thousands of calls each month, brought on Bryan Carey as head of operations and analytics in early 2020 in large part to re-architect its customer experience infrastructure and processes. Carey, previously with consumer tech company GoPro, was tasked with ultimately helping Traeger seize better control of its end-to-end customer experience capabilities.  

“From a technology perspective, it was all kind of beholden to partner organizations and [business processing outsourcers] around the world,” he explains to CGT. “So we really had no consistency in terms of customer experience or agent experience, and we really wanted to build something foundational that allowed us to control both of those things in ways that allowed us to optimize it going forward.”

Rather than continue to Frankenstein myriad technologies with myriad partners, the company teamed with AWS to develop a unified solution. It replicated its existing customer experience infrastructure in about a week and a half in order to drive improvements in both the agent and the customer experience.

As part of this, they focused on optimizing the customer experience within an automated phone system. Instead of the antiquated method of pressing buttons to select options, it’s leveraging natural language processing (NLP). Now, upon asking consumers what prompted their call, Traeger can better route the request and simplify the experience.

The NLP is also optimizing the agent experience. Previously, Carey says, “they spent more time trying to navigate our technology solutions and our CRM complexity than they did helping the customer.” Wait times have not only dropped, but agents no longer have to select from thousands of potential options on why a customer was contacting them in order to help them.

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As a result, agents now spend far more time engaging with consumers than navigating technology, he says, and Traeger has reduced average customer wait times by 25% and increased customer satisfaction scores by 10%.

What’s more, first-contact resolution scores doubled over the last 18 months — moving from around 30% to mid-70%. “All of it is related to the insights we're able to derive and the data that's being used to drive our business these days,” Carey says.

The Amazon Connect technology, in particular, has been game-changing for Traeger, a previous CGT Standout SMB. The technology transcribes and analyzes the customer's contact in real time, and then dynamically surface knowledge content to the agents. The company has already recorded dramatic improvements, and he’s bullish on its potential.

What’s more, Traeger is now gathering a wealth of data to leverage throughout the business instead of making assumptions that must constantly be refined. As part of this, it’s using the data to drive product improvements with its grills.

For example, the company discovered a large number of people contacting them regarding temperature fluctuations of a particular model. Upon exploration, Traeger discovered a significant number of consumers were failing to remove a plastic cap covering a thermocouple sensor before using the grill for the first time; the cap would then melt and wreak havoc on its ability to optimize the temperature.

As a result of this information, the company began producing the cap as a paper cover rather than plastic, dramatically reducing both service calls and costs.   

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The customer experience division has become the most data-driven organization within the company, Carey notes with a point of pride. Looking ahead, they intend to continue to optimize the agent experience to have more time to spend with customers, as well as work closely with the product and marketing teams to leverage the data in new ways.

We're able to do that because everything's together — we don't find ourselves with seven different systems where we have to coalesce data in order to derive insights.  Everything is contained within AWS, which provides us with the ability to move much faster than would be if we have 17 other systems supporting us."

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