May 1, 2018
Westfield Topanga & The Village, located just north of Santa Monica in the beautiful foothills of Southern California, has been a Kipsu partner since 2013. Over the years, we have had the pleasure of partnering with their amazing team, helping them engage with their shoppers through texting and digital messaging.
To highlight their success in bringing top-notch digital service to shoppers every day, we spoke with Nathaniel Yamamoto, Concierge Manager of Westfield Topanga & The Village. Nathan discussed his background in the world of experiential retail and how his team uses Kipsu to transform the guest experience. Nathan has made his career in the retail industry, starting from a part-time concierge role and eventually transitioning to a leadership position. Nathan and his nine-person concierge team always strive to “go above and beyond daily” and ensure guest satisfaction each time they step on the property. At Westfield Topanga & The Village, Nathan and his team are the primary responders to incoming text questions via Kipsu and consider themselves the “one-stop shop” for all guest questions, comments, and inquiries about the center.
Nathan describes how with the addition of Kipsu, the concierge staff has been able to connect with previously unreachable guests. With over 3,000 messages sent in February of this year alone, Nathan and his team have successfully expanded service interactions beyond those who stop by the guest service desk.
Increases in guest satisfaction are not only from the volume of messages sent, but also from the exceptional, yet simple, 3-step process the Westfield Topanga & The Village’s Concierge Team uses to answer each message that comes through Kipsu. 1) Respond as quickly as possible, 2) Ensure quality answers, and 3) Encourage the conversation to continue. Nathan describes how quick responses are essential to quality service, but also how he encourages staff to text back insightful, personalized messages. A particular conversation example Nathan notes is if the guest texts, “Do you have a Nordstrom?” instead of responding, “Yes, we do!”, his staff responds promptly by saying, “Yes we do! It is located on the south side of the mall near the Zara and Williams Sonoma. Is there a particular item we can help you find there?” The added detail demonstrates that the concierge staff is always readily available and happy to help. The question at the end (Step 3) increases retention and engagement among shoppers. The shopping center’s staff strives to create memorable interactions with guests that use the concierge service, understanding that they have many repeat guests and every interaction is an opportunity to encourage a return visit or make a lasting impression.
When asked how Kipsu is promoted as a service to their guests, Nathan discussed how their team uses several collateral tactics, ensuring the texting program stays top-of-mind. Westfield brands the Kipsu service as “Answers on the Spot” and posts the phone number seemingly everywhere, including directories, extra wall space, on their website, and even at stations for the trolley that connect both indoor and outdoor shopping spaces!
Guests no longer go to malls just to shop at a department store, dine at the food court, then go home after. People are looking for an experience. They want someone who is helpful in personalization, telling them about new events and activities or new store openings.Nathan Yamamoto, Concierge Manager
Beyond exceptional processes and accessible collateral, Westfield Topanga & The Village’s Concierge Team truly believes in the importance of human-centric technology. Nathan talks specifically how their guests appreciate and trust the concierge’s recommendations, whether it’s for a restaurant, event, or store within the center. He notes that a lot of people use Yelp, Facebook, and Twitter to find recommendations, but it is definitely something special when a seasoned staff member is giving their personal recommendation in real-time, at the moment when the guest is ready to make a decision. The team guarantees each answer conveys emotion and reasoning behind the recommendation, priding themselves on their customized approach. With numerous stories like this that innately show the value of texting as a channel of communication, Nathan reflects on how the shopping industry has no doubt drastically changed over the last few years. He states, “Guests no longer go to malls just to shop at a department store, dine at the food court, then go home after. People are looking for an experience. They want someone who is helpful in personalization, telling them about new events and activities or new store openings.” In fact, some inquiries cannot be addressed by Yelp or a simple website. Nathan describes a particular situation in which one of their tenants texted their team and asked for the mall’s translator to be sent to their store as quickly as possible. Within minutes, Nathan’s team had a translator on the way!
As the conversation came to a close, Nathan commented on the role Kipsu has played throughout his career. “Starting from a part-time concierge to now in management and using Kipsu along the way, we have reached so many people that we would have otherwise not been able to. The ability to text bridges us closer to guests and truly helps the team in so many ways that I can’t even describe.” It is clear that Nathan and his team at Westfield Topanga & The Village understand the power of text messaging. Here at Kipsu, we are grateful to have such amazing partners like Westfield Topanga & The Village and are proud to help them build on this vision of strengthening relationships with their guests via text messaging.
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