How Julie Roehm transformed Party City’s customer experience in the midst of a global crisis.

Comment Julie Roehm a transformé l'expérience client de Party City en pleine crise mondiale.

As the pandemic spread across the globe, retail businesses like Party City faced many obstacles, with birthday parties, graduations, and family reunions canceled all over the place. . For what might seem like a challenge to many, marketing professional Julie Roehm has boldly set out to tackle the obstacles of social distancing. As Party City's Director of Marketing and Experience, Julie Roehm was able to increase sales by 80% through a customer-centric focus.

In December 2019, Julie Roehm was named Chief Experience Officer of Party City with the goal of offering customers more than just balloons and party favors. “When I started, the scope was very clear,” says Roehm. “We wanted to…evolve Party City, as a company and an overall company, from being just a party supplies provider to being a provider of a complete party experience.” She set out to accomplish this mission, but found herself, along with her colleagues, destabilized by the start of the global pandemic.

However, that did not stop Ms. Roehm from taking on the challenge, building on an impressive track record. Some of his achievements include growing ABRA Auto Body & Glass' EBITDA by $100 million, customer satisfaction index reaching its highest level, incorporation of highly appreciated for the Ford Focus, which led to a 50% increase in sales, and the increase in total revenue by 142% for Chrysler thanks to partnerships with leading musical artists and Disney. Her diligent and efficient work ethic allowed her to climb the career ladder, as she was promoted seven times from marketing manager to director for Ford and Chrysler.

As daunting as isolation was for many, Roehm was determined to bring light to clients during these dark times. It was then a matter of focusing on the customer and their experience. In her words, Julie describes: “There is no better mission than this. I can come to work focusing on bringing joy to people and helping them be a source of joy for others.”

Julie Roehm first redirected the company's media budget towards digital platforms, such as Instagram, Pinterest and TikTok to enrich the customer journey. Content was next on the list, as providing examples of safe party plans and telling stories sparked customer relatability. “It’s the experience they have online that takes us from being an online category seller to being an experienced online seller,” she describes, emphasizing the importance of an online presence.

Instagram has opened the door to producing high-quality, engaging content in collaboration with influencers. “Our influencers are extraordinary. They come up with ideas, and we jump on them as quickly as possible,” describes Roehm.

The company’s influencer partnership proved crucial during the pandemic, as there was a growing need for innovative ideas for hosting safe parties. With Party City's introduction of COVID-safe party supplies such as party kits with free digital directions for drive-up events, party favors to drop off in the guest aisle, and electronic party invitations online with free interactive games, the company was able to work in tandem with social media stars, proving that joy can still be cherished in difficult times.

The company observed and quickly adopted the social media trend of placing Halloween candy inside Easter eggs, collaborating with the influencers behind the idea. Not only is placing candy in Easter eggs a germ-free way for kids to trick-or-treat, but influencers have also demonstrated through posts that placing lights in these Easter eggs can also be used as a decorative accessory.

Additionally, Pinterest has proven to be a huge success in Party City's marketing strategy with over 250,000 followers and 10 million views per month allowing Roehm's team to observe purchasing trends. By posting content inspiring party decor ideas, shoppers can easily navigate to products to purchase through Pinterest's tagging feature and the “Shop” tab, creating a smoother shopping experience.

Finally, Mr. Roehm’s automotive experience allowed Party City to connect and partner with Hertz to introduce same-day delivery in addition to curbside pickup. Hertz employees who were on the verge of unemployment were able to step in and deliver party favors and supplies to Party City customers. This collaborative effort helped meet customers’ need for easier access to supplies.

Overall, Ms. Roehm’s key to success in optimizing the customer experience has been to “double down on putting the customer first.” “That was our commitment,” she adds, suggesting that in these difficult times of the pandemic, it was important to show empathy towards customers. She continues: “It just reinforced that we were on the right track with our promise.”