By Louise Roches, Director of Customer Solutions at Quantanite
Quantanite recently joined forces with the UK Contact Centre Forum to create an exciting webinar focused on the retail industry. The event was titled “Why brands need to build flexibility and agility to respond to change” and you can go to our website here to watch a complete playback of the event.
The event was hosted by Quantanite’s very own Chief Commercial Officer, Andrew Hall, and there was a really interesting panel of guests:
- Hugh Clarke, Head of Omnichannel Customer Support, Asda
- Graeme Matheson, Planning & Performance Lead, John Lewis & Partners
- Mark Jackson, Customer Service Manager, Lidl GB
- Chris McLoughlin, Head of Operations, Iceland Foods
Andrew opened by talking about resilience and how retail companies need to focus on building fortitude in the post-pandemic era. He said: “Retailers are working through a number of changes and managing an uncertain economy alongside changing employee expectations.”
Graeme started the discussion by talking about resilience and why it needs to be at the heart of modern customer service strategy. He said: “When you look back at customer service in the past people didn’t even consider resilience. As an industry we have grown up and become more mature and realised that employee experience really drives better customer experience. Customers call, text, or use an app to talk to us. We must be able to handle customer demand when people want it – the days of banks telling customers when they were available are gone.”
He added: “You need the right people in the right place at the right time – whether they are in-store, in a contact centre, or working for a CX partner.”
Hugh talked about agility and how retail companies manage challenges in their industry. He said: “In my experience, contact centres have been seen as an island, almost a separate entity from the rest of the business. Whereas if you’re going to build agility in the business you need to have strong relationships to understand what’s coming along the line – whether it is marketing promotions or transformational roadmaps, so you can plan for some of the unknowns.”
He added: “You can never get it 100% right all the time. But it’s better to do some form of planning rather than none at all.”
Mark talked about maintaining competency and keeping hold of great talent. He said: “It’s a challenge for everyone, although we don’t have a lot of attrition right now – realistically everyone needs to manage this though. First is just to get the right people through the door. Team leaders need to be embedded in recruitment. Then focus on reducing the competency curve by offering simple and clear training and giving them the tools, they need. Solid training should give people at least 70% of what they need, and the rest will come on the job.”
He added: “We need processes in place to help the customer and our colleagues, not just sticking plasters. It’s so important to keep offering support and to get colleagues helping each other. Investing in your people up front really helps and can help build careers.”
Chris talked about managing competency when people are based at home, rather than all concentrated in the contact centre. He said: “We had a trial where we recruited people entirely remotely. Recruitment, training, and everything. We had to break our training into modules to make it work because in-centre training is focused on spending time together.”
He added: “One of the biggest challenges at the agent level is around repetition. If you spend months just working on the same thing, it will become boring. Once you can manage this then you should find that most of your attrition is in-house – people will start out in the contact centre and then move into other areas of the business. Some managers think they are losing their best people, but we try to manage it by keeping the best inside the business by offering new opportunities.”
As you might expect there was a lot more during this session, I have merely drawn a few quotes from the discussion. The full debate lasted for an hour so there was some great and detailed insight and experience – I urge you to follow the link at the start of the article to play it back in full. This is an hour of great CX insight from four of the leading retailers in the UK today.
Please let me know if you have your own thoughts on the need for retail flexibility. You can leave a comment here or just get in touch via my LinkedIn profile.
For more information please visit www.quantanite.com