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We partnered with this well-known high street brand in 2011 to deliver customer service experiences and contact centre services. The partnership grew from what was, initially, a tactical engagement driven by an urgent business need, into a strategic partnership engaged in customer experience transformation for one of the UK’s leading fashion retailers.

The partnership has developed over four distinct phases:

  • Phase 1 – Tactical Outsourcing
  • Phase 2 – Full Strategic Outsourcing
  • Phase 3 – Technology Evolution
  • Phase 4 – Customer Experience Transformation

Phase 1 – Tactical Outsourcing

When The Contact Company first engaged with the brand it was to address pressing problems the retailer was facing with its internal contact centre capacity planning, driven predominantly by resourcing constraints and low operational efficiency.

The support The Contact Company provided included:

  • Seasonal peak and regular overflow resourcing
  • Single channel outsourcing
  • Performance improvement consulting
  • Support with planning and process design

Phase 2 – Full Strategic Outsourcing

Off the back of the success of the tactical outsourcing engagement, the retailer took the step to begin a strategic partnership with The Contact Company, for the complete management and delivery of their customer service and contact centre services function.

Over a three-month period, The Contact Company’s implementation team planned and delivered the seamless transition. This plan covered every aspect of the transition in a systematic way, including handling of staffing concerns and TUPE obligations.

One of the challenges faced during this transition was the lack of adequate documentation of process and systems. As part of the transition, The Contact Company undertook the documentation of both the processes and the systems; the result was that, not only were numerous processes streamlined, but The Contact Company’s training teams were able to deliver an enhanced training programme to the new team and avoid any drop in productivity – in fact, immediately after transition the team was over 10% more productive than the previous operation had been. A continuous improvement programme was quickly established to provide ongoing performance improvement.

Phase 3 – Technology Evolution

Once all the people and processes had transitioned to The Contact Company, and the improvement programme was well underway, it was clear the technology was now the critical factor constraining the business. At the centre of the operation was a legacy CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system which was now significantly hampering the innovation and change required to meet the retailer’s ambitious growth plans; in scope, scale and speed of change.

As part of the outsourcing partnership, The Contact Company committed to providing a solution to meet the current and future needs of the business, and to provide technology to the brand with the flexibility and sophistication to allow them to embark on a customer experience transformation programme.

Part of the remit of the project was a commitment to the lowest possible impact and resource requirement from the client, and zero down-time for the contact centre.

The team successfully met this challenge and delivered a turnkey solution; providing a bespoke CRM, multi-channel customer contact and case management solution, not only for the contact centre, but also the retailer’s distribution centre and head office teams.

In keeping with the low-impact approach, the team provided the resources to not only manage the entire project but also deliver services including:

  • Business requirement gathering
  • System design
  • Development
  • Data migration
  • Testing and acceptance
  • Integration with central systems
  • Cutover/go-live transition

The system was successfully implemented in 2014, resulting in an 8% efficiency gain in 12 months- but, more importantly, it provided a platform from which to evolve the customer experience.

Phase 4 – Customer Experience Transformation

Following the establishment of foundations – the right people, processes and technology – the brand embarked on a customer experience transformation programme, which has so far included:

  • Expansion into new digital channels for service and support – The Contact Company managed the expansion into web chat and social media channels for service and support.
  • International expansion and multi-lingual support – The Contact Company now provides multi-lingual support as part of the brand’s international expansion.
  • New services and product launches – Various new consumer services and product offerings, such as store ordering and collection, have been launched. In each case, The Contact Company delivered the necessary design and implementation of processes and technology for service and support.
  • Online self-help re-design – The team has been at the centre of a redesign of the online help offering to reduce contact centre demand and provide in-channel solutions to online consumers.
  • Voice of the Customer programme – The Contact Company designed and launched the first Voice of the Customer (VOC) programme, including a targeted closed loop process.
  • Customer experience analytics – The Contact Company built an analytics function to provide analysis and insight into consumer behaviour and the drivers of service and support. This team has been working on areas including FCR (First Contact Resolution) and the factors affecting customer NPS (Net Promoter Scores) and Customer Effort, both of which have delivered double digit improvement to the client. This team also provides live online dashboards and reporting to business to help track performance.
  • Continuous improvement and change – The Contact Company have established a continuous improvement programme and change management function for the project. The improvement function ensures that there is an ongoing and accountable effort to drive performance improvement for service and support.

This function also means the brand’s central teams can make ambitious plans, in the knowledge that the service and support function, managed by colleagues at The Contact Company, will not only prevent them from being held back, but will be professionally managed and a valuable source of knowledge and innovation.

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