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Shop Direct launches new customer service innovation

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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Shop Direct, the retail group behind Very.co.uk and Littlewoods.com, has launched what it is calling a “customer closeness centre” at its Liverpool head office to deliver customer service innovation with a team of 20 frontline advisors.

The new customer service team will work in four-week cycles, using “agile principles and methodology to deliver rapid change” as the retail group looks to increase the importance of customer service and increase customer loyalty.

The customer closeness team will spend the first two weeks dedicated to dealing directly with customer queries via the phone and web chat to identify improvement opportunities, while the second two weeks will be used to gather insight and data to re-write processes and test new technology, explained Shop Direct in a statement.

Phil Hackney, group operations director at Shop Direct, said: “This new head office team and facility underlines our mission to create a frictionless and increasingly digital customer service experience to complement the seamless online journey customers already have when shopping on Very.co.uk and Littlewoods.com. Who better to identify opportunities for customer service improvement than our existing frontline advisors?”

The goal the retail group states is to bring it closer to its customer, as well as drive cross-departmental collaboration, allowing other teams to listen to calls and influence how innovation is prioritised.

The new open plan centre features collaborative meeting spaces, and a customer zone featuring a contact centre, and will be used to host monthly external open days, attended by major retailers and other consumer brands.

Shop Direct places focus on customer services

Mark Billingham, customer service director at Shop Direct, added: “We want to lead the way for customer service innovation and create the empowered frontline colleagues of the future, equipped with complex problem-solving ability, digital skills and the latest technology. The customer closeness team and centre will help us reach this ambition.”

Innovation is at the core of the team’s approach to support the retail group’s continued enhancement of its digital customer service capability. In 2018, almost 30 percent of customer contact came via digital channels, including the AI-powered Very Assistant chatbot, webchat and social media.

New technology shaped by the team includes an online tool to help specific issues be resolved within a single call by following a ‘decision tree’ and allow instant news alerts to be shared with all 1,500 customer service colleagues. The team has also completely redesigned the process behind some key customer experiences such as offline sales and lost goods.

Ann-Marie Stagg, chief executive at the Call Centre Management Association (CCMA), said: “In a sector that is undergoing significant change, it’s great to see organisations like Shop Direct continue to innovate and prioritise the customer experience. Empowering frontline team members and providing them with the right level of support, training and authority is the smartest way of improving the customer experience.”

Images: courtesy of Littlewoods.com

customer closeness centre
Shop Direct