Foviance, the expert in digital customer experience, and call centre management consultant RXPerience, today unveil the results of a ground-breaking study into multi-channel selling in the UK. The study reveals that only a handful of retailers are managing to integrate their various sales channels effectively, and provide a consistent level of customer service across channels.
Foviance & RXPerience jointly tested 25 leading UK retailers, including supermarkets, department stores, catalogue companies, music/books specialists and high-tech retailers. The research used their ‘expert view’ process to look at both the online and offline customer support received, by email and telephone, at peak shopping periods.
The study found a wide range of strategies being employed across sectors and retailers, but only in a few cases were the online and offline channels truly integrated. John Lewis, Amazon and Argos were the top performers for their overall quality of customer experience. John Lewis delivered an excellent online experience and handled calls very well. Amazon provided virtually no way of contacting them by phone but the online experience was so good and its response to email so fast that the overall experience was positive and consistent. Argos had good response times and knowledgeable call centre agents who seized the opportunity to cross-sell.
Overall the study found a lack of integration and joined-up thinking across retail channels, which is negatively impacting the quality of customer experience.
There was enormous variation in contact handling quality outside of the catalogue companies, whose call centres were generally very good. The retailers who performed poorly included Asda, who failed to respond at all to enquiries by email and phone in the run-up to Christmas; Woolworths who required registration before it was possible to email about general product enquiries; and HMV whose out of hours IVR call handling was very poor. Yet Selfridges, who does not have a transactional website or a call centre, still provided a great experience consistent with the brand. After getting contact details from the website callers were put straight through to the store.
Many of the problems encountered throughout the Foviance/RXPerience research were due to people-related issues. The representative at Agent Provocateur didn’t have any product knowledge, didn’t up-sell or cross-sell and delivered very poor experience. Based on the research either customer service staff were not trained well enough, not rewarded correctly or simply not available in sufficient numbers to cope with seasonal peaks in demand.
Paul Blunden, CEO of Foviance, comments: “Most retail organisations are organised by channel or product silos. As a result few if any have a single view of the customer or a clear understanding of how their customers want to interact with them through the various channels available. Multi-channel is high on many retailer’s agendas but so far the solutions have only extended to simply creating additional channels rather than designing a seamless brand experience.”
Paul Weald, managing director of RXPerience, adds: “Retailers need to consider the multi-channel customer experience more holistically using a contact strategy that reinforces their brand.”
Foviance and RXPerience have produced a white paper detailing the research findings, including five top tips to achieve best practice. This is available upon request.
Foviance teams usability consultancy with web analytics to offer one of the world’s most cutting-edge online customer experience services.
The company brings together powerful web analytics technology with digital customer experience research and consultancy. The result is a ground-breaking combination of web analytics and online feedback technologies with Human Computer Interaction (HCI) qualified usability consultancy.
Foviance offers expert usability services, in-depth analysis of users’ online behaviour and an innovative Experience Management Programme.
The Experience Management Programme is a global first, providing organisations with a detailed picture of what happens when customers use their digital services, and advice on how to improve this experience.
Foviance boasts 43 of the UK FTSE 100 companies among its client roster, including Barclays Bank, British Airways, BSkyB, HSBC and Tesco.
When you want to run an outstanding contact centre you can trust RXP to deliver the knowledge and experience to make a real difference. We are independent consultants specialising in Contact Centres – we are not tied to any particular vendor. Whether it is strategic definition, optimising performance or outsourcing, our knowledge and experience can help you, your centre and your business.
RXP have offices in Datchet, Berkshire and support a range of UK and international clients in both the public and private sector.