Home Retail Group cuts call costs with SMS automation


Home Retail Group cuts call costs with SMS automation

Kathleen Hall

Home Retail Group, whose brands include Argos, Homebase has cut telephony costs by rolling out an automated text messaging service across its three call centres.

The company has cut costs by moving 60% of customer contacts via SMS, using a hosted interactive voice messaging (IVM) and SMS system from VoiceSage.

The group’s customer and financial services organisation handles 10 million inbound calls a year and 2 million order and delivery e-mail enquiries. It employs 1,800 staff across three contact centres in Widnes, Bolton and Stafford.

Previously agents called customers to confirm order delivery dates and times, only getting through to customers 40% of the time.

The biggest use of text messaging customers is to remind them of their two-hour delivery window on the day before a shipment is scheduled, accounting for 40,000 outbound customer contacts each day.

Mark Fox, real-time manager for Home Retail Group’s contact centres, said: “Based on analysis, we are now able to identify the reasons why customers contact us. We can isolate the type of calls we can turn into a proactive contact rather than waiting for the customer to contact us.”

The system enables the group to pre-empt customer order and delivery queries with outbound messages, in circumstances such as poor weather conditions.

“Now we are able to contact all customers on the delivery vehicles manifest with the rearranged details included, or advising that we will contact the customer to rearrange. This ensures we are able to contact all customers and manage their expectations,” added Fox.

The group has also started utilising the system to minimize delivery failures in Homebase by sending out reminder messages to customers. “We are now also trialling sending individual customer messages to inform them of where they are within the customer journey,” he said.

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