The Entertainer is the UK’s largest independent toy retailer. Founded by Catherine and Gary Grant with a single toy shop in 1981, the company now comprises more than 100 stores in the UK and stocks thousands of products online at thetoyshop.com
The Entertainer is part of the ‘Keep Sunday Special’ campaign, which means it does not trade on a Sunday (this includes all elements of its operation, including contact centre).
The Entertainer had been working with the same outsourced contact centre for a number of years, but had decided to end its relationship with them and appoint a brand new partner.
The client was looking for a new provider to step in from October 2015 until January 2016, to support its pre and post-Christmas peak. During this period, the new provider would be required to:
- Provide first point of contact for all order and customer service telephone enquiries
- Help the in-house Customer Service team clear a backlog of emails, and manage email responses throughout the campaign
- Liaise with the contracted courier to resolve delivery queries
- Be available for extended hours and Bank Holidays to accommodate customer demand
- Offer flexibility to handle exceptional peak volumes (eg. Black Friday, Cyber Monday)
- Provide detailed daily reporting
- Maintain client service standards and brand consistency
WeAnswer was awarded the contract in June 2015. Initial planning meetings took place on-site at both WeAnswer and client headquarters during August to finalise scope, implementation plan and training structure. Weekly project calls were scheduled to occur throughout the set-up phase.
As part of the tender process, WeAnswer had provided a planned resource and budget scenario, aligned to predicted volumes of telephone and email contact. This was used during the project to plan advisor levels and reconcile expenditure.
The WeAnswer Contact Centre Manager used the scenario to plan initial recruitment and was able to adjust resource as we identified a shift in email and call handling time.
WeAnswer advisor training commenced in September, with further training waves scheduled for October to reflect the anticipated increase in customer enquiries.
Training involved staff from both organisations attending cross-site events, and WeAnswer team leaders attending The Entertainer’s annual teambuilding conference. This collaborative approach allowed both sides to establish a genuine ‘one team’ mentality.
Trainers from The Entertainer were on-site at WeAnswer to ‘floorwalk’ and support the advisors during the first few hours of the campaign.
IT Managers from WeAnswer and The Entertainer worked together to provide secure VPN access to the client’s order management platform (Hybris), its warehouse system and email solution (Metafaq).
This meant WeAnswer advisors could access order histories and provide first response resolution in the majority of situations.
WeAnswer also set up a new IVR (interactive voice system) for the client. This meant specific customer enquiries could be routed to the most appropriate team members more quickly, and provided a ready-made contingency in case of an unexpected event.
WeAnswer’s call management system provided the flexibility to adapt call routing during the period to consistently deliver against service level expectations.
Queries were logged as a ‘ticket’ on the customer’s account for future reference, or to enable further action by The Entertainer’s head office team.
- Head of Operations & Customer Service
- Customer & Retail Service Manager
- Business Development Manager
- Contact Centre Manager
- Project Manager
- Client Service Manager
- Training Manager
- HR Manager
- IT Manager
The customer experience
The team handled enquiries from customers buying directly from The Entertainer as well as through Amazon.com
Thanks to the new IVR, customers reached an advisor best qualified to answer their specific enquiry more quickly, improving their experience and improving first-call resolution.
WeAnswer advisors helped The Entertainer’s customers place their catalogue orders by telephone, and helped customers complete their order by phone where an issue had occurred with online ordering (eg. where items were unavailable for home delivery).
The team also provided frontline customer service support, including:
- Resolving delivery queries
- Ordering replacement items where parcel lost, or items missing from orders
- Arranging replacement parts from third-party suppliers
- Liaison with stores to verify in-store collection information
- Processing refunds for lost, missing, damaged or returned items
- Requesting proof of damage from customers to determine replacements or refunds
- Escalation to head office teams where appropriate
The high-quality service provided by WeAnswer attracted praise from customers and the client throughout the campaign:
I would like to thank all the staff in your customer services for their quick and very pleasant way they handled my query regarding my order. I can now report I have a very happy little girl…thank you all, especially Robbie who I believe went to great lengths to help.
Would just like to say a big thank you to the customer service lady I spoke to earlier this morning about a delayed delivery…without your great customer service team, I really don’t think I’d have received the parcel. My biggest thank you to the lady on your team I spoke to regarding this matter and her fantastic help.
I’ve just taken a call from our Cardiff store and they wanted to pass on their thanks to Tom. They said he was friendly, polite and professional. He worked hard to help the store and their customer and looked after them really well. Please give Tom a pat on the back from us – well done!
Customer Service Supervisor, The Entertainer
The WeAnswer client service team provided daily reporting to The Entertainer, including call and email figures versus forecast. Resource planning data, arranged by 30 minute intervals, was also supplied each week in advance.
In addition to regular daily dialogue between the WeAnswer Contact Centre Team Leader and Client Care Team, and The Entertainer’s customer service team, weekly project calls took place throughout the activity period. This ensured total transparency in the working relationship and greater visibility of any service issues or expected contact levels as volumes fluctuated.
Key members of staff at The Entertainer were particularly supportive and took time to visit the WeAnswer team at regular intervals, to offer encouragement and praise.
- 47,000 enquiries answered
- Nearly 32,000 telephone calls and 15,000 emails were responded to by WeAnswer during the 4-month campaign.
- Flexible response
Effective training meant WeAnswer advisors were able to start the campaign earlier than planned when systems downtime at The Entertainer prevented the head office team managing customer calls. This helped ensure customer services remained largely unaffected.
Increase in First Call Resolution
Overall contact volumes overall were 37% lower than forecast. This was achieved by the WeAnswer team delivering a higher percentage of first call resolution. This resulted in more satisfied customers who did not need to call back a second time.
What happened next?
The client was so confident with the support offered during the early stages of the contract that they committed to working with WeAnswer for the 2016/17 festive season before the end of 2015.
The partnership continues to go form strength to strength and has been extended into 2018.
The Entertainer was working with a well established multinational contact centre company, but we were looking for a more personal approach with our customers. After visiting several call centre environments we found that WeAnswer had the right ‘feel’ for us.
We have gained knowledge and experience from an efficient and smaller business, our day to day contacts are consistently dealt with by the same team of people that we can rely on, something that is hard to achieve when dealing with multinational businesses that regularly restructure.
The transition to WeAnswer was handled smoothly and professionally with enthusiasm from both parties. The day to day communication between WeAnswer and our head office team was helpful and friendly. More importantly, feedback from our customers has been very positive, regularly praising the agents at WeAnswer for their help and support.
We have found key members of the team to be very pro-active and positive, using initiative to solve customer queries and support The Entertainer. Whilst remote from our main team they embraced the ethics of our business and represent us with the same core values we strive for.
All in all, a great business decision to enter into a relationship with WeAnswer which we hope will continue for the coming years.Steve Shepherd, Head of Operations & Customer Services - The Entertainer