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Understanding true customer closeness with Shop Direct

Please note this article was published before OEE Consulting and gobeyond joined forces to become Gobeyond Partners.

Members of the Service Excellence Network spent the day with Shop Direct, the UK’s largest integrated pureplay digital retailer and financial services provider, to explore how they are using a model office approach to transform their business.

Their in-house operations team have collaborated with Webhelp, and gobeyond to develop the Customer Closeness Centre (CCC). Webhelp drive key transformational initiatives for Shop Direct as their strategic customer management partner, whilst gobeyond are Webhelp’s specialist CX transformation consultancy partner.

The CCC is a model office built in the centre of Shop Direct’s Speke HQ. Their multi-skilled advisors divide their time between providing inbound support and running agile sprints to deliver service improvements.

We heard from David Gray (Head of Change at Shop Direct) who talked us through the implementation of the model office approach:

“This is the most unique partnership relationship I’ve ever seen and there are genuine learning opportunities here which can be applied across the industry.”
Daryl Wilkes (Head of Transformation, gobeyond/OEE Consulting) spoke about why a model office was chosen instead of other types of improvement methodology:
“Today, businesses operate with a high level of urgency and intensity. Running a model office using agile means we can go faster, and be more focused on what we’re doing. It also supports building a cultural mindset of collaboration.”

David and Daryl were joined by Judith Coole (Managing Consultant, OEE Consulting/gobeyond) on a panel chaired by Robin Harrison (Director of Marketing, OEE Consulting/gobeyond) to discuss what it means to deliver insights and improvement through true customer closeness. Some of the key points made about the benefits of a model office approach included that:

  • Customer experience is improved through multi-skilled advisors who can support customers whilst driving improvement activity
  • Resources can be ringfenced, with people empowered to focus solely on this programme without distraction from ‘business as usual’
  • The model is scalable to suit different challenges and requirements; it can be done without making a significant investment in facilities

With over 99% of customers buying through the Shop Direct website, Group Customer Operations Director Mark Billingham discussed the digital transformation journey the business has undergone since taking the bold step out of the catalogue market and establishing as a pureplay digital retailer. He said “a big part of our focus has been creating the best customer outcomes in a digital shopping marketplace”, whilst highlighting that customers love webchat with their chatbot receiving 30,000 chats per month.

The conclusion of the event was a visit to the model office environment, where the Service Excellence Network group explored the CCC operating model, and examined how improvements are prioritised and benefits rolled out across the business.

Shop Direct’s Customer Closeness Centre has been the focus of other visits recently, with Customer Service, CX & AI Engagement Strategist Martin Hill-Wilson describing it as an excellent example of how to organise and execute omni-channel customer service

“They have a plan that puts voice of the customer and continuous improvement into the heart of what they do.”

OEE Consulting and gobeyond have merged to form one organisation, which will deliver industry-leading customer experience transformation services. If you want to find out more about our experience building and running model offices please contact us.

Our next Service Excellence Network event will be to BBC Broadcasting House on 27th June. To find out about membership click here.

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Service Excellence Network

The Service Excellence Network brings together like-minded organisations from across the service sector. Each is committed to improving operations, creating networking opportunities and providing access to insight and content contributors.

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