How this retailer underwent a digital customer service transformation


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As the largest online-only supermarket, Ocado has over 680,000 active customers, processes around 320,000 orders, and delivers approximately 50 million food items every week. Under the brand, are also speciality stores, Fetch, Sizzle and Fabled. As the business operates online only, its emphasis is on making customer experience as user-friendly as possible.

Online customer care first became a part of Ocado’s business in 2014 with the launch of its social media channels, before Ocado launched its web chat the following year.

Channel shift strategy

With over three million contacts per year across its traditional and digital channels, Ocado’s social media and web chat team sought a solution to meet customers’ constantly evolving needs. Ocado was already witnessing a significant customer-driven channel shift, with customer service calls declining from 58% in 2015 to 52% in 2018, while web chat increased over the same period from 1% to 8%. Research found that customers are more interested in getting their issue resolved than using their preferred channel, and Ocado found that its web chat was proving the easiest channel to resolve most queries, for both customers and employees.

When putting together the channel shift strategy, the retailer wanted to reduce customer effort, increase customer satisfaction and if possible reduce costs, and this meant a move towards web chat. The team’s strategy is to shift over 10% of calls to web chat for resolution over the next three years.

Ocado was already using a leading digital customer service platform for social media engagement and a separate technology for web chat, but what they really wanted was a single solution that enabled seamless, central management of multiple, digital engagement touchpoints. This lack of integration and a single sign on (SSO) functionality were problematic. One of the incumbent suppliers offered to build in SSO functionality for an additional cost. The team was also looking for a solution that offers the flexibility to grow and add new features, with nothing to install, and incorporates automatic updates.

Integrating web chat and social media

With the aim of integrating web chat and social media to provide the best possible customer experience, Ocado selected a digital engagement platform as it combines social, live chat and customer relationship management (CRM) into one, to manage all customer services, via social, traditional and web chat channels.

Ocado immediately benefitted from a built-in SSO function, allowing users access to multiple applications with one set of login credentials.

Ocado implemented a full Software-as-a-Service package, which includes unlimited online, real-time UK tech training and support; integrated social and web chat, a complete social media marketing module for both organic and paid activity, along with an analytics package and a suite of reports that integrates with Ocado’s internal customer relations management (CRM) database.

More time for customer relations

In terms of targets, Ocado is working towards moving more of its customer service over to web chat. This growth has been due to Ocado’s 300 advisors finding an easy-to-use platform, with unrestricted capacity.

As web chat is live conversation, it allows advisors time to source the correct information without the immediate pressure to say the right thing compared to a phone call, so allows advisors to respond swiftly to large volumes of contacts enabling shorter wait times and a better experience for Ocado customers.

Research conducted by Gartner has shown that customers are more interested in getting their issue resolved than using their preferred channel. Ocado identified that customers who were means-focused and wanted to resolve an issue in the channel of their choice no matter, what was far less (16%) than those who were end-focused and wanted a fast resolution with minimal effort (84%).

As web chat is the easiest channel to resolve most queries, by making this actively visible to its customers, Ocado was meeting its target to provide an effortless experience for most of its customers. For example, 70% of web chat contacts are simple queries that do not require security checks or interaction with CRM. These queries are answered quickly and efficiently and this has reduced handling time. Additionally, the vast majority of web chat conversations end positively.

The above graph shows the growth of Ocado social media channels (purple), and web chat (green) by contacts per order. Web chat has grown significantly since launching at the end of 2014, and this is largely driven by customer needs. The retailer has also managed to strip back messages that don’t require a response.
Ocado’s next steps will be to provide clearer guidance on how customers could self-serve using Live Chat and showing them how to find the right channel for their queries, particularly where Live Chat wasn’t the best-suited option for them.

Ian Pattle, a General Manager for customer service products and strategy at Ocado, commented on the use of a digital engagement platform from Orlo with the “ability to bring together all of our social media and web chat conversations into one. The efficiencies that the platform has brought with it has enabled our customer service team to offer a higher level of service and our customers are seeing quicker response times. As a key element of customer satisfaction, this in itself is a real benefit for Ocado shoppers.”

Link to Ian Pattle’s presentation at Future CX

Stuart Banbery
As Marketing Director. Stuart oversees all brand, marketing and customer comms at digital engagement platform Orlo. He also has experience from a previous role in marketing CRM software solutions across a range of vertical sectors. At weekends he can be found running around in lycra competing in Triathlons.