The customer journey of networked customers

At Walbusch, the contact center, online shop and stores all go hand in hand: The project for customer contact management ensures a consistent customer journey at the fashion retailer. Cross-channel customer support is evolving from an option to an obligation; the pure call center is dead. Bernhard Egger, CEO of Walbusch Austria and Switzerland, explains why that is. 

Mr. Egger, with the introduction of a central CRM solution for all sales and communication channels, Walbusch accomplished the digital transformation from a former catalog mail-order merchant to a modern multi-channel company. What lies behind this transformation?

With the Customer Contact Management project “KKM”, we have merged the online and offline worlds. Today, our customers can get information in the contact center, shop online, pick up or exchange items in the stores, redeem their newsletter vouchers on the phone and so on. Our employees have the same 360° customer view, including the customer history, at every point of contact. 

Excellent service from the contact center to the checkout counter: The consistency of the operative ordering and service processes at Walbusch were awarded with the Swiss CRM Award 2015, the CCV Quality Award 2014 and the acquisa Best Practice Award 2014 and was nominated for the Golden Headset Award 2015.

You say that the “pure call center is dead.”
What do customers expect from a fashion company in the digital age? 

In my view, one can no longer afford to merely offer customers a pure call center that is not linked to the stores and the Internet. Our customers are very well informed when they call customer service or go to a store. This knowledge head start over our employees can only be compensated for with a comprehensive system. The systems should not lag behind, but must be able to optimally support employees.

What fundamentals must be established to create this seamless customer experience?

Decisive for project success is that the top management clearly declares customer orientation as the primary goal. Another important success factor is to involve staff and to accompany them through the change process. Many have been focused on a single channel for 20 years of their lives. Now, they are no longer employed in customer service or in a store, but at Walbusch. In this context it’s important that everyone understands the benefits for customers that result from the merger. Only when the customer benefit is clear can you talk about the technology.

“Integration of the checkout counters in the CRM system has had a very positive impact on customer satisfaction.”

Bernhard Egger, KKM Project Manager & CEO Walbusch AT/CH

Customer contact management has now been productive for nearly a year at all touch points.
How would you sum up the first twelve months?

We were able to completely meet our goals all down the line. In addition to the mentioned 360° view with the related qualitative advantages, there are also a few hard facts to consider: For example, we managed to significantly increase the success rate in phone sales. The number of customers reached per hour and employee also grew as a result of process management. We cut throughput times, such as for credit checks, in half, which in turn contributed to a positive customer experience and our efficiency.

How does Walbusch profit from the integration of the cash registers in the CRM system?

The integration has had a very positive impact on customer satisfaction. We can now accept mail-order returns directly in the stores and book them to the customer account. Vouchers can be redeemed across channels. Customers’ orders to stores run more efficiently internally and essentially faster for the customers. As soon as the order merchandise arrives at the store, the outbound call is automatically started. If the customer cannot be reached by telephone, the system initiates customer correspondence by e-mail or by letter. This process considerably simplifies work for store staff. They also appreciate that all mail-order bills and vouchers as well as all customer information and communication can be viewed directly. By the way: Training time for employees on the cash register system has been reduced to a quarter compared to the previous system despite the multiplicity of multichannel processes.

Has customer services also been able to benefit?

Without a doubt! First-contact resolution especially has increased significantly. This has in turn led to drastic drop in the volume of internal e-mails. This is a major qualitative improvement. The process for unclear cases has also grown significantly more efficient. The electronic transfer of customer cases within the department and in customer service represents vital support when it comes to controlling and handling. Furthermore, outbound telephony is now linked with the more extensive processes in KKM, contributing substantially to service effi-ciency. Automatic correspondence is directly man-aged through the process. What’s more, postage costs have been noticeably reduced through more practical e-mail correspondence.

Bernhard Egger, Customer Contact Management Project Manager and CEO Walbusch Austria and Switzerland

Would you already call the project a success?

Yes. We defined 20 goals in the business case created together with BSI at the beginning of the project. We have already reached 18 of them. BSI’s costs were as budgeted and the planned requirements were all implemented. We were slightly above plan with our internal costs. In terms of time, we managed to complete 90 percent on time. The other 10 percent will follow in the second release. That was alright with us, because quality trumps speed. We were able to meet all our project requirements and requests with BSI. Our customers will show us whether we have done everything right.