7-Eleven prides itself on its history of innovation, claiming to be the world's ‘first convenience store'. Since it was founded in 1927, the brand claims that this innovation has resulted in a number of other firsts - including being the first convenience store to sell coffee to go, the first convenience store to offer ATM services, and even the first to coin the term ‘BrainFreeze'.
However, the company recently realised that inadequate systems and poorly thought through processes were not giving customers the level of service that is expected in a modern, digital, multi-channel environment.
Jerry Campbell, 7-Eleven's Customer Experience Lead, gave a presentation at ServiceNow's virtual Knowledge 2020 event on how the retail giant has used the Now Platform to rethink its customer service management processes, resulting in a reduction in case volumes and a boost to the company's resolution rate.
Campbell explained that 7-Eleven's mission statement for its customer experience team is to ‘make it easy for customers to receive help when they want it, where they want it and how they want it'. He said:
We want to find, fix and prevent things that hinder customer success. We want an effortless customer journey and to have meaningful, personalised, relevant solutions. Our team members want to feel delighted about presenting those solutions to them. And finally we want to be able to provide those insights to our stakeholders so that they can make informed decisions.
However, 7-Eleven found that this statement was being held back by a very manual case management system, where it wasn't able to separate out customer feedback from customers that need help. Campbell explained that the company also didn't have any way of tracking service standards, was unable to diagnose customer pain points and had inefficient tracking and reporting.
The key to success with the ServiceNow Customer Service Management solution though, according to Campbell, was carrying out some serious groundwork before a technological solution was even considered. In other words, his team recognised that understanding successful processes was key. He said:
We had to define our processes. After those processes were defined, we wanted to institute those processes with technology and monitor how those things were going. We wanted to evaluate and analyse for continuous improvement, and also review and update as necessary to make us the most successful.
Without process, you cannot move forward. My team sat down for about six weeks, going over process after process before we even came up with a technology solution. Technology without process creates an automated mess.
Rethinking customer service
Campbell outlined how 7-Eleven's previous set up saw both feedback and help requests - whether coming through the app, web, phone or email - all go into the company's Medallia system. Campbell said that Medallia is great for passing on surveys and doing text analytics, but that it wasn't meant to be a case management tool
So we would have two agents take all that feedback - around 1,300 pieces of information a day - and sift through what was feedback and what was ‘need help'. Once they thought they'd figured out was ‘need help', they'd send that to the call centre for them to engage with the customer.
So it was kind of like a box of white balls - 90% being golf balls, the other 10% being ping pong balls.
As noted above, 7-Eleven recognised that it needed to redesign its processes. As such, it needed to go back to the start of the customer service journey and ask a customer at that point - on whatever channel - is this about leaving feedback or needing help?
If it was feedback, that information went straight into the Medallia system. However, if they need help, that information is sent to the ServiceNow CSM tool. At that point cases are created, assigned to agents, who then fulfil those case requests. On the back-end, ServiceNow is backtracking and throwing that information to Medallia for text analytics for all the cases being services.
7-Eleven has seen a number of benefits, according to Campbell. He said:
How does that help us improve our numbers? Our case volume went down 93%. We took all those golf balls out of the box and we were able to focus on those ping pong balls. From that we were able to take our resolution rate and shoot it up 205%.
After implementing ServiceNow, cases were distinguishable, prioritisation was there, we had SLAs we could monitor and track. We also had automated case routing and agent productivity shot through the roof. Agents were able to interject and manage with this tool. We are getting customers the help they need 1860% faster. We are also able to answer app reviews and we are doing that three times faster than before.
In addition to this, 7-Eleven's call centre has seen such great efficiencies that it is now handling calls from other departments, such as the franchise opportunity hotline and calls regarding the California Consumer Privacy Act.
However, Campbell was keen to reiterate that this isn't just a technology problem facing call centres and customer service management teams. His approach focuses on process, but also changing the mindset of how teams operate - which, he added, has been aided by the data capabilities within the ServiceNow tool. Campbell explained:
Traditional call centres, they always focus on those traditional key metrics - average speed of answer, average handle time, etc. Most call centre efficiencies are wrapped around: can I get the customer on and off the phone as quickly as possible so I can move on to the next one?
Well, with my team I had to refocus their thought processes. We no longer look at average handle time. We look at first time resolution. My focus is, how can I take care of that customer, the first time, and have them satisfied? In the ServiceNow tool you can do this. It allows us the ability to record and look at first time resolution.