The changing world of customer service at Staples

Brian Beveridge, Head of Customer Service at Staples Australia/New Zealand, speaks with Matchboard in our series of exclusive client interviews.

What are the most important metrics to your contact centre?

Our Customer Service teams cover a broad range of functions so our metrics have been developed to reflect the level of specialisation or complexity in each.  The main teams and metrics are:

  • Customer Service Inbound Voice: Service Level 80/20                   

The majority of our customers are corporate and Government and are sensitive to wait times

  • Customer Service Data (Email/Fax): 80% emails resolved in 24 hours   

Many customers choose to email queries and orders as their preferred communication method.  Faxing is still an important method for many Government customers although these are for the most part automated.

  • Non Stock Products: 100% of quotes provided within 5 days       

Staples will source any office product outside of our range, and this metric ensures customers always receive the detail in a reasonable time frame

  • Resolutions Team: Customer contacted within 4 hours                

This team is the main escalation and support for the wider customer service team.  Often these contacts are for complex issues and/or complaints.

  • Customer Satisfaction (all teams): 65% Top Box (extremely satisfied)

CSAT is measured across customer service, e-business, merchandising, and supply chain.  It’s helped the business to develop solutions to customer pain points and process challenges.

How do you see Staples’ customer preferences changing with regard to service?

We’ve seen significant change over the last few years in how customers order products.  The vast majority is ordered via the website or through direct connection between ourselves and the customers’ purchase order systems.  Our job is to make this as simple and seamless as possible. We are also aware of the need for a strong focus on customer effort, and looking at things from that angle rather than how well we look after them just on the one phone call.  

We are seeing a big jump in the use of chat, with a doubling of web chat interactions in the last year.  This makes sense for many of our customers who can multi-task in their office while they are interacting with us. 

How do you motivate your frontline?

Our four main initiatives are:

  1. Each Customer Service Manager at each site is provided a budget purely for the purposes of engagement and recognition. 
  2. We’re about to action the attendance of all customer service employees to attend monthly “town halls” to receive company updates and connect with each other.
  3. Our trainers act as coaches “on the floor”. They work closely with agents to develop action plans that are tailored and meaningful.
  4. Reward and  Recognition programs include: 
    • Quarterly and annual awards based on KPI performance. 
    • Company Values awards
    • Our internal customers’ service reward program is called Tape Dispenser.  It’s low cost and provides for immediate feedback for doing great work and helping out a colleague. 

Do you have any innovations or change programs which you could highlight?

We recently ran Customer Service Week.  This is a global initiative that celebrates and raises awareness within organisations about the importance of Customer Service.  The theme for this year’s event was “Everyday Heroes”.  It’s the third year we have participated and we smashed our participant target with over 350 Staples associates attending this year.

We also implemented Salesforce to capture our email and data orders.  This has provided for a huge improvement in our reporting capabilities and transparency of performance.  Our next goal is to enhance the reporting with dashboards to give more meaningful real time data.

At Matchboard’s recent lunch event, you won a trip to Fiji. Do you see Fiji as an outsourcing destination for Australian business?

Fiji is a great alternative to consider.   Pricing is competitive, the skill base is good and the culture has a strong customer orientation.  Getting there is a breeze as well. Customer service executives should seriously take a look at Fiji in their BPO strategy. 

Last updated on: October 26, 2022