ASDA is an instantly recognisable and much-loved retail brand in the United Kingdom. A member of the Wal-Mart family, its retail stores offer value, variety, competitive pricing and convenient one-stop shopping at hundreds of outlets throughout the UK. In addition to its physical outlets, ASDA also offers added value and convenience to customers through its Home Shopping service.
Merchants was initially involved with the delivery of a 40-seat contact centre operation at the Milton Keynes site to support the Home Shopping service. However, as the success of Home Shopping grew, demand began to outpace the capabilities of the existing contact centre. It became apparent that the facility would have to be expanded to accommodate increased call volumes, relieve the pressure placed on existing resources, and offer the same impeccable service – including promptness, courtesy and great customer service – that had contributed so much to the original success of the Home Shopping service. Based on the positive experience of our earlier collaboration in the contact centre, ASDA entrusted this expansion to Merchants.
Within two years, the Cape Town operation had expanded to include a number of additional services with the addition of an entirely new contact centre operation.
Top of mind in the design stage of the proposal was the imperative to deliver a solution in line with the ASDA strategy of ‘Everyday Low Cost’.
To deliver a premium solution that was still cost-effective, Merchants proposed an offshore contact centre operation. This strategy would not only deliver in terms of cost, but also safeguard the service ethic and ensure that the ASDA brand was delivered without compromise.
Once the proposal was approved, Merchants proceeded to the next stage of the rollout. This involved a “refine and define” review of the existing Home Shopping operation in Milton Keynes. Thereafter, a phased migration was implemented.
Cape Town, South Africa was selected as the site for the new facility, based on a number of important factors, including time zone considerations and synergies in language and culture. The first phase of the migration was completed, with 65 agents in place in Cape Town, while a base of 10 colleagues remained in Milton Keynes. The second phase of the migration increased the size of the colleague base in Cape Town to 100, with Cape Town taking full responsibility for service delivery. Within two years, the Cape Town operation had expanded to include a number of additional services with the addition of an entirely new contact centre operation delivering customer services for ASDA Direct. The staff complement is now close to 400 colleagues.
The contact centre played a critical role in ensuring ASDA’s brand qualities were reflected across all the customer service channels. ASDA were very much involved in the entire recruitment process of the customer service agents and their induction included a mixture of one-on-one training in a classroom environment as well as online support and practical training on the operational floor.
Commenting on the project and our partnership, ASDA’s Head of Contact Centres, said: “We selected Merchants over a number of other suppliers because they demonstrate an understanding of our industry sector, and proved that they could deliver a solution that fitted our company culture and way of working. We have been impressed with the entire roll-out of the project, which was completed within a tight five week deadline from us signing up.”
From a Merchants’ perspective: “We were absolutely delighted to have won this contract with one of Britain’s top retailers. We have once again delivered a first-class contact centre solution that was tailor-made to suit the specific demands of our clients. This was the beginning of a strong partnership with the ASDA group.”