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The Customer Philosophy

6 minute read

Belron studied Chinese wisdom to help it build a new omnichannel engagement framework to the joyful benefit of both customers and employees.

It is an iconic phrase which has been used to inspire politicians, soldiers, sports stars and anyone wanting to build a different life for themselves. But ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu’s simple but inspiring words – ‘A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step’ has also helped Autoglass and Carglass owner Belron frame a new approach to contact centre customer engagement.

“That phrase has been a valuable lesson for us,” says Sean McMahon, Customer Contact Innovation Manager at Belron. “Developing an omnichannel engagement framework is a step by step process. You can start from anywhere if you put innovation first, build for change and measure everything.”

Tzu was also famous for travelling to the West on a water buffalo. CRM veteran McMahon, who joined Belron two years ago, may not have travelled to its Surrey headquarters by the same mode of transport, but he also had global geographies to consider.

“We are a holding group for a number of different companies, and we operate all over the world,” he explains. “We have 16.5billion customers and 28,000
employees over 36 countries. We are big but we are federated and one of the challenges of implementing an overarching philosophy is how do you convince a self-determining group of people that what you intend to do is a good idea? It is part of the reason why we ended up doing this in incremental steps business unit by business unit rather than a big bang.”



McMahon says he discovered a largely service based company two years ago. “We are brilliant at knowing glass, moving glass and fitting glass and lead the
world in service and patent standards. But from a customer engagement perspective we had no legacy systems. We operated a traditional call centre with
systems and methodology built 8 or 9 years previously,” he states. “Belron was a very ERP orientated company and customer engagement was done via job
management systems.”

It also had limited marketing attribution.

“Very few people buy a vehicle and then go and find out how much it will cost to replace a windscreen,” McMahon adds. “We have a funnel of people coming to us who need a solution when the unexpected happens. Once they call us, we know they are in need”



Rather than being overwhelmed McMahon saw the existing structure as a “real big bonus”. It gave him free range to invent something new.

“We needed to change because of rising customer expectations and the need to improve brand loyalty, service quality improvements including
smartphone platforms and social media access and the technology available such as the development of machine learning and AI,” he says. “There were also cost benefits. The configuration options which used to be available inside an application you would purchase for a call centre are now low code and workflow. Suddenly you can do whatever you want. I put my hands in the clay and imagined the future.”

In essence McMahon wanted to ensure that customer information was going to “magically appear” on customer agent’s desktops.

“The traditional CRM model, which we have all seen, is not very good. It is where customer information goes to die, and we believed that the normal bulk approach was not going to work. So, we decided to change it completely and focus on identity to give our agents insights,” he says. “We aimed to collect every piece of data we could along the customer journey. Instead of CRM being something for us, we wanted a CRM system which was something for them. We ended up with a journey driven CRM where we developed atomised data and measured everything.”

It is a “visual representation” based around insight and analysis of the customers using machine learning, identity attributes based on emails and telephone, customer journey and mapping and events storage relating to contact touch points such as web page visits and emails. It includes a new customer engagement metric dashboard detailing customer feedback, average page views per caller and call through rate per visitor device as well as agents being able to see user events such as what devices customers are using and how often they have contacted the call centre.

Belron has also updated its job bookings system to a “timeline orientated view to allow the customer to fill the form out themselves”.



“Measurement is the key. It is the essence of our approach to omnichannel,” says McMahon. “You have elemental, incremental aspects of measurement for everything that you do. So, a website visit is a conversation as much as chat and voice are. It also gives us a completely empowering atomic view of the customers journey and there are a number of places where this is valuable. As a call centre agent, you are looking to make sure that you are giving the customer the best advice at all times. In addition, if we happen to crash land an angry person onto an engineer it would be good for them to know that there has been a problem on that customers journey before engaging with them.”

This moves on to activity scoring and the development of an opportunity index. “This is how we value jobs and the customer. We know the customer acquisition cost and the customer life time value which will differ if you are a road warrior and travelling all the time,” McMahon explains. “We can find out
what deal type a call is such as a distress, grudge because they have to pay for the repair themselves, fleet or insurance so we can better handle the query. We can see an interaction count so how easy or not the customer’s journey has been and look at cross and upsell opportunities like body work discounts.”

Agents can also determine the fail risk of a customer – essentially whether they are going to change or cancel appointments. “It is very expensive for us to move glass so we can find out if someone is a risk of being a no-show. If you have an old car and you’ve booked online and you’ve already changed your appointments four times then the chances are that you are not really that serious about this particular appointment,” McMahon says. “So, we could put
them on a nurture programme.”

Belron has also introduced technology which can analyse and tag key phrases in calls which allows it to do contextual routing. “Instead of having individual routing for each individual channel we have universal routing and a universal queue,” McMahon adds. “We have achieved that original aim but with a slight
change. We are now delivering contextually related data on customers magically appearing on customer agent’s desktops.” He says that the change has had huge positive benefits for agents. “We have created a superagent with all the information and tools they need. They have insights from first customer
contact, and they feel so empowered,” he says. “Seriously there have been hankies all over the place. Real tears of joy!”

McMahon says the system is constantly developing and it is vital to have a long term “thought trajectory” to make use of new technology and processes. “We’d like to go deeper in the conversation structure around a job and include dispatchers, supply chain managers and others in the business,” he says.
“It’s about continuous improvement.”

Or as Lao Tzu himself once point it – “A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”



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