After facing customer backlash, David Jones Australia retail stores move its customer services to Amazon Connect and Salesforce Service Cloud

After facing customer backlash, David Jones retail stores move its customer services to Amazon Connect and Salesforce Service Cloud. Source: Shutterstock

Why Aussie department store David Jones went cloudwards for CX

  • After facing customer backlash, David Jones Australia retail stores move its customer services to Amazon Connect and Salesforce Service Cloud

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the uptake of e-commerce and online sales channels as an alternative to physical store shopping around the world, and in Australia, the picture is no different.

While some brick-and-mortar retailers were well-positioned to transition towards online selling, others such as Kmart and popular department store David Jones Australia struggled to quickly shift their businesses online when the coronavirus induced a nationwide shutdown. Both popular retail chains’ web services were brutalized by users on product review sites, with the David Jones Australia website in particular drawing heavy flak for not delivering ordered items, sending out the wrong items, and failing to respond to its customer complaints.

The scathing reviews were unsettling for Australia’s most well-known store chain – in a bid to modernize, David Jones had been posting significant web sales increases over the past two years as the company turned towards a more digital shopping experience.

“Whilst our stores remained open during the lockdown, our online store sales doubled. This sales growth, coupled with dispatch and delivery delays associated with the increased volumes, led to unprecedented demands on the customer services teams,” said Daniele Iezzi, the customer services general manager at David Jones and Country Road Group

“We saw increases of up to 500% in customer contact. Call volumes increased so quickly that at one stage customers were telephoning us every two seconds. Needless to say, wait times for calls ballooned out to levels we weren’t comfortable with.”

Gartner reports are pegging traditional retailers to broadly embrace digitalization by 2025, as retailers have been forced to contend with the e-commerce reality – especially following the pandemic causing major shutdowns and store closures. Most store chains of a certain scale have had to adapt various segments of their business, from rerouting supply chains to experimenting with digital in-store experiences, to accepting cashless payments as a means of avoiding physical contact.

For David Jones Australia, the company has decided to support its growing online sales by moving its maligned customer service operations to run on Amazon Connect and Salesforce cloud-based systems, to better manage customer feedback and ensure customer fulfillment is taking priority.

Customer services GM Iezzi told Salesforce Live for Retail & Consumer Goods that the retail chain tried to go digital-first too fast, and at the time was not prepared in the customer service area for the significant increase in online sales.

“This placed pressure on the customer services team. The increase in online sales drove a 50% growth in phone calls to the team with the main inquiry being related to order status,” explained Iezzi. “Coupled with outdated systems, this demand was creating an experience that didn’t live up to our customers’ expectations.”

David Jones decided to retain its customer relationship services in-house rather than outsourcing them, allowing the company to have a more direct grasp of their customers’ expectations, and brought in Deloitte to build a new platform based on Amazon Connect and Salesforce’s Service Cloud.

Salesforce has repeatedly been ranked as one of the top customer service and support software vendors, with Gartner rating its Service Cloud solution as the best for innovation in customer relationship management (CRM), noting that Service Cloud had improved 125 features over last year’s edition, including real-time AI-based case classification, skill-based routing and WhatsApp support extensions.

David Jones Australia is also using Amazon Connect’s artificial intelligence (AI) virtual assistant to automatically respond to certain overflow customer calls. “Upon successfully matching your number to your profile, the virtual assistant will greet you by name. Using natural language understanding, the virtual assistant will then determine the reason or intent for your call,” Iezzi elaborated.

“If you’re ringing to check on the status of your order, Amazon Connect will locate the order in your Salesforce profile, confirm its details with you, and then [make] an API call to our order management system and to our delivery partners [to] relay the order status to you, without the need for human intervention,” he continued. “This is really powerful as order status inquiries are still the main source of customer contacts to our team.”

For out-of-hours calls, the system will create an ‘unresolved case’ in Service Cloud, filling in the details and reason for the call automatically. Amazon Connect can also determine to transfer calls to an agent, by looking at the customer’s profile info in Salesforce, identifying the caller by their phone number.

The digital customer care platform has provided David Jones some of the space to pivot to additional support channels, such as transitioning store staff who were not working much during the lockdown, and redeploying them to handle excess online queries.

“One of the great features of Amazon Connect and Service Cloud is the flexibility to scale up quite easily,” noted GM Iezzi. “As a result, we could redeploy these team members quickly using their own devices, and we could call on team members from any state to work with us remotely. They were able to hit the ground running.”

In addition, David Jones Australia also increased its live chat and chatbot capacities, including using chatbots to better understand customer intent early and to obtain necessary customer information “such as their name, a case number or product information, helped reduce our handling time, and increase agent productivity in chat.”

Iezzi says the capabilities of Amazon Connect and Salesforce allowed the retailer to keep “every channel of communication open” despite customer care agents undergoing the transition to work-from-home during Australia’s lockdown period.

Buoyed by the recent customer response improvements, David Jones plans to identify opportunities “to automate further customer intents so that we can deflect more calls away from the customer services team.”

“As we continue to leverage the power of Amazon Connect used in conjunction with Service Cloud, we will continue to gather information and insights about our customers, as each contact creates a case in the customer’s profile in Salesforce,” said Iezzi.

David Jones is also planning to provide better tools to supplement the customer’s in-store experiences as well. “We’re looking to implement chat and messaging in-store,” Iezzi confirmed. “This will give customers more options in how they’d like to engage with our store teams, and allow sales assistants to view their customer’s shopping history, allowing them to sell the right product more easily and more efficiently. Naturally, this will be integrated with Service Cloud.”