With more than 800,000 customer enquiries a year, the award-winning RS Customer Services team is on hand to provide help and support when customers need it most
Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, the RS Customer Services division is crucial to helping customers get the MRO products and services they need. Based in Corby, around 100 employees take an average of 75,000 customer enquiries each month – via phone calls, live chat or email.
"The overall goal of the Customer Services team is to make RS as easy to do business with as possible"Emma Botfield, Director of Customer Services for Northern Europe, RS
“The overall goal of the Customer Services team is to make RS as easy to do business with as possible,” says Emma Botfield, Director of Customer Services for Northern European at RS. “We’ve won awards because of our customer and employee focus, including the ‘Customer Service’ prize at the 2016 Forum Innovation Awards. There has been a huge amount of development of our people to help drive an effortless experience for customers when they get in touch with us.”
According to Botfield, this ‘effortless experience’ comes down to two key factors. First, customers can interact with RS through the channel that suits them best – by email for non-urgent queries, or through live chat or telephone for instant answers. Second, the team dealing with these queries – everything from ordering products to navigating the RS website to product and technical questions – have to be able to deal with these questions and give customers the answers they need.
"We provide a personal service so people talk with a human being, based in the UK, who can answer their query"Emma Botfield, Director of Customer Services for Northern Europe, RS
“We’re effectively a one-stop shop for anything a customer could possibly want to know,” says Botfield. “We provide a personal service – not one that relies on interactive voice recognition, so people talk with a human being, based in the UK, who can answer their specific query.”
Something else that sets RS apart in the industry is the fact that it acts on live feedback. “A customer can deal with us, fill in a survey after that and within 10 minutes that response will be read by someone who can get in touch with the customer based on their feedback,” explains Botfield. “That could be a call to discuss any issue raised, but also to send a thank you to the customer for positive feedback they’ve left.
“The important thing is that feedback is not simply filed away – we look to act quickly on things our customers tell us.”
Any new customer services operative goes through 6 to 8 weeks of intense training, followed up by a mentoring programme so that good practice and the experience of more senior employees is passed on. “Our philosophy in terms of recruitment is based on values, beliefs and life experience rather than skills. That’s because we have a really robust training programme that gives people the knowledge and skills needed for the job, but they need to be the right fit for our culture.”
In practice, that culture often means going above and beyond when it comes to helping customers get what they need. “A recent example saw a customer order a part because there was a problem with their production line,” says Botfield. “When they received the replacement it was faulty, so our team first checked the rest of the batch of products to make sure those were all working, then a new part was sent by courier so it arrived later that day. “This meant the customer’s factory production line was up and running again on schedule and didn’t cost them.”
To help monitor performance, RS keeps a close eye on its Net Promoter and NetEasy scores which have been steadily increasing over the past 18 months. “Clearly our scores wouldn’t be performing so well if our service wasn’t meeting customer needs,” adds Botfield. “However, it’s important that we keep listening and acting on our customer’s needs so they receive the seamless experience they expect”