Whichever way you choose to interact with RS, our award-winning RS Customer Services team is on hand to provide help and support to more than 900,000 customers when they 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 & Sales Operations, RS Components
“The overall goal of the Customer Services team is to make RS as easy to do business with as possible by having a highly engaged and happy team; all research shows that the more engaged and happy your employees are, the better the customer-experience and the easier an organisation is to do business with,” says Emma Botfield, Emma Botfield, Director of Customer & Sales Operations at RS Components. “We’ve won awards because of our customer and employee focus, including the Customer Services Award at the 2018 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 – where there is a local need the RS Local branch is available or if email is preferred choice that is suitable for non-urgent enquries or through live chat or telephone for instant answers. “We have also improved our support pages on the RS website as we know lots of customers want to self-serve,” says Botfield. “Since the changes we have received lots of positive feedback as to how much easier it is to find information, so we’re helping customers to help themselves, and then being available through other channels for more complex enquiries.”
"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 & Sales Operations, RS Components
The second factor is that the team dealing with these queries – everything from ordering products to navigating the RS website and product and technical questions – have to be able to deal with these questions and give customers the answers they need.
“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 customers can talk with a human being, who is based in the UK and can answer their specific query. “In the world of customer service, time is precious and every customer wants immediacy, so we will look at new technologies to support customers,” she adds. “But we will never move away from a personalised service being available for customers when they need us.”
Something else that sets RS apart is 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 contact the customer based on their feedback,” says Botfield. “That could be a call to discuss any issue raised, but also to thank the customer for their positive feedback. This feedback was instrumental in why we needed to improve our support pages on the web: customers told us what was wrong, what they would like and we delivered on that.”
Engaged and happy employees will drive customer experience and help us on our journey to become the first choice in MRO. Through our ambition exchanges we focus on development of the individual, working with them on their learning agilities. Botfield explains: “We apply the ‘fun theory’: any behavioural change we’re working towards we make fun and interactive and let our employees shape the future.”
In practice, that culture often means going above and beyond when it comes to helping customers. “A recent example was a customer receiving damaged parts,” says Botfield. “They contacted our customer support team and sent pictures of the damaged item and packaging. From this, our team was able to work with the warehouse and packaging team, who changed the packaging for this product going forward. The customer was sent replacement parts and reported that they were very happy with the new packaging.”
Having a store network through our RS Locals provides flexibility and support for business. Our customer service and RS Local teams received an out for hours call on a Saturday afternoon from a company supporting offshore facilities for the oil and gas industry. A leading supplier of testing equipment had issued an urgent recall of products, which for the customer were in service and given their electricians were on various rigs and boats it meant they were unable to work and carry out necessary checks. The customer was able to find a suitable replacement kit , however the RS website advised delivery at the earliest would be on Monday morning. Various members of the RS team were able to find a solution for the customer, which resulted in the product arriving at 5am on the Sunday morning and the customer able to safely and accurately carry out their necessary work.
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”