Alex Huntley, Booktopia’s head of customer experience, recently appeared at software company Freshworks’ recent digital CX summit RE:SOLVE.
During the summit, Huntley shared his thoughts on future-proofing customer service architecture.Huntley sat down with B&T to discuss Booktopia’s partnership with Freshworks and how it has helped their platform develop.
B&T: Why did Booktopia first decide to partner with Freshworks?
AH: We were undertaking a major update and rebuild of our in-house customer order management system, which was also the tool we used to manage customer enquiries. At the time Booktopia only handled customer enquiries through our website and by phone, and the existing tool only had limited functionality.
We took this as an opportunity to look at best practice and take on a SaaS provider that had all the features we needed at the time, and could also handle where we wanted to go with service in the future – to allow us to grow, both in scale but also in the range of channels offered. They were able to show us a track record of continuing to develop and improve their product, and that quality was very attractive to us.
The Freshdesk core platform met all our requirements cost-effectively, and they committed from the start to work closely with us to reach our objectives. We’ve since expanded the channels we offer our customers and these are all handled through the Freshworks platform including phone service, live chat, and more recently a chatbot to assist with quick answers to easy questions, which is available 24/7.
How has the partnership helped you grow throughout the pandemic?
The pandemic obviously forced all of us to work differently and our Customer Service teams needed to rapidly shift to working from home. Freshworks’ SaaS platform allowed that transition to happen seamlessly and without interruption to serving our customers. The flexibility within the system also allowed us to also manage the rapid surge in contact volumes through that period and keep our Customer Service operations in control.
Has the consumption of books increased during the pandemic? Why do you think that is?
For sure, books were one of the things that Australians turned to when they were at home. This was not only for entertainment and enrichment, but also self development, hobbies and children’s education and activities. The qualities of a physical book remain timeless, especially the hands-on feelings they give versus a digital experience. Being immersed in a fully digital work and school-life made that even more impactful.
How well has your online-only model served you? Does it make your business more efficient?
In one sense we only have one store to worry about and that means we can focus all our attention on making that the best we can. We are able to constantly refine and adapt our website to provide the best experience possible for our customers. And while we don’t have the challenges faced by bricks and mortar retail, we have different challenges to meet. For example, we must continually scale our operations to meet the demands of our customers. This has been especially true over the past year as people have moved more and more to shop online. Being able to get better at what we do while we have to do even more of that has been one of our main challenges.
Online stores also take many people to operate well. We have a 14,000sqm Distribution Centre where we hold over 140,000 titles and two Customer Service Contact Centres, all of this focused on delivering for our customers. We deliver right across Australia and New Zealand, so our customers are everywhere, from every walk of life, and we have a good sized team to cater to them.
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