Knowledge: Case Studies

The Co-op’s contact centre has proved it can play a crucial role in shaping and determining business strategy. We learn how its team turned it from forgotten to fundamental

When you next walk down the aisle of a Co-op food store and are impressed by the lack of queues and quality of wine then raise a toast to the company’s contact centre team.

Because, as Adrian Morley, change consultant at the Co-op Service Centre told the Future of the Contact Centre audience, its feedback and analysis has played a crucial role in the development of its food strategy True North.

Through the everyday conversations the centre has with the group’s customers it was able to recommend changes to store layouts and product improvements. “We talk to customers about what really matters to the business. We have aligned our work more closely to business strategy and raised our profile,” Morley says. “We are now seen as a really important part of the business. We have achieved relevance.”

It’s been a fascinating journey.

Morley describes the contact centre operation back in 2015 as being “fairly overlooked and insignificant” to the wider business”.

It was composed of a “number of very small-scale contact centres aligned into different business units”. Of the £10billion spend across the whole group the contact centre accounted for just £4million.

“People thought our main task was to help recover lost membership cards,” he explains.

Morley says one person who did see the contact centre’s potential was the Cooperative Group’s director of transformation Jane McCall. “Her main task was turning around the food business but as she had previous contact centre experience, she believed it could be a force for change,” he says. “The two centres
she really saw potential in were customer care which mainly looked after food business complaints and member queries.”

Case study – CoOp, Claire Carroll