Focus On

Improving customer journeys through technological developments

By Elizabeth Akass, Editor, Engage Business Media

Vue Entertainment explains how it transformed its customer journeys and customer satisfaction through digital developments and further engaging its employees.

Vue Entertainment is a British multinational cinema company with 91 venues across the UK and Ireland, and 280 sites total across Europe and Taiwan. Julie Roberts, Customer Service Manager UK&I at Vue Entertainment, says: “We just want to deliver the best big-screen experience for cinema goers.”

Roberts introduces the aims Vue Entertainment had when approaching a transformation in its customer service strategy: “We really wanted to promote first-contact resolution and to do some great guest recovery, increase our customer satisfaction, and reduce cost.” She highlights guest recovery as particularly important for retaining customers.

Previously at Vue Entertainment, there was restrictive criteria around compensation in the contact centre, and agents were only able to offer it in certain scenarios. Roberts and her team worked to empower the agents by removing the rules, and the silos that kept them to certain channels. “This improved their confidence in handling the complaints and queries that would have previously escalated, and recover the people making complaints as customers and make things right.”

“We had a lot of success, but we did find that not all of the staff in the contact centre had the ability to embrace the empowerment of having the rules taken away. As a result, we needed to change the recruitment strategy to ensure people who could embrace empowerment were being hired.”

Vue Entertainment wanted its staff on board with these changes, so ran workshops in small groups where employees could create their own vision of how they wanted things to run in the contact centre. The ideas raised by the groups were all merged together to create one strong vision, and Roberts’ team ensured there was a recognisable part included from each of the workshops.

“This was a kind of reset moment, taking the team away from the old way of thinking and getting them into the new way of thinking. Focusing on first contact and really wanting to help customers rather than rushing through as quickly as possible.”

Roberts says that further work was done to ensure the highest possible standard of customer service was provided by agents. “We took all of our agents out of the contact centre for the day and did one massive workshop on how we can help customers, and how body language can make a difference even when we’re on the end of the phone. There was key training that was done with learning and development, and this really played dividend to what the team were able to deliver.”

She talks through other strategies her team undertook to drive cost efficiencies and improve customer service. “This was to upskill our agents and improve their knowledge. One of the first things we did was create an internal knowledge base, which was in the control of our new head office customer service team. My team now update that on a regular basis, and we’re able to pin new things as they happen in the business so agents will get updates in their knowledge base as they are entered. It’s made it much easier to communicate and get the right messaging to our customers.”

She continues: “We wanted technology to give us information in real time. We now have a lot of dashboards and data and analytics and we’ve taken this data to do our root cause analysis and solve problems which are causing our customers pain so they don’t need to contact us to start with.”

“Our strategy was two-pronged. It was about giving the agents the knowledge to be able to do that first contact and reduce the number of times customers come to us with problems, and to identify why the customers are calling and find those root cause issues. We also regularly go to our contact centre and work with the team and answer their questions to help their knowledge and confidence. It’s very much a partnership with our contact centre.”

One of the most significant changes Vue Entertainment carried out was in the development of their Tech Road Map. “We implemented an omnichannel CRM which gave us the single guest view in customer service for the first time. It was designed to be future-proof, and to integrate with content that was on our bigger road map of how we wanted our technology to look.”

Additionally, she says that live chats were put on the web pages. “We’d had them previously, but they had just been popped on the pages without much thought. We went back and had a look at where people were struggling on our website, and where they were asking questions. We then put a live chat specifically on those pages, and then added them with timings.” She notes that the chat would only show up for a customer if there was an agent available to help, so there were no queues.

“We started asking customers, ‘tell us why you’re calling today’, and collected the data through our old IVR, interactive voice response, over a couple of months. We then whittled this data down to 50 key customer journeys, which we then used to look at what the best way is to help the customer.”

“This led us into the development of our new IVR which uses natural language and is a visual IVR, which is the best IVR for us. When customers want to book tickets to a specific show at a specific cinema, it will disambiguate what they ask and send them a link for the booking page direct to their mobile phone to continue in a digital journey.” She highlights that 70% of customers accept a live chat when offered, which improves customer satisfaction as it increases efficiency and ease for the customer.

Other customer journeys are based around acquiring information. Roberts says that information has been provided upfront to customers to help with basic enquiries, so they don’t need to speak to agents, and some further modes have been added to the IVR for when the contact centre is busy. “We send more queries that don’t require an agent to receive our information, and we will focus on the higher-level queries who need assistance there and then. We created another mode for when we have issues with our website, which then turns the contact centre into a booking office. This also helps us from a business continuity perspective.”

“Now when we find ourselves busier than anticipated, we’re able to recover much quicker with customers all being put on the right touchpoints, and we have all the information that we need to assist them once we have more staff and resources available.”

She says that payments and refunds have been included in the live chats, which has added capability in assisting customers further, and that the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle will be a chatbot which is still in development.

The shift results from these changes are significant. “Originally our channel mix was about 70% phones, 14% e-mail, about 8% social, and about 7% was live chat. We were very much biased towards phones. Through the changes we’ve made, we’ve shifted this to about 54% phones, e-mails have risen a little, our social stayed the same, and our live chat has risen to 15%.” This move away from phones has lowered costs, improved efficiency, and increased customer satisfaction, with 32% of customers no longer going through to an agent because they’ve been self-served.

“We hope that we’re going to see even more shift happening once we’ve got our chatbot going, and once we’ve ironed out some of the creases that we’re still working on. The great news is we’ve shifted a lot of people into our digital journey to book on the website, which is better for our customers because we know that they have an overall better experience.”

Moving forward, Roberts says her team will continue to review and improve the Tech Road Map, as well as placing more of a focus on customer service within the venues. “We’ve already started looking at some initiatives for this, so we’ve got some interesting times to come with some cross-functional collaborations. It should be great!”

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