Halfords deploys tech to support customer service centres

Halfords has introduced a new SaaS-based platform to streamline customer service communications.

The retailer has partnered with 8x8 to deploy its X Series global cloud communications platform, which will replace existing legacy comms systems, that have prevented the retailer from delivering a consistent experience across multiple channels.

The new system aims to connect customers with the most appropriate customer service agent, rather than spending time being kept on hold to be transferred to the correct person. The technology will also allow Halfords to improve call experiences by using reporting functionalities, as well as allowing employees to dial in from anywhere in the world.

“It’s so important that we give our customers the experience they expect, whether that be face-to-face in a retail store, in one of our Autocentres or over the phone,” said Gareth Brophy, head of Halfords customer support. “The systems we had in the past simply didn’t support us in the way that we needed them to – our customer service was disjointed with the various teams using different platforms to handle calls and keep track of queries.

“Having all of our customer support technology in one place, with advanced reporting and analytics capabilities, will be pivotal for us, especially during peak retail moments such as Black Friday, Easter and MOT season. 8x8 is the right provider to meet our needs both today and as we grow.”

Halfords has deployed the single unified communications and contact centre solution to be used across all of the group’s customer service teams. Later this year, the retailer will also introduce 8x8 Contact Centre’s chat capabilities.

Mary Ellen Genovese, MD of European operations at 8x8, added: “With 8x8 X Series in place [Halfords] will be able to bring disparate systems together, ensuring they provide their customers the best possible experience across all parts of the business. Halfords is the latest leading brand to select 8x8 for their mission-critical customer experience platform.”

It's a challenging time at Halfords as the retailer issued a profit warning for its half-year results ending 16 August 2019. The retailer blamed poor summer weather for changing its profit before tax guidelines for the full year to be in the region of £50 million to £55 million. Online sales were performing strongly, with the majority of customers choosing to collect orders in store, but like-for-likes for the half-year period in motoring and cycling declining 5.9% and 1.1% respectively.

‘‘Though [CEO] Graham Stapleton will likely be disappointed with Halfords’ performance for the first 20 weeks of the new financial year, his strategy to turn Halfords into a ‘service-led super specialist’ and focus on integrating its retail and autocentre divisions is sound," explained Amy Higginbotham, retail analyst at GlobalData. "The retailer attributes its poor results to last year’s strong comparatives, given the warmer and drier weather which benefited its cycling division, and low consumer confidence which continues to impact discretionary spend, especially for big-ticket purchases such as car technology. 

This story has been updated to reflect Halfords' half-year results released 4 September. 

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