Exclusive Q&A: 7-Eleven overhauls customer support operation

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Exclusive Q&A: 7-Eleven overhauls customer support operation

By Dan Berthiaume - 06/05/2020

The world’s largest convenience store retailer is modernizing its customer experience architecture.

Chain Store Age recently interviewed Jerry Campbell, 7-Eleven customer experience lead, about the convenience store giant’s recent overhaul of its customer experience. The retailer deployed the ServiceNow customer service management (CSM) platform to offer immediate, multi-channel customer support throughout the enterprise, with a new mobile app and delivery offering.

What customer experience issues was 7-11 facing?
We were using a very manual customer service system, which couldn’t quickly separate customer feedback from issues that required help. Two agents from our call center had to go through 1,300 separate pieces of information a day and try to distinguish what was customer feedback or a request for help—it was like trying to find ping pong balls in a box that was 90% golf balls.

When we did find those cases, we had no way of prioritizing them, meaning urgent asks couldn’t be immediately dealt with. Additionally, our team could not quickly diagnose customer pain points or efficiently track and report common issues. This meant customers had to wait extended periods of time to get their issues resolved and we couldn’t easily improve the customer experience without visibility into the issues themselves.
 
How did 7-11 evaluate customer experience solutions?
We wanted a solution that was not only internal customer-friendly (everyday employees in the IT, HR, facilities management and customer service), but was also just as friendly to our external customers (people who shop at our stores). The solution needed to integrate all these systems to improve service across the full spectrum of the business, because having a Slurpee machine out of order or a gas pump down in a location requires servicing and repairs to meet the customer’s need.

A franchisee can report down equipment and get the item serviced before it affects the customer journey. Likewise, a customer can report down equipment and create the servicing/repair of the equipment. The integration of ServiceNow modules ultimately aided in the evaluation of this customer experience solution.
 
Why did 7-11 select ServiceNow?
We chose ServiceNow because it is the only company that offers an end-to-end customer experience solution, delivering both on customer engagement and with its workflows, and connecting customer service agents to the ‘middle office’ to help agents resolve issues.
 
What was implementation like, and how long did it take?
We took a very deliberate approach to implementing ServiceNow, before we even began to deploy its CSM solution, we understood that we needed to be grounded in process because technology with process creates an automated mess. We chose to differentiate customers needing help from general experience feedback.
 
We made sure the ServiceNow implementation team really understood not just the business requirements, but our department’s needs. Each member of my team was deeply involved in the implementation. We tried to overload the system with data; in all fairness, we set out to absolutely break it. After functionality was established, the team wanted to understand the tool’s analytic capabilities to improve performance.

At the end of the six-week implementation period, we took the tool to our call center and trained the agents within a four-day window. Within hours, we were not only able to effectively manage cases by type and severity, we also observed case trend data. The team was now able to focus on the most impactful cases effecting our customer while being able to deliver actionable insight to our business partners.  Total time for implementation start to finish was eight weeks.
 
What have the results been?
After deploying ServiceNow CSM, we saw immediate results. Our case volume decreased by 93%, which meant we could start assisting customers who need our help right away. As a result, our resolution rate skyrocketed by 205%. This year, we resolved 386,000 customer issues, that’s over 1,000 a day! With the addition of our multichannel approach, including mobile, customers are getting help 1,860% faster. Additionally, we’re providing actionable insights to other parts of 7-Eleven.

With the time we have saved, we are now helping other departments as well—such as helping people who want to open a franchise—and assisting with app and website reviews. We’ve also changed our mindset. Instead of measuring ourselves against average handle time—a statistic that nearly every other call center uses to judge itself—we’re using first-time resolution. As opposed to trying to get a customer off the phone, we want to make sure we’re getting a customer’s issue resolved the first time and leaving them satisfied.
 
Are there any future plans for ServiceNow you can discuss?
We want to add chat and text while taking advantage of the solution’s Automatic Work Assignment (AWA) capabilities.  We will take our time adding one feature at a time perfecting the process assisted by the technology. We’ll build a self-servicing channel first before we dive into artificial intelligence chat or text messaging.

We’ll use AWA to create any omni-agent able to service a customer from the omnichannel solution. Our plan is to able to bring all channels into Service Now to service our customers, everything from app/web reviews to care for social media. As a result, we will meet our customers where they are, when they want, and how they want it.