Small Customer Service Team. Threat or Treat?

Small Customer Service teams are considered a threat to many FMCG businesses. However, in 2023 it will be no longer a differentiator. Find out why!

When we communicate with our potential clients, they always ask this one question, “My Customer Service team is too small. They cannot provide a sufficient level of support to our wide client base. What to do?”.

And we get it.

Previous years of the crisis changed the labour market, with contact centres being affected the most. Many telesales employees left the UK whilst some changed their occupations due to the lack of work for 2 years. However, now that companies are back to the pre-pandemic volumes, many businesses face the issue of filling Customer Service positions.

Food and Engineering magazine compared our market to other developed food and drink markets in Western Europe and noted unremarkable labour productivity in the UK. “Food and drink supply chains in peer countries have seen better labour productivity gains over the last decade, leaving the UK behind. This has created a second productivity ‘gap’, and the UK supply chain may continue to lose ground.”

Therefore, if you have a small Contact Centre team in FMCG, you are not alone. 

These are the main risks of a small Customer Service team in 2023:

  1. Manual Processes.
  2. Outdated Systems.
  3. Workers Shortage.

However, this information does not help you to improve your business. So, let’s check these risks and a few options to improve them.

Manual Processes.

Many FMCG companies are still busy with manual processes. However, we are in the 4th industrial revolution, or so-called Industry 4.0, with the main focus on digitisation. Meaning it visualises rapid change to technology, industries, and processes in the 21st century due to the increasing number of smart automation.

Although it sounds like a great opportunity, FMCG companies are related to the change in 2023. Especially when this year has been affected by increasing inflation, with talks of this going even higher.

Customers in the sector have also changed their behaviour. People are reacting and investing more time in how they can save money by planning more and searching for value with private label options or seeking out discounts.

It leads to unexpected drops in demand for your items or a decline in the number of accounts. Without a doubt, it can affect your business even further when your Customer Service team have no time to communicate with those who are ready to leave.

This is exactly where automation can help you and your small Customer Service team in FMCG in 2023 to improve productivity. With the latest technology, you can:

– Have a drilled-down dashboard with your customers’ order history
– Get notifications when customers’ behaviour changes
– And check the overall trend on your latest products

For example, with the Declining Accounts feature built by Allsop, you can track customers not purchasing as much this week as they have on average over the past 13 weeks.

This small AI tool will empower your Customer Service team to contact those clients and clarify the reasoning for the changed behaviour. Therefore, it will provide an opportunity for your business to keep the customer who is ready to leave.

Declining accounts show when someone is ready to leave your company and highlight what type of product your customer is purchasing less or what item they replaced.

By having a direct call with your customer, you can clarify these changes, and we can ensure you will find something new about your customer and the whole industry itself.

Update Your Outdated Systems.

Whilst we mentioned a need to automate your processes, it is essential to do so only when your teams are equipped with modern technologies. Although, it is easy to blame software tools when you have a limited number on your team and you want them to be productive. However, it will be unlikely if they store all customers’ data in Excel, have poor visibility of orders and lack an analytics dashboard to make data-driven decisions.

We found out 74% of FMCG companies receive orders by phone & email. Meaning they manually process incoming requests, key in 50 to 100 lines in each order form, and spend most of their week completing tedious tasks.

During the research, companies mentioned various issues with collecting orders by phone or email. For example, the main problem they highlighted was data mistakes.

Due to a high turnover rate in the Customer Service industry, many employees either do not have enough experience or have never been through training to correctly input information onto the platform. Therefore, they process orders with errors.

On the other hand, due to a high volume of work, Operation Specialists key with data mistakes, which leads to customers receiving incorrect products or a wrong number of goods.

Moreover, poor internal software is also likely to be slower, more glitchy and less reliable than the industry standard, meaning more instances of customers having to be placed on hold, and a subsequent increase in overall call times.

Now, what about those with automation?

With a third of businesses processing orders manually, it leaves only 26% of companies to have a platform for order management. This automation provides them with better customer service and gives them a competitor’s advantage.

“We have a customer portal, and we couldn’t imagine our working life without it! Customers place orders that are automatically filled and updated accordingly in our system. It takes almost no time for the platform to fill the form when our orders have between 50 to 100 lines! Our team now deals only with exceptions or orders coming via phone. It allows us to reengage salespeople in other aspects of the business and allows them to take part in high-value tasks.” – Sales Coordinator

Workers Shortage.

As we mentioned above, the lack of employees in Customer Service teams is one of the biggest issues FMCG businesses face today. Therefore, it is understandable that having a workforce that’s too small can be equally detrimental to your operation.

A real example, 40% of Pret personnel were Europeans. After Brexit, they left the country, and those who stayed were laid off due to the pandemic.

Now, the company has limited resources and cannot provide Customer Service on the same level.

However, with 2 examples mentioned in this article on how to improve your team, you can make even the smallest team provide the best Customer Service experience in 2023.

By implementing automation or improving your outdated system, your team can:

– collect orders information in one place
– automatically proceed orders in seconds
– provide the latest data to your clients

Therefore, next year number of people on your team will be no longer a differentiator between good and bad service because, with the latest technology, you can provide an extraordinary experience even if you have a limited workforce.

Conclusion.

Any customer service team in the FMCG sector is a model that is structured, coordinated, and organised by continually listening, learning and changing.

Meaning it is time for your Customer Service team to engage with your customers and reduce their time on tedious tasks such as manual order keying.

Moreover, in 2023, data will become an essential aspect of your team to provide data-driven decisions, be aware of the demand change and notice any accounts that are ready to leave.

However, all of these are possible only when you are ready to change, improve and automate.

So, if you want to skyrocket your small Customer Service team in 2023 and improve Customer Satisfaction, we have great news for you! Knowing how daunting it might be to implement new technology, we provide a free-of-charge processes audit. From this exercise, you will receive:

✓ Full overview of your processes

✓ Identified areas of improvement

✓ Possible ROI after automating tedious tasks

Sounds good? Book today 👉 FREE of cost call.

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