FairPrice Group + Zendesk: Breaking down silos at scale
Moving from hotlines to self-service and other digital channels for customer support was no small feat for a company as big as FairPrice Group. Zendesk helped the company reduce hotline volume by 60%, increase agent productivity by 75%, and streamline operations.
“Zendesk is designed with the agent in mind, and our agents have often remarked that it is very easy for them to pick up after just one or two training sessions. They are able to quickly see the benefits it offers and we have received great feedback on not only its ease of use but how it has tangibly helped them reduce response time.”
“The rate at which customer expectations are changing has pushed us to set a very high bar for the development of our customer support capabilities. Zendesk has proved to be a partner that not only meets these high expectations, but proactively adds value to our larger vision that is backed by measurable results.”
Increase, Agent Productivity
FairPrice Group operates the largest supermarket chain and is the largest cooked food hawker and cafeteria chain in Singapore. It is the name behind some of Singapore’s biggest homegrown brands: the ubiquitous FairPrice supermarkets; Cheers convenience stores and Unity pharmacies; and Kopitiam and Foodfare, whose food courts and coffee shops are entrenched in the nation’s hawker culture.
With over 570 touch points in Singapore, as well as online grocery offerings, FairPrice Group is everywhere in Singapore. “Our customers include pretty much everybody, from all walks of life, because everybody needs groceries and everybody needs food,” said FairPrice Group’s Head of Customer Service, Rachel Foo.
As for any company of this size and scale, making the shift from legacy to digital ways of operating was a momentous shift for FairPrice Group. In 2018, it undertook an ambitious digital transformation plan that focused on offering an omnichannel customer experience and the digitalization of internal processes, including support. With Zendesk’s help, the massive move from proprietary systems and hotlines to self-service and other digital support channels culminated in significant improvements to agent efficiency and self-service support channels. Turns out, these changes couldn’t have come at a better time.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, FairPrice Group was already well-equipped with help centers, webforms, live chats, and measurement tools to navigate the seismic shift to digital channels for support. But far from resting on its laurels, it embarked on yet another ambitious project in 2020—consolidating its different customer teams into one streamlined channel for support—with its long-term partner Zendesk.
Laying the foundation for customer success
FairPrice Group has its priorities spelled out in its business philosophy. “We are always guided by three pillars: Customer First, Better Value for All, and Food Made Easy,” Foo said. But keeping the customer at the forefront wasn’t easy back when the group was using proprietary systems to track customer feedback. “We didn’t have metrics like CSAT to help us measure how we performed,” she said. “This prompted us to consider adopting a customer experience system that could help us scale our business.”
The decision to partner with Zendesk was made in 2018 when the group overhauled its e-commerce grocery platform to enhance its online shopping experience—and to immediate effect. “As the saying goes, what gets measured will get improved. Zendesk’s performance tracking has provided us with metrics that help us closely monitor our performance and work toward better customer service,” Foo said. “We now have an excellent overview of the customer experience, which has helped pinpoint issues and considerably improve our response and resolution time.”
Results that speak for themselves
From customer satisfaction to agent productivity, FairPrice Group’s key metrics have improved dramatically since its partnership with Zendesk began. “Our CSAT score has increased from 84 percent in 2018 to 90 percent in 2021, while our agent productivity has almost doubled by 75 percent,” Foo said.
A large contributor to this success is the group’s move to omnichannel customer service, which meant redirecting its heavy reliance on hotline customer support toward self-service and other digital channels. “Previously, we didn’t have a help center and 80 percent of all our customer feedback came from calls,” Foo said. “We were given the challenge of reducing this to 30 percent, which we achieved by rolling out a help center with Guide.”
As part of its omnichannel efforts, the business also designed a customer-friendly webform and live chat. The move has exceeded expectations, with hotline usage down to 20 percent, and the self-service ratio—the number of help center views to tickets raised–up from 0.95 in 2018 to as high as 7.5 during the peak of the pandemic in early 2020. Even as the pandemic continued to impact its operations, FairPrice Group was able to respond to customer queries faster, with its SLA rate increasing from an average of 89.1 percent in the first quarter of 2020 to 93 percent a year later.
Scaling without silos
As customer preferences continue to change, the FairPrice Group is focused on evolving with them. “Our customers are now more empowered with technology. Everyone has a smartphone, and they can submit feedback at any time or post on social media,” Foo said. “They are demanding faster response times and convenience when it comes to channels for customer support.”
Rising to the challenge, the FairPrice Group embarked on an initiative of significant scale that seeks to streamline six different customer service teams–FairPrice online, NTUC Link, FairPrice Membership, FairPrice Customer Relations, Kopitiam, and NTUC Foodfare–into one cohesive structure, with the goal of providing a quick and seamless omnichannel experience to customers.
“Because we were still working in silos, the first phase of the project focused on getting everyone onboarded to Zendesk so they could start using it as a single ticketing platform to record all our customer interactions,” Foo said. “With this phase now complete, we are now working on the new structure as well as more channels to support our customers.”
Partnering for the long term
Foo shares that the decision to partner with Zendesk on this project was unanimous. “It has been very easy to integrate Zendesk with our back-end systems, which has enabled us to have an excellent overview of customer history,” Foo said. “We have received strong support every step of the way and appreciate having a dedicated success manager whose monthly updates and recommendations help us improve our customer experience. Experiences like this made us confident that Zendesk was the right partner to help us further scale the business.”
With the consolidation slated for completion by 2021, FairPrice Group is already exploring further opportunities for improving its customer experience. “We are exploring having a chatbot within the help center and are also looking to enhance it with automation and AI tools like Flow Builder and Answer Bot that can help customers 24/7,” Foo said.
Beyond this, the group is looking for Zendesk to help expand the knowledge base for its agents and further centralize systems so agents can access them more easily.
“We are always looking out for new technology, to see how we can improve our CX and agent experience,” Foo said. “We are glad to be working with Zendesk to help us achieve our broader goals.”