Fnac Darty reinvents its customer relation strategy with messaging

7min read - iAdvize

In 2010, French group Fnac Darty deployed their conversational platform to offer a premium pre-sales customer experience on their websites through messaging, before extending the use of this channel to after-sales. Today, messaging accounts for 1/4 of the company's customer service interactions. During iAdvize’s virtual Conversation event, Christophe Famechon, Head of Customer Service at Fnac Darty, introduced the omnichannel customer relationship strategy he implemented, and explained why messaging has become a central pillar of this strategy. 

French brands Fnac and Darty, which were created in the sixties, have since been key actors of the French economy. The former, by improving the access to culture to fight illiteracy. The latter, by making it easier to acquire quality household appliances for all. Committed to maintaining a bond of trust with their clients, both companies made a point of adapting to every major shift in customers’ behavior over the years.

Closeness and advice, pillars of Fnac Darty’s customer experience 

Fnac Darty is a major omnichannel player, considered to be the second e-commerce platform in France, offering in-store, at home and online services to its customers. 

This created two challenges for the group:

  • Supporting the digital transformation of 700+ stores by creating reliable and robust logistic and IT processes to ensure the consistency between in-store and digital experiences;
  • Offering a seamless customer experience through all touchpoints. 

" Our main goal is to streamline the customer journey, should it be for click-and-collect purchases, for in-store purchases delivered at home, or whenever a customer wants to change an order "

Christophe Famechon

Christophe adds :“In the digitized, industrialized and remote environment we live in, it’s very important for us to keep on treating our customers with empathy and patience.” In short, allowing the customers to make informed choices by providing sympathy, pedagogy, support and authentic advice, in every customer interaction. 

Following COVID-19’s social distancing measures, Fnac Darty’s online sales increased by 50%, with 1/3 of total sales made online. This digitization raised many questions. What are the best tools to develop physical customer relations? How does one integrate the omnichannel strategy onto the group’s websites? How does one communicate with clients? Above all,“How do you make the customer experience as pleasant as possible in a complex environment, where customers' expectations get higher and higher?”, adds Christophe. For him, working collaboratively definitely has an impact on how customer care teams deal with clients’ requests.

Using messaging to match consumers’ omnichannel shopping behavior 

Offering a superior omnichannel customer experience is crucial for Fnac Darty.“We see this as a critical competitive advantage when trying to build bridges between physical and digital experiences, with our 1hr click-and-collect service, for example”, explains Christophe.

Phone calls have traditionally been the most used channel for customer support at Fnac Darty, now closely followed by chat, with NPS scores outperforming those of phone assistance.

" When the digital channel is used with the right tools, [it gets] 10, 20 and even 30 extra NPS points, compared to phone calls "

Christophe Famechon

At a time when customers switch easily from one activity to another, watching TV while shopping on their mobile phone or working on their laptop, the lines between personal life and professional life get thinner, and for Christophe :“Chat is a channel that really matches today’s customers behaviors. Digital conversation fulfills customers expectations way more than phone calls, which are not going to disappear but will surely get less and less important in the mix. We plan to increase the number of digital conversations from 25% to 40% in a matter of months.”

Fnac Darty thus accelerated its transition towards messaging.

" Today’s customers’ switching behavior calls for a communication channel fitting their lifestyle. What’s better than an instant experience, a contact with no delay or with a waiting time better accepted than on the phone? "

Christophe Famechon

Messaging enables Fnac Darty to give customers the answers they cannot find by themselves while shopping online, through expert advice and support.“It’s important that we don’t just have a sales role when interacting with customers”, adds Christophe, which is why messaging is also used to pursue this approach in after-sale interactions.“From purchase intent to product use, including potential issues, we aim at pushing and enhancing our brand image through conversations.”

Fnac Darty uses messaging to deliver an educational, friendly and above all, reassuring experience to their customers. They are bridging the gap between ease of purchase and customer concerns that comes with omnichannel experiences.“There is nothing more annoying than being able to buy in just one click, while getting no reply from customer service for weeks.(...) Reliability is in Fnac Darty’s DNA. We are committed to providing solutions and initiating new ways of making that seamless experience as efficient and pleasant as it can be.”

Christophe adds that the benefits of messaging channels do not end at higher NPS scores:

  • Messaging makes Customer Service teams more productive, as they can simultaneously handle several conversations (chat, bots, WhatsApp, Messenger) on iAdvize 
  • It allows for better and more accurate answers with a short waiting time 
  • On average, waiting times don’t exceed 30 seconds and are typically more manageable online than on a phone
  • Writing allows for more relaxed conversations. 

Christophe adds that: “Not that many people like to be on the phone or call Customer Service, so it’s important to improve this channel to make the experience more positive”. When it comes to email contacts, which now amount to 6 to 8% of customer relations, Christophe expects a decrease to 2, and even 1%, of all contacts.

" Emails are not quick enough, not efficient enough, not personalized enough. We firmly believe that email is going to disappear as a customer service channel, and we indeed are going to do all it takes to make it disappear, in favor of better performing channels "

Christophe Famechon

Increasing teams’ productivity and motivation by transforming customer experience 

Not only is messaging revolutionizing customer relations at Fnac Darty, but it also improves working conditions for Customer Service, as noticed by Christophe.“Messaging is an incredible way of improving customer service because it allows agents to naturally project as brand ambassadors, through social networks, Whatsapp or chats. The traditional customer support job is no longer just an advisory role, and more one of a brand representative.”

For Christophe, messaging turned out to be a useful tool to enhance the customer advisor job. He explains :“When faced with a complex situation or customer request, messaging gives the space to take a few seconds to find the best solution or ask an expert within the team, which positively impacts agents’ self-confidence”. This communication channel also allows for a more collaborative environment.

" While chatting with customers, agents have the opportunity to talk to one another and find together the most appropriate answer "

Christophe Famechon

As internal engagement and satisfaction at work improve, the agents are less stressed out, which translates into the conversations’ quality and customer satisfaction, creating a positive customer experience dynamic.

Christophe, who rolled out WhatsApp through iAdvize for Fnac Darty premium customers, is convinced that digital communication is the future of customer service, especially through mobile conversations.“Smartphones obviously became the best tool for digital customer support and conversational experience”.

The future of customer experience, as envisioned by the group, will be based on:

  • Empathy, pedagogy and authentic advice
  • Technology, especially the use of AI to improve self-care services
  • Developing more agile call centers where competency and experience are valued over hierarchy.

To test this, Fnac Darty implemented an agile organisation experimentation on two of its Customer Service locations, with more than 90 agents working in self-governance mode. After one year, the results of the experimentation were compelling, with a dramatic decrease of absenteeism and a decline in turnover.

" By releasing agents' energies and creativity, by facilitating the customer experience with messaging, by embracing transparency, we noticed impressive results in terms of engagement, productivity and conversation quality "

Christophe Famechon

“I am convinced that using the right tools to better access information, train teams and communicate will give way to a new generation of call centers”, concludes Christophe.

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