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M&S partners with Twilio for call centre automation

Written by Hannah McGrath
20/08/18

Marks & Spencer has entered into partnership with Twilio, a cloud-based automated communications service, to help it handle more than 12 million customer calls annually.

The High Street giant announced its link-up with the San Francisco-based internet firm as part of a £25 million technological transformation programme aimed at improving efficiencies and streamlining switchboard services.

Twilio’s cloud-based technology uses intelligent natural language routing to route more than 90 per cent of incoming customer calls to the correct department or store, and will allow for automatic transcription of conversations via a speech recognition tool.

As a result, Marks & Spencer said that more than 100 switchboard employees will be moved to customer-facing roles in store.

The new call-centre proposition will be rolled out across all 640 Marks & Spencer stores nationwide and to its 13 UK-based contact centres, following successful trials fielding more than 20,000 calls on Valentine’s day and Mother’s day.

Twilio will also be tasked with upgrading text message delivery status updates for e-commerce customers.

Chris McGrath, IT programme manager at Marks & Spencer, said “We were able to prototype a solution in just four weeks and put it to the test during our busiest retail days of the year. The new solution has given Marks & Spencer an improved ability to have more direct and meaningful conversations with our customers, which also helps us reallocate valuable staff time.”

The deal is the fifth technology partnership undertaken by the retailer, following the announcement of link ups with online returns service Doddle, Decoded skills training academy and a plan to improve its retail experience using Microsoft artificial intelligence (AI) software.

In May, the chain announced plans to close 100 stores by 2022 reduce costs by £350m by 2021 after posting a 62.1 per cent fall in pre-tax profit to £66.8m in the year to March.