High StreetTechnology

Marks and Spencer replaces switchboard staff with AI

Marks and Spencer will be replacing its call centre employees with AI technology, cloud communications platform Twilio has announced.

The technology will be delivered by Twilio across 640 M&S stores and 13 UK-based contact centre hubs.

The project to migrate the retail chain’s switchboard operation took less than six months from concept to launch and will allow the company to analyse customer intent in real time for more than 12 million customer interactions annually.

Now, when a customer calls any M&S store, the system will transcribe the customer’s speech into text to establish what they are calling about before routing it to the correct destination via Twilio. The retailer will also be rolling out delivery status updates via text message for its e-commerce customers, powered by Twilio’s Programmable SMS.

Before the technology was implemented, a trial run was held during the retailer’s two busiest days of the year, Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, where it handled more than 20,000 customer calls.

Chris McGrath, IT programme manager at M&S, said: “Twilio’s flexible cloud communications platform has enabled Marks and Spencer to experiment like a startup, while executing like an enterprise. 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 and Spencer an improved ability to have more direct and meaningful conversations with our customers, which also helps us reallocate valuable staff time. We’re excited to see where the platform takes us as we continue the roll out across our contact centres.”

Rob Brazier, director of product management at Twilio, added: “Today’s consumers have come to expect a great customer experience from the companies they buy from and communications are increasingly central to this. We are thrilled to be working with such an iconic retailer as it transforms its communications in order to deliver the best possible experience for its 32 million customers worldwide.”

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