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Surge in ticket volume managed
Views of FAQs
Estimated tickets deflected
CeX WeBuy is one of the world’s largest dealers of second-hand electronics, video games and computing equipment. Founded in London in 1992, the company has now expanded its global footprint, with hundreds of stores spread across 4 continents.
WeBuy relies heavily on its expansive network of physical stores to buy and sell used products from customers. The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing lockdown created obvious challenges since shops were not allowed to open We spoke to Scott Abbey (Head of Global Customer Services), Sam Elshawarby (Manager, International Customer Services) and Mark Watson (Manager, Regional Customer Service) to understand how CeX WeBuy navigated the COVID-19 storm and emerged stronger than ever with Freshworks solutions.
WeBuy’s journey with Freshworks started in 2016. Before this, the team was using Zendesk to manage its customer support operations. However, they faced serious challenges due to the solution’s lack of customization, limited support and minimal reporting options. Recalling a particularly frustrating incident, Scott says, “Zendesk would not do anything for us without a cost attached. I remember creating a ticket to incorporate a dropdown option on the CRM so we could choose more than one tag for a ticket. Within 8 months, 63 other companies also expressed an interest in this feature, but there was no response from Zendesk. Two and a half years later, after we had already switched to Freshdesk, I got an email saying they were now offering this feature!”
Scott and his team’s experience with Freshworks, on the other hand, was a stark contrast. In 2016, they flew down to Chennai for an in-person technical walkthrough of the solution. What impressed them the most was the extent of customization available with the product. Throughout the implementation process, WeBuy and Freshworks worked closely together to ensure that the solution they bought was bespoke and catered to the support team’s unique requirements. This close collaboration paid off. As Sam puts it, “Our agents found Freshdesk’s UI to be a lot simpler than Zendesk’s. It was easy for them to navigate through the system, find tags, merge tickets, etc. Our agents were able to do a lot more within a shorter period of time than with the legacy provider.”
“There was a real effort by the Freshworks team to understand what we needed and then deliver that to us exactly. Zendesk, unfortunately, created the platform and then washed their hands of it. We just had to work within the parameters they had given us. Whereas with Freshworks, collaboration and flexibility have always been important parts of our engagement.”
Head of Global Customer Service
In early 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the globe, most countries went quickly into lockdown. Arguably one of the industries hit hardest by lockdown was retail. In WeBuy’s case, the situation was especially complicated because of its reliance on bricks and mortar stores. While the website offers e-commerce, there is no centralized warehouse stocking and fulfilling products. Instead, products are stored in around 400 shops and dispatched from the one nearest to the customer. Similarly, users looking to sell products needed to drop them off at local stores. “We tried to keep a lean staff working in our stores to handle fulfilment of ordered products. However, it was a tricky situation. If a store had a COVID case, it would be forced to close its doors, but they might have had 10 orders ready to be sent out,” says Scott.
Adding to the uncertainty was the confusion over lockdown guidelines. In the initial phase, within the UK, there wasn’t a universal set of lockdown rules. Customers had to contact individual stores to check if they were open and find out what their policies were. There were also many queries coming in wanting updates on the status of the order. “We were hitting daily volumes that easily broke our usual Christmas records!” says Scott. “There was absolutely no let up. We were receiving a 75-125% daily increase in normal ticket volumes and it didn't drop off for months”. All in all, the team estimates that there was a surge of over 100% in ticket volumes during lockdown, compared to the previous year.
How does a company meet a 100% increase in ticket volumes? For WeBuy, the solution lay not in increasing agent headcount, but in offering smarter solutions. The most powerful tool in the team’s arsenal was Freshdesk’s Knowledge Base. Sam and his team saw the immense potential of the knowledge base to proactively answer a customer’s questions before they even raised a ticket. On the Support page, WeBuy created a dedicated section on COVID-19 and moved it to the top of the list of support articles. This section was populated with answers to questions that the support team was getting most frequently.
Crucial to customers’ adoption of the knowledge base was the accuracy and promptness of information offered. “The worst thing you can do is give customers the wrong information,” says Sam. “We would have daily meetings with the heads of all the departments to get the most recent updates and then ensure that our content reflected that.” The success of the knowledge base was resounding. FAQs received around 400,000 views just in the UK! “A conservative estimate is that at least 10% of queries have been deflected by the knowledge base. That’s at least 40,000 questions our agents did not have to handle!” says Sam.
WeBuy prides itself on providing the highest-quality customer service. Support agents do not have a script to read from, they have to possess an in-depth understanding of the products, company policies and regional regulations to successfully handle queries. During the pandemic, with lockdown guidelines frequently changing and varying across different countries, staying up-to-date was even more crucial for agents. “When you don’t answer a customer’s query, they tend to contact you multiple times,” says Sam. “We created an internal dropdown of COVID-related questions on the Freshdesk portal that our agents could refer to. If they were asked something they were unsure of, they could fill in a box to contact Ops, E-commerce, or other departments to source a resolution. This helped customers get accurate responses quickly.”
Even beyond the pandemic, working out of a single support system has brought the team closer together. According to Sam, “The biggest advantage of having a centralized system is that it’s easier to train and coach people from different countries. We’ve just duplicated the same tags and used them across the board. Before, everyone was working on different KPIs and metrics. With Freshworks, we have been able to standardize and unify our processes to a large extent.”
WeBuy has completely transformed its reporting capabilities with Freshdesk. Speaking about using the reports on Zendesk, Sam recalls, “It was a really horrific experience. I remember having to export over 200 spreadsheets to get some sort of usable data and it would take about a week to do this.” With Freshdesk’s Analytics and Reports, WeBuy can now easily track ticket volumes, SLA performance and resolution times. The reports also include a percentage-based analysis of the types of queries coming in, which has helped the team proactively field complaints. As Scott says, "We can spot when customers have a common issue affecting more than just themselves and can aim to pinpoint the issue, whether it might be at a store level or an issue with specific items or problem with logistics and then work to resolve it and mitigate any future contacts as fast as possible.”
The reporting capabilities have been a powerful tool to improve visibility of issues within and across departments. “When you’ve got teams of 40-50 people working from home, you need to be able to track their activities. With Zendesk, we couldn’t even see how many tickets our staff were dealing with. Now, we can see how many agents are working, how many tickets are being resolved and when they log into their shifts,” says Sam. Individual departments also no longer work in silos. “We are all aware of what each department is doing. If Marketing wants to launch a new initiative, for example, they have to check in with us to see if we have the resources to manage the ticket surges it will trigger.”
In the last year, e-commerce has gone up significantly as a proportion of WeBuy’s business and the team predicts this trend will continue. The team is also keen to open up new support channels and improve existing ones. Next in the pipeline is a stronger emphasis on social media support channels and WhatsApp. “People want to contact us more quickly using other forms of communication. We have seen our social media queries go up from 6% in 2015 to 35% in 2021. As WhatsApp Business gets more popular, we will also have to bring that into our support ecosystem,” says Scott.
Despite the unprecedented challenges COVID-19 posed, CeX WeBuy is now in a stronger position than ever. With a robust support solution at its side, the company is all set to tackle the next phase of its growth journey head-on.
“I personally believe that Freshdesk will continue to be a huge benefit to us in the long run. The number of new APIs and features Freshdesk keeps introducing to its platform is phenomenal. We attend a lot of Freshworks’ webinars and we always come away excited to try out something new!”
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