FamilyMart Co., Ltd.

FamilyMart Co., Ltd.

by Products:
FastCloud
by Industries:
Retail / Wholesale

The reasons for introducing the system were because it has a high level of general applicability, allows customization of the input screens for each contact point, and is compatible with unique workflows.

FamilyMart Co., Ltd operates a convenience store business through franchises with the slogan "Convenience for you, FamilyMart."

It runs a total of 21,360 stores, with 9,100 domestically, and 12,260 overseas (as of the end of September 2012). In order to deal with inquiries from the customers and sales staff of the 9,100 domestic stores, it has installed a "Customer contact section" and an "Allied stores contact section", and has opened 8 points of contact with 3 different systems.

In May 2011, in response to an increase in calls, an increase in contact points, and a need to strengthen systems, FastCloud was introduced. We talked to the manager of the customer contact section, Kazuyushi Kato, about his experience and evaluation of the introduction.

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Contents
  • 8 points of contact and 3 booths dealing with all variety of inquiries
  • High level of general application and compatibility with unique workflows were the requirements
  • Real cost reductions through customized input screens for each contact point
  • Support for call rate increases, contact point expansion and specialization

8 points of contact and 3 booths dealing with all variety of inquiries

FamilyMart Co., Ltd operates a convenience store business through franchises with the slogan "Convenience for you, FamilyMart."

It runs a total of 21,360 stores, with 9,100 domestically, and 12,260 overseas (as of the end of September 2012). Starting with its operations being open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, today, it isn't simply a retail outlet, but is also part of the infrastructure supporting people's lives, and is indispensable to people in many aspects.

For a convenience store, responding to inquiries and complaints from customers suitably, dealing with questions regarding customers and operations from stores run by part-timers, and also responding to any technological issues as soon as possible are indispensable for satisfying the customer and supporting the stores.

At FamilyMart, the customer contact center is responsible for responding to customers, while the store support booth deals with the stores.

"Our company's call center is composed of 3 booths and 8 points of contact. The 3 booths are 'store support', 'customer contact center', and 'product ordering center'. And, depending on the type of inquiry, a call will go to one of the 8 different points of contact. As for personnel, there are a total of 80 seats, with about 55~60 manned normally, during gift giving season they are usually fully occupied due to an increase in inquiries. We get on average about 450 inquiries including telephone and email inquiries. Over half of all customer inquiries are via email, whereas the majority of inquiries from stores are via the telephone" - Mr. Kato



High level of general application and compatibility with unique workflows were the requirements

FamilyMart adopted FastCloud in May of 2011 because it expected to deal with an increase in calls and inquiries, and because it wanted something with better functionality than its current system, whose maintenance period was also running.

"The previous system was implemented in 2004, but at the time we only handled inquiries from customers. It was only after that we started supporting store inquiries, and though they increased, we simply used the preexisting customer support system for store inquires. However, the system was not able to respond suitably to such types of inquiries, and there were cases of operational loss with regards to internal information dissemination and the contact center itself. As the maintenance period was running out, it was necessary to introduce a new system, and the system development department began their deliberations at the beginning of 2010" - Kato

Proposals were received from 4~5 vendors for the implementation of a new system. Two large companies' proposals that fit FamilyMart's requirements, and were cost effective, were chosen. In the end, it was FastCloud that was adopted.

"Our company's requirements were, firstly, that it could do everything the previous system could. And, that it could transmit the contents of an inquiry our own way, in other words, according to our own internal workflow. Moreover, we wanted a system without a maintenance period limit, and a cloud based service that was not limited by hardware restrictions." - Kato

In a normal call center, the matter is finished after the inquiry is answered, however, behind the FamilyMart call center, there are all the various departments. The contents of inquiries are transferred to the relevant department where they are dealt with, and feedback is received. That a new system would be compatible with this workflow sequence was a necessity.

"In there end, there were three reasons why FastCloud was chosen"

  1. Development cost (initial) and running costs (ongoing) were low.
  2. A record of implementation successes.
  3. A system that was compatible with our special workflow.

Especially on the costs aspect, many cloud services require licences depending on the number of users. This allows running costs to be kept low if the licence only prescribes a low number users who are allowed to access at the same time. Further, as the database fees are as per usage, nothing is wasted; another merit is flexibility with call and contact point increases." - Mr. Kato

Flow chart of basic inquiry to the customer contact sectionFlow chart of basic inquiry to the customer contact section



Real cost reductions through customized input screens for each contact point

As FastCloud has a high level of general applicability, it works as a structure for a call center from beginning to end. Its strength lies in it being fully equipped with all the basic functions required, but also being flexible enough to be customizable to the center's idiosyncrasies and work.

The preparation period for the introduction of FastCloud was just over half a year. In this time, the inputs and screen layouts were constructed taking into account requests from users, and the inquiries that the 8 points of contact dealt with.

Further, in relation to workflow, with the authorization of the administrators of the inquiry history, the system was made so as to allow the management of automatic transmission to the workflow, response and progression.

"The results of the introduction were that each contact point had the most suitable input screen, and the response rate and input rate both increased. The cost performance per inquiry decreased by 5% 2 years in a row by; and, just this first half, it decreased again by 5%. I think that with more use, it will contribute ever more to overall cost performance". - Kato

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An example of the improvements achieved through customization of the input screen can be found at the support booth for stores, the equipment and facilities call center. As this contact point handled inquiries from store staff, it focused mainly on maintenance issues such as automatic door or refrigeration breakdowns and maintenance. As such, there was a lot of specialized language and jargon used in inquiries, so an input screen with items and fields customized to this was made, and input accuracy was improved. The response to such inquiries was important as, in the end, the information would be fed into the workflow, and arrangements such as repairs or cooperation would be made with the related department.



Support for call rate increases, contact point expansion and specialization

"The entire process from the introductory phase where requirements were defined to the post-introductory phase where assistance was provided for customization was very professional. And we expect that this kind of professionalism will continue going forward. I think FastCloud is the most suitable system, including in terms of cost, for an enterprise that has its own specifically defined way of doing things in its call center." - Mr. Kato

Increases in efficiency also have large positive effects on the store-side. For example, inquiries directed to a supervisor who goes around to multiple stores are done by part of the call center and thereby reducing personnel costs. Further, cases where inquiries from staff that would have been directed to the store manager but were instead directed to the call center have increased. All in all, the support to both customers and stores has improved.

"In the future, we are planning to increase the number of stores, and are considering establishing new contact points and adding more specialization. There is also the possibility of diversifying call center locations. I'm sure we'll see the effectiveness of the operational flexibility of FastCloud at this time. We are counting on the continued support of TechMatrix." - Mr. Kato

* Interview Date : December 2012
* The information in this article pertains to the time of production

Customer Information

FamilyMart Co., Ltd.

FamilyMart Co., Ltd operates a convenience store business through franchises with the slogan “Convenience for you, FamilyMart.”

It runs a total of 21,360 stores, with 9,100 domestically, and 12,260 overseas (as of the end of September 2012).