Smiths News has announced that it plans to create a new Shared Service Centre in India as part of its commitment to improve their current customer service operation.

In a letter seen by the NFRN that will be sent to retailers today (16 May 2019), Jonathon Bunting, Chief Executive Officer at Smiths News, said: “From July, in addition to our call centres in Wednesbury and Newcastle, we will introduce extra capacity in our Connect Group shared service facility in Pune, India. This service will be provided by Tech Mahindra, one of the most respected companies in India. They have a strong track record in this area and have improved the service scores of clients such as Vodafone, GSK and 3.

“You should continue to contact us in the normal way and on the current number. The cost to you for calling our call centres remains exactly the same. Your calls will mainly be handled by our colleagues in the UK, but occasionally by our team in Pune, depending upon demand.

“Rest assured that at Smiths News, we put our customers at the heart of what we do, establishing a world class Shared Service Centre will deliver a consistently high quality, effective and responsive service for you.”

The NFRN will be monitoring the situation closely and will work with Smiths News to ensure there is no reduction in service standards.

To help members prepare for the change, the NFRN has below provided answers to some questions you may have.

When were the NFRN made aware of this?

Jon Bunting, Smiths News CEO, advised the NFRN of this in advance of the announcement on Tuesday, 14 May 2019.

What is the NFRN’s view on the change?

Like with any change, the NFRN are both apprehensive and curious.  We are apprehensive in that a change like this has never taken place previously and is in essence untested in the news category – and curious with what the change brings.

We hope that this change will also bring new opportunities for our membership to engage with Smiths News in a number of new ways and also forge a relationship that utilises and embraces a seven day week trading relationship.

We have also referenced that we will not tolerate any drop in the service members expect.

What new communication methods could there be?

Live Messaging for example – many members are now part of WhatsApp groups and whilst this communication vehicle is not linked to the Smiths News SAP system, we believe that Live Messaging will create an environment whereby problems can be reported in a way that suits the member.

We already have concerns over communication – won’t this get worse?

Smiths News has assured us that this is a major focus area for them and we expect to see greater response rates and no reduction in service standards.

Will there be a language barrier?

The NFRN are confident that this will not be the case, however, it may take time for the new operators to get used to the jargon that we all commonly use in the news category.

Will the system and process be the same?

Yes, the new call centre will be fully trained in using Smiths News operating systems and procedures.

What if I have a serious service failing, a complaint or unresolved issue?

Smiths News has assured us that this will be dealt with personnel based in the UK. In the event that you need to speak to someone more senior, UK personnel will also be on hand in Pune.

If this does not go to plan will it be stopped?

Smiths News has told us that they have done their homework and through a trial overseen by their senior managers only see this being a success. If the move does not go to plan however, Smiths News have said they will revert back to a UK service.

How will they know if my papers are late or short?

The exact same process will continue as present, with the depots advising the call centre of any issues with rounds or titles on a rerun.

Will this affect my relationship with Smiths News?

Smiths News has confirmed your local management team will still be available to call you if required.

Will our calls be dealt with efficiently?

There will be no change to the processes, all calls will be dealt with on an individual basis and there will be no change to satisfaction surveys or management reports.

Will it now cost more to contact Smiths News?

No, all calls to the new call centre remains exactly the same.

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