Transforming customer experience and ecommerce for a leading retail group in the Middle East

Products used

< 30 mins

First Initial response time


Tickets per month

100,000 hours

Efficiency gain

The Kamal Osman Jamjoom Group (KOJ) was founded in 1987 with one of the earliest Body Shop franchises in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It now has over 700 stores across the Middle East, Saudi Arabia and Morocco. This includes franchise brands The Body Shop, Lego, The Early Learning Centre and Neal’s Yard, and its own brands including Nayomi, Mikyajy and Mihyar, which focus on fashion, lingerie, cosmetics and beauty.

Osman Jamjoom, Head of Omnichannel at KOJ, explains what sets the company apart: “While many retailers are targeting the tourists and expats in the Middle East, our biggest brands are focused on catering towards the Gulf female community and in fact, we are one of the largest private sector employers of women in Saudi Arabia. As part of this, the lifetime value of our customers, and building customer loyalty and trust, is critical to our growth and brand reputation.”

Navigating a complex, legacy environment

Recently, KOJ has also been through a period of rapid change, moving from what was primarily a bricks and mortar business towards eCommerce. “95% of our visitors come through mobile and due to the nature of the products we sell – including lingerie, fashion and beauty – they expect a personal experience similar to the advice they receive when they come to our brick and mortar stores,” explained Jamjoom. “As our online offering grew, we knew we needed to make a rapid investment in our customer service capabilities to meet these expectations.”

Integrating its legacy ERP and retail systems into its online offering was the first critical step in delivering a more consistent shopping experience across all channels.

However, KOJ had multiple streams of communication. This spanned from direct in-store staff enquiries on matters such as stock availability, through to a high volume of external customer enquiries largely relating to order status. These came primarily through email and phone, with one representative per brand managing customer enquiries. As its online offering grew, KOJ needed a way to manage these channels in the most efficient way. This is where Zendesk came in.

A fast and effective solution

As Phillip Smith, Group Head of Digital at KOJ explains: “Zendesk was always a top choice for us, having used it in a previous role with great results. It’s seen significant growth in terms of features, functionalities and an impressive customer base. When we needed a solution fast, we decided to go ahead and test the Zendesk platform. The first small test performed exceptionally well, so the deployment accelerated from there. The platform is very customisable and the omnichannel aspect means we can continue to add channels in the future. Its unified view of all channels is also very important for us.”

The deployment currently includes Zendesk Support, Zendesk Chat and Zendesk Guide, with all phone enquiries now going directly through Zendesk. But without a doubt, the biggest game changer for KOJ has been WhatsApp for Zendesk Support, which directly integrates WhatsApp.

Over 50% of all customer queries now come through this channel, and any of KOJ’s five separate WhatsApp accounts – including its own retail staff, visual merchandising, HR, buying, finance and IT employees, as well as external customers – is tracked, organised and prioritised with the traditional Zendesk features.

Zendesk was also fast and easy to integrate with KOJ’s new support offices in India and the Philippines, meaning that KOJ’s offshore teams have all the same integration and communication as all other employees.

Transforming experience for employees as well as customers

“Something which really stood about Zendesk was how we could improve internal workflows, as well as customer experience,” explained Smith. “Our procurement, finance, IT support, HR and sales teams are all using Zendesk and we wanted them to have the same exceptional customer experience when they raised a query, as our external customers.

“With so many tasks flying around across the business in different formats, it was almost impossible to track progress and issue resolution. With Zendesk, we can track everything from a single platform and have much better visibility.”

Improving experience for internal staff is also having a positive impact on KOJ’s external customers. For instance, if a store is having an issue with sales data or tracking an order, retail staff can send a message via WhatsApp directly at the till to the IT team. Within 10 seconds the request is assigned, and the IT team can provide a response within minutes. This rapid resolution to common issues in store has greatly reduced stress levels for staff and means they can focus on serving customers and updating them on their order status, stock availability or pricing query, as quickly as possible.

To expand on this, KOJ has been looking at how it can use Zendesk to manage orders from tailors within its fashion stores, which will enable the team to track the progress of every order – and update external customers – in a much faster and efficient manner.

Reducing first response time by over 500% and cutting issue resolution in half with Zendesk

Before using Zendesk, KOJ ran ad-hoc, manual reviews of customer service performance. But with Zendesk Explore, Smith and his team can track performance data including resolution time and performance of agents for both internal and external enquiries.

“Historically, our initial first response to customers following an inquiry was 5.8 hours. This has been reduced to under 30 minutes with Zendesk, despite a four times increase in the volume of tickets after introducing WhatsApp. All our staff, from email support through to finance, are now using the same environment and can obtain visibility into customer queries across all channels. They can now address issues easily and quickly, which is critical when the majority of our customers expect fast responses over platforms such as WhatsApp,” explained Smith.

“From one month to the next, our resolution time was also cut in half. We had approximately 15,000 tickets a month. Using Zendesk Support saved us tens of thousands of hours in resolution time. We expect that to amount to at least 100,000 hours of efficiency gain and agents time saved across the next year, resulting in savings of 2 million AED.”

Pulling reports from Zendesk has also helped Smith and his team make sense of the volumes of enquiries. This includes automating where every ticket has come from (e.g. website, mobile, phone, email or directly from store) and categorising it into tickets and orders with different subjects such as product or price enquiry as well as stock availability.

“Because we will have our first full year of insight on Zendesk going into 2020, we will be able to track and plan effectively for our three peak periods this year including Black Friday, the December holiday period, and most importantly, Ramadan, enabling us to schedule shifts and manage workload more efficiently around peaks,” said Smith.

Future use cases

Smith is excited about the possibilities that lie ahead, including examining how other major workflows in the business might be automated into the Zendesk platform. This will include full order and return history by channel, insights on promotions/offers that the customer responds well to and cross brand activity.

“Because Zendesk is cloud based, it has – and will continue to – perform exactly as we need it as we add on new locations, users or services. Our objective is to provide Customer Service teams with as much information about the customer as possible, which means ensuring multiple workflows are either fully managed within Zendesk or Zendesk is at least one of the touch points within our workflows.”

Smith and his team will also introduce self-service including Zendesk Guide, which will enable retail staff and external customers to resolve simpler internal queries based on automated responses. Smith is also looking at adding further plug-ins for shipping partners and ERP Order Management, so that agents can have even greater visibility into payment processing and customer queries which relate to other parts of the business.

“Because Zendesk is cloud based, it has – and will continue to – perform exactly as we need it as we add on new locations, users or services. Our objective is to provide Customer Service teams with as much information about the customer as possible, which means ensuring multiple workflows are either fully managed within Zendesk or Zendesk is at least one of the touch points within our workflows.”

Phillip SmithGroup Head of Digital at KOJ

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