After partnering up with Microsoft to incorporate artificial intelligence in its business and setting up a retail data academy to step up its employees’ “data literacy”, Marks & Spencer has taken one more step towards becoming a more digital-savvy retailer. This time, it has joined forces with cloud communications platform Twilio to adopt a system which routes voice calls to the appropriate department, store or contact centre agent with more than 90 percent of accuracy.

“The M&S solution is able to handle more than one million inbound telephone calls per month, transcribe the customer’s speech into text in real time, determine caller intent based on the transcribed text and then route the call to the appropriate department”, said Twilio in a statement. According to Chris McGrath, Marks & Spencer’s IT Programme Manager, the new system helps the company to “reallocate valuable staff time”: more than 100 switchboard employees will now move to customer-facing roles in store.

Marks & Spencer customer service infrastructure previously relied on phone systems which did not allow for automation, across 640 locations and 13 UK-based contact centre hubs. After designing a Twilio-powered prototype in just four months, the retailer put it to test on the two busiest days of the year: Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, when it handles an average of 20,000 customer calls.

“We’re excited to see where the platform takes us as we continue the roll out across our contact centres”, concluded McGrath.


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