Woolworths Q&A: Cloud and RPA Take CX to the Next Level


Based out of Hobart, Adelaide and Sydney, Woolworths Finance Shared Services (FSS) supports Woolworths business units, customers and suppliers throughout Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. The organization handles more than 12 million invoice payments; 620,000 supplier queries; and AUD $480 million in account sales revenue annually.

Rob Fellowes, Customer Focused Transactions Services Lead, Corporate Finance at Woolworths, has a passion for continuous improvement, culture and people development. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, he moved his contact center teams to the Genesys Cloud™ platform combined with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology to quickly respond to customer inquiries, maintain business continuity and deliver on its promise of great customer experience (CX) — all while ensuring the safety and well-being of its employees.

I recently spoke with Rob to learn more about Woolworths dedication to its customers and the technology it’s using to meet its CX goals.

Can you tell me about your current role?  

Rob Fellowes: I’m responsible for a team of approximately 120 who have oversight for the Groups Banking, Accounts Receivable and Accounts Payable functions. This includes Group Transactional Finance Operations spanning across Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong. It also includes our Supplier Support Dispute Contact Team, which is focused on supporting our supplier through any dispute resolution processes.

What were you using prior to Genesys to manage your customer experience? And why did you choose Genesys?

Fellowes: Historically, we leverage a variety of different solutions across the teams. Moving to Genesys, we were able to consolidate systems to one platform, providing operational efficiencies and greater insights to improve service levels.

What does CX mean to you? What’s your philosophy when it comes to your customers?

Fellowes: At its core, we are a retail business — whether we work in store operations, supply chain, marketing or finance. We are all here to ensure the best possible experience for our customers. Our core values are centered around a customer-first, team-first strategy, and we are passionate about the way in which we support and service our customers.

How has your approach to CX shifted over the past five years?  

Fellowes: From a Finance Shared Service perspective, the blend of the Genesys solution and RPA technology has allowed us to receive and respond to more than 9,000 customer contacts each and every week — the majority of these are resolved within a matter of minutes, which is down from a historical two to three days. And it has been independently benchmarked as an industry-leading practices, something we are very proud of within Woolworths.

What challenges did the COVID-19 pandemic pose to your customer service and contact centers? How did you solve them?

Fellowes: COVID-19 presented many challenges, as it has for many other organizations across the globe. Specific to our Finance Shared Service function, we historically had a workforce based in the office environment on technical platforms that didn’t promote flexible working arrangements from home.

During the early stages of COVID 19, our technical teams were exceptional in rapidly deploying hardware, software and training, enabling a team of 120-plus members to work from home within a matter of two weeks. This includes investment not only in technology, but it also extended to operational changes — new and different ways to invest in our culture and well-being programs.

Our team has been extremely resilient and, as a result, are stronger than ever. During the peaks of COVID-19 lockdowns, we didn’t see any disruption to our customer experience or service levels, which is an absolute credit to the collective team.

How are you using bots, RPA, conversational AI, predictive routing and automation to meet your CX goals?

Fellowes: The investment in technology has complemented the rich IP our team members provide. The blend of Genesys, RPA and technologies like Electronic Data Interchange and web forms has provided a step change in the level of customer service we now provide. We have more than 30 active RPA bots, some of which are integrated with our Genesys solutions. This allows us to respond and resolve complex queries within a matter of hours for our suppliers, of which we receive approximately 9,000 contacts/ queries per week.

Investment in our team members is equally important as they play a very critical role supporting the technical platforms for exception management and, most importantly, the ability for our customers to engage and connect in person, when required.

To learn more about Woolworths Finance Shared Services and its use of Genesys Cloud, read the case study.