Co-located with Technology for Marketing

18 - 19 September 2024
ExCeL London

18 - 19 September 2024
ExCeL London

Content Hub

25 Jun 2024

In Conversation with AllSaint's Global Leader in CX, Fraud & D2C

In Conversation with AllSaint's Global Leader in CX, Fraud & D2C

SJ's career journey and advice

Tell us about your career so far and the essential turning points that got you where you are today.

My career began post-graduation in a risk management consultancy role, specialising in disability compliance and risk for service providers. I then transitioned into the retail sector, where I've spent the majority of my career. I started a seven-year management career with Debenhams, primarily within the Beauty division, over multiple sites and head office roles.

In 2011, I joined AllSaints as an area manager. After the birth of my son, I took a 10-month maternity leave, returning in 2013. I then moved into the Head Office as a Global Customer Experience Manager, and also took on responsibility for the online fraud prevention team. 13 years later, I am now the Global Head of CX, Fraud & Payments for AllSaints and John Varvatos. My role has evolved into a more strategic D2C and post-purchase focus, voice of customer, with a holistic view of customer. 

Key turning points: Debenhams. This period involved hard work, a fantastic experience, and meeting many great people. It was a major learning and development opportunity. AllSaints post-maternity leave: This marked the beginning of my more corporate journey. I had an exceptional line manager and a supportive team. Additionally, I was able to witness and contribute to the company's growth and transformation.

Looking back at your career, what advice would you give your 20-year-old self? 

  • Work smart and plan well (which I didn’t) 🤣

  • Prioritise self-care (which I didn’t) 🤣

  • Ask questions (maybe I asked too many - but knowledge is power right?) 🤣

  • Learn to be comfortable outside of your comfort zone - that’s how you evolve 🌿

  • People and partnerships first - team, customers, friends and family - that’s the gospel truth, and everything else will follow. 

Your conference at eCommerce Expo 

Tell us more about your session to encourage our readers to come and see you live at the event.

“The AllSaints Success Story: How AI Helped Improve CX & importance of Post Purchase Experience”

In my session, I’ll cover the pre-AI landscape and the process we followed for implementation, as well as lessons and reflections. I’ll provide a demonstration of the front-end and back-end chatbots, share the results we’ve delivered, and outline our AI roadmap for the next 6-12 months. I’ll then move onto our CX priorities and talk through our proposed improvements to the post-purchase experience.

I look forward to sharing our journey and insights with you.

Don't miss out on SJ's session at eCommerce Expo 2024!



What were some of the specific challenges AllSaints faced before implementing AI in terms of customer experience and communication?

The biggest challenges we faced included unscalable spikes in demand, delays in response times during peak trading periods, difficulties with recruiting and retaining peak resources, and a team that felt deflated when managing repetitive topics and high-volume queues. We also no longer had a 24/7 customer service presence following our overnight team transitioning to a later evening shift team post-Covid. 


How do you ensure payment security and fraud prevention while maintaining a smooth customer experience?

That's the million-pound question. Our focus is on genuine customers, and we partner with Forter, specialists in trusted identities and driving conversion. This partnership eliminates the need for manual reviews and rules creation, allowing us to focus purely on whether an identity is trusted. Additionally, we launched a PSD2 exemption programme with Forter to further reduce friction at checkout, making the process as effortless as possible for our customers. This dual focus on security and customer experience ensures a seamless and secure payment process.


How did you bring everyone in your team on board with AI (training, synergy between different teams… etc)?

Great question and this is a really important part of the process. As expected, the CX team were apprehensive at first, concerned that a bot might replace them, especially given previous bad experiences with chatbots as customers themselves. Our Digital team was very excited about the project, and we generally received positive vibes from across the business.

We kept our CX teams involved throughout the onboarding and initial phases, demonstrating the solution to them at every opportunity. When they saw how effective and natural it was, particularly the top contact-driving flows in action, they realised how it would help them in their roles and benefit our customers.

We allocated a small project team to this initiative, including key stakeholders from Info Sec, Digital, Legal, and UX teams. Our Global Manager, Maria Madonna (yes, like the superstar!), managed this project through to launch and continues to oversee it today.

We provided training to the team at all levels and communicated updates to the wider business to ensure everyone was informed and aligned. This comprehensive approach helped ease concerns and fostered enthusiasm for AI implementation across the board.


What are your favourite AI tools, and what do they help you achieve? 

Digital Genius (Link)

Use Case: Conversational AI chatbot experience.

  • Benefits: Digital Genius helped streamline customer interactions through AI-powered chatbots, provided a visible 24/7 service, provided instant responses, and improved scalability. 

Speechify (Link)

Use Case: eLearning and AI Voice Overs for inclusive learning.

  • Benefits: We converted all our CX training material across Allsaints and John Varvatos into elearning MP4 video format with voice-overs. 


What key performance indicators (KPIs) do you prioritise to measure the success of your CX and payment strategies?

  • CX: first reply times, agent quality scores, NPS, CSAT, with AI we monitor deflection and resolution rates and also handover to agent rates, reduction in chat abandonment. 

  • Payment: High authorisation rates and conversion funnel, low fraud rates


Quick-fire questions

  • Favourite social media platform: It would have to be Pinterest  - love a storyboard for home improvements, interior design, good recipes, yoga sequences etc. 

  • Tool used the most on your laptop: Google Meet for video calls, team collab and meetings

  • Number of unopened emails: I’m not sure I should admit this! 🙊

  • Lunch of choice at the office: With our office being opposite Spitalfields market, the choices are insane and haven’t helped my waistline! But if I had to choose, I'd say Salad Project - best spicy chicken caesar salad!

  • Recent favourite marketing campaign: I am going to be super biased here because my favourite campaign is actually the Royal Ballet x AllSaints collaboration back in November 2023.  Not only was the collection absolutely beautiful and a collision between 2 worlds, but it was also an opportunity for AllSaints to raise funds to nurture, train and educate young and upcoming artists. 

  • Proudest moment in your career: I don't think I could limit this to one moment, but I am exceptionally proud of the innovative steps we have taken over the last 18 months in AI implementation. 

  • Career goal still to achieve: Long term, I am working towards becoming a Chief Customer Officer. My goal is to champion and advocate CX at the 🖤 of business strategy, and ultimately, drive sustainable business growth by bringing together all D2C stakeholders and unifying CX pillars.

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