ONLINE retailer Play.com has opened a call centre in Wirral, creating 55 permanent jobs.
And the company says in the run up to Christmas it may need up to 200 extra staff to cope with demand.
Play.com is one of the largest online retailers in the UK with more than 14m registered users.
It sells products including DVDs, video games, books, electronics and sporting goods.
Its call centre had been based overseas but now it has teamed up with Merseyside call centre provider, The Contact Company, to move the facility to Birkenhead.
The team takes general customer queries seven days a week via telephone, email and social media including Facebook and Twitter. Currently handling around 12,000 enquiries a week, the team expects that number to rise as they start to provide 24-hour support through social media.
Play.com is owned by Japan-based Rakuten, which one of the world’s leading internet service companies.
It is implementing a Japanese service style known as “Omotenashi”, which is designed to deliver “exceptional and personal online retail experiences”.
Adam Stewart, director of marketing at Play.com, said: “Research shows that consumers feel a greater affinity and are more trusting of retailers that provide a local and knowledgeable service to those based overseas.
“With careful consideration we decided one of the first steps to deliver an improved personal service was to bring the contact centre back to the UK.
“It is already proving effective, as just three months since on-shoring, Play.com’s metrics show an improvement of 10% in customer satisfaction, helpfulness and outcome of query.
“Initial feedback from our customers is that they’re receiving a much happier and more personalised experience.”
The Contact Company already employs hundreds of people at its Birkenhead base, providing call centre services for clients including Carillion/BBC, NHS, Superdrug, River Island and The Jewellery Channel.
It was established in 2006 by entrepreneurs Asif Hamid and Juliet Rhodes.
The firm’s head of project management, Catherine Miles, told the ECHO: “Customer service should be an integral part of any retailer’s offering and is a critical factor in customer relations and retention.
“We have been working with Play.com to ensure that all our agents are well educated on the site’s products.
“Not only can they provide a considerate and an efficient personal response to all enquiries, they can also offer product insight.”