Sears Canada hopes to serve customers better with less.

The company announced Wednesday that it has entered into an agreement with third-party vendor IBM to externally reassign the work currently performed at three internal Sears Customer Contact Centers. This move to a third party will enable Sears to realize significant capability upgrades, resulting in better processes, controls, and tracking with an overall improvement in the customer experience.

But this transfer of responsibility, designed to be seamless to customers, will take place over the next nine months and impact 1,345 associates.

Sears Canada spokesperson Vincent Power told Loyalty360 that call centers require ongoing investments in technology.

“The systems we use have to effectively route calls in such a way that customers are responded to quickly and where wait times can be reduced,” Power said. “Customers expect their time to be respected, their calls to be routed to an individual that can properly help them, and almost no time on hold. Companies like the third party we have engaged conduct call-center activities as their main line of work. They are investing in these new technologies all the time.”

Retail is the core business of Sears, Power added.

“We want to invest in things like making our stores look better, producing catalogs that encourage people to buy, or systems investments that are related to retailing such as improvements in merchandise replenishment and allocation that get merchandise in the right sizes, the right colors, and the right quantities to the right stores,” Power added. “Diverting our investment to non-core technologies like call center operations restricts investment we can make in our stores, to our catalog or on our website presentation at sears.ca. This is why the change we announced in call centers yesterday can have a positive effect on customer satisfaction. As we move forward, we can give customers more of the enhancements they seek as shoppers, but still provide a call center experience that will be satisfactory.”

Sears will offer career transition support for employees who lose their jobs due to the reorganization.

What’s more, Sears has initiated a reorganization and simplification of its logistics organization intended to drive optimal performance by leveraging tools and technology that will streamline business processes. This reorganization will result in an additional staff reduction of 283 associates, effective immediately.

Sears Canada is a multichannel retailer with a network that includes 181 corporate stores, 241 Hometown stores, over 1,400 catalog and online merchandise pick-up locations, 101 Sears Travel offices, and a nationwide repair and service network. The company publishes Canada’s most extensive general merchandise catalog and offers shopping online at www.sears.ca.

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