Mediahuis improves customer service across Europe with Dynamics 365

Jun 03, 2024
  • sales, marketing and service
  • professional services
  • retail
  • Microsoft

NRC, Nieuwsblad, Aachner Zeitung, NRJ,, Sunday Independent, De Telegraaf, ... All these well-known brands – and many others – are part of the Mediahuis universe: a fast-growing media group spreading its wings across Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, and Ireland. To improve customer experiences, Mediahuis built a centralized, standardized customer service solution on Microsoft Dynamics 365. With support from delaware, that solution is now gradually being rolled out to all the Mediahuis’ entities.

  • Client: Mediahuis, a Belgian-Dutch media group with well-known brands like Nieuwsblad, De Standaard, NRC, Aachner Zeitung, NRJ, and many more.
  • Challenge: Build a group-level solution for customer service agents and deploy it across all the Mediahuis entities in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany and Ireland.
  • Solution: A standardized solution, based on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement and fine-tuned for each entity’s unique context.

The challenge: tackling customer service from all angles

What does it take to be a successful media company today? And how do you differentiate your brands and products when consumers have near-infinite choices? For Mediahuis, part of the answer is offering the best customer service possible. But when you’re running over 30 brands across five countries and cater to an audience of millions, that noble endeavor can quickly become overwhelming for customer agents and support teams.

Which is why Jurgen Gerregat, Mediahuis’ customer care platform owner, was tasked with building a centralized solution. The goal? “Provide our customer service agents with a 360-degree customer view while simultaneously decreasing the time spent on each individual customer,” he explains. “To do that, we needed a system that could manage all our customer channels, including phone, email, chat, etc., and enable higher levels of customer self-service. Then, that technology and all the processes involved had to be streamlined and rolled out across all 8 entities of Mediahuis.”

The solution: a custom setup based on Dynamics 365

The first step: finding the right technology provider. In this case, Mediahuis didn’t have to look very far. “From Teams to Office 365 and beyond, Microsoft technology has been driving daily operations at Mediahuis since the very start,” says Jurgen. “Turning to that trusted environment again was the most logical choice which is how we ended up selecting Dynamics 365,” says Jurgen. “The people at Microsoft then pointed us in the direction of delaware as an implementation partner. A happy coincidence: before my current role, I had worked as a manager at delaware for over 14 years. You could say that I had a pretty good idea of what to expect.”

Together with delaware, Jurgen and his team started building the core solution at the Mediahuis headquarters. Jurgen: “The solution itself is fairly straightforward: to construct a 360-degree customer view, the customized Dynamics platform collects all the necessary customer data from the local subscription management systems and other applications that contain relevant information. The platform is integrated with Genesys Cloud, which acts as the interaction queuing and routing system. The registered cases and interactions in Dynamics are made available in a data lake. This data can be used to build reports, but also serves as input for customer lifetime value (CLV) calculations, churn prediction and other models.”

Zoom out: chatbots

Talking about self-service

Getting a 360-view of your customer and an overview of all interactions they’ve had with your company and service teams is a great way to avoid waste of time, for customers and for service agents. But what if customers could handle basic requests themselves – wouldn’t that be even better? 

Enter self-service chatbots. “Now that generative AI has evolved so much, this technology can handle many situations as well as a service agent would,” says Jurgen. “On the webshop, for example, a chatbot can provide accurate and up-to-date product and track-and-trace information. As well as handle some basic customer service requests.”

In practice, however, the project team had to overcome several hurdles, most pointedly in rolling out the solution to other Mediahuis entities. “Most of the companies and brands that are now part of Mediahuis have been acquired over the course of last years,” Jurgen explains. “As such, they all have their own legacy systems and are at different levels of digital maturity. Getting everyone on the same page to ensure a smooth deployment is not exactly a walk in the park.”

Luckily, Jurgen and his team can count on delaware for help. Two of the delaware experts involved are Jérôme Van Durm and Cédric Surmont. Their main tasks: supporting both Jurgen’s team in building the central back-office solution and the local technical teams in making it work for their unique context. “This also means we find ourselves in a unique position to provide fresh insights and detect new opportunities,” says Jérôme. “For example, we get a lot of valuable feedback from the entities, which helps to improve the central setup as well.”

“What I appreciate most about working with delaware is that it always feels like a true partnership,” says Jurgen. “Everyone on the team is highly skilled always thinking along about new ways to move the project forward. This level of engagement was very important to me from the start.”

The result: improved customer and service agent experiences

While Mediahuis currently has a robust back-office solution that can handle all incoming flows, the group-wide roll-out is still very much ongoing. “Mediahuis NRC was among the first to make the switch, followed by Luxembourg, Germany, and the Netherlands (De Telegraaf),” says Jurgen. “Soon, Mediahuis Ireland will follow as wel.”

Because of the different maturity levels of each entity, the impact of the implementation differs greatly as well. But the end goal remains the same: streamlining and improving the customer experience, while easing service agents’ workload. Jurgen: “Today, whenever a customer calls or starts a chat, the agent gets an overview of all their interactions with Mediahuis up till then. This includes the questions, concerns or issues they had as well as which digital components they interacted with. As a result, the customer doesn’t have to explain everything over and over, while the service agent finds a solution much more quickly. It makes for a more pleasant experience on both sides.” 

When asked what makes this project unique for them as consultants, Jérôme and Cédric don’t hesitate: “The willingness of Jurgen’s team and the Mediahuis Group to experiment with new technologies. They aren’t afraid to experiment, but at the same time they understand the importance of doing things well. For us, that’s a dream scenario: not only can we help them shape their ideas, we can go all out and have real impact. And it doesn’t end there. Right now, we’re already rolling out AI-driven solutions like Copilot for service agents and embedded AI categorization for email and chat.”

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