Purplebricks is to cut two of its services after a review.
Its night-time telephone and live chat services are to go, as is its sellers’ concierge – the central office support service for LPEs and their customers.
A consultation has been entered into with affected staff, but Purplebricks says its intention is to have no compulsory redundancies.
An internal memo from customer operations director Allan Warren says that the telephone service will no longer operate 24/7, but between 8am and 8pm on weekdays and 8am to 6pm at weekends.
This change will be effective by no later than August 1.
The scrapping of the sellers’ concierge service will take place over three months, says Warren’s email.
He tells staff: “Purplebricks has grown very rapidly. This has meant we’ve not always had the time to review our processes and look at how we do things. The same is true for many start-ups and businesses experiencing high levels of growth.
“As we continue to grow, it’s really important that we take the opportunity to step back and review what we do and how we do it. We want to make sure we’re optimising our resources and enhancing the support our LPEs and customers receive.
“Being a digital-first company means our customers can book viewings, request valuations and see offers online 24 hours a day. In addition to this, we’ve always offered a 24-hour telephone service.
“However, based on an analysis of customer usage, we’re now proposing that our telephony hours should better reflect the trends in customer demand.”
The memo continues: “We’ve also been looking at Sellers’ Concierge, which has provided a fantastic service for customers over the last few years.
“Our review has concluded that we might be able to deliver the service differently and more cost effectively, so we’re proposing that the service will be phased out over the next three months. In this time we will be exploring ways to enhance the support our LPEs and customers receive.
“Both these teams have provided excellent service to our customers but we believe that these resources should now [be] redirected to other areas.
“In the last 24 hours we’ve commenced consultation with Central Property Team colleagues working nights and Sellers Concierge.
“Our intention is that there will be no compulsory redundancies and we’re aiming to place people in alternative roles, where their valuable skills will give our customers an even better experience.”
Eye understands that there was little demand for the night-time telephone service, although it helped Purplebricks position itself as a 24/7 agent.
We also understand that there were 12 agents in the concierge service, each directly supporting a particular region.
We understand each member of the team had to have at least three years’ estate agency experience, apparently often making them more knowledgeable than their counterparts. Their jobs include negotiating, revaluing and re-doing marketing.
Yesterday a Purplebricks spokesperson said: “Having looked at customer usage, we’re proposing that our telephony hours and web chat will be 8am-8pm Monday to Friday and 8am-6pm at the weekends, reflecting the trends we’re seeing in customer demand.
“Customers can still book valuations, viewings and make offers at any time via our website or app.
“We’re aiming to place people in alternative roles, where their valuable skills will give our customers an even better experience.”
Meanwhile Axel Springer – the front-runner for a possible takeover of Purplebricks – has taken a step closer to going private.
It has received an offer by US equity company KKR to buy out the minority shareholders. The deal values Axel Springer, which has a 26.6% stake in Purplebricks, at £6bn. If Axel Springer were to up its stake in Purplebricks to 30%, that would trigger a statutory takeover bid. Yesterday, Purplebricks shares closed 3% up at 111p.