Sonae reduces first-reply time by 97% with Cleverly



  • Overnight shift to online shopping
  • Increase in customer requests by 500%


  • Automatic labeling and triaging of requests
  • Eliminating human error from the triage process
  • Prioritizing customers based on purchase impact issues


  • 97% reduction in first-reply time to less than one hour
  • 80% of tickets categorized in just two weeks




Helpdesk Platform


Time to results

2 weeks


Sonae is a Portuguese multinational business group with a presence in 90 countries. Sonae began its growth in the 1980s and now operates in several economic sectors such as retail, shopping centre management, financial services, and telecommunications. It has 45.000 employees worldwide (excluding wholesale retailers) and a business volume of 4.908 million Euros (November 2020.)

Sonae is the market leader in food retailing with several brands under the Sonae MC umbrella including Continente, Modelo, and Meu Super.

sonae continente


When Portugal first went into lockdown in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Continente, Sonae MC’s hypermarket, saw a surge in online purchases. The looming uncertainty over how long the lockdown would last and whether there would be a shortage of essential goods, plus virus-related concerns and fears, reflected itself on customers’ behaviors and a huge shift to online shopping. 

As a result, customer requests grew exponentially almost overnight, from an average of 3000 a week before the pandemic to a peak of 18500 a week during the pandemic. 

To handle the increase in requests and better organize the customer service team’s workload, Sonae decided to allocate 10 agents to manually triaging all incoming customer messages. However, this solution created other problems. Not only were these agents exclusively doing triage, which meant 10 agents less handling customer requests, but manual triage also leaves room for human error.


Sonae MC partnered with Cleverly to help its customer service team deal with the increase in incoming customer queries from Continente Online and build a strong and efficient foundation for a future where online operations are going to be a significant part of grocery shopping. 

In just two weeks, Sonae was able to install Cleverly’s intelligent Triage and make it live on their help desk — Salesforce. Cleverly’s pre-trained algorithms then started to automatically classify customer requests according to a taxonomy of around 125 categories proposed by Cleverly and reviewed by Sonae and to prioritize them accordingly.

  • Automatic labeling and triaging requests
  • Eliminating human error from the triage process
  • Prioritizing customers based on purchase impact issues such as payment failures

Additionally, this automatic triage allowed Sonae’s customer service team to better prioritize customers with pressing issues, such as wrong deliveries, damaged products, address changes, or order amendments. This gave agents better visibility over revenue-driving requests coming from customers to whom online shopping was a novelty. For Sonae, it was essential to have customer service jump in to solve issues that could potentially keep customers from making a purchase, such as trouble signing up for the website or payment failures. 

Business results

With Cleverly’s assistance, Sonae was able to increase its customer service team’s efficiency through the automatic labeling and triaging of requests, and their prioritization. 

In just 2 weeks, over 80% of cases were being categorized into about 125 topics with high accuracy, providing a better overview of incoming requests and which of those needed to be handled by agents first. 

The automatic labeling made it possible for all agents to go back to focus on solving customer requests. This way, Sonae was able to shorten first-reply times from 30 hours to less than 1 hour. All the while, the team has been handling a volume of requests that has stayed above the pre-pandemic average, but has been able to keep it under control with Cleverly’s help.


labeled cases

time reduction

Cleverly lays a strong foundation for the automation strategy in Sonae MC’s Customer Service.

ricardo fernandes sonae mc

Ricardo Fernandes

Customer Service Director, Sonae MC

Start working Cleverly

Get Cleverly from the Salesforce Appexchange or get in touch with us.

Get Cleverly for Salesforce

Decathlon improves team efficiency 3x delivering customer happiness during peak season with Cleverly
Decathlon story

Decathlon handles peak season costumer service in e-commerce with cleverly

Read story
Dashlane story

With Cleverly, Dashlane reduced ramp-up time for new costumer service agents by 80%

Read story