A reinvigorated store operation has taken place hand-in-hand with a major networking and telecommunications infrastructure refresh for iconic specialty retailer Godfreys. That’s included the deployment of RingCentral UCaaS across 130 Godfreys stores in Australia and New Zealand, together with its support office, call centres and distribution centre in Melbourne.
RingCentral was perfectly aligned with our IT roadmap and our move to SD-WAN.
Infrastructure Manager, Godfreys
A single voice platform across 130 stores in Australia and New Zealand
Supporting rapid remote provisioning of telephony to new sites
Improved customer service and queue management in the call centres
Ability for support staff to work from anywhere and adopt a hybrid working model
Godfreys is an iconic Australian and New Zealand retailer that was first established in Melbourne in 1931 when founder Godfrey Cohen bought 30 vacuum cleaners from the newspaper auction columns for $50 and convinced his father to give him window space in the family’s furniture shop. At a time when vacuums were typically sold by door-to-door salesmen, this was the birth of Godfreys as a new way to sell vacuums to the public. Ninety years later, Godfreys is one of the world’s largest speciality retailers of domestic and commercial floor care and associated cleaning products, operating from 130 stores across Australia and New Zealand, plus another 64 franchised outlets.
Over the last few years, Godfreys has reinvigorated its retail presence and the customer shopping experience, along with underlying networking and telecommunications infrastructure and applications supporting it. Godfrey’s newest superstore – Auburn, which opened on October 12, 2021 – is the epitome of the transformation. It’s the most recent of 130 Godfreys owned and operated stores in Australia and New Zealand to be connected to support office and other stores via NBN and SD-WAN, utilising RingCentral MVP and cordless Yealink handsets on an enterprise WiFi environment.
“To move telecommunications across to a new store used to take up to eight weeks to complete. Now it’s literally sending an SD-WAN router and phone handsets to the store; the new devices logon with credentials and that’s it. We can have a store up and running in the time it takes for a courier to deliver the hardware,” said Mike Malyshev, Infrastructure Manager, Godfreys.
“And, if we close a store and open back up in a bigger and better location, we don’t lose the phone number from the old store, which means our customers can still reach us.”
Addressing the flexibility issue
Before RingCentral, the biggest missing piece for Godfreys was flexibility. Godfreys’ support office, distribution centre and stores had been connected with a traditional hardware PABX which had reached end of life and end of support, without any feature updates for the previous five years. That was significantly limiting Godfreys in three key functional areas of the business.
First, for its customer support, commercial support and IT helpdesk call centres, there were only basic queue features and Godfreys agents had to log on to the specific queue they were assigned to through their phones at the start of each shift.
Second, for all of Godfreys’ other support office and distribution centre staff, any temporary or permanent change in location required IT to re-register and configure the phone at their new desk. There was no capability for flexible or hybrid working.
For the third area – the store network – apart from the time taken to commission new services, the main issue with the legacy PABX was the potential for line failure, which left each store totally reliant on third party service providers to provide a work around or to fix the outage. That was a big problem, particularly in regional locations.
Having no flexibility on retail networks, an absence of features, and no visibility or control of call volumes, queue statistics and KPIs in the help desk and call centre were the key reasons behind the decision to start a phased upgrade to RingCentral in 2019. It also made sense from an infrastructure perspective, explained Malyshev.
“RingCentral was perfectly aligned with our IT roadmap and our move to SD-WAN. Having redundant links and flexibility in routing, and dynamic optimisation of bandwidth and QoS, means that SD-WAN technology and RingCentral match each other and are perfect working together.”
Improving customer experience and service responsiveness
Godfreys started its RingCentral deployment with its customer service and support call centre environment in 2019, with RingCentral Live Reports included to provide greater insight and analytics into call queue performance and key metrics.
That’s enabled Godfreys to improve the call centre structure and functionality, with managers easily defining the roles and assigning multiple queues to specific agents from RingCentral’s management portal. The Live Reports dashboard provides visibility and insight that managers can use to make adjustments in functionality, and change the design of the call queues and call routing to improve overall performance.
The ability to make these adjustments also helped when stores were closed during lockdown, putting an increased load on the customer service team. “All customer questions, requests, complaints and queries came through customer service, so while their call volume increased significantly we had no trouble handling it,” said Malyshev.
Having a UCaaS platform also made a big difference when Melbourne first went into lockdown in March 2020.
“At the time, we weren’t even thinking about the flexible workplace, but when we received the first lockdown notice and we had to close the office, the whole team just picked up their laptops, went home and continued doing exactly the same job,” said Malyshev. “With the old PABX, the best option would have been to do a redirection to mobile phones and lose all functionality of the queue.”
“RingCentral has made possible all these flexible working arrangements and working from home, without any additional investments, cost, delays or downtime. Now, anyone in our support office wherever they are, can be online and make phone calls and participate in meetings; it doesn’t matter where they are physically sitting.”
Creating a self-reliant store network
After proving RingCentral’s worth in a six-month trial in the call centre, Godfreys started the RingCentral store rollout in conjunction with its SD-WAN deployment. This started in September 2019, with the final store migrated to the new infrastructure in August 2021. The project expanded significantly from the original scope in terms of the number of end user licences, said Malyshev, but “the design we implemented initially is still reliable and still scalable enough for us, so it doesn't require any changes.”
Having the RingCentral platform in place has also removed Godfreys’ reliance on third parties for administration and support of the system, with all changes now managed in-house. That’s also made the Godfreys IT team more responsive, with change requests from the stores actioned in the same business day. That’s been very effective in responding quickly to changes in conditions and restrictions at different store locations. In the past, those change requests could take days or weeks for Godfreys’ telecommunications provider to action.
Making incremental improvements in functionality and operation
Now that the core RingCentral deployment has been completed, Godfreys can focus on incremental improvements in functionality and operation. The first step will be to make store managers aware of RingCentral’s call analytics and reporting, so that they can use that insight to make improvements in their service responsiveness and enhance the overall customer experience.
The business also plans to integrate RingCentral with Microsoft Teams for all support office staff, ensuring that Godfreys’ staff can use a single application for all collaboration, voice calls and meetings.
“Making these changes has significantly improved the experience of our internal customers – our staff and our suppliers. Previously IT had been a kind of an anchor, and made it difficult for the business to focus on retail and sales when we always had to consider the IT component. Now IT has become invisible to retail; computers, lines and phones just work for them. It's done silently and quietly on the backend, exactly how IT should be,” concluded Malyshev.