Waitrose & Partners
How UK Consumers’ “Favourite Supermarket” Is Making its Customer Service Even Better
Because everyone is carrying the RingCentral app with them on their main device, it’s much easier for our team to communicate with each other, even while they’re doing other tasks.
Customer Service Team Manager, Waitrose
Calls viewed and analyzed
Increase in support team capacity
When Chais and Shawna Meyer founded 24 Hour Tees, they had a couple of major goals in mind. First, create a custom shirt design service that gives everyone, even people without artistic experience, the opportunity to express themselves. Second, build a company and a customer experience that is collaborative, simple, and fun.
Their strategy proved successful. In just the few years since its launch, 24 Hour Tees has grown from a boutique service handling mostly small orders—often just a couple of shirts for a person who had a fun design idea—to a sophisticated print design house fulfilling corporate orders for thousands of units.
“Our mission has always been to make the process of designing and ordering shirts frictionless and fun for our customers,” says Chais. “But as the company grows and the orders get both more frequent and more complex, fulfilling that mission gets trickier. As the business took off, one of the first things we needed to do was automate some of our processes so we could handle the increasing demand without complicating things for our customers.”
In today’s competitive retail environment, you can’t maintain a highly successful chain of stores without outstanding service. With that in mind, you can guess Waitrose & Partners’ top priority.
The organisation has become one of the UK’s most successful supermarket chains—operating more than 300 stores throughout England, Scotland, and Wales—in large part by focusing on its customer experience.
Among its many high-profile awards for customer satisfaction, Waitrose has been named “Best Supermarket of 2020” by the UK consumer publication, Which?
Waitrose & Partners also aims to provide an outstanding experience for its employees known as Partners. They’re called Partners not because it sounds good but because they in fact own the company. Along with renowned UK retail brand, John Lewis & Partners, they make up the UK’s largest employee-owned organisation—the John Lewis Partnership—with more than 80,000 employee-partners.
In fact, Waitrose and John Lewis have been operating together as an employee-owned business for nearly 100 years, making it one of the longest-running successful retail operations in the country.
Shopping for a more agile phone system
The company made some changes to its operations in recent years. For example, Partners had traditionally needed five or six different electronic devices to carry out various tasks on the shop floor—scanning barcodes, taking inventory, etc. But recently the company consolidated all of these services into a single multifunction handheld device. Well, almost all of them.
“We really wanted every Partner with a device to be able to have access to telephony,” explains Phil Hawes, Senior Retail Change Lead for Waitrose & Partners. “Partners were still carrying separate phones around. Or, if they needed to take a call, they had to find the nearest landline phone in the shop.”
Waitrose & Partners determined that the right cloud phone solution could allow them to consolidate partners’ equipment even further, and at the same time improve customer service at all of the company’s hundreds of stores.
“Putting a cloud phone app on our Partners’ handsets meant that everyone—customers, Partners in the store, even Partners calling in from different stores—could more easily and more quickly get connected to the right people,” says Sandra Stigwood, the company’s Senior Network Infrastructure Manager.
Using a cloud service means we don’t have to own and maintain phone hardware assets anymore.
Senior Network Infrastructure Manager, Waitrose
Operating more smoothly and efficiently than ever
As the company rolled out the RingCentral cloud phone app on their multifunction devices, the partners began experiencing the operational and customer-service benefits.
“Because everyone is carrying the RingCentral app with them on their main device, it’s much easier for our team to communicate with each other, even while they’re doing other tasks,” says Matt Doughty, a Waitrose Team Manager for Customer Service.
For a Waitrose Wine Specialist and Team Leader, having phone service wherever they are on the shop floor has improved their ability to help customers quickly. “I can also communicate with a customer while I’m tracking down the answer to their question—for example, whether or not we have a particular brand of wine in stock—and tell them in real time.”
Improving store-to-store communication
Whereas Partners used to have to use a landline phone in the store to make and receive calls, now every partner has a fully functional business phone with them everywhere they go—with company directory, advanced call forwarding, and other capabilities.
As Phil explains, this ready access to phone service is supporting communication among teams and partners at different Waitrose shops. “It’s easier for a Partner in one shop to call a nearby location on behalf of a customer and ask if that store can set aside an item for them.”