Case study: How service came full circle for bira

Britain’s independent retailers are seeing something of a renaissance. Increasingly, shoppers are opting for the more personalised service of independents over big chains and retail giants. In a world saturated by enormous global brands, many are craving a more distinct and intimate experience.

For the British Independent Retailers Association (bira), the leading retailers’ trade association and support organisation, personal service is important too. When bira wanted to update its telephony systems, it was crucial that it did not compromise on the individual service it was able to offer to its thousands of members.

That’s where Gamma came in.

New tech powering a traditional approach to customer service

Bira was looking to consolidate its telephony systems at its two sites in Birmingham and Banbury. The established systems were many years old and becoming increasingly costly to maintain, as they were based on expensive, inflexible ISDN connections. A crucial requirement of the new solution was that it required no on-premise PBX hardware.

Bira was also insistent that the replacement telephony system allowed it to deliver the level of personalised service that its discerning, customer-service focused membership expected. A call-centre experience would not suffice; bira required a manned switchboard presence at each location that could answer, transfer and forward calls under the control of receptionists.

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Phone systems for SMEs

Finally, the solution had to be robust. The memories of a previous two-week ISDN failure still lingered, an incident that frustrated many of bira’s inbound callers. Any replacement system had to deliver high voice quality and have the resilience to cope seamlessly with outages.

Gamma could offer the hosted, cloud-based service that bira was looking for.

Up close and personal with Horizon

After an on-site demonstration from the Gamma team, bira chose our Horizon solution. It gave the organisation the cloud-based platform it needed to support more than 70 extensions across both its sites.

The solution facilitated call answering and handling at both locations from intuitive ‘drag and drop’ receptionist consoles. Whereas previously agents could not transfer calls between locations, they could now answer and direct calls from each location interchangeably.

The consoles also allowed receptionists to see at a glance whether people were at their desks, on a call already or unavailable, as well configure call hunt groups to ensure callers were always answered properly. Using these consoles, bira’s trained receptionists could now answer calls in a speedy and professional manner and deliver the personal touch that Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems lacked.

Connected by our Assured ADSL service and by a third party Ethernet solution, Horizon also met all bira’s requirements for business continuity. It was a solution that no other vendor was able to provide.

Delivering great results to bira and its members

Gamma was able to deliver a reliable and flexible communications system that allowed bira to maintain the personal touch that was so important to its membership. Implementing the system effectively doubled the staff available to deal with callers without needing to add additional resource.

We also ended bira’s reliance on ISDN, generating an estimated saving of tens of thousands of pounds through the elimination of PBX hardware, maintenance and ISDN circuits. There is expected to be 100% payback within five years.

“Our members depend on the strength of the personal service they offer their customers,” said David Wilson, Systems Manager at bira. “They expect a similar service when they call us. With Horizon, we can do that. Callers are greeted by a receptionist, not an automated voice system, so they aren’t left hanging on. Meanwhile we’re saving thousands of pounds on hardware and maintenance and no longer have any worries about resilience.”

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7 September 2016 | Jamie Ward

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The views in this article are the personal views of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Gamma.