Sometimes, the slowdowns and restrictions that legacy systems impose on a retailer are not glaringly obvious on a day-to-day basis. Employees establish workarounds or just shrug and say, “That’s the way we’ve always done it.”
For John Varvatos, however, the limitations of its existing communications systems loudly announced themselves every time a new employee was hired. “We had been operating with a set of legacy phone systems that had to be pieced together across three different companies,” said Nick Barbarise, Director of IT at John Varvatos Enterprises. “It took forever for us to program, install and implement if we needed a new phone line, for example if we were expanding to a new floor or a new location. We were spending way too much on consultants and freelancers, and there also were problems with frequent dropped calls and a general lack of functionality.”
During a recent Retail TouchPoints webinar, Barbarise revealed how the retailer achieved a 148% ROI with a 10.8-month payback period by switching to RingCentral Office, a centralized, cloud-based communications system that eliminated the need for physical phone cabling and reduced the retailer’s need for technicians.
Adopting the RingCentral solution addressed a key customer service issue that’s common to all retailers: consumers’ dislike of repeating their problem multiple times across different channels and to different people. “For our customer service team, which deals with a lot of e-Commerce questions, people don’t want to be put on hold or repeat themselves,” said Barbarise. “We implemented a connection API to our Zendesk platform so that if someone calls, texts or communicates through the web, the system automatically pulls up their profile and recent transactions upon recognizing their email or phone number.
“These integrations with Salesforce and Zendesk have cut on-hold times for our customer service team by 42%, and when the customer gets on, we know what they need, who they are, and how to help them as fast as possible,” Barbarise added.
The solution also streamlined internal communications by establishing phone queues for key departments. “This allows us to reach the proper department head with a quick button press, versus looking for a phone or extension number and dialing it,” said Barbarise. The feature can ring multiple people’s phones at once, with the first person who picks up taking the call.
Another key reason for the short payback period at John Varvatos has been employees’ enthusiastic acceptance of the new system. “The system’s ability to import our active directory on the fly, and the fact that it was a ‘plug-and-play’ solution that was easy for employees to use has increased employee productivity,” said Barbarise. “We’ve essentially erased our formal training process in this area, because employees learned how to use the new phones within minutes. Onboarding new employees now takes five to 10 minutes.”
Barbarise admitted that some employees, particularly older people, were fearful about moving to an app-based cloud solution. “We had a pizza lunch and brought in everyone to explain that this was a new system with a lot of great things they could use immediately,” said Barbarise. “Even those not familiar with apps were on board by the next day. They liked that they could communicate via text, email or even voice mail. Our big lesson was to embrace the new system, and to get the key players to bring in people on their team and get them excited about it as well.”