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In an industry that can change overnight, how do you improve productivity, stay responsive and keep long-term customers happy? For Vodafone, the answer has been more evolution than revolution. Through smart data collection and analysis, we’re constantly helping them identify what’s working and what isn’t, so they can boost store performance and keep moving in the right direction.
In 2012, Vodafone asked us to measure the efficiency of their stores and identify areas for improvement. We worked with them in seven countries and across two continents, sharing our insights and giving them plenty of ideas along the way. We didn’t stop there.
The telecoms sector is characterised by innovations that can quickly change people’s priorities and behaviour. But customers are locked into phone contracts that mean they might not visit their network provider’s stores for a couple of years. After our initial studies, Vodafone were keen to develop more productive stores but they knew big, dramatic changes weren’t the answer. They needed to play the long game – chipping away at challenges, tweaking processes and regularly evaluating progress.
We’re always on call for Vodafone. Each year, our team spend at least five days at ten different stores across the UK. We refresh their activity data, measuring the average time it takes their people to carry out tasks on the shop floor and behind the scenes. We look at the stores’ efficiency, analysing how hard teams are working and clocking time spent helping customers with advice or a sale and time spent not working. Then we make anecdotal observations, watching and listening to the team and paying attention to their customer conversations.
Once we’ve collected all the facts and figures, we compare them with previous years of Vodafone data and against other retailers. We check everything’s on track, and look at what’s changed and why.
Vodafone HQ were surprised by the number of hours colleagues spent waiting for customers, or on activities that didn’t add value. Our insights gave them the information they needed to take a new approach to colleagues planning; introducing systems that match colleagues patterns to footfall and reducing back-office time by around 12.5%. We also opened their eyes to the amount of time it takes to sell a phone – from the transaction itself to registering a new number. It created new opportunities for more streamlined processes.
By continuing to monitor progress every year, we’re helping Vodafone build a robust bank of data and a detailed picture of performance. They can see how changes affect their stores and impact resources and colleagues scheduling. We’re also helping them stay ahead of the game by identifying shifting shopping trends. For example, customers are increasingly prepared when they visit a store – they know which phone they want to buy and how much they should spend. It means there are more opportunities to upsell extras like insurance and broadband.
We played a supporting role road-testing Vodafone’s new virtual queuing system, which lets customers book an appointment in store and sends a text message when they’re next in line. It means they’re free to wander while they wait, and it gives store teams a valuable heads up – so they can offer more tailored, efficient service. We measured average waiting times and gathered feedback during the trial stages, providing HQ with a chance to fine tune the system before rolling it out.
By observing the way colleagues interact with customers, we’re also able to show Vodafone whether investments are translating to conversations on the shop floor. The telecoms giant recently developed My Vodafone, an app that lets customers top up from anywhere. It was designed to make life easier for the customer and free up precious sales time in stores, but we found colleagues weren’t talking about it enough. It helped explain the app’s download figures and why people were still visiting stores to top up. And it’s inspiring Vodafone to retrain their colleagues about communicating priorities.
Since we started working with Vodafone, we’ve helped boost their efficiency index by 7% in their UK market, without any negative impact on their sales and service KPIs. With our insights, they’ve reduced time wasted and increased time well-spent with customers in their stores. And by constantly topping up their data, we’re helping them move with the times.
“I don’t just see ReThink as a supplier. I see them as a business partner who takes the time to understand what we need and build on the original brief. They’re always on hand for help and advice.”
Sandy Nicholson, Operational Development Manager