Berry Bros & Rudd: Keeping up with today’s digital consumer

Berry Bros & Rudd is globally renowned for being Britain's oldest wine and spirit merchants, trading from the same premises since 1698. Yet it also prides itself on being at the forefront of technical innovation.

The award-winning, family-owned and managed company claims to have been the first wine merchant in the UK to launch a website and to trade goods online.

More recently the retailer invested more than £500,000 in a digital transformation project, whereby it teamed up with Olive Communications to move its “outdated” legacy system over to a cloud and unified communications suite, to enhance the customer experience.

Chris Brown, Head of Service Delivery for Berry Bros & Rudd, says: “Berry Bros. & Rudd is an innovative company, always looking to make process-driven improvements to enhance its customer service through new technology – it’s a company that embraces change for the better.”

Today the company operates globally, with offices in Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong, a Wine School and an exclusive fine wine and dining venue in London's St James'.

The challenge
Brown says: “Berry Bros & Rudd is renowned for quality; offering the best, most diverse range of wines and spirits around the world and providing customers with the most extensive wine knowledge of any merchant. Reputation is everything to our business, so it’s fundamental that our customer experience always reflects the brand’s high standards and excellence.

“With two stores, one based on the prestigious Pall Mall, the majority of our customers engage with the brand through our website, account managers and customer support teams. These communication channels needed transforming to meet the expectations of today’s digital and ‘mobile first’ customer, who expect queries to be handled efficiently and in a way that’s convenient for them.”  

Berry Bros linked up with unified communications and cloud telephony specialists, Olive Communications, for the digital transformation project.

Before this date the company had a legacy technology infrastructure in place that was outdated and inflexible, with an inability to scale. There was no one single view of the customer, with all of its communication channels working in silo; making it difficult to manage call volumes in the contact centre and to ensure a seamless customer experience. Its outdated telephony system also meant 30% of its workforce were unable to take customer calls when working remotely between offices, affecting service delivery and staff productivity.

To start the project Olive conducted an initial consultancy review to identify the key transformational improvements that would be required to better digitalise and mobilise the business, enhance the customer experience, and provide a positive and seamless customer journey.

Berry Bros invested over half a million pounds as part of an internal and external communications transformation project and Olive was contracted to implement the bespoke Olive CMSP (Cloud Managed Service Platform) in a phased approach of three to six months with the final phase due for completion in early 2020.

Olive’s CMSP incorporates a Cloud Contact Centre, Unified Communications, Cloud Connectivity and Mobility Services, all supported by Customer Experience Consultancy, Cloud Service Design and ongoing managed support services.

The new CMSP - delivered from the UK and supporting internationally roaming employees - supports three UK Berry Bros & Rudd offices consisting of 55 customer facing employees including the Fine Wine advisory and customer service team, 200 back off staff and 150 mobile users.

The collaborative contact centre
Utilising Mitel contact centre technology, Olive implemented a scalable 24/7 managed Cloud Telephony Platform across a period of six months.

The most challenging aspect of the project was understanding and porting legacy number ranges in a seamless manner and in a way which was as least disruptive as possible, something achieved through support of the Olive project team.

In doing so, Berry Bros & Rudd’s customer contact centre team are now able to work in collaboration with its credit management and credit identification team for a totally unified and seamless customer journey.

Brown says: “When we first engaged with Olive we had no one single view of our customer or way of managing call volumes, which meant we were not aligned in our customer communications or providing a customer journey that was consistently efficient. Now customers and their data are easily transferred between the contact centre and the credit management team if needed, such as when setting up a new account or they have a purchasing query, making the entire customer experience faster and smoother.

“Call queue times have also been reduced thanks to a new call back facility and agent skills routing and the new Cloud Telephony Platform’s centralised CRM system tracks incoming calls and provides call volume data. The Workforce Management functionality within the platform calculates volume against resource needed. This makes it easier to accurately plan, forecast and schedule internal resource especially around peak times, including seasonal peaks such as Christmas, to ensure there’s enough operators available to consistently and efficiently support the amount of incoming customer calls.

“For example, in the run up to Christmas call volumes tend to rise by over 100% with people stocking up for celebrations or seeking our expert wine knowledge. With the new system we have managed to absorb the increase in calls and at the same time halve the call abandon rate.”

Empowering the mobile workforce
A disjointed mobile and traditional landline telephony system was also impacting customer service delivery and causing frustration to the 30% of the company’s mobile workforce who were unable to take incoming landline desk calls from customers when roaming between offices in the UK and overseas.

Olive converged Berry Bros’ mobile and traditional fixed voice platforms, using Vodafone Mobile for Business technology, liberating and empowering its remote workforce to be contactable anywhere and anytime via any device.

Brown says: “Our mobile workforce have close, regular contact with their clients with many wanting to place orders for cases of wine, so on occasion when employees were working remotely, away from the office and couldn’t be reached, this was having a detrimental impact on sales and customer relations. This is no longer an issue.”

The benefits
He says: Since migrating to Olive’s cloud managed service platform productivity has improved, sales have risen and we now have access to a consistent business dashboard with consolidated management information across all channels of communications. 

“The service and support we’ve had from Olive has been excellent from the start. Moving to the cloud and converging our telephony systems has given us the flexibility and scope our global business requires to grow, as well as vastly improving our overall offering to better serve our global customers. Olive implemented the system cost effectively and with great ease and speed, and we’re delighted to have their ongoing support as we enter the busy festive season.”

Andy Jane, chief technology officer, at Olive, says: “It’s a privilege to work with Berry Bros, a prestigious and historic British company that has a loyal and fast-growing global customer base. Olive’s best of breed service in partnership with Vodafone and Mitel is designed to deliver a game changing, centralised cloud and unified communications solution that delivers proven ROI.

“Through the implementation of Olive CMSP and our ‘Adopt – Adapt – Transform’ practical methodology, Berry Bros & Rudd now have access to modern cloud capabilities, including digital customer engagement tools to increase productivity and take the business forward, and a platform that will enable the company to accelerate its growth and innovation plans.

“The ongoing consultancy that we provide also allows for flexibility and greater agility and for Olive to deliver upgrades and solutions as and when the business requires.”

Once the final phase of Olive’s CMSP integration is implemented, Berry Bros plans to take advantage of the platform’s scalability. By building on the platform’s ‘mix and match’ technical capabilities the award-winning wine and spirit merchant will facilitate further change and drive additional business growth by looking at what the next steps in its communications journey are; building on its other innovative digital transformation projects.

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