Vodafone UK today announces plans to roll out a further 50 stores over the coming financial year, taking the total to 400, as part of its continued commitment to improve customer service and drive revenue.
The new stores will further ensure that customers will be able to experience the great range of mobiles and services such as mobile internet and email first hand before making a purchase, and thus stimulate revenue. The expansion plans build on Vodafone’s announcement in March that it would be recruiting over 300 more retail employees to ensure customers get the help and advice they need to buy and use Vodafone’s products and services. These new stores will create approximately 200 additional roles in retail.
The new stores will start to appear on the high street and in shopping centres from September starting with Bristol Cabot Circus and White City London in September and Liverpool One in October. It is planned that the majority of the new retail locations will be found, and work completed to turn them into stores by spring 2009.
“Vodafone UK is focused on ensuring that our customers get the best customer service experience possible on the high street,” Tom Devine, director of consumer sales for Vodafone UK, explains. “To deliver this we need to make sure that our customers and potential customers can speak face-to-face with a retail advisor at a town near them. This multi-million pound investment will bring our total number of stores to 400 and ensure we can not only meet, but surpass our customers’ expectations.”
In June 2006 Vodafone unveiled its new concept in store design with its bold change to the appearance of the store, making it more customer-friendly and efficient. Since investing in this design concept, and by introducing an NVQ retail qualification customer satisfaction and customer service scores have significantly improved.
Most of the new stores will follow the award winning design, which includes defined zones such as a ‘self-service’ area at the front of the store for products including phone covers and top-ups, as well as online self-help, while at the back of the store there will be a ‘pharmacy for phones’ where customers can receive advice on a phone or service.
There will also be a distinct area for business customers, as well as sales pods with working handsets so customers can try live services like Vodafone Mobile Internet. All stores will also have the award winning ‘Q-Management’ technology, a tool that ensures customers know how long they have to wait and are served quickly. Since 2006, 150 existing stores have been refurbished.
Vodafone is also investing in technology to make serving customers easier for its retail teams and improve the speed of service. Following a trial with Cable&Wireless, new broadband connections are being rolled out to stores to improve the speed of tills and back office systems which will quicken the time it takes to purchase or order a new phone, pay a bill or update account information. The roll out of broadband will also increase bandwidth and allow Vodafone to use more innovative in-store displays such as digital signage which will give helpful tips and hints, and information on the latest offers.
Vodafone teams are also adopting new scheduling tools which will allow them to more accurately forecast how many advisors they need to have in the store at any one time. Coupled with Q-Management technology this will do even more to help ensure the customer does not have to wait long for assistance. The roll out of these technologies will also help to cut costs as stores become more efficient in the way they are staffed by reducing waiting times and by being able to access real-time system information when they need it.
Tom Devine adds: “Vodafone recognises that making it easier for our customers to deal with us can’t be achieved if we don’t make it easy for our advisors to do their job as well. Not only are we investing in recruiting more people and their training and development with a new retail NVQ programme*, we are also investing in new technology that will reduce waiting times and improve the time it takes to access our retail systems and obtain information.”