Waitrose deploys IP telephony to keep staff on shop floor for customers

To support its Future Branch Structures project and reduce call costs, Waitrose needed a telephony system that was standardised across all its branches.

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Waitrose has deployed an IP telephony system to make sure staff spend less time in the back office and more time on the shop floor dealing with customers.

Waitrose has more than 300 supermarkets across the UK and is part of the John Lewis Partnership. To support its Future Branch Structures project and reduce call costs, Waitrose needed a telephony system that was standardised across all its branches.

The company brought in Computacenter to deploy a Cisco IP telephony system that included cordless handsets and a wireless network infrastructure. The provider is now responsible for supporting the IP telephony system from its global service desk.

Ben Hart, project manager at Waitrose, said: “To support the Future Branch Structures Project we needed a telephony system that would enable partners [staff] in our branches to be more flexible and mobile.”

Historically, Waitrose had a diverse and disparate range of telephony systems, with each branch equipped with different technologies and different capabilities. Calls between branches and to and from head office were often made via traditional external lines, resulting in high call costs, said Hart.

Computacenter project managed and executed the on-site implementation for 220 stores, including initial surveys, integration, testing and cut-over to the new Cisco IP telephony system. Computacenter also upgraded network access points to support voice capabilities and replaced ageing and unsupported routers before configuring and installing the new handsets, which include cordless devices for the shop floor as well as fixed phones in offices.

“Despite its scale and complexity the project was completed on time and to budget,” said Hart, “The new IP telephony system has enabled our partners to spend more time helping customers.”

Waitrose now has a centralised directory and internal calls are free. In addition, the solution is also integrated with store public address systems, so store-wide announcements can be made from any handset, and all stores now have interactive voice response (IVR). IVR means calls can be routed directly to a partner that can help with a customer query.

Image credit: Waitrose

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