Stonegate Pub Company own and manage around 700 pub and restaurant venues across a wide range of formats from community and high street pubs to late night venues. Customers calling venues for a table booking often found that their call was unanswered, resulting in a poor customer experience and a potential loss of business to competitors. Staff in the venues were taking time away from serving the customers within the venue to answer the phone, and messages left on the site phone number were not always called back in a timely manner.
After considering options, Stonegate decided that a central booking function would both increase the number and speed of calls being answered as well as freeing up staff in the venues to serve customers.
Having worked with Stonegate for around 10 years providing both telephony and data connectivity, Retail Technology Services (RTS) were the logical choice to help Stonegate. RTS worked with the Central Bookings project team to design and implement a new contact centre from the ground up. Previously unused office space was repurposed with desks for 37 people and RTS installed new power, data cabling and electronic wallboards to display real time information from the telephony platform. The majority of sites were already running RTS VoIP telephony however a number of sites were still running analogue telephony services – these were migrated to the VoiP platform as part of the project.
Customers are now presented with a simple menu based on Integrated Voice Response (IVR) when calling, asking them to press 1 for bookings or 2 to speak to the venue directly. Calls for bookings are then routed to the central bookings function where the call is answered by the contact centre team and the customer helped through the booking process then directed to a third party payment system to take deposits.
Almost immediately after the Slug and lettuce brand transitioned to central bookings the number of calls answered first time increased from around 33% to 95%. Other brands in the portfolio quickly followed once the success of the project had been proven, with Walkabout, Yates, Venues, Common Rooms, Sport Bar and Grill and the rooms for the Hotel and Inn businesses now reaping the benefits of the central booking service. Within 4 months of Go-Live the team are now booking 3000 covers a week.
Customers have a better level of service with calls being answered by trained staff that understand the booking process, can give helpful advice and confirm bookings immediately rather than having to wait for a call back from one of the venues. Managers and staff, now free from the burden of answering the phone during busy times can focus on serving customers.
Abandoned calls are now placed into a queue for staff to call back, ensuring that all customers are contacted in a timely manner and bookings can be completed.