ArrowXL CIO details next Digital Transformation phase

ArrowXL CIO details next Digital Transformation phase

Rachel Hopkins, CIO at ArrowXL, outlines the next stage of the company’s Digital Transformation which includes the implementation of a new CRM and Unified Comms platform – a significant development that will take these key operations into the cloud and open up opportunities for AI and omni-channel capabilities.

With over 25 years of experience, ArrowXL is the UK’s largest and longest-established two-person delivery and warehousing specialist. Headquartered in Wigan, the company focuses on delivering large, heavy and unwieldy orders such as sofas, domestic appliances and gym equipment. It also offers additional value-add services, including appliance fitting, furniture assembly and removal of old items.

Modernisation to prepare for future growth

Since I started in my role just over 18 months ago my remit has very much been to transform and modernise the technology that supports and drives the business, preparing it for future growth. As part of this there is a move away from the company’s traditional on-premise data centres to the cloud to facilitate better up-time and availability; provide access to leading edge technologies, whilst delivering more resilience and better information security.

My experience is that this will make maintaining the currency of technology easier as the effort associated with the management of the infrastructure is reduced. Perhaps most importantly, introducing any change is quicker and this is vital for us as a business to continue to remain competitive and relevant.

ArrowXL is a company that has customer service at the heart of its operations and one of the early phases we undertook was to partner with Node4 to ensure network resilience and security. Once that was successfully in place we turned to the vital areas of CRM and Unified Communications.

Two-person delivery is a complex business

We undertake around 40,000 deliveries each week and each one requires several customer communications. The world of two-person home delivery is a complicated one and it is vital that once a delivery date is agreed, we can remind the customer of the time and date of delivery as well as update if there are any delays. When a customer isn’t home or is running late, we cannot simply revert to handing the product over to a neighbour, leaving it unattended in front of the property, or covertly hiding it inside a recycling bin!

Security, integrity and safety within the home are vital so we also provide the names of the delivery crew to the customer for added peace of mind.  We understand, arguably better than most, that the properties we visit daily are homes and not just houses – a living and breathing environment and an extension of that customer.  Then there is the follow up contact to ensure that the customer is totally satisfied.

Communication is key

This all means that communication is absolutely paramount. To put it into perspective we deal with over 7,000 incoming calls every week and make around 2,000 outgoing. To do this we have traditionally relied on telephony – in particular SMS and we’re aware that increasingly, this was not necessarily the right channel for everyone. We needed a new partner who would open up different channels (e.g. WhatsApp, Facebook messenger etc.), and the possibility of AI driven chat bots which deliver a more natural interaction with better functionality such as conversation summaries creating a much better customer service.

Wanted – an industrial strength solution!

It was clear that the systems we had in place, whilst they had done us proud, were not only lacking in the scale and reach to support our on-going growth, but also lacked the investment into innovation.  This would in turn impact the kind of service we wanted to deliver to our customers. We had simply outgrown them and whilst our requirements were not unique or particularly specialised, we did need an industrial strength solution!

We used Gartner’s Magic Quadrant to identify the long-list of potential vendors, and then employed the services of Viewpoint Analysis to assist us in running a really robust RFP process.  We were clear in what we wanted which included the ability to provide 24/7 support, have high levels of availability and, as with most SaaS solutions, a roadmap of new functionality and features that could be deployed seamlessly and be built into our future strategy plans.

We also wanted to simplify our application architecture by having the order management process within the CRM (it was previously separate) – thereby ensuring everything was in one place.

The winners are…

Following an intensive process we have chosen SugarCRM and NICE, implemented by Provident CRM, as our partners. Both companies were extremely responsive throughout the process and met all our requirements – our first deployment is imminent. As well as meeting all our objectives, and in particular, improving the customer experience, we have also been able to achieve significant annual saving which we will be able to invest in future improvements. Overall, our CRM and communications are simpler, more agile and more convenient.

It’s an exciting time for our business and having the right partners in place is key.

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