British retailer River Island has improved employee connectivity, boosted communication and collaboration among team members and enhanced customer service by deploying Microsoft Teams across its stores and corporate structure.
The move was accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic but was driven by a goal of “preserving its unique, people-focused culture”, says Microsoft. In addition to Teams, employees began using Microsoft 365, Samsung Galaxy XCover devices, and a Scandit smart data capture application.
“Our culture prizes fluid communication across all levels of the business,” said Paul Cooper, head of technology at River Island. “We’ve embraced Microsoft Teams on Samsung devices to open up communication with our frontline staff and have already seen a positive impact on customer service.”
Before implementing Teams, frontline workers had been disconnected from the corporate side of the business and had to juggle multiple devices and applications. “I love to be out on the shop floor with my team, but I was often locked away in the office dealing with the daily running of the store,” said Rachel Trivino, store leader at River Island Milton Keynes, UK. “With Teams, I now do a lot of my work from my Samsung device on the shop floor. I have better access to customers and staff in real time.”
Previously, staff had been using badge radios to communicate about store operations, such as checking stock room inventory, but this caused delays for customers. Now, frontline workers use the Walkie Talkie app in Teams to instantly connect with colleagues.
“Now that we’ve consolidated devices and use Walkie Talkie in Teams, all the employees on our shop floor can communicate easily by pressing a dedicated push-to-talk button on their Samsung devices,” said Dan Butcher, flagship store leader at River Island Sheffield Meadowhall, UK. “This speeds up our processes when serving customers.”
Deploying Microsoft technologies has not only transformed frontline operations, but has also improved communication between stores and with senior leadership. For example, River Island has an “all-store” Teams channel with 15,000 participants and a “top 20” channel for store leaders at the biggest cash-taking sites.
“Before Teams, I wouldn’t necessarily have spoken to territory leaders or the head of retail,” said Kerrie Toll, store leader at River Island King’s Lynn, UK. “From my perspective at the store level, it seemed like the people in those roles were out of reach. Now, I regularly chat in Teams with people from all levels of the business.”
Improving internal communication in this way has helped River Island transform its customer experience by meeting changing expectations. “Over time, customers have increasingly expected more from us,” said Butcher. “We’ve got to constantly adapt and keep up with changing demands. The introduction of new technology like Teams, Samsung devices, and the Scandit app helps us massively as we try to meet the expectations of our customers.”