Gala Coral Group is one of Europe’s pre-eminent betting and gaming businesses with strong market positions and well established brands, both on the high street and online.
The Group’s operations are primarily focussed in the UK, and also Italy – the two most attractive gambling markets in Europe. Coral is the third largest retail bookmaking business in the UK with a well-recognised brand of retail outlets.
Coral Racing needed to harmonise and update internal communications at both Head Office and across their 1,750 UK shop estate. Existing communications operated on 3 separate systems and it was hard for staff and customers to get the answers they needed.
Coral takes pride in treating each and every customer as an individual, making it easy for them to place bets and to play on its machines, so that every visit to a shop is exciting. Customers regularly place bets on scenarios where odds aren’t publicly quoted. In the past when retail staff called HQ for those odds, customers were kept waiting too long for the information as Coral’s systems struggled to find the right person.
In common with many retailers Coral Racing’s shops were struggling to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive market. Minimal investment in recent years was hindering business development. The emergence of online betting and the growth in smart phone applications were threatening the very need for a High Street presence. The units themselves had tills that were hard to manage and administration instructions and guidance on things like window displays were still being mailed to the units.
The business agreed that a major multi-channel transformation programme was required to streamline retail operations and transform the customer experience. The aim was to offer retail shops and internet services that complimented each other - giving customers a truly unique experience, and they asked BT to help them.
A move to a new flagship headquarters in Olympic Park gave Coral Racing the perfect opportunity to plan the transformation of their communications. The vision was to start at HQ and extend out to their shops.
A Cisco Unified Communications and Contact Centre solution was deployed with voicemail, unified messaging and video conferencing, linked to wider BT SIP and BT MPLS solutions provided by BT Global Services.
Using the new unified communications solution all calls are now routed to operators with specific skill sets, improving the speed of response to customer enquiries.
Managers can record calls taken by agents and measure the time they take, to ensure resources have been allocated to the right areas. Wallboards displaying real time contact centre statistics help the monitoring process. And if, for example, there’s a five second silence during a call with a customer, it’s possible to find out why.
Full Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) with desktop screen popping provides calling customer information on the agents’ desktops as soon as the call comes in, helping agents to enhance the speed of service they provide. They can even access the system from home if needed.
Five regional offices equipped with Cisco TelePresence Video Conferencing enable desk-to-desk video conversations, making internal collaboration and communication easier still.
The solution provides lower on-going support and maintenance costs. Other savings have been made through the introduction of IP phones with on-net connectivity to all shops, lowering call costs.
All 1,750 stores have been WiFi enabled with Wireless LAN connectivity back to Head Office systems. The customer service points now run a PC based electronic point of sale (EPOS) system with quick scanning to speed up customer service.
Staff use tablet based devices around the shop for their day to day admin tasks. Updates and instructions on window displays for example are now sent electronically and changes can be implemented across the stores in minutes rather than days.
Coral estimate the use of tablet devices by staff will save them £150,000 a year in paper and postage alone, and the additional boost in productivity and ability to react quickly to market conditions are proving the business case for the project.
Adrian Thompson says, "In less than nine months, we’ve moved to being a technology-led business, which has very much changed the way we do things and put us right at the front of the market."
"Having the wireless infrastructure and hardware in place across all of our shops means that we can be much more agile and will be a key element to us deploying the latest technologies, products and services for both staff and customers, ahead of the competition in what is an increasingly crowded market."
From initial engagement, right through to training the Coral Racing staff prior to going live, BT was on hand every step of the way. Specialists worked diligently to ensure the solution was supplied on time, with the same faces providing the design, training and delivery. By walking the floor during installation, BT was able to fine-tune things, driving small but significant final improvements.
BT approached this project as though it was their own business. It was fantastic to have that level of support from such a technically expert company.
The new IT platform gives Coral the flexibility to deliver innovative products and services in the future – through a multichannel approach where on-line services work hand in glove with the shops to create genuine differentiation in the market.
It has already been scaled up to support new sites and will increase further to incorporate around 1,200 users - with a possible further 3,500 in the future.
BT and Coral Racing are now working to extend the new contact centre platform to incorporate a number of group contact centres. Coral plan to enable multiple group operating companies to utilise a single unified communications architecture. The companies will retain their business autonomy, and the group will benefit from a more efficient and productive way of communicating.
In addition to the contact centre programme, Coral are also planning to extend their communications functionality to include Cisco Jabber to give retail staff instant messaging (IM) capability along with presence and click to call functionality.