Hillarys Blinds

100-2,499 Employees
Customer Engagement

Today’s customer relationships are ongoing conversations that unfold across time and channels. Phone, video, email, chat, social: It’s all one integrated omnichannel now. Done right, seamless execution pays off in increased revenue and higher lifetime value of customers. Our customer engagement solutions make it possible. 

Hillarys Blinds currently sells and fits more than 30,000 made-to-measure blinds a week.

Benefits

Improved Customer Service
Increased Productivity

Further and faster

At Hillarys Blinds, the end-to-end customer experience has always been a priority. It uses a direct-to-consumer approach: it has a nationwide network of 1,000 field-based advisors who undertake design consultations in the homes of consumers, before returning to install blinds, curtains and shutters. Hillarys has sought to provide a personal, premier service – reflected too in the vast choice of materials and fittings available to customers. And it is a highly successful model: the company currently sells and fits more than 30,000 made-to-measure blinds a week.
 
In such a business model, the contact centre is clearly pivotal. Staffed by the equivalent of 150 full-time employees, across both sales and service, the Hillarys contact centre manages both inbound and outbound traffic, following up quotes and resolving queries. It also supports the field advisors when with customers, answering their enquiries about delivery times and availability of special options or accessories.
 

Hillary's Blinds

Changing contact in the multichannel era

But as customer behaviour has evolved in the multichannel era, so Hillarys has changed too. Today, there is a roughly 50-50 split between initial contact coming through the web, and the contact centre. Hillarys offers customers a choice of online interaction – they can book appointments for an in-home consultation, or can buy online, and measure and fit the blinds themselves.
 
That created a challenge for Hillarys. In 2011 the highly reliable Symposium system that underpinned the contact centre reached the end of support. With customers increasingly looking to contact the business via a range of channels, Hillarys wanted a solution that was better able to integrate and manage multimedia contact. After a comprehensive tender process, Hillarys selected the Avaya Aura Contact Center, running on the Avaya Communication Server 1000 to be implemented by Avaya partner Proximity Communications plc.
 

Taking a strategic leap with Avaya and Proximity

Julian Bond, Head of Information, Communication and Technology at Hillarys Blinds, had been a firm advocate of the Symposium solution. But when it came to procurement, “all gloves were off. In our invitation to tender, we were crystal clear about our requirements and pain points. When we looked at the options available, we felt that Avaya understood the contact centre environment better than its competitors. Their offering builds on the best of its legacy products, adds new capabilities and a clear roadmap.”
 
Key capabilities included support for unified communications, presence and web services integration. The fact that the Avaya solution offered a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) toolkit was a major benefit for Julian. “It means we can do more with web services in-house, as our needs change. We can configure the extra features we want, and integrate with different applications, without needing to pay for expensive development.”
 
The choice of partner was also critical. “We wanted someone innovative and nimble, and of an appropriate organisational size that meant we mattered to them. With Proximity, we got exactly that: they gave us the confidence that they could handle our fundamental requirements smoothly, but also their knowledge of the Avaya portfolio was clear. They gave us relevant advice on how we could best use different Avaya solutions to meet our requirements. They’ve been excellent.”
 

“We felt that Avaya understood the contact centre environment better than its competitors. Their offering builds on the best of its legacy products, but adds new capabilities and a clear roadmap.”

– Julian Bond, Head of ICT, Hillarys Blinds
 

Enhancing the customer experience

Those requirements included a number of features to enhance the customer experience from the moment the contact centre agent first answers a call. For example, Hillarys runs a broad range of marketing campaigns, each of which has a different contact number to facilitate reporting and campaign analysis. With the previous solution, agents literally had to move desks to be in the right place to answer calls coming in on different numbers; now, with the Avaya Aura Contact Center, agents stay where they are, and the relevant campaign information is visible on their computer screen.
 
The new solution also integrates with the CRM database using the SOA Toolkit. That means, among other things, that customers calling up to enquire about an open service ticket can be routed through, wherever possible, to the agent they previously spoke to – improving their experience. At the same time, resources are better used in the contact centre, with reduced call transfer.
 

Delivering better support for advisors

For Julian, some of the most important enhancements are around the service provided to advisors. “Our field sales advisors are customers too, and we knew that the old solution sometimes didn’t help them. In particular, they were fed up with the level of ‘telephone tag’; they’d log a query, the centre would call them back but because they were with a customer, their phone was off. That’s why we want to use presence, so that our agents can see when advisors are available on the phone, and so advisors can see when they might be able to get through to an expert on a particular issue – which in turn can help them answer a customer query on the spot.”
 
However, this created a challenge. Advisors in the field are not technically on the Hillarys Blinds network, so the solution needs to deliver federated presence – more complex technically, and potentially far more expensive. “Proximity are helping us establish the best way to do that using the Avaya unified communications portfolio. They understand licensing issues and are working out how we can get the functionality we want affordably.”
 

“When we run TV adverts, it’s hard to predict the volume of calls they’ll generate. With the Avaya Aura Contact Center, we can easily add remote agents if we need to, so that we can manage volume in the short term.”
 
– Julian Bond, Head of ICT, Hillarys Blinds

Smooth implementation, immediate results

Of course, all of these features depended on the successful implementation of the core telephony platform and contact centre solution. “Last time we upgraded our system, it was a complex experience. This time, things went far more smoothly, even though it was live upgrade,” Julian reports. “We had some issues, which I think is inevitable, but they were well managed by Proximity so that there was minimal business impact. At our project review, one of my colleagues, who has 40 years’ experience in the industry, commented that throughout the process he was comfortable he knew exactly what was happening – and that was the key.”
 
The Hillarys team enjoyed immediate improvements in tasks like reporting and real-time contact centre analytics, which are now simpler to perform and provide more accurate and actionable management information. Because complex scripts are now represented diagrammatically, rather than in pages of code, it’s much easier for business managers to make changes. “We’re also more flexible now,” Julian adds. “When we run TV adverts, it’s hard to predict the volume of calls they’ll generate. With the Avaya Aura Contact Center, we can easily add remote agents if we need to, so that we can manage volume in the short term.”
 
Invaluably, these additional features have been delivered without changing the agent toolset: the contact centre team are using the same handsets and computers as before. This was a deliberate choice from Hillarys, as it meant there was no time wasted as agents familiarised themselves with the new equipment. Instead, the Avaya solution allows the business to upgrade to newer tools in the future, when there is a pressing case to do so.
 

A platform for the future

With the new platform in place and providing the rich core contact centre functionality that Hillarys Blinds urgently needed, the next steps will see further enhancements to the customer experience. “We’re looking to integrate the advisor tools more closely with the SAP-based mobile app we’ve developed,” Julian confirms, “and increase our multimedia capability, adding click to chat.” Other areas under consideration are social media and – from a cost saving perspective – SIP trunking.
 
“For me, the great thing is that we’ve got a platform for the future that we can rely on, and a partner we trust. The Avaya roadmap is clear, and the individual components genuinely work together. That gives us the confidence to start pushing things further and faster. I don’t want a bespoke solution: I want something that’s quick, effective and painless. With Avaya and Proximity, we’re getting that.”
 

“We’ve got a platform for the future that we can rely on, and a partner we trust. The Avaya roadmap is clear, and the individual components genuinely work together. That gives us the confidence to start pushing things further and faster.”
 
– Julian Bond, Head of ICT, Hillarys Blinds

About Proximity Communications

Proximity Communications plc is a multi-award winning unified communication solutions and IT Managed Services Provider. Specialising in voice and data network infrastructure and unified communications solutions, Proximity provides stand-alone solutions as well as a range of on-premises hosted and managed services. In 2012, Proximity was awarded ‘Most Notable Customer Win’ for Avaya Networking and Westcon Convergence’s ‘Top Reseller Award for Avaya Data’. Proximity holds the Avaya Partner in Customer Excellence’ Designation.
www.proximitycomms.com
 

About Hillarys Blinds

Hillarys is the UK’s leading supplier of made-to-measure blinds. Established in 1971, it continues to manufacture blinds in Nottingham, and produces more than 30,000 blinds a week, as well as curtains and shutters. The company is privately owned, and sells primarily through its network of field advisors, who also install the blinds for customers.
 

Products and Solutions

  • Avaya Communication Server 1000
  • Avaya Aura® Contact Center

Hillarys Blinds currently sells and fits more than 30,000 made-to-measure blinds a week.

CUSTOMER PROFILE
Hillary's Blinds Logo
  • Headquarters:

  • United Kingdom

  • # Employees:

  • 150

Hillarys is the UK’s leading supplier of made-to-measure blinds. Established in 1971, it continues to manufacture blinds in Nottingham, and produces more than 30,000 blinds a week, as well as curtains and shutters. The company is privately owned, and sells primarily through its network of field advisors, who also install the blinds for customers.

What our Customers are saying
“We felt that Avaya understood the contact centre environment better than its competitors. Their offering builds on the best of its legacy products, but adds new capabilities and a clear roadmap.”

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  • Julian Bond

  • Hillarys Blinds

AVAYA SOLUTIONS DELIVERED