For sixty-five years, Moffatt & Powell RONA has been providing homeowners and DIYers with building and home improvement solutions. Their aim is to provide the best customer service experience throughout their communities, and they weren’t going to let a pandemic drive a wedge between them and their goals.
“Pre-pandemic, every call had every phone ring in the store, because we wanted someone to be on it right away,” says Dave Humphrey, who has been the IT Analyst & Support for Moffatt and Powell Ltd. for all nine of their stores since August of 2018. “When the pandemic started, we noticed we were receiving, in some branches, upwards of 2000 calls a week. We’re not a RONA corporate big-box store. We’re a dealer, so we have a smaller staff and 2000 calls means spending upwards of 30 hours a week on the phones. That’s essentially one full-time person just talking on the phone. And that was even with reduced store hours. We had people just run off their feet.”
NEWT’s Auto-Attendant and Call Queuing Features Helped Put Their House in Order
“There was some push back from our customer base at the beginning,” says Dave about NEWT’s auto-attendant which greets callers and provides them with a voice-based menu. “But they’ve adapted to it now. They can press a number to place an order, pick up an order, get information about hours and locations and COVID protocols, or speak to a specific employee. This was a huge win for us, and actually diverted about 8 – 10% of our call volume away from a live person. That’s roughly 200 calls/week where we don’t have someone having to physically be on the phone, which is not insignificant.”
“Call queuing is a feature that we implemented in our stores at the start of the pandemic,” recalls Dave. “We started with a pilot in our Strathroy location in April of last year just to figure out how it all works. It’s a huge transition for our staff and they love the ability to queue a call. And our callers like it because they know where they are in the queue and how long they’re likely to be on hold. It sets expectations and lets the customer know that we’re busy with other customers, but we want to talk to them and we’ll be right with them.”
NEWT Offers Benefits Beyond the Bottom Line
Moffatt & Powell began moving their stores over to NEWT in October 2016, starting with their Head Office and their London store. They were part way through bringing their Exeter store online when Dave joined them. He’s been involved in the conversion of their Exeter, Tillsonburg, and Mitchell stores, and is now working to bring their Hanover store onto NEWT’s platform. Dave says NEWT’s business phone and internet systems bring benefits beyond the bottom line.
“All of our old phone systems are Bell Nortel using a line hunter and that’s fairly expensive. One of the improvements we see immediately is call quality because those old phone lines crackle and the phone sets break down, and it’s hard to get parts for them if you can find them at all. The benefits of being on NEWT technology,” says Dave, “are that we’re using state of the art infrastructure, state of the art routing, and dedicated internet service. Also, we can pair in our computers, eliminating the need for more network jacks. That’s a huge benefit from a networking standpoint. We’ve deeply leveraged the actual phone sets as an additional network jack in a lot of our locations just because it gives us that flexibility.”
Dave says, “There’s a decent-sized initial capital cost to purchase the equipment, but overall it pays for itself in three years.” Just one of their stores, for example, has cut their bill by over 60% by switching to NEWT. Dave says that the savings each month “pays for one of those headsets so the ROI over time is just amazing.”
NEWT’s Onboarding, Training, & Support is Worth Writing Home About
“When I joined Moffatt & Powell,” Dave says, “we were working on the Exeter conversion and we finished it about a month later. The NEWT trainer who did the onsite training was phenomenal. She trained all the staff on how to use the Grandstream phones and the training was very comprehensive. We’ve been able to leverage the knowledge that she imparted and apply it to the other stores as they come online with NEWT’s technology.”
“We’re currently in the middle of bringing our Hanover store online,” Dave says. “I’ve already sent all the training materials to the store manager and she was really impressed with the quality of them. Both the quality of the hardware and the quality of the documentation on how to use the hardware is phenomenal.”
The fact that NEWT has a robust infrastructure that they own, manage and maintain, instead of leveraging Cloud-based solutions, and their network team and infrastructure team knows it very intimately, and their technical support team is available with 24/7 coverage – it’s fantastic. No other CLEC that I know of is doing that, at least not in the Canadian space. – Dave Humphrey, Moffatt & Powell RONA
“Any time that I’ve had to reach out to NEWT support, they’ve been absolutely fantastic, especially the network team. And Mike Brown was an absolute saviour when our old Tillsonburg phone system died. It was a very sharp transition,” Dave explains, “because we had a Cisco unified controller for the phone lines in the store and it died. It happened on a Sunday and we reached out to Mike right away. We had to pivot very quickly to get a new system up and have the training on it, but Mike said, “Leave it with me, we’ll get this store up and running in three weeks.” And he met that goal. Monday morning he got the ball rolling with the hardware and configurations we needed and in three weeks we were back up.”
“After that I was invited to the Cambridge office to do a tour,” Dave remembers. “I got to sit down with the team and they showed me how everything was built. The level of detail that was provided blew my mind. Because of that, I was able to fully understand how everything interacts, which makes my job easier because I’m able to troubleshoot and pinpoint where the issues are.”
NEWT’s Scalable Platform Will Connect Multiple Moffatt & Powell RONA Locations and Give Them Room to Grow
“Our inter-branch communication has been drastically improved because we have them all tied together,” says Dave. “Three-digit dialing between branches makes it so much easier and we’re not tying up an outside line and an inside line at the same time, like you would with a line hunter setup, so that’s a huge benefit. And we have a toll-free number so customers can choose which branch they want to access.
Dave has been involved in the conversions of several Moffatt & Powell RONA stores to NEWT’s platform, including the Exeter and Mitchell stores shown here
“We’re about to start a renovation in our Head Office the first week of June, so I’ll be converting everyone’s phone extension to have it ring their cell phone. We have a number of people on that already and they love it because customers can reach them when they’re out of the office, but you can also set it up to not ring your cell phone when you’re in the office, so that’s a big feature. And they love the voicemail to email with the attachment because they can go into their email on their phone, listen to the message, and call someone back right away.”
“Our goal is to have all nine stores converted to NEWT by the end of Q3 2023,” says Dave. “Typically it takes between 12 and 14 weeks to bring a store online which, from a project standpoint, is not that long. There’s a lot of preplanning, and pricing to be done, quoting, and sign-offs, so 12 weeks is short in a project life cycle. When you start planning it out, you can think, “3 months from now this store will be online.” It’s really not that long.”