About Hillarys Blinds.
Hillarys Blinds, based in Nottingham, are the leading supplier and manufacturer of made-to-measure blinds and window coverings in the UK.
As the market leader with an annual turnover of over £100m, Hillarys Blinds recognise the importance of communications to the growth and success of their business. Whether it’s providing product information to customers in the home, facilitating a smooth production process, delivery, fitting and excellent customer service - communication is at the heart of their business. Choosing its key ICT partners carefully and investing strategically in new technology is an essential part of their business success.
BT has been working with Hillarys Blinds for well over a decade. The arrival of Julian Bond, the current Head of ICT, to Hillarys Blinds in 2006 provided BT Account Director Robert Barr with the opportunity to develop a deeper partnership, drawing on his extensive experience from customers facing similar challenges. This has been the foundation for transforming the company’s communications platform, and for their choice of BT as their key communications partner.
Robert has put together a team of specialists to support Hillarys Blinds with expertise in all the key areas. His knowledge of the business is kept fresh by talking to the team from board level to the factory floor on a regular basis, so he understands the intricacies of the business and its communications needs, therefore enabling him to recommend technology that‘s right for them.
1. To enhance the customer experience, and to optimise the performance of sales teams on the road, BT have delivered critical components of a Field Force Automation solution
2. To facilitate the most efficient system for both consumer and internal calls, BT Business recommended and implemented an all new Communications System
3. To make sure the main sites and employees all over the country can communicate reliably and securely, BT Business advised on the design and then delivered a Wide Area Network linking the three key sites to Hillarys Blinds ICT infrastructure.
With the traditional paper process, the sales teams would write out a paper order, then send, fax or phone it through to head office. The process was labour-intensive and therefore costly, prone to mistakes, and time consuming – customers would have to wait days before they even knew what they had ordered was available.
The switch to a PDA based system has revolutionised the way Hillarys Blinds work. It’s a vastly more efficient service for the customer, supplying instant detail about product features, prices and availability.
Information is updated automatically, communicating real-time updated between field sales advisors and head office. They know what their work schedule looks like at any given time, and quotations generated in the home are converted to an outbound sales team at head office more quickly and efficiently.
It’s hard to overplay the positive effects Field Force Automation has had on Hillarys Blinds. It has revolutionised the way we do business.
Sales Advisor, Hillarys Blinds.
This year Hillarys Blinds are moving to a next generation mobile application , providing an improved in-home experience for customers and advisors alike. Robert Barr has used BT’s expertise in mobile devices and links with global manufacturers such as Samsung as part of maintaining BT’s important role in the new solution. With improved features such as larger screens, SMS alerts and instant receipts the field sales force continue to improve the customer experience.
BT’s expertise has also been used to help with a bespoke billing solution for the 1,000 self employed sales advisors, taking that particular headache away from the Hillarys Blinds team and freeing up valuable resource to focus on the business.
Hillarys Blinds UK call centre receives over 16,000 calls a week and the existing system was no longer able to cope with the volume of calls. The rapidly growing business needed a scalable solution that was capable of handling the volume of calls and routing them efficiently.
BT recommended and implemented the Avaya Contact Centre 6 solution. With it, call centre associates can deploy ‘skillset routing’, enabling calls to be routed to the available person most likely to be able to solve a problem. Less time is spent trying to direct calls, as associates already know who is available.
Hillarys Blinds also need to be able to track marketing activity – specific advertising campaigns, messages, or different media – to accurately determine the return on investment of its marketing budget. BT provide in the region of 800 different 0800 numbers, so that each source of sales lead can be individually identified.
As we know how much each lead costs to generate, it doesn’t take long for the cost to accumulate if I lose my contact centre. I trust BT to deliver a reliable system; I know their engineers by name, they work locally and bend over backwards to provide a great level of support.
Julian Bond, Hillarys Blinds Head of ICT
1,100 staff work at Hillarys Blinds three main sites, with a further thousand field-based sales advisors working remotely. The need for a reliable, scaleable and secure network is of paramount importance. With the continued growth of online orders they also needed constant uninterrupted access to the internet.
BT provided a WAN (Wide Area Network) solution connecting the three main sites – two in Nottingham, one in Washington – with Ethernet Services and IP Converge; and resilient access to the internet provided by BTnet Leased Lines connected to both Nottingham sites.
The system capacity is scaleable to the extent that any upgrades to bandwidth can be completed within days rather than weeks. It is fully maintained and managed by BT, so there is no reliance on any other provider and BT can identify, diagnose and deploy resource to solve problems before they affect the business.
Having BT as the key supplier looking after my managed network gives me great peace of mind, as well as a single point of contact when issues do arise.
Julian Bond, Hillarys Blinds Head of ICT.
Continued investment for continued growth.
Despite the economic slump, Hillarys Blinds has continued to grow market share. The ability to convert more sales opportunities from its Field Force Automation solution has realised £millions in extra revenue since implementation.
By implementing the new call centre solution, Hillarys Blinds has significantly improved internal efficiency and productivity. They can also handle an increasing number of calls while maintaining high service standards.
Communication is the backbone of Hillarys Blinds, from fielding customer calls to the production line. Getting it right is an absolute must. A robust, scalable and secure networking solution helps Hillarys Blinds continue to succeed. As the internet becomes an increasingly important channel for sales leads, customer communication and e-commerce, the need for BTnet’s 100% uptime target and ‘always on’ Internet access has never been more important to Hillarys Blinds, and will enable its online presence to go from strength to strength.
BT continue to be a key partner in the success of the Hillarys Blinds business.
Julian Bond, Hillarys Blinds
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