Bristol Sport oversees the business, commercial and operational interests of its affiliated clubs which include Bristol City Football Club, Bristol Bears Rugby Club, Bristol Flyers Basketball, Bristol City Women's Football and Bristol Bears Women’s Rugby. Ashton Gate is the operating company for the Bristol stadium and estate management of two elite training grounds. Ashton Gate recently underwent a major renovation and now boasts an impressive 27,000 capacity stadium and state-of-the-art meeting rooms. Aside from sporting events, the venue is also used for conferences, exhibitions, music concerts, wedding receptions, hall hire and hospitality.
Bristol Sport was not able to effectively report on their call centre data as their previous hosted telephony solution lacked the features for detailed call analysis. They needed a solution which would enable them to have full visibility of call centre performance metrics and ultimately improve customer service. They also needed an agile, flexible and secure solution that would allow for employee remote working.
Bristol Sport had a hosted telephony solution in place for 140 employees and a license for up to 20 call centre agents. However, the hosted solution wasn’t able to integrate with other systems and the reporting options and stats were very limited, hindering Bristol Sport’s decision-making to improve performance.
The call centre agents usually worked in shifts but in periods of peak call traffic, such as when season tickets went on sale, they would be inundated. Their inbound call routing only operated with one number for all departments and enquiries, which meant they would miss calls and often had to farm calls out to other departments. It was simply not an efficient way of working.
During the stadium renovation, Bristol Sport approached Bristol-based communications specialists, Blackstar Solutions (Blackstar), for advice. Blackstar reviewed their current infrastructure and recommended replacing the hosted telephony with a solution from Mitel – MiVoice Connect – to service both the stadium and call centre. An onsite, virtual platform in the stadium’s own data centre would put the telephony back under Bristol Sport’s control.
Blackstar explained how the MiVoice Connect solution would give them full visibility of performance metrics in the call centre, to ultimately enhance the customer experience. MiVoice Connect also offers numerous advanced features to increase customer service efficiencies and identify sales trends.
Mitel and Blackstar signed the order with Ashton Gate for a new MiVoice Connect telephony solution in December 2018. Bristol Sport had tight timescales as they predicted a high volume of traffic in January with upcoming concerts and ticketed event sales. It was seamlessly installed and fully operational within a month.
On Blackstar’s recommendation, Bristol Sport also implemented Inbound Call Routing, a cloud-based management portal which can queue up to 100 calls at a time, managing the heavy spikes in traffic. The service is available on both geographic (01/02) and non-geographic (08/03) numbers and is accessed through a secure, easy to use web portal.
They can also use the mobile features of the Mitel technology which was successfully trialled when the football team and Senior Leadership Team went on tour to the US. MiCloud Connect Mobility empowers employees to leverage a single converged device remotely, and access desk phone and UC capabilities on their smart phone or other mobile device without having to learn a new interface.
Blackstar also recommended heightening resilience at a system level, making use of the existing highly available infrastructure to utilise diverse internet connections at the stadium.
With the looming coronavirus threat, Bristol Sport started to look at home working strategies at the beginning of March 2020 and carried out some initial scenario planning. Whilst it was still business as usual, they tasked all of their suppliers, including Blackstar, to facilitate moving all staff to work remotely.
About a week before the official government lockdown was announced, Bristol Sport implemented a phased migration – a pressure test – where 50% of staff worked from home while the remainder were still office based. The office was ‘switched off’ at 5pm on the Friday and by 9am on the Monday, every staff member was set up and successfully working from home.
Mark Kelly, Managing Director of Ashton Gate, said,
“Bristol Sport has been able to quickly and seamlessly transition all employees to remote working, due to the scalability and agility of the Mitel technology and Blackstar’s diligence. I can hand on heart say that there has not been one issue – overall, it’s been a huge success.
Bristol Sport staff can continue to help with supporter queries over the phone, during COVID-19. This was achieved with Mitel’s Edge Gateway, a remote access solution for Mitel’s MiVoice solution.”
MiVoice Connect has the ability to break out calls for different needs, such as one-off sales, season ticket queues, meetings, events and hospitality. The football, rugby and basketball sales and enquiries all have their own lines, offering a different, customised fan experience for each sporting event. They can also set up separate call routing plans with customised call announcements.
Through the call analysis software, Bristol Sport can report back on each of the different lines and brands. They can now see when there is a spike in traffic, such as when season tickets go on sale or, like last summer, when tickets were released for concerts (which included Take That, The Spice Girls and Rod Stewart). Bristol Sport efficiently handled all of the associated call traffic and general venue enquiries. The reporting and monitoring tools are vital to help them learn about how calls are routed and to help manage the constant stream of enquiries.
Bristol Sport used to react accordingly with staff resourcing when season tickets went on sale, but now they can analyse trends and statistics from the previous year and act on the intelligence of the call data. They have full visibility of all the peaks in call traffic and can proactively build in extra resource when required.
Ultimately, they can now identify and implement customer journey improvements, as well as spotting increased revenue opportunities, ensuring the team are up-selling products and that call attendance is maximised.
The Mitel telephony solution is supported by Blackstar Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. However, it is so easy to use and manage, Bristol Sport can set up a lot of the call routing and announcements themselves. Business continuity is robust as Blackstar ensured high availability with two separate internet connectivity routes into the stadium.
Simon Edwards, Head of Operations at Blackstar Solutions, commented,
“Blackstar undertook a comprehensive review of Bristol Sport’s telephony infrastructure, deploying Mitel technology to give them contact centre reporting capabilities, flexibility and resilience. We look forward to supporting Bristol Sport for many years to come.”
The MiVoice Connect solution had been in operation for about eight months when Bristol Sport and Blackstar implemented a proactive, monthly catch-up, to discuss any training that may be needed and to fine tune the functionality of the call centre technology.
Ryan Corrigan, Head of Supporter Services for Bristol Sport, added,
“Looking at the call analysis pre and post Covid-19, agents are spending longer on calls with customers. It is even more important, during these uncertain and often lonely times for many fans, that we continue to invest in our supporters, who in turn have given Bristol Sport their loyalty over the years. The Mitel technology and support from Blackstar Solutions have both been excellent, helping us to achieve and maintain our superior levels of customer service.”
The Bristol Bears, who are proudly sponsored by Blackstar Solutions, have recently moved into a new training ground. Blackstar have provided the internet connectivity and extended the Mitel MiVoice Connect phone system into the new venue.
Bristol City Football Club will also have a new training ground on their existing site by the end of 2020. Blackstar will be providing the internet connectivity and the Mitel MiVoice Connect technology will be extended there too.