The management of change

When Bunzl Vending Services acquired Coffee Point a year ago, the world of vending was buzzing at the news. After all, as Bunzl Managing Director Neil Dobbs said at the time: “This is an important acquisition and represents a substantial increase in the size of the vending business, making us the largest operator in the UK Vending market.”
Quite what Bunzl’s Call Centre team made of the deal wasn’t recorded; but as the people charged with successfully merging three Help Desks, they have a unique insight into the management of change.
The first challenge the team faced was due to the geographical spread of the Help Desks. “Coffee Point operated on a regional basis” said Abby McKinley, the company’s Call Centre Manager. “Coffee point had two centres: one in Newcastle, the other in Dagenham. Bunzl’s facility was based in Colchester.” On top of that, the companies’ help functions had operated different modus operandi, so integrating the three helpdesks into one National Call Centre took a lot of organising and planning, both strategically and logistically.
The integration operation has been addressed in two phases. Phase One, completed in April this year, took in the Dagenham operation. Phase Two, completed at the end of July, brought in Newcastle.
In total, the vending giant handles some 875 calls every day with a team of 11 Customer Service agents manning the phones. An additional 480 queries are received via e-mail and a team of six administrators log these calls accordingly. The latter number is growing, but you’re unlikely to hear team members complaining about that. Abby said: “e-mail has a lot going for it. Our National Accounts people seem to prefer it, for the simple reason that call traffic is reduced as we respond by e-mail, allocating a job reference number to each call. We can even provide customers with a spreadsheet that enables them to see how their query is progressing.”
Despite the steady rise in electronic query handling, Bunzl Vending Services has taken advantage of recent advances in the field of telephony. A state-of-the-art Inter-Tel system, recently installed, is definitely doing the business. “It’s a great management tool, giving clear and precise reports as required. The system makes for a clear audit trail and it speeds up our reaction times due to displays showing real time call activity”, said Helen Garlick, Bunzl’s Support Services Manager.
Integrating the systems has dominated Bunzl’s agenda for the past five months. The company’s customers set great store in their ability to get the help they need, when they need it; a fact that has become a unique selling point in sales presentations.
By the end of July it was all over; and Helen, Abby and their colleagues could turn their thoughts to a fortnight’s R&R somewhere hot and sunny – preferably, somewhere there are neither phones nor computers…