IT services and solutions for retail and hospitality


IT Support
  • 18 Sep

The Evolution of IT Support

IT Support: from early beginnings to critical importance Through the decades the notion of IT support has changed radically. From the well-known and much parodied ‘try turning it off and on again’ cliché of years gone by to the troubleshooting systems and proactive support we see in use today, the industry has altered greatly. 1980s Following Microsoft being founded in 1975, the 1980s saw computers and the technology that powered them reaching the masses. No longer reserved for the domain of scientists and high-tech businesses, desktop computers began to seep into the fabric of society. With this move came the need for IT technicians to support them. The problems they were called on to solve centred around keeping computers connected to mainframes and installation. 1990s With computers becoming standard technology in offices across the country during the 1990s, internet connections soon followed within the same decade. This rapid adoption, which saw individuals as well as companies relying for the first time on machines and methods of working that were entirely new to them, meant that the need for IT support expanded too. Where a business may have made do with a single member of staff handling technical issues, they suddenly found themselves overwhelmed.  As a result, outsourcing IT support was introduced, and people found themselves describing IT problems over the phone. Email and live chat became a way of communicating problems that started to become more common as the internet continued to increase in popularity with the dotcom bubble. 2000s As computers embedded themselves firmly in day-to-day life, so the nature of IT support changed in the 2000s. With reduced barriers to entry, new technology companies were formed, cloud storage became widespread, and apps entered the marketplace for the first time. Once again, demand for IT support staff expanded, as the ease in which small companies and individuals could launch websites, apps and other digital facilities continued to grow. During this period, remote desktop support became more prominent. This allowed IT support teams to access computers remotely and perform diagnostics checks, making the process of eliminating problems smoother and quicker for the user. The Future With cloud migration becoming increasingly popular, the trend to outsource managed services is set to continue its growth. Managed service providers bring the capability to streamline and devote attention directly to a business; a departure from the way in which IT support has operated in the past. Whilst problems were previously fixed as and when they occurred with billing for the work done, now proactive support is available as a fixed-cost model with shared services to benefit from. Under a subscription model, work is undertaken on a proactive basis with a contractual agreement looking to provide a constructive and forward-thinking attitude to IT support. A demand for 24×7 IT support will continue to be of critical importance as businesses operate online, with customers accessing their services in different time zones across the world, and expecting excellent customer service around the clock.  Increasingly high standards with…
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Retail IT Services
  • 3 Jul

Behind the Scenes at Vue: Retail Assist’s Help Desk

In the second instalment of our Help Desk ‘Behind the Scenes’ blog, we present our latest video filmed with our customer, Vue. We have supported all Vue cinemas across their UK estate for 8 years. Vue now has 86 cinemas throughout the UK and Ireland, with 839 screens. Watch the video on our YouTube channel here. As Vue’s Head of Technical Services comments, if one of the cinema screens is down, the Retail Assist team provides critical systems support to identify any issues, and get the screen back up and running, so that the service Vue provides to its customers is not affected. Available 24 hours a day, the Help Desk supports Vue’s peak periods, such as evenings and weekends. Retail Assist recently supported Vue to roll out paperless ticketing technology: “Retail Assist are the backbone to supporting that technology”. Our project management team is on hand to ensure that the brand benefits from latest technology innovations. Vue originally looked to Retail Assist to improve IT alignment across a growing estate; the teams on the ground needed no confusion when it came to IT support, with just one number to call. The chain had experienced significant growth in the UK and internationally, through the acquisitions of the Apollo UK, CinemaxX and Multikino estates. This created a business with a growing IT infrastructure. The single point of contact for problem resolution was key for clarity across the business and speeding up resolution time, and the scalability of the international Help Desk support provided an adaptable support partner for Vue’s growing business needs. It’s not just cinemas we support: in the hospitality and leisure sector, Retail Assist supports nearly 700 restaurants, and 230 coffee shops for leading global chains. Want to see how our hospitality and retail IT services could support your customer experience? Please get in touch at marketing@retail-assist.co.uk Special thanks to Vue for partnering with us for this production.…
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retail Help Desk
  • 26 Jun

Behind the scenes: Retail Assist’s Help Desk

It’s great to share our new video with you, showcasing our award-winning Help Desk service. Are your IT systems and technology supported for you to deliver the best customer experience? Our latest video shows the benefits of our Help Desk in action at Mint Velvet.  With experts immediately on hand, and the problem resolved on the call, we’re supporting leading retail brands including Mint Velvet as an extension of their IT team, for dependable, 24 x 7 IT support. Jacki, a style advisor at Mint Velvet in Solihull, comments on why the Help Desk service is so valuable to the brand – “it’s quick, efficient, the team is always there when you need them, solving problems whilst keeping the situation calm”. As you can see, a small glitch in their point-of-sale system risks losing a customer sale, but a quick call to the Help Desk resolves the issue before it impacts the customer experience. Latest findings reveal that our Help Desk has also performed above and beyond industry averages across a range of service delivery benchmarks, including 4 x the support capacity, and 10% higher performance against Service Level Agreements. Industry seal of approval from the Service Desk Institute means our customers are also benefiting from an award winning team of multilingual call analysts for international Help Desk support. Last year, the team was recognised globally as the industry’s Best Managed Service Desk. Click here to view the retail IT support video on our YouTube channel. It’s not just retail we specialise in: click here to view our hospitality Help Desk video on our YouTube channel. Thanks to Vue for partnering with us for this production, and look out for the blog next week.…
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International Help Desk
  • 30 Jan

Help Desk: Top 5 Stats

Last week, we released our latest infographic based on the annual results from our Help Desk. We’re proud to perform 10 x better than industry standard IT Support. Here are our top 5 takeaways from the report.   SLAs A key statistic identified from our annual results was the outstanding performance in relation to our service level agreements. Agreed with every customer, it is our aim to end every call to our Help Desk with a positive result, the problem solved, and a happy customer. For example, achieving an average first line fix rate of 81% in 2016 exceeds our customer expectation. Understanding the customer We have created an environment within our service delivery teams which truly understands customers’ requirements. We employ analysts who have worked in the front line of retail/hospitality, and therefore understand the environments in which our customers operate, and encourage them to improve upon the specialist support provided to our customers, through intensive on-site training at some of the UK’s leading retail and hospitality brands. Actively spending time on the front-line at customer sites, the team have worked above and beyond their daily roles to deliver a more engaging service experience, by gaining a deeper understanding of how the business works. Retail Assist is external part of the customers’ own teams, developing closer business relationships that allow the analysts to deliver a service that fits the customers’ exact needs. Benefits of outsourcing Outsourced Retail IT services such as our 24 x 7 Help Desk offer a flexible alternative to in-house teams, and a more cost effective solution. A good Help Desk should match its support service to its customers’ trading hours. To make this possible, many businesses supplement in-house teams with outsourced resources, which offer more hours of supports and a breadth of skills that comes from using a shared service. This means that we deal with issues as and when they arise, helping drive internal processes and provide efficient restoration of service. Playing a ‘behind the scenes’ role, our Help Desk save time whilst increasing profit by delivering greater systems uptime at the point-of-service. We have the support capacity to do this with a scalable service.  Multiple language support Hello, Bonjour, Guten Tag, Hola, Ciao, Hallo, Szia, Olá, cześć . . . Did you know, our international Help Desk services are offered in 9 European languages, roughly double the amount of core languages offered by industry standards. Our customers with international stores appreciate the value added by our call analysts resolving IT issues in native technical language – better relationships are developed, and a superior level of customer service is experienced by the end user. We’re proud to understand not only the customer’s technical environment, but also the cultural diversity of supporting stores in different countries. In line with our incident reduction mentality, being able to solve incidents quickly delivers greater uptime at the point of service for the customer, which saves both time and money. We have systems in place that direct customers’ calls…
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international help desk support
  • 8 Aug

International Help Desk Support

Who’s looking after your IT systems overseas? Wouldn’t it be great to have the peace of mind that everything is looked after, 24 x 7. Commerce stops for nobody. If no one’s ensuring maximum uptime of your IT systems, you could be risking lost sales, and a negative customer experience. Our international Help Desk support enables you to trade without disruption or downtime. Cover is as much or as little as required: if you wish to boost support during seasonal periods of peak trading, add multilingual support for your international stores, or outsource resource outside of the traditional 9-5 remit, we’re here to help deliver your exact requirements. Pizza Hut Restaurants, Bidvest Logistics, Karen Millen and World Duty Free Group are just some of the brands we support, who are reaping the benefits of reduced disruption to service. If you have a global store estate, or international expansion is on the horizon, having a globally minded service desk may be critical for your growing IT and technology infrastructure. When outsourcing your IT support to Retail Assist, not only will you benefit from a shared service model, but also a fixed fee; our cost-effective approach means that you are not charged per incident. For example, last year, though the number of stores we support increased by 8%, the number of incidents our customers experienced fell by 10%. With international expansion across nine territories and the acquisition of 4 cinema groups, Vue Cinemas came to us in 2009 for IT support services to support their rapidly expanding cinema estate and IT infrastructure. With increased business reliance on IT, Vue identified a critical need for a more streamlined support services network: one service desk to own all calls, and one number for staff to call. Retail Assist’s IT Help Desk will be on the other end of the phone to efficiently resolve any IT or systems issues that disrupt trading; whatever the time, whatever the location. 40% of our expert team is bilingual, ensuring better relationships with store teams on the ground across the globe. Our international Help Desk support provides 24×7 IT support through a single point of contact to over 30 customers in a wide range of business sectors. In this way, we enable brands to provide the best experience for their customers, maximising sales whilst minimising disruption. There’s a big market to engage, so ensure you’re supported to position your brand in the best possible way!    …
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international help desk support
  • 13 Jun

SITS 16 takeaways: Service Desk and IT Support Show

Last week we attended SITS 16, the Service Desk and IT Support Show for industry professionals, at Kensington Olympia. It was a great opportunity to meet up with familiar faces, chat to partners and network with new ones. With nearly half of IT Professionals looking to upgrade their current Service Desk solution in the next 24 months, today’s blog brings you the latest industry insights from the show. As this year’s winners of Best Managed Service Desk at the Service Desk Institute’s annual IT Service & Support Awards, it was great to catch up with their Directors and Research team at the Service Desk Institute‘s stand. We enjoyed speaking about the latest developments in our Help Desk team and to our technology – especially App Academy. App Academy is an online e-learning platform used by our customers to learn best practice by way of our applications to increase operational efficiency. As noted in the SDI’s latest benchmarking report, self-service usage has increased to 81%, and so is a valuable tool for our Help Desk customers to increase their knowledge and self-deliver simple fixes. As a forward thinking business, invested in the quality of our service delivery, we would highly recommend entering the SDI Awards. The awards process really helped us to identify our key areas for development, part of our continuous improvement process that is embedded in our team’s DNA. As well as complementing our improvement, the Awards have played a key part in our Help Desk culture, providing the team with a huge boost. The Award is a well-deserved recognition for their work in supporting the leading UK retail and hospitality businesses worldwide. Here are some of our key takeaways from the Expo: Customer Satisfaction Did you know that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationships without ever interacting with a human? This notable statistic is research from Gartner, shared by Hannah Price from TOPdesk UK in her seminar on customer satisfaction metrics. With interaction on the decline, it’s more important than ever to engage your customer in the most relevant way possible, and customer feedback is one of the most important assets any business can tap into. That’s why we’re committed to sharing the results of our Help Desk customers’ feedback, in order to show where we’re improving based on their experiences. In summer, we’re holding a Help Desk Advisory Board with one of our most high profile hospitality customers, a leading UK coffee chain, in order to truly understand how they use the service, and how we can develop together to support their business objectives. Top 3 takeaways for a successful customer satisfaction survey? 1) Time it right – avoid busy periods, as these solicit a poor response rate 2) Talk the same language – avoid jargon and make questions easy to answer 3) Spread the good news – communicate the survey results to encourage a proactive culture and inspire confidence in the service Innovation, innovation, innovation The message from many industry experts and service…
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IT Help Desk
  • 5 Oct

IT Service Week 2015: Vote for our Help Desk!

This week, we’re participating in the Service Desk Institute’s IT Service Week, running from 5th to 9th October. It’s a great chance to showcase our Help Desk for providing brilliant support to our customers 24 x 7 x 365. There’s also a prize and trophy up for grabs from the SDI, so we’re encouraging our Help Desk customers to vote for us to become the Top IT Service Desk of 2015, by filling in this quick 2 minute survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/VR2ZRFB. So, what are the top 5 reasons you should vote for our IT Help Desk to be Top IT Service Desk? 1) Our Help Desk is UK based, at our Head Office Support Centre in Nottingham, but our multilingual call analysts speak 7 languages and support over 200 international stores. We are supporting our customers in French, Spanish, Italian, German, Polish, Portuguese and Hungarian. Our customer Karen Millen experienced a 55% reduction in problem resolution time overseas just 6 months after using our dedicated multilingual service. 2) Our unique service provision benefits from call analysts with front-line retail and hospitality experience. They understand our customers’ problems first hand, and how critical the impact of issues like till downtime can be. We’re supporting big retail and hospitality brands such as Vue Cinemas, Cath Kidston, Karen Millen and more. 3) 24 x 7 x 365  support: customers are truly supported around the clock for peace of mind that their systems are up and running when they need it most. This not only means that out of hours and non-standard trading hours are covered, but global time difference is also no issue. 4) We provide a single point of contact, for 100% visibility of IT issues from one single source, regardless of where they are throughout your business. Our customers experience faster resolution times due to this trusted and transparent relationship. 5) Perhaps our proudest asset to date: we were an SDI Awards Finalist in our first year of entering this year, for the category of Best Managed Service Desk. We’re looking forward to next year’s Awards after implementing continual improvements to our service levels, and the accolade is important to us as an industry body that we set our standards by. The title of Top IT Service Desk during IT Service Week would mean a lot to our teams. Of course, it wouldn’t be fun without prizes! So, over the course of the week, we’ll be closely monitoring our SLAs, and rewarding the teams who have the lowest average ring time, and have closed the most incidents. As part of the celebrations we will also end the week with “Pizza Hut Friday” to say “thank you” to the whole team, getting in pizzas for all on the Help Desk to enjoy for their hard work and 24×7. If you’re a customer of our Help Desk, or want to nominate a service desk superhero, just follow this link to a quick 2 minute survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/VR2ZRFB  – it would mean a lot to the…
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1 million Help Desk calls
  • 10 Aug

Celebrating 1 million calls: The Help Desk’s golden ticket and golden years

Last week was all about our special Golden Ticket Event, celebrating 1 million calls to our Help Desk. To celebrate this million milestone, we hid Golden Tickets in chocolate bars for our employees to find, in Nottingham, Northampton, London and Stanton Harcourt. It was a tasty treat for all, and our lucky winners received a special Golden Ticket prize. Vue Cinemas Westfield, who made call 1 million, were also rewarded with some champagne for their contribution to the milestone. However, there’s more to this event than first meets the eye. It’s not about the chocolate, the prizes, or even Willy Wonka… We wanted to thank and recognise each member of our team, the people who make the great relationships with our customers possible, and power customer engagement with big international brands 24×7. The Help Desk is really at the centre of our operations, allowing us to provide retail IT support internationally in multiple languages, work with customers across the globe, and provide critical support at all hours. You might not know that when the Help Desk came into being, in 1999, the two original team members that manned the desk and took that very first call, are still working for Retail Assist today. And when the team expanded after Retail Assist’s first retail contract was made with Adams (a childrenswear retailer), and the numbers went from 2 to 6 analysts, these members are also still here. They’ve worked with numerous customers, and changed offices twice, from Cabourn House in Bingham, to East Street in Bingham, to Friar Lane in Nottingham, where they still work today. This isn’t just nostalgia: it really speaks volumes for the development the Help Desk has experienced, and the talent and dedication these people have given back to the business. The original members of the Help Desk now work in Store Systems, Store Development, have taken up positions as Project Managers, and even in Sales. And the pattern has continued, as this video below demonstrates. Our Store Development Analyst, Jahmel, also started out as a young rookie on the Help Desk. Retail Assist values our people as our best asset, and The Help Desk is the talent pool of our company. From 2 members in 1999, we now have over 50 analysts taking around 600 calls a day, communicating in 7 international languages, and supporting over 5000 stores (over 200 of which are international). So, to our employees old and new, a big RA ‘thank you’, and we hope you’ve enjoyed our first 1 million milestone!…
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Help Desk 1 million calls
  • 3 Aug

A special Golden Ticket for the Help Desk

As you may have read in our latest Retail Assist news piece, we’ve just marked a very special ‘million milestone’ as a business. Late last week, out-of-hours at around 9pm, our IT Help Desk received its MILLIONTH call – our very own Golden Ticket. Vue Cinemas was the customer that made call number 1,000,000, the international cinema chain we’ve been supporting since 2009. The significance of the call is a testament to how we’ve developed since the company’s inception in 1999. From 1 IT support call to 1 million, the Help Desk is integral to the Managed Services we provide. Supporting brands across the world, our service desk provision is truly international; not only are our call analysts multilingual, providing support in 7 languages, but our 24x7x365 cover means time differences and out-of-hours trading are never a problem for the retailers and hospitality operators we work with. As a thank you to the Retail Assist teams that work 24×7 to support our customers trading in an omnichannel world, powering customer engagement anytime, anywhere, we’re having a company-wide Golden Ticket event. We’ll be sending each one of our employees a special chocolate delivery, and a lucky person from each of our UK offices, in Nottingham, Northampton, London and Stanton Harcourt, will be the winner of an RA Golden Ticket! Look out for these winners on our Twitter page this week, using the hashtag #GoldenTicket. At Retail Assist, we strongly believe that Our People are our most valuable asset. Next week, our ‘million milestone’ blog will focus on some of the people who have contributed to the Help Desk’s growth and development since we began, allowing us to achieve our Golden 1 millionth call ticket. The Help Desk is the talent pool of our organisation; strongly believing in personal development and internal opportunity, some of our longest serving members began at Retail Assist working on the Help Desk. In fact, the call analyst that took the millionth call is one of them. Find out more next week, and here’s to the next million!…
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Customer Engagement by Retail Assist2
  • 20 Jul

Customer Engagement Powered By Retail Assist

Our Help Desk is the hub that powers customer engagement with big name brands 24×7, across the globe. On a typical day out, see how your customer experience is supported in different retail and hospitality outlets, with our “Big Day Out” infographic:     We play a behind-the-scenes support role for all the brands featured, to ensure that their IT systems are supported to enable them to provide the best experience for their customers. Across the various touchpoints in these stores (e.g. tills in bars, coffee shops, cinemas, retail stores; inventory management systems in retail stores; ordering systems in restaurants), our Help Desk has the expert knowledge to support them for optimum performance, and coordinate incident management when things go wrong, which is critical during busy periods. And it’s not just everything you see on this page, as the journey goes beyond this. We like to think that by powering great customer engagement for brands across various business sectors, our support model enables brands to develop better relationships with more loyal customers. Recent research has shown that shoppers in particular go shopping to enjoy the end to end experience of the visit, rather than having a specific product in mind. For example, say that in the Karen Millen store pictured in our Day Out roadmap (we even support their stores in Europe, in multiple languages), one of their till systems went down, consider the impact that this might have in-store for keen shoppers. Queues, stressed staff, and a bad payment experience. Sometimes enough to put a damper on the day out.. If you can’t recover quickly enough from till downtime, consider the size of the impact that this could have in relation to lost sales, by customers abandoning their baskets. Research reveals that the longer your customers spend queueing, the less likely they are to commit to making a purchase. A survey conducted for Barclaycard discovered that 40 per cent of us refuse to queue for longer than two minutes, and 51 per cent of shoppers refuse to even enter a store if they spy a queue. Our expert Help Desk call analysts work 24x7x365 to manage incidents like till downtime, resolve them as quickly as possible, and prevent them from reoccurring. So, next time you grab a coffee, buy some new clothes, order pizza, watch a film, or go out for a drink, we might just be behind the scenes to make your big day out run smoothly.  …
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