O2 will use virtual queuing technology and new store design to safely open its shops to customers and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic.
At these ‘future stores’, all customers will skip the queues and instead join a virtual system, receiving a text when an advisor is ready to assist them in a personal one to one appointment.
NHS and Care Workers who show their ID badges will also be given VIP access to skip the queue to speak to an advisor in store.
O2’s store team spent the first phase of lockdown working with experts to redesign its stores to keep them safe for customers when they were able to reopen. Through a series of trials, the team addressed problems including small shop space and face to face customer service, creating a more personal appointment system.
O2 has also used tech to help thousands of UK SMBs to keep trading during lockdown, with video consultation services and tools for remote working.
Gareth Turpin, sales, service and retention director, O2, said: “Retail has changed in the wake of COVID-19, and we need to make sure we adapt to that change. We have regrouped and worked out how our stores and our tech can be used to help customers and staff. The result is a more personal service which also saves customer waiting time. We look forward to welcoming everyone back to our stores to see the changes for themselves.”
Lisa Johnson, store leader at O2’s Sittingbourne store said: “From up skill training to online learning and daily video interactions, we feel fully supported to return back to store knowing we can meet the needs of our customers in the safest way. I have really missed being away from store and can’t wait to return to welcome my team and customers back.”
As a result of the trials, and in line with government guidelines, the following process will be in place in stores:
· Social distancing measures throughout each store, with clear two metre floor markings
· Personalised service with a limit on the number of customers in-store at any one time
· Appointment system to make sure customers are not held in unnecessary queues or kept waiting
· Contactless payment limit has been increased to £45 with email receipts.
· All employees will be equipped with the appropriate PPE, including gloves and face coverings
· Screens at all open service areas
· Enhanced cleaning processes across stores with all product displays, furniture and chairs to be sanitised after every customer
O2 took the decision to close retail stores ahead of government guidance on 24 March. Stores across England are confirmed to reopen on 15 June with O2 stores across Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales due to reopen pending further guidance.