Three Store Now: keeping our customers connected and our teams motivated

Elaine Carey, Chief Commercial Officer, Three UK and Ireland

As we face almost a full year grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clear that our mobile phones are now more important than ever. They have been a lifeline for staying connected to our friends and family, helping kids across the country do their schoolwork and providing us with our daily dose of entertainment. In fact, it is no surprise that two in five even say their phone is the only way they have been able to maintain a social life during this time.*

But the pandemic has also made phones harder to maintain, harder to repair, harder to buy – with non-essential retail facing its third month of closures during the third national lockdown.

At the same time, like the rest of the mobile industry, we have hundreds of retail workers up and down the country, ready and willing to support customers, but without the usual environment to do so.

That’s why we accelerated the rollout of Three Store Now, bringing the personal shopping experience to consumers across the UK, from the safety of their sofa.

Using Three Store Now, customers can be connected to dedicated store advisors who are able to answer questions, offer advice about technical issues and information on the perfect phone to suit a customer’s lifestyle.

Initially launched at the end of 2018, it was an initiative we were rolling out to help people purchase their ideal phone and contract remotely, while navigating busy lives. As it became clear we faced a prolonged period of lockdown restrictions, our tech and retail teams worked tirelessly to ensure we could make this widely available.

In just three days we went from Three Store Now being in 75 stores to every single Three store across the UK – a total of 311. In fact, we are the first and the only network in the UK to offer this service to our customers.

Providing this service means, each advisor can send images and videos live, tailoring their advice to each person.

With just under 400 retail employees working in these roles throughout the pandemic we’ve been able to maintain this human interaction with new and existing customers. Each of these advisors have added their own personality to the function so that customers can get the same level of in-person support and enthusiasm they would have received pre-COVID, but from the comfort and safety of their home.

In January alone, the team answered more than 50,000 chats through Three Store Now and spent 20,000 hours supporting customers through this service. And we’re happy to say that many of them have joined Three and become part of our customer community.

We knew that to deliver this service effectively, we needed to keep our employees motivated through the pandemic. To do that, we rolled out a number of initiatives to support mental health and help people manage a healthy work-life balance. We launched Mental Health First Aid training for all our store managers, encouraged our people to maintain the ‘watercooler chat’ virtually on Microsoft Teams, and also introduced ‘Starter for Three’, which are live broadcasts with people from across the business talking about how they got started at the company – all to help support people’s health and encourage interaction across different functions. And for those with children, our Discovery team put on some half-term learning and entertainment to help reduce pressures on working parents.

I’m hugely grateful to all my colleagues and teams who have ensured we could continue serving the public, delivering connectivity at a time when it couldn’t be more important. We know how valuable this has been for our customers.

As we look forward to hopefully reopening our retail stores in April, we will be keeping our virtual doors open both now and beyond the pandemic.

* Survey results gathered from nationally representative sample of 2,000 people conducted November 2020 by Three

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