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February 27, 2014 / sgroth28

Wireless Radio System Improves Customer Experience

Van's IGA Store located in Montana.

At Van’s IGA grocery in Great Falls, Montana, they believe their customers deserve a good, quiet and comfortable place to shop. And that’s why they partnered with Advanced Wireless Communications to help them improve their customer service with a new wireless radio system.

Wayde Anderson is the store director at Van’s IGA and he understands what his customers are looking for in a shopping experience.

“Our customers have full-time jobs, they’re busy and the last thing they want is to be in a store where they have to listen to intercom messages like ‘extra help needed in produce’ or ‘phone call for Mike on line 1’ and that sort of thing,” Anderson said. “”And they sure shouldn’t have to ask somebody where to find a grocery cart,” he added.

According to Anderson, an improved cart retrieval system was the first problem that was solved with their new wireless radio system from Advanced Wireless.

Before they purchased their new system, an employee had to notice that the store was low on carts and then go on the intercom to ask for carts to be brought in from the parking lot. But Anderson said that didn’t really solve the problem either, because the store had no speakers in the parking lot and it was a challenge to hear the store speakers from the back rooms of the facility.

“Plus, it was just one more thing our customers had to hear over the intercom to disturb their shopping experience,” Anderson said.

Wireless radios offered a solution.

Van’s had been looking for a radio system that would improve their customer service and they had purchased some in the past. But according to Anderson, the other systems were unsuccessful for a variety of reasons.

“Whether the distance was too far or the batteries weren’t holding up, it was never something that would work until our IT employee discovered Advanced Wireless,” Anderson said.

Advanced Wireless account manager Kent Pearson suggested that Van’s install a wireless call box in the front customer service area, close to the customer cart area. Van’s also purchased a set of wireless two-way radios with headsets. Headsets that could receive a wireless message from the call box.

Now, when employees come into work or are walking by the front of the store, they are instructed to look at the cart areas inside the store. Then, if the store is low on carts, the employee can push the button on the call box, which sends a pre-recorded message to several employees who can respond and take action to retrieve more carts.

“The system helps improve the customer experience and helps Van’s employees work smarter instead of harder,” Anderson said. “Employees were putting on a lot of miles running back and forth from all parts of the store and parking lot to the intercom system to restock carts,” he added.

What they bought.

Van’s radios are Kenwood TK-3230 two-way radios. They’re small and light-weight business-grade walkie-talkies that permit immediate communications among store employees through push-to-talk technology and receive notifications directly from wireless call boxes and store monitoring systems.

The radios offer an incredible combination of power, size and battery life.  At around six inches tall (including the antenna) and a mere five and a half ounces, they’re one of the smallest business radios available. And you may think that a radio this small couldn’t be durable, but with the TK-3230 that isn’t true. The radios Van’s purchased are built to military standards, making them among the toughest two-way radios on the market.

“And the radios come with headsets, which allows for totally private communications and further improves the customer experience,” Anderson said.

Van’s wireless radios were programmed with four channels by Advanced Wireless technicians. Now Van’s can designate individual channels to fit their needs. If they want their managers to communicate with each other only on a particular channel, they can do that. And if members of a particular department want to communicate with each other on another separate channel, that can be accomplished as well.

Grocery store discovers bonus benefits of wireless radio system.

Van’s IGA store director Anderson said smart cart retrieval isn’t the only benefit they’ve seen with their new wireless radio system. He said the system has also aided their loss prevention program, reduced slip and fall hazards and made their price check system more effective and less obtrusive.

But according the Anderson, the big surprise is what the system has done to improve employee professionalism.

“Aside from improving customer service and the overall customer experience, the system has helped with team building, empowered employees and made them feel high-tech and proud to work for Van’s IGA,” Anderson said. “And our employees are communicating with each other in a more professional manner, because they know everyone is listening in,” Anderson added.

Wireless radio system a game changer for Van’s IGA.

Van’s IGA store director Wayde Anderson said the wireless radio and call box system provided by Advanced Wireless Communications and account manager Kent Pearson has been a game changer for their business.

“Our employees communicate better with one another and our customers are experiencing a much better service level,” Anderson said. “I believe that if we did not find this program and have it successfully executed in our day to day operation, we would still be hollering at employees in our parking lot, still be wasting time running to the intercom to ask for a price check and still having employees calling over and over on the intercom for service because they could not be heard in the backroom,” he added.

When asked what’s next for Van’s IGA and Advanced Wireless Communications, Anderson said the store intends to add customer service call boxes in their deli, in their meat department and in other parts of the store where customers often have questions and need help.

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