We have had emails from both Vodafone UK and Three UK confirming their plans to reopen stores this month in some form or another to help customers
Below are both releases with more information if you were interested.
From 15 June, Vodafone will be re-opening 65 of our retail stores, and if all goes well, we’ll open around 300 more a week later.
At this early stage, we’ll be keeping some of our stores in inner London closed because they are in locations that most of our retail colleagues would need to take public transport to get to. We don’t want them to do this at the moment.
The safety of our colleagues and customers remains our number one priority.
Our retail teams have done a fantastic job while working from home, quickly getting trained up to support our customers online using webchat and other tools. But many of our customers still prefer face-to-face help, support and guidance.
In fact, we’ve learned from our stores in Italy and Spain that around half of store interactions are with customers just needing technical support and advice – we’re not all about selling phones and broadband services.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that half of our stores are franchise businesses run by self-employed people. We’ve supported them during lockdown, but at some point, we, and they, have to reopen. So the question became how to do this as safely as possible and how to do it in a way that ensures our retail colleagues feel comfortable going back into the stores.
We are one team and I want everyone to feel comfortable with the decision to re-open the stores
Our specialist retail teams came up with preliminary plans, but we made sure to check them with our retail colleagues first. Because the people who work in our stores understand their stores best and understand our customers best.
We’ve worked really hard to make this a dialogue, listening and responding to our colleagues’ concerns and adapting our plans accordingly.
Of course, we’ve taken all the steps you’d expect to make our stores are safe as possible. We’ve:
- deep-cleaned them and sprayed them with anti-bacterial treatments;
- installed alcohol-based hand gel at all entrances, and provided personal protective equipment (PPE) to staff;
- installed perspex protective screens at all our customer service points (that’s more than 2,000 stations rebuilt);
- removed all display devices to reduce surface contamination risk (stock will only be brought out when we make a sale);
- limited the number of customers allowed in store at any one time to maintain social distancing guidelines;
- ensured staff have their own sales terminal that only they will use to reduce the chance of cross-contamination by other members of staff;
- instigated set shift patterns so staff will always work with the same group of colleagues;
- asked staff to avoid public transport, and if they can’t get to the store any other way, to continue working from home;
- equipped staff with a personal stylus so they can help customers without the need to touch their devices; and
- ensured our stores remain cashless to reduce contamination risk and the time it takes to process transactions.
We’ve also reimagined the lay-outs of all our stores and, in some that are too small to allow effective social distancing, we’ve set up kiosks at the front door instead.
And we wouldn’t be re-opening if we didn’t think our retail colleagues were happy with the safety measures we’ve taken. A survey of 1,540 of them revealed strong support for these precautions, because we took their feedback into consideration. It’s been a collaborative process all the way.
Each retail colleague will receive training in how to work safely and responsibly in this new environment, and anyone who’s vulnerable – or living with someone vulnerable – will not have to return to work in-store. We understand that while for most people the risk is now thought by the Government to be manageable, this isn’t true for all.
We’ll also continue to support our colleagues with online health and wellbeing consultations should they want them – the crisis may be receding, but it’s not over yet.
So we believe we’ve taken every measure possible to keep our colleagues and customers safe, but we want to see how the first phase works in practice – and what we can learn – before we open all the other stores.
We will keep listening and adapting as the situation changes
And if there is a resurgence of COVID-19 in an area near where we have stores open, we can close them again and redeploy our staff to working from home, as we’ve done before.
At Vodafone, our colleagues matter to us. We are one team and I want everyone to feel comfortable with the decision to re-open the stores. I’ve been delighted by the positive feedback and great insights shared by our retail colleagues so far, and by the way they adapted to new ways of helping our customers.
We will keep listening and adapting as the situation changes, so we can help our customers in the way they prefer to be helped, while keeping colleagues as safe as possible.
Finally, I’d like to give a huge thank-you to our retail teams for going above and beyond in their efforts to ready our stores for this new way of working. It makes me really proud to work for such an amazing company. Well done to all of you.
Three UK to reopen more than 250 stores in England on 15th June
- Number of customers allowed in store will be restricted initially along with reduced opening hours
- New measures to be introduced to protect customers and staff
- Stores in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will open at a later date
5 June: Three UK has today announced it will be reopening more than 250 stores across England on 15 June, introducing new social distancing and operational measures to protect staff and customers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To ensure customers feel safe and supported, all reopened stores will be operating with reduced hours from 10:00-16:00. Anyone who attends a store will be admitted if the store has capacity or given a time to return if the store is busy.
This is part of a phased reopening approach that will be continuously reviewed alongside government guidance to ensure that social distancing guidelines are adhered to.
The number of people permitted instore will vary depending on the size of the store. When it is safe to do so, more customers will be allowed in store at one time.
In this initial phase, Three is introducing a number of special measures and equipment, including:
- Ensuring the health of Three staff: In line with government advice, any staff member displaying COVID-19 symptoms will be instructed to self-isolate.
- Reduced staff – To ensure their safety, each store will operate with reduced staff, based on the size of the store.
- ‘Wait here’ signs – Stores will display ‘wait here’ signs to manage the number of customers in stores at any one time.
- Social distancing floor stickers – Floor stickers will help remind customers of the recommended two-metre social distancing rules.
- Perspex screens – Stores will have screens on till point areas to protect customers and staff.
- Hand sanitiser units – All stores will have hand sanitiser for customers to use when entering and leaving.
- Customer handsets – Staff will be advised not to touch customer handsets unless completely essential. All staff will be provided with gloves.
- Enhanced cleaning frequencies – More frequent cleaning of regular touchpoints to be introduced.
Elaine Carey, Chief Commercial Officer, Three UK, said: “We have carefully considered how we can reopen our retail stores in a changed operating environment and will be introducing a number of new measures to help our colleagues and customers feel safe when visiting our stores.
“The wellbeing of our people and customers has remained at the forefront of our decision making as we work through the impact of COVID-19. While we know our stores will look and feel very different, we’re looking forward to reopening our doors so that we can start to serve our customers on high streets and local communities once more.”
Three stores in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will also reopen in due course, pending government guidance.
For those customers unable to get to a store, support is available via the Three website or the Three app. Customers are able to have a one-to-one chat with an advisor on Three Store Now and product demos are available via Three Live.