Since Britain went into lockdown earlier this year, new data* has revealed that 53% of the UK population – over 33 million people – have missed the experience of shopping in a physical retail store, with 37% claiming that they preferred shopping in-store to online.
In a recent poll conducted by mobile network O2, 60% of Brits claimed that they enjoy visiting their local high street to shop, with over a third (42%) expected to visit a physical store in the coming weeks. However, with 59% of people still unsure about visiting – or unable to visit – their local high street, O2 has launched a digital guru service, taking the knowledge and skills of its team of Guru experts online.
Whether people are struggling with tech issues while working from home or are unable to visit a store while juggling the day-to-day demands of their job with looking after children, O2 hopes this service will help those in most need. Findings show that 35% of Brits have missed the advice and help given by workers in physical stores, with fixing a problem with an existing device (26%), discussing a mobile contract (20%) and purchasing a new device / phone (19%) the three most-requested virtual services.
The scheme, running initially as a pilot, will see Gurus available in 121 video support sessions, offering the same level of expert support available at O2 stores across the country. These digital gurus are designed specifically to help those still working from home, providing a lifeline especially to parents in need of tech assistance but who are unable to get childcare or travel with their children to their local O2 retail location, allowing them to receive invaluable advice from the comfort of their own homes.
Gareth Turpin, Sales, Service and Retention Director, O2, said: “When it comes to shopping, we love the personal touches – great customer service, technical advice and support when help is needed. Our research has shown that customers really missed this expert advice when shopping for tech during lockdown so we’re happy that our Gurus will be able to help people virtually. We’ve seen that shoppers have a real desire to get back on the high street, but for those who can’t, we’re proud to offer our services online to help them to get the support they need.”
Lauren Crossley, Guru at O2’s store in Poole said; “As a Guru I love being able to help customers with their queries which can range from issues such as moving data between devices and accessibility assistance to general advice and problem solving. We know how much our customers value personalised service and virtual appointments will enable us to help even more people, giving them the support they need to get their best out of their tech.”
The news follows the re-opening of O2 stores across the UK, where virtual queueing technology is already used to ensure that customers are not held in queues waiting to be seen. There has been high demand for face-to-face tech support from O2 Gurus in store, and to avoid long wait times, O2 took the decision to broaden out the availability, taking Gurus online.
For the over 20 million customers who O2 found have missed a more personal service during lockdown, Gurus will also be available for in-store appointments across the country, for those able to visit their local O2 store.
O2 took the decision to close retail stores ahead of government guidance on 24th March. 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. In addition to following guidance around social distancing, O2 has implemented a number of further measures to enhance the store experience. These include using technology to provide a virtual queue system to save customer waiting time and personalised O2 Guru appointments to fast track repairs 121 post-lockdown.
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*Nationally representative polling by Portland Communications
Online fieldwork conducted between Wednesday July 22nd – Thursday July 23rd 2020 (fieldwork time: 9:00pm until 7:00am) by Portland Communications.
Total sample: 1,000 adults were interviewed located in the United Kingdom, aged 18-100.
We surveyed an online sample of respondents. We drew the sample from an online exchange, stratified by region, age and gender. Target numbers for each stratum were set by Portland based on the ONS 2016 census statistics for the UK population aged 18+. Within these required target numbers for each stratum the sample is randomly generated. We weighted our data by region, age and gender based on the ONS 2016 census statistics for the UK population aged 18+.
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