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Connecting the team and clients during lockdown at Candy Gillespie

Kobus Retief
Apr 16, 2020 5:46:48 PM


The Problem

When the COVID-19 lockdown forced accounting firm Candy Gillespie’s 30 staff to work from home, they turned to Cradle to keep the phones running. The online calling service enabled the firm to continue providing certainty to clients during a time of extreme uncertainty.


Candy Gilespie's Background

Since 1962, Matamata-based accounting firm Candy Gillespie’s have prided themselves on being friendly and accessible to their clients. With a team of 30 staff, their business is helping their clients’ businesses succeed and this means being in close contact, most often over the phone, and especially during difficult times like the coronavirus pandemic lockdown.

Director and grandson of the founder Michael Candy says the firm is a brick and mortar firm that provides full-service financial advice. 

“As a team, we’re all under one roof and our receptionist answers and directs all calls to the right team member. Working together is not only good for our culture, staff engagement, and team morale, but it’s great for our customers. They know what number to call and where we are, and that means they can – and do – call or drop in any time.”

“We’ve learnt that clients prefer the familiarity of a voice during times of uncertainty like the pandemic, so we had to provide a continuity of service,” says Michael.


The Challenge

Level 4 lockdown measures during the pandemic require all non-essential businesses, like Candy Gillespie, to work from home to stop the virus spreading.

“Our team of 30 in one office needed to become 30 different bubbles working from home, but unfortunately our existing phone system couldn’t make that work – we could take our thin client work computers home, but we couldn’t take our desk phones,” says Michael.

Another challenge for the firm was protecting their team’s privacy while they work remotely. Not all staff have work mobiles, and while most are happy to use their mobile phones when need be, many feel uncomfortable giving out their personal mobile phone number to clients, fearing intrusions on their personal lives with customers potentially calling at all hours.


The Solution

The solution was simple, installation was quick, and up skilling staff was minimal.

Staff downloaded the Cradle app to their mobile phones – it functions like a Phone or Skype app, except it also includes a contacts page with all staff and client contacts (drawn from HubSpot, Office 365, G-Suite, and Xero). This enabled instant two-way communication between team members and to clients from anywhere with a 4G mobile or Wi-Fi connection.

Cradle allows the team to dial out with the existing Candy Gillespie office telephone number when staff make outbound calls to clients. This stops personal mobile phone numbers showing, protecting the privacy of staff, and it gives clients certainty about who’s calling, saving them the discomfort of an unknown number calling.

As for inbound calls, clients still call the existing office number. A voicemail message then explains that the team are all working remotely and asks callers to dial a new number. To remove the need of calling a new number, Candy Gillespie’s existing telephone number can be ported to Cradle, but the current process takes 10 working days and, unfortunately, due to the two-day notice period on the lockdown, the team could not wait that long.

“Cradle was an absolute no brainer,” says Michael, “it was up and running on the same day and the learning curve for the team was minimal because the app is very intuitive and links to our existing client contacts.”

The Outcome

For the Candy Gillespie team there were three key outcomes:

1.  Customer service continuity:

Cradle allowed Candy Gillespie to continue delivering a first-class client experience from anywhere. In fact, during the first week of the lockdown, the team made or received 387 external calls from clients, spending a total of 34.75 hours on the phone.

The onset of the pandemic and subsequent lockdown presented unprecedented financial challenges for many of Candy Gillespie’s clients, and it was absolutely imperative for the team to keep in contact with clients via telephone. 

“A phone call gives an intimate experience where you can listen and respond appropriately to provide advice and certainty, and certainty is what clients value during times of uncertainty,” says Michael.

2.  A connected team: 

Despite having to leave the office and split into 30 separate bubbles for the lockdown, Cradle enabled the team to remain in contact with each other. In the first week of the lockdown, the team made 57% more internal calls [145 vs. 228] compared to the year prior, with the average call duration increasing by 296% from 53 seconds to 210.

3.  Protecting staff privacy and work-life balance:

While it was critical for the team to remain in close contact with their clients, Cradle allowed the team to configure their call settings to show the office telephone number on all outbound calls to clients. This meant staff could use their personal mobiles (at no additional cost to the individual) without disclosing their personal mobile numbers, protecting both their privacy and work-life balance.


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