EE, the UK’s biggest mobile operator and part of BT Group, has announced a major expansion of its retail footprint in the UK, including a partnership with Sainsbury’s, which will add 100 EE stores by the end of 2019. The expansion will see EE extending its partnership with Sainsbury’s to create 400 customer service roles in Sainsbury’s and Argos stores across the UK. The move will see EE’s retail presence reach 700 stores and forms part of an ambition to provide 95% of the population with access to an EE store within 20 minutes’ drive.
EE is also launching a variety of new store formats: EE ‘Showcase’ stores will contain dedicated Help Hubs for customer service and areas to experience new technologies; pop-up shops and cabins will appear in shopping centres and other locations around the UK; and mobile EE shops in vans will serve customers in the most remote areas. In the last year, EE has made industry-leading improvements to customer service on the phone and online through 100% UK & Ireland call centres, as well as investing in improved online chat capabilities and the new My EE app. EE is now investing in providing in-person customer service through its growing number of retail stores.
CEO Marc Allera said: “We provide some of the best customer service of any mobile operator in the UK, and we’ve learned there’s no substitute for getting help from an expert in person. I know our customers prefer to talk to real people in our UK and Ireland call centres. We’re investing in more people in our customer service teams, more stores for them to serve customers from, and exciting new technology that will help our teams provide even better service. Alongside our mission to provide superfast 4G to every corner of the UK, this expansion aims to provide all of our customers with a premium, personal service no matter where they are located.”
The retail expansion will include investment in new retail formats such as pop-ups and mobile stores, as well as an overhaul of EE’s Showcase stores which puts the emphasis on trying new products and great service. The Showcase stores will contain dedicated service areas called Help Hubs, as well as experiential zones which allow customers to try out the latest products such as Google Home, Apple Watch and Samsung VR headsets. The first of these flagship stores which have been refurbished include London’s Tottenham Court Road, Westfield Stratford and White City, and Nottingham Victoria.
EE is continuing to invest significantly in digital channels, with improvements to online chat support, and the My EE app which now provides 24 hour support to more than nine million users, and all customers can access My EE online. EE is also launching the trial of an in-store video calling service giving customers the ability speak to specialist customer service teams. EE has also updated its repair service with a ‘Mend & Lend’ option, which gives customers a like-for-like replacement when their device is being sent away for repair.
The retail expansion builds on recent service initiatives, including becoming the first UK-wide mobile network operator to provide Welsh language customer service. EE’s Merthyr Tydfil contact centre now offers Welsh language as an option, and EE’s retail stores across the country are increasing the number of Welsh speakers.
4G in more places and the UK’s fastest speeds
EE’s 4G network expansion continues, with more than 100 sites a week being built or upgraded. 4G from EE is now available across more than 80% of the UK geography. Rural areas in Wales, Scotland and England will see huge boosts in 4G coverage as EE works towards its unique ambition to provide 4G coverage to 95% of the UK Geography by 2020. EE is also continuing to deploy superfast 4G+ technology, providing additional capacity in busy areas of the UK and enabling real world speeds of more than 400Mbps across sites in London and Cardiff. The latest 4G technology will be deployed in Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh within the next 12 months.
EE’s constant upgrades to 4G coverage and capacity build a platform for 5G. EE gave Europe’s first demonstration of pre-standard 5G technology and Europe’s first ‘Gigabit 4G’ demonstration this summer. EE is working to prepare the UK for 5G networks which are built on the foundation of widespread, superfast 4G coverage.