As previously published by Lexel Systems Ltd.
My Food Bag is the brain child of Founders & Group Co-CEOs Cecilia and James Robinson. The Robinson duo, former Telecom CEO Theresa Gattung and celebrity chef Nadia Lim with husband Carlos Bagrie launched My Food Bag in March 2013.
In the five years since inception, My Food Bag has grown from the original team of five to a thriving business of 170 people. Recognised as one of New Zealand’s fastest growing start-ups, My Food Bag enjoys annual revenues of more than $150m.
My Food Bag has changed the landscape of the online retail food sector. The team use only local seasonal produce and whenever possible, free-range and sustainably farmed products. The third largest food retailer in New Zealand, My Food Bag delivers delicious food and recipes to 28 towns and cities across New Zealand.
Drawing on experience from their previous start-up Au Pair Link, James and Cecilia adopted a predominantly cloud first technology strategy for My Food Bag. Microsoft Office 365 was a natural choice, meeting the company’s needs around email and productivity tools.
Not even the company masterminds could foresee just how much, and how quickly My Food Bag would grow. By mid-2016 (within 3 years of launching), My Food Bag had ballooned to a staff of 80.
Although Microsoft Office 365 had scaled with the company’s growth, My Food Bag was being impacted by a raft of other ICT related challenges.
The “traditional” technology investments, including the phone system, the network and security (all of which would have been more than sufficient for most start-ups), were straining under the weight of the company’s rapid growth.
My Food Bag had outgrown three separate offices in as many years. Making the move into one location early in 2017, it was timely to invest in new technology, supporting My Food Bag’s next phase of growth. At this pivotal time, My Food Bag enlisted the help of Lexel.
In the first instance, Lexel conducted a workshop with key stakeholders from My Food Bag to determine the present and future business requirements; ensuring they were aligned with the company’s technology roadmap. The business was being impacted broadly with a number of challenges. “It was immediately evident to the Lexel team that My Food Bag would benefit enormously by embracing Digital Transformation broadly across the business,” says Lexel account manager David Harvey.
My Food Bag’s IT Manager Amy ‘Avocado’ Vo discusses the Lexel partnership, “We enjoy working with Lexel because we can come to them with any issues that we have, or any challenges that we want to overcome. We can sit in a room and collaboratively come up with an answer that’s going to be in the best interests for our business.”
During 2017 with Lexel’s guidance and technical expertise, Microsoft Cloud technologies would fuel collaboration and productivity, rapidly transforming My Food Bag.
Overloading at the busiest times, the company’s PABX had begun to falter under significantly increased call volumes, dropping calls, and “going down” at least once a week.
My Food Bag had concerns about eroding customer satisfaction (or customer love as the My Food Bag team refer to it). “We found out through social media, our foodies (customers) saying they couldn’t get through to us. The situation had to be resolved and it had to be resolved quickly”, says IT Manager, Amy Vo.
Vo explained how the existing phone system was providing other challenges; My Food Bag was unable to glean any sort of business intelligence or visibility from call data. “We had simply maxed out our equipment, and if we had to upgrade our PABX just to add more SIP lines it was going to cost a small fortune”.
Working with Lexel, the team jointly established My Food Bag’s priority was voice. With a Microsoft Office 365 tenancy already in place, Microsoft Skype for Business online made perfect sense.
By early 2017, My Food Bag transitioned away from their onsite PABX. The underlying technology for all communications within My Food Bag was migrated by Lexel, who today deliver Microsoft Skype for Business with Enterprise Voice as a managed service. At the same time, Lexel integrated Skype for Business with My Food Bag’s contact centre, Anywhere 365.
With PSTN integration replacing the old phone system, this would easily accommodate the company’s future growth, enabling scalability. The solution also reduced cost significantly for My Food Bag through virtually eliminating calling charges.
The impact on the business and their corresponding customer satisfaction was enormous. “Since Lexel deployed Skype for Business” says Ryleigh ‘Ricotta’ Cornes, Head of Customer Love, “we have never had the phone system go down.”
“Skype for Business is now integrated with our contact centre, so every caller is identified upfront, reducing the time on the phone for both the foodie and the customer love (customer service) team. In addition, Cornes notes “being able to predict peak calling times and capturing information at every interaction has been invaluable”.
Due to the rapid growth in My Food Bag, the volume of organisational data and internal communications had also grown exponentially.
Cornes, Head of Customer Love at My Food Bag explains the predicament, “There was no effective way to communicate with each other, and no easy way to find information with individual repositories everywhere. We had limited visibility on our customers or measuring success as a call centre team. We didn’t have as much time as we needed to spend training and developing our people, because we didn’t have the right tools in place.”
My Food Bag now enjoys the benefits of using Microsoft SharePoint online right across the company. From training, development and crisis management, to simply storing and cataloguing their many thousands of recipes, Microsoft SharePoint online, has literally transformed collaboration within My Food Bag.
Cornes tell us “we now use SharePoint in customer love. It’s a hub where all of our customer love team know that should they have any questions, that’s the first place for them to go.”
Cornes continues, “in SharePoint we use Flow, giving us the ability to ask our chefs about different ingredients that we could use. If we want to speak to the delivery team about a concern we might have, all that information is shared right in SharePoint. Through two way workflows, information is sent to the appropriate department, then it comes back to the customer love team, who are able to communicate back to our foodies.”
“We now have deeper insight into our foodies than we’ve ever had before. We also have the ability to communicate better than we ever have before. We can train and develop our people better than we ever could before, and now we have a one-stop shop for our entire team to go and get the information they need. We look back now, and it seems like we were in the dark ages.’
Three years into the My Food Bag journey, the company was managing 80 individual Microsoft Office 365 license subscriptions. Purchased directly through Microsoft.com, the licenses were becoming challenging to manage. Differing expiration dates were causing administrative headaches, and the monthly bills weighed heavily on company credit cards.
Relieving My Food Bag of both its hefty credit card bills and challenging license management, in 2017, Lexel transitioned My Food Bag to the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program. My Food Bag would now receive just one invoice per month for all Microsoft cloud solutions, and no longer experience the headache of having to manage multiple license expiration dates.
IT Manager Amy Vo explains, “We took a step back and realised that a lot of our products and services were heavily based on our credit cards. Lexel helped us move to CSP. We now only have one invoice for everything cloud, and getting new licenses, or access to new Microsoft cloud solutions is a breeze.”
CSP enables My Food Bag to scale up and down as needed, opening the door for new cloud solutions to be easily added to their agreement, including Power BI and Azure Active Directory.
Infrastructure, Security and Disaster Recovery
Reviewing My Food Bag’s environment, the Lexel team established there were a number of improvements needed. The onboarding process for new My Food Bag employees had been an onerous process for IT.
By Lexel integrating My Food Bag’s bespoke CRM software into Azure, today when a new hire comes on board, one click of a button approves all role based permissions. IT Manager, Amy Vo tells us “the onboarding time for IT has reduced by hours”.
For backup and recovery, data historically sat on individual machines, with back-ups the responsibility of each individual user. With Lexel’s guidance, every My Food Bag employee now uses OneDrive for backup and disaster recovery. With all documentation centralised in SharePoint online, the entire solution supports business continuity, flexible workstyles and hot-desking. My Food Bag users are now able to access information whenever they need it, from any device and from any location.
With little visibility to internal ICT, management of user credentials and computer accounts needed improvement to better match the company’s growth. Lexel designed and implemented Microsoft Active Directory and Azure AD connect, with self-service password reset.
This was the first step in providing a secure hybrid directory environment for My Food Bag, centralising identity management across both cloud and on premises and giving ICT 100% visibility into who’s using what and when.
Through reviewing My Food Bag’s environment, this opened the door for infrastructure, services and solutions through Microsoft Azure, including Advanced Threat Protection which has subsequently been deployed. Additional Azure services are in the pipeline including Intune for mobile device management.
With no integration between My Food Bag’s bespoke CRM solution and other critical tools, getting visibility in the business was challenging. With only highly intensive manual workarounds using Excel, accessing data was incredibly time consuming.
Today for My Food Bag’s CRM Manager and Finance Manager the impact of PowerBI is profound; reducing time-consuming manual overhead in their roles by a minimum of a day a week. Microsoft Power BI is now used broadly across the company.
Historically, the My Food Bag team had a limited view as to the success of recipes unless a foodie took the time to make a call or send an email. Today, every week over 2000 ‘foodies’ rate recipes online. Now, through Microsoft Power BI, the team now has access to visually impactful business intelligence, enabling the My Food Bag team to easily determine recipe success, making changes where most needed.
Over the course of the last year we have two awards – one in customer service delivery and one as a supreme business. We really believe that a large portion of that can be attribute to our choice in technology.
The impact of Microsoft Cloud solutions within the My Food Bag business is far-reaching. IT Manager Amy Vo explains “Microsoft cloud has been so beneficial to us. We’re on SharePoint, we’re on OneDrive, we’re on Skype for Business, we’re on Office 365, we’re using Power BI, we’re using Microsoft flow to trigger those important things that we need to know in an instant, AND we’re heavily invested in Azure. Our business has literally transformed”.
Head of Customer Love, Ryleigh Cornes echoes Vo’s opinion, “The technology has allowed us to communicate better with each other, and it’s also allowed us to spend more time training and developing our people and having the tools to actually be able to do that, where we didn’t have that before.”
Today, the business is growing from strength to strength, with the customer love team (of 44 people) communicating with thousands of foodies every day by phone, email and through social media.
Even with continued growth, there are no plans to grow the customer love team. Cornes explains “We’re simply more productive than we’ve ever been”. The My Food Bag team estimate staff productivity has increased by a whopping 40%, a direct result of the impact of Microsoft cloud solutions on the business.
Head of Customer Love, Ryleigh Cornes tells us, “At the heart of My Food Bag is our foodies. Our foodies are at the heart of every decision. We don’t talk about customer service, it’s customer love, and thanks to both Lexel and Microsoft cloud we’re delivering the best ever customer love.”