Lir Chocolate is a premium chocolate manufacturer that specialises in seasonal gifts and is a leading supplier of handmade Easter eggs. The company’s factory and headquarters is located in Navan, County Meath, where it employs over 300 people.
Exports have helped the company grow spectacularly in the last 10 years, which means sales and marketing people spend a lot of time travelling across Northern Europe, Asia, Australia and the US. Many are in senior management roles and need to be contactable at all times. But Lir’s communication challenges were not just around mobility.
The seasonal gift business in particular is all about just-in-time manufacturing, where hand decorated chocolates are made to order. Always being available to demanding retail customers was crucial in helping establish the business and the firm wanted to retain its customer-centric focus as it grew further. The business simply couldn’t afford to have its networks go down – landline, mobile or broadband.
Looking for peace of mind as well as better value from its service providers, Lir talked to Three who came in and made an assessment of what it could do for the company as one-stop provider.
“They spent time getting to understand our business and came back with a plan for how they could help,” recalls Suzanne Frazer, Account Director at Lir. “We started with mobile and were so impressed after six months that we moved our landlines over to them as well. We’re now starting to use the social media services that Three provides.”
In the first phase, Apple iPhones and iPads were issued to all senior sales and marketing executives. The devices, connected to Three’s mobile network, facilitating the “mobile office” that keeps them in constant contact with customers, suppliers and the factory back in Ireland.
The fixed-line and broadband network is just as crucial to the business, enabling EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) communication with large multiples, supporting its just-in-time manufacturing processes. “We take all our orders through EDI so the Three network is critical,” explains Frazer. “With tight turnaround times, you can’t afford to have the connection go down and risk missing orders or shipping dates.”
The decision to take fixed, mobile and broadband services from Three has delivered tangible business benefits, and not just because of the reliability of the networks. “It’s easier to manage just one communications provider and it’s much more cost effective,” says Frazer. “We don’t have the resources to spend a lot of time managing multiple suppliers so it’s brilliant that Three are so proactive and supportive.”
Lir has quarterly meetings with an “excellent account manager” who helps make the most of the relationship, evaluating the effectiveness of existing services or suggesting new ideas. More recently Three introduced Lir to social media tools to better communicate with its market.
Mobile benefits have been numerous. From the outset the company experienced better coverage. Abroad, the company relies on the top-end data plan but it continually benefits from Three’s efforts to keep costs down, particularly around roaming charges.
Three also provides an online portal, 3Analyst, where Lir can log in and view their spend and analyse reports. This gives them an easy-to-navigate way to view all their communications costs. “They give control back to the business and let us manage our data usage,” says Frazer. “We can go in at any time and check to see that employees are on the right package.”
Ultimately, the relationship is working for Lir because it delivers on three key components: value for money, excellent account management, and a robust and reliable service. But there’s one more reason why we work so well together, as Suzanne Frazer explains: “Three provides us with the same high level of customer service that we provide to our customers,” she says. “We are very aligned; we share the same business ethos.”
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