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8 minutes ago, steveg9 said:

Just tried to book following this morning’s news about quarantine relaxation, getting part way in to ‘Sailing Times’ and ‘Connect timeout’ comes up....

Try via the French version of the site. Ed. 

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The website is just getting into practice for when next year’s sailings are released.

Their IT team is so poor, the  solution is either to have scaleable cloud systems or put in a queuing system that restrict the numbers using the system but give them a good response !

Wickes implemented queuing in their website this year and it worked well.

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Couple of days ago went to look at the new timetables and got nowhere, the website is not up to the job can't they dust off the old one and use it? In the meantime they could get a new IT department and start on a new website again.

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4 minutes ago, Solo said:

In the meantime they could get a new IT department and start on a new website again.

Thats exactly what they need to..Whether they can afford it now is maybe quite another matter.

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Today is going to be busy given the half announcements yesterday, I saw that Eurotunnel has site problems as well this morning.

The risk is that all of the available sailings will now go to new bookings and not those with cancellations who have not been able to change them.

Re timetables, I believe that the freight ones show the new pattern and revised timings (unlike the online ones)

https://www.brittanyferriesfreight.co.uk/media/pdf/n/7/Cross_Channel_July_2020.pdf

https://www.brittanyferriesfreight.co.uk/media/pdf/n/a/Timetable_Spain___Ireland_July_2020.pdf

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2 hours ago, Solo said:

Can they afford not to?

 

Absolutely not, the current systems require manual intervention far too often & this has led to the chaos - if the servers were resilient enough and all options needed by a customer to react to cancellations could be done online it would have been a lot simpler.

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1 hour ago, David Williams said:

Absolutely not, the current systems require manual intervention far too often & this has led to the chaos - if the servers were resilient enough and all options needed by a customer to react to cancellations could be done online it would have been a lot simpler.

Interesting point, is it the website or the servers that are not up to the job?

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1 minute ago, Solo said:

Interesting point, is it the website or the servers that are not up to the job?

Both, the servers can't cope with large loads (like earlier today) and on the annual dog race for summer bookings. The functionality of the website can't cope with a number of activities around cancellations and changes that can only be done by the BF team going into the booking system themselves. Note that the website is just our window on the booking system.

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Trying to change a reservation today.

Denies any of the sailings I have chosen off the menu exist,  just after it offered them to me.

Then immediately decides to lock me out altogether

I'll try again tomorrow - might have more joy when everyone is in work. Oh hang on, are people going to work these days??

 

Rhys

 

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10 minutes ago, La Pirouaie said:

Has anyone managed to book Cherbourg to Portsmouth on the Connemara? The booking system still shows the Normandie Express, which we all now know will not be running. Do I just book and expect to be transferred to the Connemara?

There shouldn't be any availability on the NEX, I think you will need to either wait until Connemara  opens or book St Malo or Caen instead !

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On 27/06/2020 at 10:27, David Williams said:

The website is just getting into practice for when next year’s sailings are released.

Their IT team is so poor, the  solution is either to have scaleable cloud systems or put in a queuing system that restrict the numbers using the system but give them a good response !

Wickes implemented queuing in their website this year and it worked well.

I wouldn't cast too many aspersions on the IT team - sometimes you can only work with what you have at the time in terms of the technology, finance and people available. That's not to disagree with the fact people aren't getting a good experience, but I don't think singling out a particular team is really necessary.

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12 minutes ago, Jim said:

I wouldn't cast too many aspersions on the IT team - sometimes you can only work with what you have at the time in terms of the technology, finance and people available. That's not to disagree with the fact people aren't getting a good experience, but I don't think singling out a particular team is really necessary.

OK, I take back my comments about a poor IT team, I will instead say that there are a number of poor aspects of the IT system such as:-

  • A contact form regularly failing to work.- a contact form is IT 101 !
  • A website that cannot cope with high demand without crashing and individual bookings not completing.
  • A 'major security flaw' being found in the Manage your booking feature that forced it offline for almost a week. 

In addition there is a lot of missing functionality in the system such as

  • Not being able to choose a new crossing if one is cancelled
  • Not being able to add multiple small canine to a cabin
  • Not being able to modify a booking if there are disability requirements notified.

There are also a lot of missing functionality in the Customer contact system

  • No CRM system with event logging / update 
  • All contact through main call centre staff, no provision for extra offsite triage of calls to ensure urgent ones gets transferred to someone that can help & others either get information or logged into the CRM system for future response.

++++++

All of these are also evident when a new timetable is released (July 22 will be chaos) or when more than one sailing is cancelled.

Edited by David Williams
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Fair observations, David. As someone who has used the contact form I was surprised there was no kind of acknowledgement/reference given which ties in with your observations around CRM. There may be something there, but it's not obvious from the outside and if there is it's not doing well...

I suspect that a large part of the issue in terms of the 'missing' functionality is that it was never part of the specification, either for cost or technology reasons. I doubt the booking system was ever designed to deal with the volume of demand its seeing either (the majority of the issues being seen relate to doing tasks where the website would be interacting with the booking system. The nature of the systems themselves also dictates how easy it is (or isn't) to scale them up quickly. Hazarding a further guess, at the point requirements were gathered and design decisions made, the concept of no call centre for three months was unthinkable.

BF aren't alone though in the IT challenges bought by Covid... I'm aware of one major retailer who did scale their cloud-based website, who did cope with the additional demand... but who also came within days of running out of 8 digit order numbers to use on a set of systems that weren't designed to cope with anything beyond that. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Jim said:

the concept of no call centre for three months was unthinkable.

I had to phone Tesco insurance this week, only on hold for about a minute, spoke to a woman with her child playing in the background, everything done with efficiently even working from home.  The only thing is she had a computer system that dealt with what she entered without crashing.  So it is possible to work a phone system from home, why can't BF.

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I think that many companies of all sizes have been caught out with IT issues in the last few months that none of us would ever have imagined.

I am an accountant in a small company and our server began to fail a few weeks before lockdown; the combination of a powercut and a Virgin Media outage showed us that we needed to do something. Rather than replace the server, we opted to move to having everything hosted online, a decision that has come into its own with us all working from home. Prior to that anyone working from home was dependent on using a VPN and the server could only cope with one person dialling in at any one time. I am now the only member of the team who needs to use a VPN and that is because our accounts package is Sage which we can't transfer to our online facility so I have to dial into my office desktop to do my job. Anyone who knows business will know that Sage has been a big player in the accountancy software sector for many years (for many years it was the software of choice for small to medium sized businesses which couldn't justify the expense of a bespoke package). Our external IT support team has spoken to Sage and although the software is called "Sage 50 Cloud" it can't actually be hosted on the cloud.

BF won't be the only company which has been caught out by the exceptional circumstances in which we are all living; I am currently sitting in cold, wet North Lanarkshire, having been booked on Bretagne last Thursday night so I am feeling the upset that so many others are feeling at the moment. We as a household have had to deal with the systems of many companies failing to cope with customer demands and needs over the last few months. We moved house and my husband moved job in February, and deliveries of essential equipment required for the shift to working online rather than face to face have been days late in arriving.

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19 minutes ago, Solo said:

I had to phone Tesco insurance this week, only on hold for about a minute, spoke to a woman with her child playing in the background, everything done with efficiently even working from home.  The only thing is she had a computer system that dealt with what she entered without crashing.  So it is possible to work a phone system from home, why can't BF.

I know it sounds like a simple question, but there's loads of factors involved. What phone system do they have? Can it run over the internet reliably? Do you have enough laptops for staff? Can they access the systems they need to do their jobs effectively and remotely? Can you ensure customer data is secure? 

Again, this goes back to dealing with a situation nobody really envisaged. If you've got one office then you might have a continuity plan that uses remote work if there's an issue with that office. If you've got two offices in the same area there's a risk something could happen (say, flooding) so you might want a backup plan to work remotely.

If you have two offices far apart (say Devon and Hampshire) then your plan might assume that the chances of not having both are slim so your plan is just to use the other one and/or the costs of planning for something so unlikely aren't worth it.

I'm sure this is something BF and others in a similar boat will be looking at but didn't have plans in place at the point they were needed.

Where I work we adapted to Covid quickly. We're a large corporation where there's been lots of investment in hardware and tooling over years to support flexible working (and save the company money in office space). We effectively changed how 99% of people worked overnight, because we already had what was needed in place. The 1% still in the office have to be there as certain systems can't be accessed remotely.

15 years ago most people had a desktop and a desk phone, if you needed to work from home you needed to ask for a temporary loan of a laptop and hope there was one about or take the day off.

 

 

 

 

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26 minutes ago, Jim said:

if you needed to work from home you needed to ask for a temporary loan of a laptop and

I remember when I needed to support systems from home, I could borrow a large portable pc with a crt screen, around 640k of memory and a modem and I thought it was advanced, 

Edited by David Williams
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