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Customer Story | Enterprise Networks

From Showroom to Home Office: Room & Board and ThousandEyes Provide a Confident Retail Experience

Company Background

Room & Board is an independent, privately held retailer of modern furniture and home decor focused on American craft, quality construction, ethically sourced materials, and enduring designs. Its operations span 20 U.S. stores and a global eCommerce website.

Industry: Retail

Headquarters: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Use Cases: Website monitoring, WAN (Wide Area Network) monitoring, Customer Digital Experience

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Company Background

Room & Board is an independent, privately held retailer of modern furniture and home decor focused on American craft, quality construction, ethically sourced materials, and enduring designs. Its operations span 20 U.S. stores and a global eCommerce website.

Industry: Retail

Headquarters: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Use Cases: Website monitoring, WAN (Wide Area Network) monitoring, Customer Digital Experience

Company Background

Room & Board is an independent, privately held retailer of modern furniture and home decor focused on American craft, quality construction, ethically sourced materials, and enduring designs. Its operations span 20 U.S. stores and a global eCommerce website.

Industry: Retail

Headquarters: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Use Cases: Website monitoring, WAN (Wide Area Network) monitoring, Customer Digital Experience

Crafting Personalized Experiences

Step into the world of Room & Board®, the revered modern home furnishings retailer that has captured hearts with its modern designs and impeccable craftsmanship. With an extensive collection spanning from living rooms to outdoor spaces, this brand has become synonymous with high-quality products that elevate any home.

Room & Board is more than just a furniture retailer. It is a company built on strong relationships, curiosity, and transparency. With an unwavering commitment to customer satisfaction, Room & Board design associates strive to create meaningful connections with every individual they meet, whether in-store or virtually.

Recognizing the interconnected digital age we live in, Room & Board has invested in a highly reliable online store to meet the needs of its tech-savvy customers. Constantly evolving and improving, the company’s developers and design associates work tirelessly to create an exceptional and personalized shopping experience for online visitors.

But Room & Board’s commitment to excellence continues beyond its online presence. In brick-and- mortar retail stores, sales associates use innovative design applications to bring their ideas to life. Customers can now visualize how a piece might look in their homes or confirm its availability with just a few taps. This seamless technology integration ensures that every in-store experience is efficient, informative, and enjoyable.

Embracing Change in Distributed Retail

In the face of unprecedented challenges brought on by the pandemic, Room & Board, a valued customer of Cisco® ThousandEyes® for over five years, emerged as a beacon of resilience and innovation in the furniture retail industry. As the world grappled with uncertainty, Room & Board seized the opportunity to adapt and revolutionize its operations and customer service.

In 2020, Room & Board swiftly transitioned to remote work, embracing the power of technology to connect with customers and engage potential design partners beyond the confines of its retail locations. This strategic move expanded their reach and fostered new opportunities for collaboration and creativity.

Recognizing the shifting work landscape, Room & Board’s IT department prioritized the importance of robust Internet connectivity. The Internet became the lifeblood of the company’s day-to-day operations, facilitating the seamless transport of company resources and empowering hybrid employees to access critical applications and leverage cloud-based collaboration platforms.

“The Internet as a transport has really become a thing in its own right,” said Mark Rodrigue, senior network engineer at Room & Board. “We leverage Internet connectivity not only at our branch locations but also in the way that we leverage collaboration applications, which are cloud-hosted, that we use to interact with our customers and run through designs.”

Retail workers collaborating

Strategic Shift to Better Digital Experiences

As employees gradually returned to the office, their desire for a seamless digital experience mirrored what they had grown accustomed to while working remotely. Recognizing the importance of meeting these expectations, Room & Board sought to invest in solutions that would bridge the gap and provide exceptional employee experiences that create memorable customer connections.

Quite often, interactions between Room & Board’s design associates and customers occur through virtual appointments, underscoring the importance of collaboration apps to the company’s operations. These SaaS (Software as a Service) platforms ease effective communication and collaboration between design associates and customers.

“Some of our most critical applications are collaboration-based,” said Rodrigue. “So, for us, Microsoft Teams is up there. It’s how we interact when collaborating and working on problems, solutions, and internal design.”

The pandemic also accelerated Room & Board’s journey towards adopting a Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) architecture. Driving these transformative efforts requires organizational support, so the IT team needed to show the measurable improvements that these efforts would have. By demonstrating the user experience advantages of SASE using ThousandEyes, Room & Board can secure that buy-in and drive improvements to customer experience and operational efficiency.

“Knowing how the business is going to interact with our customers is always going to be the number one priority,” said Rodrigue.

Experience scores help the Room & Board team deliver the best experiences for employees and ultimately customers

Figure 1. Experience scores help the Room & Board team deliver the best experiences for employees and ultimately customers.

Website Outage Showcases Proactive Approach

One day, Room & Board experienced a momentary outage on its website, serving as a reminder of the Internet’s vital role in supporting seamless customer engagement and ensuring the smooth functioning of business processes. During the incident, Room & Board’s network and development engineers sprang into action, collaborating seamlessly to resolve the issue at hand. Using the valuable data from ThousandEyes, they swiftly diagnosed the problem, ultimately identifying it as a back-end issue. This quick response allowed the IT team to shift their focus towards finding proactive and predictive solutions to prevent similar incidents from reoccurring.

“ThousandEyes helps us deliver the quality experience that we want to put forward to our internal employees and customers,” said Rodrigue. “It’s enabled our customers to feel confident in their interactions with us in the virtual space.”

Room & Board currently uses approximately three dozen ThousandEyes Enterprise Agents deployed on Cisco routers to help ensure comprehensive visibility of critical application stacks. Combined with Cloud Agents, these agents diligently monitor essential components such as online collaboration platforms, VPN (Virtual Private Network) appliances, and the company’s websites for any potential performance or connectivity issues.

“We deployed Enterprise Agents at all of our branch locations and started to utilize more of the Cloud Agents for testing external services and remote connectivity in addition to some of our cloud SaaS-based applications,” said Rodrigue. “[ThousandEyes] has become an integral part of our monitoring strategy at this point.”

Recognizing the importance of supplying the best digital experience for their hybrid workforce, Room & Board has also deployed Endpoint Agents. These lightweight end-user vantage points serve as an invaluable solution, actively gauging employees’ digital experiences for improved productivity.

Other ThousandEyes solutions have also proven to be significant for Room & Board operations. WAN Insights has played a vital role in enhancing the company’s network efficiency and traffic engineering on its SD-WAN (Software-defined Wide Area Network).

“[ThousandEyes] has become an integral part of our monitoring strategy at this point.”
Mark Rodrigue
Senior Network Engineer
Room & Board

A More Confident Retail Experience

The integration of ThousandEyes into Room & Board’s operations has yielded remarkable results, particularly in the realm of internal collaboration and issue resolution.

Rodrigue acknowledges that “it’s really changed that troubleshooting approach from somewhat adversarial to something very cooperative.”

Beyond issue resolution, the deployment of ThousandEyes agents has instilled Room & Board with a sense of confidence in maintaining continuity in virtual experiences and serving their customers effectively. With access to insights from ThousandEyes dashboards and alerts, Room & Board’s support team is now empowered to address concerns or tickets initially without the need to escalate them to an infrastructure team.

“One of the benefits that our team has seen since using ThousandEyes is we’re able to transition a lot of the escalatory work that we used to get to our support and operations team,” said Rodrigue.

This streamlined approach has not only improved response times but has also enhanced the overall efficiency of their operations.

“For us, the Cisco ThousandEyes relationship is very exciting,” Rodrigue concludes. “It opens up a lot of avenues for additional integrations into the environment and technologies and platforms that we already utilize.”

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