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    Crazy about chocolate, serious about people: meet the Dutch chocolate company that dared to be different


    Now, staff can build annual reports with Teams, easily sharing multiple source documents while knowing that team members are always working with the most current versions. As with every other aspect of work life for Tony’s employees, that strategy is carefully aligned with company values. “We use the chat feature in Teams to build the personal relationships we want to encourage,” says Ursem. “Email is more formal, more time-consuming. Chat lends itself to the shared humor and quick check-ins that naturally fit our culture and make us more efficient.”

    With Teams, Tony’s team members have an informal, easy way to collaborate on projects with each other and with suppliers by using Teams Rooms. For IT Manager Rick van Doorn, otherwise known as Chocomatic Fanatic, nurturing spirit drives key decisions made by company leadership. “We say that our team comes first,” he explains. “Without the team, there is no company. And keeping that team collaborating optimally is vitally important to everything we do.”

    Since implementing Teams, the company has averaged a 10 to 15 percent decrease in its total email volume. Ursem and van Doorn point out that this is happening despite steady company growth. “We’re pushing communication to the channels where it can happen most effectively,” says van Doorn.

    A new world of work
    The company focuses intently on messaging, both internally and externally. Even the design of its chocolate bars has a message – each bar is divided into unequal pieces, to mirror the inequalities in traditional profit sharing.

    Internally, employees mix up workspaces every six months, sharing space with colleagues from different departments to build stronger team relations. That dedication to cultivating teamwork led the company to experiment with various apps purported to propel teamwork forward.

    One of the biggest successes to come out of this experimentation was consolidating telephony with Office 365 in April 2019. As a result, employees can now access the company landline through Teams with the Vodafone Calling in Office 365 solution. For customer contact, Teams is extended with the Anywhere365 Contact Center. Because the solution interoperates with Salesforce, incoming calls can be logged in the company’s customer relationship management system for inclusion in the customer database.

    “Using Teams with Vodafone Calling in Microsoft Office 365 amplifies the personal and transparent approach we’re known for,” says van Doorn. “We can talk to our chocofans with full knowledge of their prior backgrounds, orders, and feedback.” Incoming calls automatically route to the best person to handle the call, no matter where that person is, and contact information is included for the convenience of the person receiving the call.

    A future in the cloud
    Ten years ago, the company migrated to the cloud. “We were growing rapidly and needed to be scalable,” recalls van Doorn. “And we also looked at the growing number of relationships we were managing—both customers and suppliers, plus our rapidly expanding staff. We felt that committing to a complicated IT landscape in terms of connections, interfaces, and equipment would have been a risk.”

    Cross-functional collaboration also underpins daily and strategic operations at Tony’s Chocolonely. Teamwork fans out from internal teams to a swath of partners that support different aspects of operations, including web developers, product wrapper suppliers, retail stores, and many more.

    The company is so committed in fact, that its suppliers also now collaborate in Teams. “We’ve implemented the entire Microsoft 365 suite,” van Doorn. “All of our data is on SharePoint. With this modern working platform, we can easily collaborate with our partners, suppliers, and with each other.” The company also hopes to reduce business travel expenses by 10 percent now that so much collaboration takes place in the cloud.

    For the people behind the Tony’s Chocolonely brand, it comes down to relationships. “By growing long-term relationships and paying a higher price—above the market price plus the Fairtrade Premium—to West African farmers, we’re trying to create an equal partnership,” says Ursem. “And if we’re performing well, other companies will be inspired to shoulder this responsibility, too.”

    For more information, please visit the Microsoft Customer Stories blog.



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