Creative ideas for your call centre

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Need some creative ideas for your call centre?  Steve Woosey has harvested some creative ideas form the Professional Planning Forum’s annual innovation awards that may help you make a difference.

Process improvement – removing the need to contact

Process improvement is a hot topic and there are many excellent examples of harnessing the power of your people to help deliver a better service for your customers. One such example is Three Valleys Water where advisors are encouraged to see things through the customer’s eyes.

A problem-solving process has been put in place with three simple questions asked.

  • “What’s not gone well?”
  • “What’s gone well that we can learn from?”
  • “What issues, concerns, risk and ideas are there?”

The answers to these three questions, if listened to and action taken, could help improve processes in any business. As Nick Carney, Debt Collections Manager put it, “we sit down and interact with other departments about how to solve problems and reach our targets”.

Account management – ownership of the customer relationship

Some organisations are looking at a model of individual account management. This was successfully introduced within Kwik Fit Insurance under the project name Smart Co.

Every agent owns a “book” of up to 750 individual customers who each have a direct-dial freephone number for that account manager as well as a dedicated email address. This not only provides customers with a personalised service but also gives agents ultimate responsibility for building and retaining their client list.

As John Healy, Operations Manager, put it “Smart Co offers the kind of customer experience people used to enjoy in the 1950s – when they walked into a shop and received a warm reception and personal service.”

Use the technology we already have

Before you consider buying new technology ask yourself “do we fully utilise the technology we already have?”

This year British Gas used technology and technology specialists to improve the customer journey. They used natural-voice technology and SMS messaging to speed up the process for the customer and keep them informed. These technologies were used to verify the customer, so removing the need for the customer to remember passwords, keep the customer informed that an engineer was due for an appointment and advise the customer if there was a delay. As a result missed appointments halved and call per visit dropped by 26%.

Homeworking – not “too difficult”

The savings that can be made by using homeworking are compelling and yet many organisations have homeworking in the “too difficult box”. Those who have tried to implement a homeworking solution over the past few years have found that it is not as difficult as many believe. With hosted technology solutions, the broadband world and a number of homeworking only outsourcers there are several different ways to make homeworking viable for your business. This year’s innovation of the year winners QVC introduced homeworking as just one of many initiatives. By introducing home agents QVC was able to recruit agents for half-hour or hour-long shifts. The return on investment was achieved in just 6 months.

Make sure your targets drive the right behaviours

What we target, and how we target, drives our culture. This culture is not always the culture we were looking for and the individual targets we set can drive the wrong types of behaviour in our people.

Vodafone recognised this and set about creating a performance culture supported by the correct behaviours. To create a culture that focuses on what really matters to the customer and which manages people on what they can control, Vodafone took the bold move of consolidating its seven existing KPIs down to just three measures that everyone understands:
• Talk utilisation – Am I speaking or available to the customer?
• Customer view results – In the eyes of the customer have I satisfied them?
• Revenue – Have I allowed my customer to get the best out of the products and services we provide?

Since adopting this approach, employee engagement has increased by nearly 22% and customer satisfaction by 17%.

Create the time to notice and make the change

It is only by taking the time to think about how you work, and comparing it with how others work that you will find your creative idea. 

Steve Woosey is Membership Director of The Professional Planning Forum.

The Professional Planning Forum is the independent industry body for effective resourcing and planning in the contact centre industry, working across all industry sectors to provide specialist support for contact centre professionals.  Championing the importance of these critical skills, the Planning Forum is widely recognised for its best practice research and case studies, as well as the results-focused nature of its professional development training and in-company workshops.

Author: Jo Robinson

Published On: 8th Jul 2009 - Last modified: 17th Sep 2019
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