Hints and Tips From an Award-Winning Call Centre


 

We visited British Gas in Cardiff, winners of the European Call Centre of the Year award, to see how they did it and what tips we could use in our own call centres.

Bev Rowney, Head of Service Excellence tells us how…

Make sure that your people start the day in the right way

We provide a healthy breakfast for all of our employees.  Kitchens are provided with breakfast cereals as well as tea and coffee, and there is an option of having toast.  This makes sure that the team start greeting customers with the right frame of mind.

Provide a career path for your staff

We have a career path for customer advisors – Advisors, Advocates and Experts.  This allows for career progression within the call centre without having to go into management.

Use an appropriate team size

We have a ratio of 12 advisors per team leader.  Each team is made up of around 2-3 experts, 3-4 advocates and 5-7 advisors.

Use NetPromoter scores

Show your Net Promoter scores on your wall boards

Show your Net Promoter scores on your wall boards

We adopted the Net Promoter score as our key measure of customer satisfaction.  Our agents are bonused on a combination of their Net Promoter score and the percentage of their customers that fill in a telephone-based post-call satisfaction survey.

A bonus is payable based on the score and if 25% of their customers complete the survey.

Progress has been significant and has gone from -20 to +30 in the past 18 months.

Let everyone know their personality type and put it on their desks

Let your team know their personality types.  We simplified the Myers-Briggs model down to four personality types.

  • Controller
  • Entertainer
  • Thinker
  • Feeler
View of the British Gas call centre. Note the purple shirts and chairs as well as the personality type badge on the left.

View of the British Gas call centre. Note the purple shirts and chairs as well as the personality type badge on the left.

We trained all of our teams to recognise their personality type.  These personality types are displayed on everyone’s desks.

bg-personality-510


Use the customer’s preferred communication style

When dealing with customers it is important to recognise their personality type.  This will help you to adapt to their preferred communication style.  For example a “controller” may need a lot of detail, whereas an “entertainer” may appreciate a comment about the weather.

Carry the branding into the call centre

Simple things like matching the colour of the chairs to the British Gas colours (purple) can help teams to identify with your values.

Wear the uniform

We offered the teams the chance to dress in smart business dress or to wear British Gas branded polo shirts.  The team have to buy their own shirts (currently on a 3 for 2 offer).  So far over 3,500 have been purchased by our team of 1,200 advisors.

Cut back on the IVR

Customers really dislike IVR options.  We have reduced our use of IVR from 200 seconds down to 15 seconds and 3 choices.

We are also in trials to remove the IVR system completely.  We have tried four different tests at different times of day to see what happens.  The results have been very positive and we are just making sure we understand all impacts before doing it completely.

Manage customer call-backs within 10 minutes

Promote best practice

Promote best practice

We will sometimes not be able to get to all calls as quickly as we like.  We give the option for the caller to have a call-back in 10 minutes (using QueueBuster).  The customer feedback has been very good.

Celebrate the WOW moments

It is important to recognise those wow events in the call centre.  We go out to the team leaders to find the “wow” events.  The team leaders then present these to the Call Centre Director and the winner can use our box at Cardiff City FC (with their partner) to watch a mid-week game.

Promote best practice

Your advisors are great about spreading the word on how to improve customer service.  Here are a couple of tips that we have communicated across the call centre.

  • Make sure the customer has no need to call us again in the near future.
    british-gas-cardiff11

    British Gas wins European Call Centre of the Year


    Check all of their accounts, ask them questions and find out as much as you can about their situation – you never know when there could be something else you could do for them. They’ll be delighted that you’ve gone that extra mile for them, even though it should really be our standard level of service. – Chris Powell, customer service advisor.
  • Take ownership of the customer’s needs or issue and give them every reason to trust you.
  • People don’t want to have to deal with problems, or spend ages on the phone. So take everything off their hands, and reassure them that we will do what we say we will – keeping our promises. – David Weller, customer service advisor
Bev Rowney

Bev Rowney

Bev Rowney is Head of Service Excellence for British Gas Premier Energy.

Published On: 28th Oct 2009 - Last modified: 20th Oct 2017
Read more about - Call Centre Management, Hints and Tips, , ,


21 Comments
  1. Hi, i’ll like to know more about the 4 parsonality types ie Controller
    Entertainer
    Thinker
    Feeler
    Or do you have books on these with regards to the call center, and thanks for the lovely tips on making our Call center the best in the world

    tomi 29 Oct at 1:29 pm
  2. I will like to know more about the roles of Advisors, Advocates and Experts

    tomi 29 Oct at 1:30 pm
  3. I think this is excellent. I have left my contact details as I am looking to further improve our current set up. If possible to benchmark services/performance and productivity etc. Any help appreciated.

    Thanks

    John Smyth 29 Oct at 1:38 pm
  4. Love the personality type being displayed!! Please let me know what tools you are using to determine each person’s type as well as the tools we would need to understand how we should be communicating with each other. Please please – would love to implement this.

    thanks!

    Stacey 29 Oct at 6:16 pm
  5. It’s great recognising the different personalities in both the call centre and customers.

    Are the advisors measured on their average handling time?

    deborah riley 29 Oct at 8:59 pm
  6. Loved your article! What do you use to determine people’s personality types? A set of questions they need to answer? Are you able to send me this if so?

    Thanks,

    Robyn

    Robyn 29 Oct at 10:38 pm
  7. Very Good article indeed What do you use to determine people’s personality types? A set of questions they need to answer? Are you able to send me this if so?

    Regards,

    Wasif

    Wasif Balouch Ashrafi 30 Oct at 9:03 am
  8. Very Good article indeed What do you use to determine people’s personality types? A set of questions they need to answer? Are you able to send me this if so?

    Haroon Bakri 30 Oct at 10:47 am
  9. The article states the personalities have been drawn using a simplified version of Myers Briggs – google it.

    Tony 30 Oct at 4:00 pm
  10. As you can imagine Bev is very busily involved running the call centre. Paul Weald, who was one of the judges has agreed to help answer any questions on the Forum.

    https://www.callcentrehelper.com/forum/topic/what-can-we-learn-from-award-winning-centres

    Jonty Pearce 2 Nov at 7:03 pm
  11. Good article. For a sales project (magazines) we matched customers and agents on age and interest. Did you try to match on call reason and personality type?

    Jacques

    Jacques Bakx 4 Nov at 9:08 am
  12. This sounds great, I have worked in a call centre for a few years and I am not looking at call centre management and customer care, are there any books you can recommend?

    Kayleigh 26 Jun at 3:35 pm
  13. Good article! Thanks for sharing

    Deyna 18 Feb at 2:44 am
  14. Love the personality type being displayed!! Please let me know what tools you are using to determine each person’s type as well as the tools we would need to understand how we should be communicating with each other and incorporate this method into your quality monitoring process.

    Sally 20 Aug at 2:53 pm
  15. Hi,
    Great article this is.I would like to know what Bev Rowney does as Head of Service Excellence please.

    morenike 23 Sep at 9:10 pm
  16. The personality types are based on the works of the psycologists Jung and Brigg Myers, google it and a test that could be used on call centre workers will come up!

    Jasmin Bailey 9 Oct at 9:46 am
  17. what a fantastic article. I was searching for tips on call centre equipment etc but this is the perfect post. I mean you have modelled it on an award winning team – can’t go wrong there!

    Caroline 6 Mar at 3:41 am
  18. Thats an amazing article, but with the above tips you also need to create a culture around the office and the team which continuously motivates them to do the best.

    Right from Office Furniture to recreational things like Video Games and more

    JasonL 4 Mar at 6:21 am
  19. Thanks for this article, I especially enjoyed the different types of people regarding their personality and how they should implement this into their surroundings.

    Jan van As 10 Apr at 8:02 am
  20. Hello, I love the sketch you have done for call center. Well in our case we focus on hiring more agents so that we can give breaks to agents after every 2 to 3 hours so that they can relax and deliver high quality support to customers.

    Mike Jones 28 Jun at 11:33 am
  21. wish to know more about the different personality types.

    Ares 21 Dec at 10:22 am
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