Creating a Positive Customer Experience Culture
A client of ours approached us with an interesting challenge; build a customer centric operation whilst creating the capacity for planned growth of the business. The organisation had just been through a period of dramatic change within its product set and infrastructure. The contact centre, although keeping pace with these changes, was struggling to meet service levels and achieve sales targets. Not surprisingly, their complaints rate had risen to the highest rate per customer in the industry.
Like many contact centres, policy and procedures have evolved over time and many facets had become outdated, or were placing undue effort on the customer. The business was also not making the most of the available staff as it had an inconsistently applied operations framework (how the centre was run day to day). Our client wanted more than just short term results. They wanted to establish an operation to continuously improve long after we departed. We gladly accepted the challenge.
Understand the Current Experience and Cause
We performed our multi-faceted customer experience diagnostic across the current sales and service interactions in four weeks. The diagnostic proved to us that we could improve the customer experience and a number of other business performance metrics, at the same time as cutting costs.
We found that many attempts in the past had been made to streamline practices and change the operational framework by each team. The result had been the creation of siloed specialist teams using inconsistent operational disciplines. This limited the centres ability to flex with changes in demand. In an effort to create consistency, practices had been created as a “one size fits all”. The result was limiting the frontline’s ability to resolve enquiries that didn’t fit that size, pushing escalations downstream and creating more effort for customers.
Results, like the poor Net Promoter Scores shown above and low resolutions rates, showed that care operations were not able to manage all customer enquiries well. Easy ones were fine, but harder enquiries and exceptions caused many issues, such as multiple customer handoffs and long hold times. There was still little or no customer education on product offerings and self-service options. Customers weren’t given choices and their preferences weren’t known and used.
Our recommendation was to re-organise how enquiries were handled and re-think every customer facing process. We embarked on a detailed design process with a hand-picked group of frontline staff and the future continuous improvement taskforce. During the 6 week design phase, we also used a reference group of subject matter experts and business stakeholders as reviewers to ensure we were aligned and compliant. However, the key drivers and creators of this new model were the frontline staff who wore two hats – voice of the business and voice of the customer. As they got further into our workshop process, they became passionate about the changes they were designing.
A New Design
The new operating model saw change across four elements: new frontline practices, a new way for leaders to plan and manage the operation, coaching to improve performance and a tiered structure to better handle complexity and improve enquiry resolution rates. The practices were more than just scripts and procedures. They included new ways to get customers’ information, structured choices for the customer and embraced emails and texts as a method to put the customer more in control. The design group had to create all this supporting material so that it was at the fingertips of the front line.
The taskforce and the selected frontline agents acted as natural ‘change leaders’ and advocates for their colleagues. They trained other leaders and a pilot staff group in the new elements. They also undertook all activities that required preparation for the launch for the new model and then played support roles through a test and learn period.
Just what the Customer Ordered
The new structure utilised a triaging process to optimise customer enquiry resolution. 1st line teams dealt with less complex transactional call types, whilst newly empowered resolutions teams handled complex enquiries and pre ombudsman matters case managing enquiries until resolved.
The new practices streamlined the call flow whilst promoting self-service and cross sell on every opportunity. One particular popular option with customers were the many account management and service management tools contained within the organisation’s own mobile app, which was previously unknown to staff and customers alike. Agents were able to show customers how to use these tools and self-help.
The results were amazing. Customers were clearly happy as the transactional net promoter score (above) improved by 35% and at the same time cross sell rates (below) jumped by 197%. Better still, customer complaints rates fell by 77%, which became industry best practice.
Embedding these Changes
Optimised management practices created rigorous operational disciplines to support this new model. Key was the immediate and significant improvement in coaching. Staff noted that they had never had this much coaching time to assist them in developing their skills, whilst leaders mentioned they had much greater control managing their teams and the centre’s performance.
The centre was now consistently hitting service levels and realising an overall improvement in handle time of 14% within four weeks of the launch, even with the additional time spent on cross sell and self-service promotion. It wasn’t surprising that customers were happier; they had more choice, the processes took less time and more queries were resolved faster. The rise in NPS was just an outcome of all those improvements.
These changes show what happens when staff are empowered with good processes that they can repeat consistently. Staff knew that customers were winning and therefore embraced the changes. Then the positive improvements created a virtuous cycle, as the centre now has the capability to meet its targets and reinvest for growth. With the tools and methodologies that the internal force taskforce developed, they are able to sustain and improve the model without our help and implement similar models for other parts of the business. We have shown these methods work consistently. If you would like to create similar effective outcomes, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 03 9499 3550.