Making life easier for customers and colleagues has become a vital issue in the public sector today. Financial pressures are requiring organisations to rethink their operations and do things differently. Evidence shows that organisations that are making life easier for customers and colleagues are facing these financial pressures better. There is much learning in this regard that can be shared between the public and private sectors and in this article we share some of the innovational changes being adopted in both sectors.
It was not for nothing that Motability won the Customer Contact Public Service Innovation Award, organised by the Professional Planning Forum, in 2013 for their “Loving the customer” initiative. They powerfully demonstrated the power of emotional intelligence and self-management in driving quality and customer experience.
Motability Operations is a not-for-profit organisation which runs the Motability Car and the Powered Wheelchair and Scooter Schemes.
A tangible passion for service at Motability Operations had led to a record-breaking and remarkable 96 per cent increase in their customer satisfaction index and self‑awareness has enabled advisors to be responsible for their own development and gain benefit from the support on offer.
A different culture
Professional Planning Forums members who visited Motability on a facilitated site visit gave the overwhelming feedback, that the coaching and performance models were so powerful and yet so different from what is traditional in call centres. Above all, what stood out clearly was the long journey that had created a culture that was totally different from almost all of the organisations visiting.
“I am in the early stages of introducing call quality auditing for my team,” commented Lyndsey Workman, Shift Manager at NHS Direct in Leeds. “Today has taken me back to the drawing board [with new ideas on] how we score, feedback and report these audits.”
Elaine Phillips, senior learning and development specialist at DAS, summed up the visit for many when she said: “My key learning was how to create a coaching culture … now I am going to take the ideas and case study back for discussion.”
Passion for the customer
The journey at Motability was a long one, led by people with passion for the customer. “If you can’t change the people change the people,” explained David Walsh, General Manager, Motability Operations, underlining the total commitment to change. “Five years ago I sat in my office looking at statistics, but the top performers were not people I would have handed over a sensitive case too ... nor the people I would introduce you to say ‘this is what we are about’. What is the difference between these two groups? Good performers were getting the ticks... The ‘lovers’ are proud to serve. In fact they got into trouble because they didn’t follow the rules if they didn’t work for the customer.”
As Ivan Smith, head of support, at Motability went on to explain, they had to “create an environment where people can take risks.” Support was vital – there are team coaches – all reporting to Ivan – as well as the team managers. David made another important point when he reflected on talking at a recent event. 70 per cent of the audience had no feedback loop from the floor. “All our ideas come from the floor,” he explains. Engagement has many consequences and can be tested by how many of your ideas do in fact come from your frontline colleagues.
Customer strategy and planning
Improving customer and colleague engagement or “Making life easier for customers” forms an important theme in this year’s Customer Strategy & Planning conference, taking place on 28-29 April in Brighton. Our 2014 awards finalists, will all be presenting their achievements at the conference in April, and a number of them give fantastic examples of innovative approaches to tackling this key issue.
For example, Santander’s contact centre sales team use vScreen technology for credit card applications, resulting in delivering cards to customers 12 days earlier. The secure, compliant, web-based sessions guide customers through applying for a credit card in real time, replicating the face-to-face sales process and making the customer journey significantly easier for customers using the phone – and much more personal. Customer feedback has been 95 per cent positive. Crucially this project involved a range of departments: legal, fraud, customer engagement and marketing as well as contact centre agents working together to make it happen.
Capital One UK achieved some very ambitious objectives that increased employee engagement through a new employee vision ‘Let’s make lives better’. They got to the top of the employee satisfaction chart through a range of initiatives like: job rotation during ‘Customer Week’, creating short films to embed their vision, providing support to over 400 charities, and forming an employee choir.
Engagement scores have increased more than 50 percentage points and turnover reduced. Above all, innovation and creativity have been galvanised on a grand scale among front-line associates, with 356 innovations resulting from an explosion of ideas driving improvements to productivity, net promoter and net profit.
Homeworking can work
Arise provide a great example of the results that high performance homeworking can offer. They have achieved scalable, on-demand resources for over 45 clients globally with a 54 per cent increase in agent performance. A specialist outsourcer with their virtual operating model means they can match skill sets and demographics providing on‑demand resources for daily, weekly or seasonal peaks. This has increased agent utilisation to over 90 per cent for a UK client, and where clients only pay for productive time.
All these great case studies provide just a glimpse of how organisations are addressing the need to become more customer friendly and meet rapidly developing customer expectations of experience both in the private and public sectors equally.
The Professional Planning Forum holds workshops throughout the year to help its members create people strategies and respond to change quicker. See the website for more details.