Delivering industry leading customer service whilst delivering service improvements and cost reductions.
Vodafone is a global Communications company and has partnered with Arise for nearly ten years to deliver award-winning Customer and Technical Support to its customers across Ireland. A key part of the KPI’s that measure success is based around annual goal setting – with Arise working with the team at Vodafone to come up with a plan to help them reach their company objectives. Last year, Vodafone set an ambitious target across their entire customer-facing operation. Namely, a 15% reduction in customer contact through operational and process improvements – all whilst delivering an improvement in Net Promoter Score (their primary measure of customer service).
The Vodafone Customer Care Manager sat down with the Arise team at the beginning of the year, and as a team, they worked to come up with a series of initiatives to achieve this stretch target.
Arise turned to the data that they had been collecting over the lifetime of their relationship with Vodafone, and set the Arise Data Insights team the task of coming up with creative ways to reduce customer contact. The Data Insights team came up with a multi-pronged plan that aimed to pick off the ‘low hanging fruit’ as well as looking at process and system improvements that could be implemented to deliver business impact.
The first insight that came from the team was that they were receiving a number of calls from business customers to a generic Vodafone number, with no filtering in place. This number was featured on much of the marketing collateral that customers were receiving, as well as ranking highly on internet searches, so it was decided that trying to push customers to the ‘right’ business number would be too labour intensive. Instead the Arise team suggested making an adjustment to the IVR system that would allow business customers to ‘self-select’ before their call was answered by an agent, and thus avoiding the call having to be manually transferred to a different team. Arise prepared a compelling business case that enabled the Vodafone team to get the required IT changes prioritised and delivered within 6 weeks, and it made an instant impact by delivering customers first time to the correct support team and reducing the number of agent touch points. Two thirds (10%) of the call reduction target was achieved from this initiative alone.
At the same time, the Data Insights team identified that a large number of calls were being transferred between the Customer Support and Technical Support teams. Customers might ring in to raise a service request with the Technical team, and then ask to make a Customer Support request or vice versa. This meant the teams were transferring calls between each other – which meant longer call times, and frustrated customers. By identifying the most frequent types of requests, Arise was able to up-skill both teams to answer simple requests that might previously have resulted in a transfer – all backed up by a senior agent within the team who could help with more complicated questions. This had a significant impact, quickly reducing inter-team transfers by over 50% and leading to a better, more seamless customer experience whilst reducing total call volumes by 3%.
Next, the Arise team looked at one of the most labour-intensive functions – number divert. When business customers had an error on their line, they were able to ask Vodafone to set up a divert to another number. Customers might call in several times a day to ask the team to switch the divert between team members, and this resulted in high call volumes. The Arise team looked closely at the existing process and decided that the current system could be modified so that the requests could be managed via email in a back-office team, at a far lower cost than telephone agents. Using an iterative service improvement approach, the new process was tweaked over time to include a set template so customers provided the right information first time. The email team guaranteed a 15-minute response time, and customers found the new system easy to use as they could make amendments whilst on the move. This improvement reduced the average calls per divert event by 26% – all whilst improving customer experience.
The next programme Arise focused on was reducing the number of multiple calls made by certain customers. Agents were trained to identify callers who might call several times early on, so they could take proactive steps to reduce follow up calls. Teams were incentivised to reduce customers who would call more than once, and ‘super agents’ were used to tackle callers on their 2nd or 3rd inbound contact. Agents were targeted on first-call resolution (FCR), eliminating multiple calls and avoiding inter-team transfers, which improved overall customer experience and led to a significant NPS uplift of around 30%.
“We very much treat Arise as a partner, and at the beginning of the year came to them with some very stretching objectives. Arise accepted the challenge, and by the end of the year had establish a monthly run rate reduction in calls of 19%, all whilst continuing to improve our NPS score.
Arise took an extremely proactive approach to the target we set, and all the improvements that we saw across the business were driven by their insights and actions. Their Data Insights team is the best I’ve ever worked with – their understanding of the granularity of the data meant that we were able to pick off all the low hanging fruit that other businesses might have lived with, as well as dealing with some of the bigger issues.
The work that they’ve done as part of this project meant that we smashed our NPS improvement target and far outperform our competitors – setting Vodafone up for success in a highly competitive marketplace. It’s a truly collaborative relationship that has delivered cost reduction across the business at the same time as creating happier customers. We couldn’t be more pleased with the results.”
– Brian Kedney, Vodafone’s Customer Care Manager