A clear strategic goal for Genesis, one of the UK’s leading housing associations, is to improve the level of resident satisfaction – but when a new customer insight team was assembled, they quickly established that even basic metrics of operational performance were lacking. What’s more, they had a very limited view of how residents viewed the association, or how levels of customer satisfaction compared to other organisations. A customer strategy was urgently needed to make sure residents were receiving the best level of care.
After investigating the contact centre solutions market, the team decided to engage with software and consultancy provider Bright to provide an overarching view of the entire customer service operation. This consisted of Bright Index to identify which internal measures would have the biggest impact on customer satisfaction, Bright Navigator to monitor customer opinion and provide actionable insight, and Bright Employee Engagement to ensure frontline teams felt confident in the strategy to improve resident satisfaction.
The direct impact of this holistic approach was:
- An increase in customer satisfaction from 62% to 74% in just 7 months
- Increased performance in more than 80% of customer service measures
- Average time to answer decreased from more than 100 seconds to less than 80 seconds
- 10% increase in efficiency in calls per agent per day
- Identified gaps in training
- Given team members and senior managers alike a common language with which to discuss customer service performance
- Helped define the direction of the Genesis customer service strategy
We spoke to John Pender, head of customer experience and Daniel Blake, head of contact centre to see how such wholescale change was achieved:
What was behind the decision to look at benchmarking the contact centre?
John Pender: “In the midst of an organisational change programme, we recognised the need to improve service to our residents. We looked at best practice in customer service and realised one of the key points was to have an understanding of the variability of customer experience depending on who they spoke to.
“We were interested in setting up a framework so we could introduce subjective measures from both a qualitative and quantitative perspective. The Bright solution was pitched at enabling individuals to improve their own performance, which was very attractive to us.
“The solution helped introduce a distinction between customer satisfaction with Genesis as a whole, compared to satisfaction with individual transactions, giving us a much better understanding of what drives a customer’s view and opinion.
“We did not previously have a very good framework for benchmarking performance – with Bright, we not only have a good benchmark, but can also clearly see the link between that and individual employee performance.
“The objective was to recognise that we were starting from a low starting point based on customer feedback and to work towards a step-change in performance. We wanted real-time performance information in a framework that gave personal feedback with obvious routes to improvements in performance. Bright offered exactly the tools we needed to achieve that step-change.”
Daniel Blake: “I come from a retail background, having worked at amazon and Carphone Warehouse, and this is one of the best systems I have ever worked with – it’s so easy to use.”
What benefits have been realised since implementation?
John Pender: “We have seen an improvement in customer satisfaction scores across the board – we’ve now halved the gap between us and the national benchmark, which is a huge step forward. We’re definitely seeing quarter on quarter and month on month improvement.”
Daniel Blake: “All agents now have the Bright Navigator screen permanently open on their desktop and they log into it daily. Every day, staff across the business talk about Bright scores, rather than just thinking in terms of simple call stats. It’s part of the everyday working of the contact centre and part of the culture. It’s helping us celebrate success as well. We recently held a fun day to reward staff for a job well done, all of which was based on the Bright Index and Navigator results.
“The tools enable us to identify customer needs, understand where the blocks or barriers are, and how to remove them to offer a better service. It’s got people talking quality – and we can now quantify that not only with numbers but also with narrative, using real verbatim comments from customers.”
John Pender: “Prior to the introduction of Bright Navigator, we simply had a monthly market research survey, which was a blurred mix of overall and post interaction satisfaction. The results tended to sit on a shelf and we did very little with it. The reports we get from the benchmarking, however, are very visible and used every day. This is because the results contain insight that can be acted upon for individuals. The overall satisfaction scores also make the reports appealing to the board – and this company-wide intelligence can be cascaded down to frontline teams, so they feel engaged in where the organisation is headed.”
What has been the impact on frontline teams?
Daniel Blake: “It was great to be able to work with the team leaders on the key areas that Bright had highlighted as areas for focus. The knowledge and friendliness of the staff has always been first rate, but team leaders were only really dipping into coaching. With Bright Index and Navigator, they can now see the impact of not doing effective coaching reflected in individual agent scores. They can see the bigger picture. Coaching is now a staple part of working here.”
“It’s also helped us identify key training areas, and it means we can have informed conversations with the learning and development department about where the gaps are.”
John Pender: “The structure of the system (centred around FCR, Helpfulness, Knowledge, Next Steps, and Ownership) means that every one of the individuals in the contact centre is focused on those five things. There is a uniformity of approach, and everyone is focused on what we know matters most to customers – you could move from one desk to another and each team member is trying to do the same thing.
“Naturally some individuals achieve higher scores than others, but the software allows individuals to share ideas and have discussions about ideas specifically designed to achieve improvements.”
Daniel Blake: “One of the biggest benefits for me is that it is easy for individuals to see how they are having an impact on overall customer service. We are using that in our training and coaching – impressing on individuals how their performance affects what customers think of Genesis as a whole.
“Another huge advantage, though, is the way it has allowed me to educate the business about the contact centre. We now have a common language with which to talk about customer satisfaction that is understood at all levels of the organisation. It’s helped me tremendously in having conversations with key stakeholders.”
If you could offer one piece of advice to a contact centre professional looking for a better way to measure performance, what would it be?
Daniel Blake: “Take some time to look at verbatim comments from customers and focus on key areas. Concentrate on what is within your gift and the quick wins. Think about what staff could impact today and the bigger, meatier stuff will come later.”