A young, dynamic company founded seven years ago and headquartered in Canada’s “Silicon Valley,” our client is a tech company established with the goal of disrupting the mobility sector. Their business model was founded on the cell phone industry equivalent of a unicorn: a customer-centric offering that puts affordability and flexibility at the forefront. With more than 25 million customers in the US, our client’s business was completely crushing it in all areas of their core competency and growing at an extraordinary pace, but managing a contact center operation (not their core competency) within their business was becoming increasingly challenging.
Prior to outsourcing, the company was operating with an internal goal for calls to be answered in less than five minutes. They had not been hitting this target for longer than they cared to remember. Long average speed of answer (ASA) rates led to high abandon rates. As a customer-centric company in rapid growth mode, they knew they needed to be able to scale while improving the customer experience significantly for customers who needed to talk to an agent.
In the summer of 2016, Blue Ocean was selected as the company’s outsourced contact center partner. For the three months prior to launching with Blue Ocean, ASA was approximately 30 minutes and the abandon rate was over 40%.
In collaboration with our new client, we came up with a service target to have calls answered in less 90 seconds. Our solution had them split their calls into call types that split into Tier 1 and Tier 2 with Tier 2 calls being routed to their internal Tier 2 team. Email and chat volume was shared between our Tier 1 team and the client’s Tier 2 team.
Our corporate training coordinator collaborated with the client’s in-house trainer to balance out the training plan for an outsourced agent team. For their internal customer service team, our client typically hired new university graduates who were looking to get a foot in the door in the tech industry. Fresh out of university, these learners were comfortable with a program that was largely self-paced and heavy on reading material. For our team, as an outsourcer, we were hiring for natural aptitudes in the specific customer care scenario we were supporting and we knew we needed to get agents up to speed, confident, and capable, quickly. We wanted to maximize the training experience to make a very steep learning curve highly effective so we hit quality and productivity goals as soon as possible. This meant including role play, hands-on learning, and applied learning assessments in the training plan and curriculum.
We built an ICU week for new hires into our workforce plan. For the launch phase, we added higher frequency targets for remote monitoring, side by side monitors, and coaching sessions. These additional monitoring and coaching sessions not only provided valuable additional feedback to agents, it helped us assess the “stickiness” of training, and identify any gaps or issues in the new training program and act quickly to re-mediate before new agents were phased in. The focus on performance management and improvement allowed us to identify opportunities to reduce handle times and improve efficiency.
One of the distinct benefits of outsourcing is access to niche expertise and niche technology. Putting the right people in the right place at the right time doing the right things in a call center is an art and a science. And it is an area of expertise that workforce professionals dedicate their careers to. Our client had been staffing their call center in basic shifts. They didn’t have the workforce management resources in terms of either human or technology assets to schedule on an interval-by-interval level. Our deeply experienced WFM team has worked with the client to establish a reliable forecast that would inform our scheduling. With the unknowns involved in any launch, we were conservative about productivity and efficiency and built a buffer into the hiring plan to accommodate for that. Once in production, the team benefited from a Real Time Analyst serving as the safety net between forecast and actual arrival patterns. The RTA is always focused on closing any gaps by adjusting resources in real time through tactics like re-skilling agents from one channel to another to meet volume.
Within 90 days of Go-Live, Tier 1 phone channel results had drastically improved to an ASA of 138 secs (2.3 mins) and the abandon rate had dropped to 8.8%. Currently, six months from launch, ASA is 73 seconds and abandon rate has dropped further to 4.8%. Through efficiency gains, we increased the volume of contacts we were handling by 13% without adding any additional headcount – resulting in cost savings for our client. We established a Tier 2 team within six months of launch, and are currently routing more than 20% of Tier 2 traffic to Blue Ocean.