The Challenge
Call queue lengths, lack of ownership, poor resolution and lack of agent knowledge, were comments we were receiving from our customers. Whilst ntl had always strived to provide the best service to our customers, the previous model had not maximised the potential to deliver the ultimate customer experience.
In 2006, Neil Ward, Director of Operations and Liam Mulholland, Director of Customer Experience, launched a customer improvement program to address and improve our customer service. Sponsored by Peter Wilcock, Managing Director of Sales and Services, the program‟s objective was to deliver a radical cultural shift that would ensure the customer was at the heart of our business; this shift would be reflected in improved customer satisfaction levels and advocacy scores.

This would be done by improving the following 5 areas, across 7 call centres and involving 3000 agents, and all web traffic:

  • Agent professionalism
  • Customer Advocacy
  • Call completion time
  • Agent knowledge
  • First-time call resolution

There were a number of tools used to gather information about our customers that would support the program: key to the programme was VIRTUATell‟s ASMA (Automated Survey Management Solution), an automated call-centre feedback service for telephone calls and web visits.  “VIRTUATell enabled us to capture the “voice of the customer”. This allowed us to obtain a true reflection of how the call centre and operations business was performing as a whole, rather than the limited view that our previous system afforded” says Neil Ward. “Based on what our customers were telling us about our agents and services we were able to make relevant customer service improvements” he adds.

Evidence of the change delivered
Customers were given the option of leaving verbatim comments on the VIRTUATell system. “We feel that a particular benefit of ASMA is that customers are no longer tied into simply responding “yes‟ or “no‟ to issues raised” says Peter Wilcock. “Giving them the opportunity to leave verbatim comments ensures that they get a chance to say what is important to them!” For the first time agents were being measured on multiple customer surveys, collected for each agent every day, providing them with a benchmark from which to target improvement.

“We have seen as many as 40% of participating customers take up the opportunity to leave these comments. We take each comment and allocate the customer to a relevant team. To ensure that this feedback is acted upon, we have created an advocacy team that take ownership, accountability and responsibility for following through any relevant customer service improvements. As a result of this, changes have been made to all our marketing, financial and process system. To ensure there is governance, control and clearly measured deliverables, project managers have been assign to work with this team and report progress weekly basis to Liam Mulholland and Neil Ward.
“This method also has the advantage of giving us very specific feedback on how we are performing, which has been integral to our success with this project. Already, our customers are starting to recognise that service levels are improving”

Agent Professionalism and knowledge of products
“We have developed a league table that measures every agent, team and rewards the best ones” says Liam Mulholland. “Ratings from ASMA abiut the call centre agent knowledge and professionalism have been particularly encouraging. Overall satisfaction on these measures has tracked consistently at over 90% since
December 2005, highlighting a very positive customer experience.  “We have a development program that provides agents with customer feedback related to individual customer transactions. This process coaches and supports agents and works to deliver excellent customer experience. We have involved HR to help provide governance rules that cover training, reward and promotion.

First- time call resolution and time to answer
The Abandonment Rate (customers terminating the call) in the call centres has improved from 10.6% to just 3.4% in March 2006.
ASMA shows that there are now fewer repeat calls: first time callers are up from 59% of all calls in February 2006 to 66% of all calls in March. This contributed to an increase in customer satisfaction scores.

Over the last 4 months, VIRTUATell has recorded that call centre advocacy has increased by 13% from 48% to 61.5%. A conservative estimate of the revenue this will generate is nearly £1m.

Other benefits delivered

Staff morale/turnover

The advocacy league table has enabled us to improve customer services: due to their positive feedback, agents also feel they are doing a better job at creating satisfied customers. Customers‟ verbatim comments collected through VIRTUATell are also fed back to individual agents to help training and motivation. This in turn increases agent knowledge making it easier to train new staff.  The advocacy league table is located on an internal portal that is accessible to both agents and team leaders. This has given a massive boost to motivation levels, and has ensured that all the staff involved bought into the customer service improve project, no matter what level they are working at. The charting of advocacy scores and agent behaviour, and delivering it in a format that encourages comparison and fosters competitiveness, has resulted a huge increase in team spirit – especially when the award is given out for the best team and they are mentioned in the company magazine to support further recognition and awareness.
To measure our staffs attitude and behaviour towards these customer improvement programs we have executed regular staff surveys called „Pulse‟, to gauge the cultural changes we been implemented and areas that require further focus.

Customer Charter shaping
Currently, Liam and Neil have developed a Customer Charter program called “Big 5‟. The program objectives have been linked into our Customer Charter to support the commitment we have to our customers.