Contact strategy manager – dialler strategy – a Q&A with Jason Taylor
Here at Sigma Connected, we take pride in the fact that we are recognised as a business that does things differently.
As part of that, we strive to make the process between customers and our contact centre agents as efficient and hassle-free as possible. Embracing new technology is key to our unparalleled success when it comes to developing and deploying bespoke and innovative contact strategies that bring a sustained uplift in performance.
Jason Taylor our award winning, Head of Contact Strategy is key to that process as he creates innovative contact strategies for the dialler team to implement.
Can you explain what the dialler is?
A dialler is essentially an automated system that improves efficiency and accuracy by connecting agents directly to customers as soon as they are free, meaning they don’t waste time physically inputting telephone numbers.
The main aim is to remove a lot of repetitive and error-prone work so instead, agents can spend more of each call talking to customers, supporting them and solving their problems.
I wanted to take this concept and really build on it to ensure customers would genuinely receive the best possible service. When tasked with improving performance on inbound calls, I thoroughly researched, sourced and tested new technology to integrate with our systems, and we now create priority groupings based on agents’ skills, meaning calls are not just automatically connected, but targeted specifically to the correct person. That can be so powerful.
To ensure the seamless running of this system, we created a specialist Dialler Team. Each member receives thorough coaching and training to maximise effectiveness and achieve 100% compliance.
Who makes up the Dialler Team, and what do they do?
Our high-performing Dialler Team is made up of 15 technically-minded and hard-working operators and managers, who support more than 1,500 colleagues. We also have someone dedicated to continuous improvement who looks at existing processes and emerging risks. This means we are constantly evolving and achieving better results for our clients.
Members of the team are the gatekeepers between our client’s customers and our call centre agents. Essentially, the team is responsible for facilitating the handling of inbound calls by creating a bespoke journey for customers on issues such as billing or other queries.
What is amazing is that the Dialler Team has been responsible for enabling a 32% increase in inbound calls being passed to the best performing agents whilst not impacting customer experience. The introduction of the system has seen a 10% improvement on collections per inbound call received, which is one of our key KPIs. That’s a really proud milestone for us.
The team has also demonstrated innovation in their approach to delivering a superior service to our client’s customers. Not only have they created bespoke and successful contact strategies that have delivered real results against our direct competitors, but they have also sought out and embraced new technologies which have delivered increased customer contact and driven longer, more effective conversations.
What benefits do the contact strategies you deploy bring for clients?
I was responsible for the design and deployment of the strategy on the telephony platform for one of our largest clients, which yielded immediate results – moving our 6% liquidation rates to almost 10%.
The client distributes telephony work out to multiple outsourcers and we find that none of our competitors can come close to our results. Because of this, the client asked us to take on an increased allocation of outbound work which has brought additional financial benefits to them.
We have also been responsible for the design and deployment of an end-to-end collections solution for one of our new clients, and by creating an intuitive contact strategy an immediate improvement in performance was achieved.
Following its launch, there was a 20% improvement on ledger reduction in the first month, and it has continued to drive further improvements in performance, with December 2022 seeing a 50% improvement to ledger reduction compared with pre-strategy results. This huge increase was achieved with a 27% reduction in effort.
One of our prestigious energy clients, prior to a contact strategy being implemented in March 2022, saw us delivering £415 in collections per hour. Following its implementation, and with new technologies deployed, the collections per hour have since increased to £587.
How about the benefits to Sigma Connected as a business?
The contact strategy and introduction of new technologies generated better results for us during 2022. It should never be assumed, though, that the introduction of new technology alone can achieve such results.
It is crucial that members of staff are highly trained and on board with its features. With this in mind, as well as designing and creating the contact strategy, I also supported the coaching and development of the Dialler Team in adopting a new approach to working, ensuring that not only were the clients’ customers given the best possible service but also that the team remained 100% committed and compliant to the strict telecommunication regulations set out to protect customers.
Our innovative contact strategy is industry leading and whenever we are compared by clients to other BPOs or in-house teams, we are always placed in the top two and now winning on average 80% of client work. It is thanks to this contact strategy and methods that we have carved out such a fantastic reputation and why we are different to other outsourcers.
Do you have any other specific examples of campaign successes driven directly from the Dialler Team?
We are employed by one client to work an early collections outbound campaign. The client utilises multiple DCAs to contact customers in early arrears and we are currently one of only three receiving a percentage allocation.
The Dialler Support Team has developed a bespoke contact strategy which utilises various contact channels to engage with the client’s customers more creatively and through the use of a ‘champion challenger’ process we have created a contact strategy which is blowing all other competitors out of the water.
Against a liquidation target of 5% we have delivered an average 7.54% with highs at the end of Q4 of 10%. This is compared to our competitors who were averaging 1.48% and 1.98%. The team are proactive in their approach, and are always looking at ways to learn from past performance so they continue to improve going forward.
We discovered that no outbound work was being undertaken during times of high inbound calls and this was impacting our clients’ overall collections results so as a team we wanted to understand if there was anything we could do differently.
The Dialler Support Team, through analysis of performance, identified an opportunity to free up time and developed a strategy to counteract the increased volumes. The results far exceeded what we anticipated, with us able to deliver an additional £2.2m of collections in 2,500 fewer productive hours in a single month. Collections per hour increased from £295 to £585 and circa 700 hours per month were saved on outcomes such as answer machines or third parties.
How big a role does new technology play in a successful contact strategy?
Over the past 12 months the Dialler Team has been challenged by a client to help improve customer trust whilst at the same time protecting brand reputation.
We were already aware that making outbound collections calls can be challenging, with some customers refusing to engage in conversations due to trust issues and our agents finding themselves in an uphill battle trying to convince them that the call is genuine.
The Dialler Team conducted lots of research into reasons why customers were reluctant to complete verification to discuss their accounts and by doing so identified two pieces of technology as potential game-changers. The first is designed to give customers reassurance and trust that the call is genuine and the measure of success was set as an increase in answer rate by customers and we achieved a 54% increase. During the trial period we established that using this new approach not only increased the overall answer rate, but also saw fewer attempts required to establish contact, whilst average talk time was higher.
The second piece of technology was designed to again improve customer confidence once a call had been answered by personalising the call before passing it through to an agent. We found that more customers chose to go through verification on their account with this in place, whilst a higher percentage of customers opted to bring their account up-to-date over the phone via card payment compared with accounts not on the trial.
And finally, looking to the future – how are you hoping to develop the contact strategy going forward?
I am always on the lookout for new ideas and technology to maximise efficiency and ensure the process is as effective as possible.
If I believe something will benefit the company, I make it a personal mission to drive the idea through to the team and empower them to test it out further.
Drawing on my 16 years working in customer profiling with HSBC Bank, I spend a considerable amount of time finding new ways of working, always looking for the extra marginal gains – a vital trait for someone working in the contact centre industry. This could be through online research or attending exhibitions to look at best practice and new technologies.
I never sit still thinking the solution is already good enough, and I am constantly looking at ways we can be even better and deliver more for our clients and their customers.