In 2021 our existing partnership with a leading energy company ratcheted to another level they looked to us to support their “supplier of last resort” (SoLR) customers, moving them over from other energy suppliers who had gone bust. They trusted us, as an existing partner, to support them when they took on five new SoLR contracts, totalling 630,000 more customers in just four weeks.
The collapse of the energy market in summer 2021 saw a record 26 energy suppliers ceasing to trade, and millions of customers left in limbo which then had to be transferred to alternative suppliers under OFGEM’s SoLR process. Our client, a leading energy provider, made multiple successive bids for several of these companies and successful in winning five – seeing them take on 630,000 new customers within one month. Their customer base increased over 50% and they looked to us to find a solution to support them in transforming the operating structure to accommodate their growth.
Our client set us some clear objectives to meet when they were awarded over half a million new customers in just four weeks.
- Positively manage customer transition and make it as stress-free as possible.
- Clearly explain the process and manage a range of simple and complex questions.
- Resolve customer queries on the first call – meeting our client’s target of 76% resolution
- Keep call handling times below 13 minutes (approximately 800 seconds)
- Maintain the strong Trustpilot score of 4 out of 5
- Continuously train and develop the team on our clients products and behaviours to obtain consistency
- Drive down overall calls and complaints
Our work was carried out over three phases which proved hugely successful, meeting and exceeding all target.
Phase one – Rapid recruitment
Phase one saw us take on 350,000 customers with just three days-notice. In an unbelievably tight timescale, we recruited and trained 46 new customer service advisers over a72-hour period.
To achieve this, we used a national work-from-home team giving us access to the whole UK – using a Bring Your Own Device which significantly accelerated the IT set-up. We then trained people online, using pre-written FAQ’s which reduced training time significantly. Having supported a number of SoLR transfers previously we knew that the majority of customer’s questions would be the same.
With all security and IT infrastructure in place, we successfully recruited the temporary staff, all with call centre experience, and put them on stand-by to be ready if our client won the SoLR contract. If they didn’t win, we would then have to stand-down the temporary staff we’d trained in advance. This was a risk and cost to us that we were prepared to take due to the partnership we had developed with our client. Both parties were delighted when our client was successful.
Phase two – Stabilisation
With phase one deployed we moved to phase two which was far more complex. We deployed more experienced customer service advisers on a permanent basis to support the customers as they transitioned over to their new provider, our client. Eventually over 100 advisors were recruited, supported by a larger management team. Training yet again was key, and we delivered that in partnership with our client through online learning, coaching portals.
Due to the successful recruitment model, we were well prepared for what came next – a larger influx of customers due to our client taking on four more failed companies in October 2021.
Phase three – Cost savings
With commercial and financial objectives in mind, we were asked to transition all roles over to our offshore South African operation in Cape Town. Within three-months, we managed this and ramped-up at speed to 200 staff with no detriment to service.
Additionally, we brought in a Head of Client Operations based in the UK who’s in constant communication with the client to act as a go-between for operations, governance and communications, maintaining a UK-facing relationship.
Glide Path KPIs and quality assurance
Alongside getting the right people, we had to ensure reporting/targets were clear, so as a partnership we introduced our Glide Path KPIs.
These are targets set by the client, based on the ramp-up of staff as they come out of training and live on the phones. We share the results on a weekly basis so there is full transparency on our performance and where we are with targets, right down to an individual adviser level. Vitally, this also identifies any further training needed or which advisers are going above and beyond so they can be recognised.
We also put in place a Quality Assurance team who check on individual performance and understand how they’re doing against a Quality Score Card. This allows call quality to be checked and through daily, weekly and monthly business reviews, allowing both sides to raise concerns or acknowledge best practice.
Despite the challenges presented, we’re delighted to share many joint achievements with our clients:
- Customer account trust – Being trusted to take on additional 630,000 customers ahead of another Outsourcer, 350,000 with three days-notice and further 280,000 over three-weeks.
- First contact resolution – We increased first contact call resolution from 65% in January 2022 to 77% in June 2022. Helped by utilising our highly respected offshore team in South Africa.
- Handling time – We’ve successfully reduced call handling time from 868 to 800 seconds through identification of improvement areas.
- Email backlogs – We were chosen by our client to take on new/additional work. This involved clearing a backlog of thousands of email queries which had built-up between April – June. We achieved this through categorisation of queries, clearly defined roles within our team depending on the problem, and through own research using Insider analytics – allowing our clients’ own staff to get back to normal day-to-day working.
- Trustpilot – We’ve met our Trustpilot target by consecutively achieving a score of 4.1.
- Integrating values – From day one we ensure our advisers embraced our client’s core business values by intertwining them with our own.
- Broadband diversification – Due to our success with the energy-related backlog queries we moved to assist our client with another service, their broadband contact resolutions.
- Cost saving in South Africa – Successfully transferring parts of our service to South Africa, giving significant financial benefits with no detriment to service or customers.
- Building tighter relationships – Our client visited Cape Town to see and understand our operation first-hand. On the back of the visit we received great feedback. They also commented on the cultural awareness training our staff receive and how impressed they were with the knowledge of the current cost of living crisis and fuel issues.
- Managing upwards – Successfully feeding regular data back to our client so they could share with the Board, allowing them to make future decisions.
- Fit for the future – Due to our performance, our client asked us to allocate a further 100 staff ahead of the October 2022 price increases – ensuring we’re all prepared.