How can innovation improve customer service?
Type of Company: FTSE 100 Outsourcing Company & FTSE 100 Telecom Provider
Serco, a FTSE-100 outsourcing company based in the UK, operates contact centers for a large, FTSE 100 broadband provider, who was seeking to raise the level of performance for customer service. ipCG's innovation process was used to discover and prioritize 300 innovation ideas toward this objective.
ipCG has partnered with Serco to install an internal innovation team that has been trained in the ipCG innovation process. The Serco innovation team led a joint session between the broadband provider and the Serco contract team that provides contact centers to understand the business issues and generate an Innovation LandscapeSM. This process and the output enabled the broadband provider and the Serco contract team to reach a clear consensus on the problems that needed the most attention. The Innovation Landscape depicts the highest priority business issues, including challenges and opportunities, in pictorial and text forms, and is shown below (with confidential details removed).
The Innovation Landscape was then used as a tool for conducting two Innovation ScanSM sessions - one with front line call center operators, and a second with line managers. The Innovation Scan process extracts out relevant ideas and solutions that directly address the business issues and Innovation Landscape in a facilitated approach. The two Innovation Scans generated a comprehensive and holistic set of 300 solutions that could be used to raise the performance of the operation at almost every level.
From the beginning, the broadband provider, as the project "client," was focused on improving the capture and recording of particular types of customer complaints by the Serco contract team. However, as the innovation process proceeded, it became clear that some of the real challenges in the contact center were around the difficulty of call center advisors communicating with real personality to those calling. The innovation process helped to identify that there was a strong emphasis on call structure, partly driven by legal and regulatory requirements, which resulted in many call center advisors feeling they were perceived by customers as promoting process rather than service solutions. Through the collaborative efforts, the Serco contract team and the client were able to clarify the situation, develop new insights into their challenges, and create a diverse set of potential solutions.
The way this innovation process clearly stepped the client through acknowledging key problems, prioritizing solutions, and agreeing on an implementation plan made for an improved client-Serco working relationship. In addition, there were also many benefits in staff engagement. Notably, the careful extraction and objective prioritization of staff ideas helped to break down barriers and improve the working mood.
Just three months after the process began, Serco's performance on handling customer complaints moved to the top of the client's supplier performance table.
Special thanks to Jonathan Hollow and the Serco team for their contributions.