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H3G S.p.A. is an Italian telecommunications company, which is part of the Hutchison Whampoa Group, offering cellular telephone services, wireless Internet access and mobile television under the ‘3’ brand. With over 10.1 million active SIMs, it is the fourth largest mobile operator in Italy.

"Following a review of our Customer Care service, H3G decided to redesign our Service and Operating Model and move from an organisation based on activities to an organisation that focused more on the customer. Our aim was to establish a “one-to-one” relationship between each customer and our Customer Care operators. By delivering same 'operator pool' engagement we aimed to guarantee our care could then be measured against set targets and responsibilities," explains Antonella Lenardi, Customer Care Operational Planning & Control Manager, H3G.

The new organisational model was designed so that when customers called the H3G customer support number, their profile was assigned to a specific pool of customer care operators, which the customer would always be directed towards during subsequent engagements. This assignment meant the pool was solely responsible and accountable for managing the entire customer care experience.

With this objective, the "Green Project" was born: an innovative review of the Customer Care system that ensured the most valuable & loyal customers were assigned to dedicated teams, without having to go through the interactive voice response menu.

H3G selected Lanner’s Italian partner, Studio Zeta, to design their Customer Care processes and transform the organisation's Customer Care management, with the aim of evolving from a traditional contact management system, to a more effective overall management of the individual customer experience.

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Example 2D Layout of a Contact Centre Model in WITNESS

The Objectives of the Project

"The company set out to develop a stable, lasting and loyal relationship with its customers. ln a saturated market, like that of telecommunications, the relationship with the customer becomes a competitive advantage that strengthens and supports loyalty of the customer base.
We also wanted to empower the Call Centre operators with targets that could be tracked, to ensure Customer Service levels are maintained and to benchmark who is meeting their targets and providing excellent Customer Service.
The new Operational Model aimed to distribute responsibility across the Call Centre operators, expanding their field of action and increasing their own skill sets". explains Antonella Lenardi.

The Process Model

"A Pool of customers is assigned to a Pool of operators. The operators then become fully responsible for the entire life cycle of the customers within their assigned Pool.

Each operator manages all the processes, has complete visibility of the objectives and results to be achieved and a certain autonomy of work organisation within their own Pool. Thanks to the visibility of the results of their own, and other, pools, a benchmark is set with a continuous challenge to improve results, which encourages participation and team work with the incentive of awards based on monthly targets.” Says Antonella Lenardi.

The primary objective of the project required the identification of the minimum number of operators to be included in the Pool that would guarantee a one-to-one relationship with the customers.

However, in such a complex model, traditional sizing techniques, such as the Erlang C formulas, could not be used.

"We needed to answer questions such as: what is the operational efficiency of this Operating Model? If workloads increase, what happens?

Before introducing such a risky change into a fragile and complex organisation such as Customer Care, we needed to test our plans, and what better tool to use than simulation to give us an answer?” continues Antonella Lenardi.

Predictive Simulation in Customer Care Processes

H3G selected Studio Zeta and  WITNESS predictive simulation to experiment with the proposed changes to the Customer Care model, the key areas they wanted to model and test included:

Sizing the Operating Model

During the first phase, H3G needed to analyse the minimum number of operators required to meet the management targets and the relationship between the number of operators, Pools and customers to maintain.

There were two targets: the ACR (percentage of abandoned calls) and the 20 second service level (percentage of calls answered within 20 seconds).

To understand how to meet the targets, the following variables needed to be modelled:

  • Call volumes per day
  • Call distribution by time slots
  • Staffing
  • Management time distribution

The simulation model identified online activities as more critical, as they require a synchronous intervention of the operator with the customer.

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Example Call Centre User Interface using WITNESS .cloud

Optimisation of Management Processes

To minimise the inefficiency of the Operating Model and manage calls with different requirements, the simulation also looked at:

  • How inactivity of frontline resources effected the target service level
  • Variability of inputs
  • Enhancement of skills Operator skills, including converting calls to sales
"We decided to adopt for the first two dimensions of the so-called "bench management" style, which involved minimising the resources dedicated to frontline work and bringing in the back-office teams during peak calls times or when frontline operators were not available," explains Riccardo Guarnieri, H3G Customer Care Operational Planning Manager.

In the simulation phase the following objectives were verified:

  • The capacity of the Customer Care Operating Model
  • The number of interruptions to back office activities
  • The verification with respect to the targets

At the same time, Skill Based Routing was implemented.

In this specific case two skills were identified for calls, one for sales and one for more general customer service calls. Both were types of calls were routed and tested with WITNESS.

With the general calls, a search was first made for all the operators available on the frontline. After “n” waiting seconds, the search was also extended to the back-office operators.

As for the sales skill, the first search was carried out among all the operators who had a skill of selling within the Pool. After “n” waiting seconds, the search was extended to all front-line operators.

After verifying the sustainability of the routing rules, the number of operators required with the selling skill within the Pool was defined.

The last example of the of application of the simulation model concerned the sensitivity analysis and the management of assets to validate the performance of the Operating Model as the workload varies.

Based on the results obtained, contingency rules were defined to better face any difficult situations.

The simulations kept the staffing fixed, the distribution of calls per time band and the distribution of management time, modifying the workload.

The model had operating policies that changed routing depending on volume of calls received. Upon exceeding 20% of the volumes, it was identified as being necessary to change the organisational structure by involving all the resources available on the frontline and temporarily suspending back office activities.

Alternatively, when 30% of the volumes were exceeded, calls were sent to other call centre Pools (overflows) to try to answer as many calls as possible.

Finally, when exceeding 40%, it was decided that calls had to move to a ‘Supergroup’ of the Call Centre in which the logic of the Pool was less and where they used 5 Pools to respond to the incoming call up with the first available operator.

The Role of Planning

Not only has H3G used predictive simulation to transform their Customer Care service, it is continuously used to set objectives and ensure service levels are met.

"Simulation still helps us to transform strategic objectives, such as delivering high-quality customer service with small operator pools, ensuring efficiency and targets are met. Beyond that the all new processes are tested before implementation and therefore simulation is a part of our everyday life at H3G"- concludes Riccardo Guarnieri, H3G Customer Care Operational Planning Manager.

WITNESS Horizon version 21.0 - Tutorial 4 - Call Center Model from Lanner on Vimeo.


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