Facing customer experience operation challenges head on

Business woman planning in front of a whiteboard
The key for enterprises that want to focus on consumer retention is fresh thinking around the traditional way of doing business

Let’s face it. Running a contact centre has become more confusing, complex and challenging, even for the seasoned enterprise professional. With more demands from consumers across a multitude of channels, alongside the need for different technologies and compliance requirements, ensuring end-user loyalty in an efficient manner has never been more difficult.

But it need not be that way, provided the right business model is in place, one that leverages the best people, platforms and processes. At Sensée, our unique approach has been pushing in this direction for years. And we can provide our clients with great results, both in terms of consumer interactions and operational efficiencies.

One of the core areas that Sensée has optimised relates to our people. As the UK’s leading provider of home-based agents, Sensée has been fortunate enough to attract an abundance of top-quality applicants who are interested in pursuing a home-based contact centre career.

Part of the reason relates to the fact that Sensée offers people the ability to work anywhere in the UK, in a way which suits their lifestyles and we provide proper full-time employment and benefits, ensuring our team members financial stability. Moreover, allowing our team members to choose the campaign that they want to work on also attracts many new recruits.

“An experienced, highly engaged workforce equates to better service for our clients and their customers.”

As a result, Sensée’s monthly attrition levels are less than 1%. An experienced, highly engaged workforce equates to better service for our clients and their customers.

Our experience contrasts sharply with those of many bricks-and-mortar contact centres, which have had a great deal of difficulty in finding a strong base of applicants. In the current near full-employment UK economy, some are struggling mightily to retain the talent that they have.

With due respect for the traditional contact centre model, the target agent profile is under heavy demand from not only customer experience providers, but from other sectors, such as hospitality, travel & leisure, retail and front-line financial services. Combined with recent increases in the minimum wage, it is little wonder that good agents for bricks-and-mortar contact centres are harder to find and costs are increasing!

“it is little wonder that good agents for bricks-and-mortar contact centres are harder to find and costs are increasing.”

Sensée has been able to avoid these pressure points. Our recruits are drawn to customer service as a career. They like working from home; it fits their lifestyles.

We do not recruit from a finite pool of labour, typically within a fifteen-mile radius of a contact centre, but from across the whole UK. As such, we do not experience the regional workforce pressures that many operators do in contact centre hotspots like Manchester, South Yorkshire, South Wales, Glasgow and the North East.

The virtual model allows Sensée to focus on pulling in specific skill sets that would otherwise be very tough to recruit for in a traditional contact centre. We better serve clients across sectors by attracting agents with relevant experience, higher education levels, language capabilities and professional certifications.

“2020 represents a great opportunity for business while operationally being a challenging time for customer experience delivery.”

Our approach results in a higher-touch point between the brands that Sensée represents and the consumers we serve. I believe that 2020 represents a great opportunity for business while operationally being a challenging time for customer experience delivery.

The key for enterprises that want to focus on consumer retention is fresh thinking around the traditional way of doing business. Embracing new operating models that concurrently deliver the best results alongside efficiencies that can be passed back to the client is the type of unique approach that is required.

As consumers, we continue to grow more discerning than ever, and Sensée’s virtual approach is designed to exceed expectations.

Ethical values at the heart of Sensée’s delivery

Real living wage graphic
The real living wage is up to 30% higher than the national living wage set by the UK government and is independently assessed to make sure it provides enough for employees to live on.

Over a long career in outsourcing, I have seen many changes. How we do business as providers of front-line services has little resemblance to even a decade ago. One of the things that strikes me is the need for outsourcers to be proactive around fostering a more inclusive workplace, an approach that benefits the agent in tandem with the client whose services or products they are representing. This aligns with ensuring that environmental responsibilities are taken seriously, and not just paid lip-service. I am proud to say that Sensée is committed to ethical delivery, and we are already taking the needed steps to be a British provider of choice in this regard.

“One of the things that strikes me is the need for outsourcers to be proactive around fostering a more inclusive workplace.”

People are a good starting point for this discussion. After all, human resources count for over 70% of contact centre operations in the UK, so it just makes sense to ensure that front-line team members are happy and motivated. And because workplace uncertainty is so pervasive, at Sensée we want our agents to feel as financially secure as possible. This is why we pay our team members a real living wage, in order to remove the uncertainty that comes with so many other jobs in the current marketplace. There are no zero-hour contracts at Sensée — this way of working only drives low morale. When somebody joins our team, they do so with the understanding that they can count on a steady income, one that includes benefits, holidays and pension.

“There are no zero-hour contracts at Sensée — this way of working only drives low morale.”

Smiling young disabled woman in a wheelchair
Around 30% of our team are either registered as disabled or care for someone at home, a figure far above the national average.

But, at Sensée remuneration is only a part of the agent equation. Anybody that knows the contact centre industry realises that working conditions greatly influences how well a team performs. This is why we have worked to ensure that our workforce across the UK is able to take full advantage of their virtual status. Agents can map their skills and interests to the client campaign that they choose to work on. This immediately means more engagement with the role (and customer) at hand. Consider, too, that among those seeking to work for Sensée, the lack of a daily commute is a real selling point. Anyone who has been caught on the motorway or the train during rush-hour can relate to this. The Sensée ethos is based on inclusiveness, and we are proud to be an employer of choice for individuals who may have reduced mobility, have mental health challenges, have carer responsibilities, live in rurally isolated communities, or who simply do not want to work traditional shifts in a Bricks and Mortar environment.

“we are proud to be an employer of choice for individuals who may have reduced mobility, have mental health challenges, have carer responsibilities, live in rurally isolated communities, or who simply do not want to work traditional shifts.”

The net result of our ethically driven workplace practices is a team of highly engaged agents who are ready to serve consumers above and beyond. The numbers speak for themselves. Our annual attrition is around 10%, well below that found in traditional outsourced operations. And with sickness levels under 3% per annum, it validates that our agents enjoy coming to work.

This goes hand-in-hand with our commitment to the environment. With business more worried about the climate than ever before, it is important for customer experience to be done with a green approach. Therefore, Sensée’s work-at-home virtual model is more relevant now than ever. Keeping agents off the roads, allowing them to work from their homes, delivering high-quality service means that we are operating with a carbon footprint that is 90% lower than an equivalent sized bricks-and-mortar operation. Our clients love this, and it has been a great morale booster for our agents who are very worried about the ongoing climate change crisis.

“we are operating with a carbon footprint that is 90% lower than an equivalent sized bricks-and-mortar operation.”

Ethical contact centre delivery does not need to be hard — it simply makes sense. Sensée is leading the market with this approach to customer experience delivery, and it continues to be received positively by agents and clients alike. I believe that this approach is the right one for 2020 and beyond.