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 SensĂ©e — 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.

Contact centre award recognises SensĂ©e’s investment in people

CCNNI Award Pic

Annamarie, Northern Ireland Sourcing Manager, with the CCNNI People Engagement award
Annamarie, Northern Ireland Sourcing Manager, with the CCNNI People Engagement award

Last week at the Contact Centre Network Northern Ireland awards in Belfast we picked up the People Engagement prize.

We came out as winners in a category with many of the UK’s leading contact centres including BT, Ulster Bank, Power NI and Capita.

The award was presented to Sensée because of our work, across many parts of our business, to put people at our heart:

  • Pay — providing the Real Living Wage
  • Recruitment — starting by engaging with people who are considering a career with us
  • Training — making everyone feel at home from day one
  • Operational Management — engaging our colleagues every hour they are working
  • Community — engagement outside of work
  • Initiatives — such as our initiative to support mental health week

The judges also recognised the impact our people engagement strategy has had on our business — reducing sickness as well as improving retention and performance.

Many thanks to everyone throughout Sensée who has made winning this award possible.

Northern Ireland homeworking opportunities roadshow

The Sensée team at the Ards and North Down job fair in Northern Ireland
The Sensée team at the Ards and North Down job fair in Northern Ireland

Over the last 6 month we’ve been working in Northern Ireland to bring our flexible homeworking to towns and glens.

If you’d like to find out more about how our homeworking will fit around your life, and how to apply, drop in to see us at one of these locations:

Ballymena Jobs & Benefits Office — 10th October
2 Parkway, Ballymena, BT43 5ET
2pm until 4pm

Strabane Jobs & Benefits Office — 15th October
18 Urney Rd, Strabane BT82 9DA
10am until 12pm

Mid Ulster Job Fair, Cookstown Leisure Centre— 20th November
78 Fountain Road, Cookstown, BT80 8QF
11:30 am until 6 pm

Foyle Jobs & Benefits Office — 26th Nov
Crown Buildings, Asylum Rd, Londonderry BT48 7EA
10am until 12pm

Come along for a chat, we’d love to see you there. If you can’t make it, but would still like to find out more, you can get more information and apply online or drop Annamarie a line: 028 867 63889, nirecruitment@sensee.co.uk.

Sensée shortlisted for more top contact centre honours

We’re pleased to say that, once again, we’ve been selected as finalists for major contact centre awards.

2019 CCNNI Awards FinalistThe Contact Centre Network Awards recognise the outstanding achievements of service organisations and individuals in Northern Ireland, where many of our team are based.

Our selection as a finalist in the People Engagement Award category recognises the range of work we do to engage and support our remote teams.

The UK Contact Centre Forum Awards acknowledge best practice amongst the UK’s 6000+ contact centres — rewarding innovation, team-working, employee engagement, the delivery of superb Customer Experience and more.

2019 UKCCF Awards FinalistOur unique homeworking operation has made the finals in three categories:
• Outsourcing partnership of the year — for our work with DPD
• Employee engagement strategy of the year
• Home agent operation of the year

The Gala Awards Ceremony for CCN takes place on 17th October at the Crowne Plaza Belfast. Awards for the UKCCF will be presented on October 25th at MK Dons Football Club.

 

Homeworking best practice and benchmarking workshops support UK business

 

We regularly run one day best practice and benchmarking homeworking workshopsto support UK businesses that want to benefit from homeworking for voice as well as digital customer service.

The workshops are designed to help optimise existing homeworking operations or successfully implement new ones. Led by our senior homeworking experts, they cover:

  • How to benchmark a current approach and future homeworking plans
  • Best practices for everything from recruitment to IT and scheduling
  • The many benefits that contact centre homeworking has brought for businesses in all industries

We’re passionate about homeworking and — as specialists working with companies in all sectors from financial services to utilities and retail for over 15 years — have a lot of experience to share.

The workshops are open to both public as well as private sector organisations, and we’ve had great feedback from leading UK contact centres including Nationwide, Sky, M&S, HMRC and Budget Insurance. 

If you’d like to come along to the next event, take a look at the workshops page where you’ll find out more about the date, location and what’s covered.

Sensée homeworking communities engage and connect

We think that providing opportunities for engagement, communities and socialisation is part and parcel of creating great work from home jobs. And, that working from home isn’t a solitary experience unless you want it to be — some of our people do choose it for the peace and quiet!

At Sensée we have a community and socialisation programme that connects everyone through positive engagement. It’s supported by our technology platform, that joins our teams together by allowing communication as well as interaction, and is actively managed throughout the year.

So far this year just some of the successful projects in the programme include:

Mental health week

For this we focused on providing information, throughout the week, on where support can be found as well as the impact of mental health issues. We also covered how we’ve created practical ways to help our community with improving life-work balance, reducing stress and managing anxiety.

National Carers week

8% of our team are carers and this project looked at how we could support them with information and help from various institutions. We also created a Sensée Carer Support Community. This provides a support network for carers and a voice for how we can best cater for their specific needs.

ex-Military and Military Spouses, Maternity Leavers and Disability groups

These groups have also been created to give support and understanding for people within our homeworking community that may also have special requirements.

All the effort, from community leaders and moderators to team leaders and managers, put into the projects, is making home a better place to work.

Overall the positive impact of the programme is reflected in the fact that our people are happy to stay with us for much longer than the industry average.

Better engagement, and the long length of time that people stay, is also something that means the standard of care our clients’ customers receive is high (we consistently provide industry-high standards). Our continued engagement, community and socialisation work will only add to this in future.

Energy provider SSE get homeworking on the grid with Sensée outsource services and cloud technology platform

This month saw our homeworking outsource services and platform come on-line for SSE. They’re part of the SSE Group, one of the UK’s largest and fastest growing energy companies.

With over 20,000 team members, at more than 150 locations, they’re a significant employer throughout the UK. Their diverse range of operations provides opportunities for people with a variety of skills and those looking for an exciting career change.

SSE is also dedicated to local communities and through their sponsorship programmes and volunteering projects, their aiming to put something back into the areas where they work.

Our outsource service advisor teams, and scalable cloud technology platform, has helped SSE bring homeworking on the grid in double quick time.

Currently, we have over 100 advisors providing general enquiry services for the major utility.

The project is also helping to support SSE’s long-term objective to have their own people working from home using the Sensée technology platform.

Hello Legal and General — SensĂ©e continues to grow with UK’s top life assurance provider

This month we’re delighted to say hello to well-known financial services brand Legal and General.

Legal and General are a top 20 global asset manager and the UK’s largest provider of individual life assurance products.

Founded in 1836, they’ve grown into one of Europe’s largest insurance and asset management groups, with over ÂŁ1 trillion in assets.

They aim to be economically and socially useful — improving the lives of their customers, building a better society for the long term and creating value for shareholders.

Their business is divided into six segments, which are focussed on delivering protection, retirement, solutions, savings and investment management for our customers.

Right now, we’re providing outsource customer service help for several different lines of business. And, as homeworking is now part of their customer service strategy, they’re looking to expand its use across more parts of their organisation over the coming years.

We’re looking forward to creating more work from home jobs to meet their needs soon.

Hastings Direct tackle flexibility and difficult working hours with Sensée homeworking

Over the last few months we’ve been working closely with Hastings Direct, helping them to set up a new outsource customer services homeworking operation.

They’re one of the UK’s fastest growing general insurance providers — offering a range of competitive and straightforward products and services including car, bike, van as well as home insurance. They also provide additional insurance services such as breakdown cover and family legal protection.

Hastings has a proud 20-year history. Since selling their first policy in 1997, they’ve been committed to their colleagues, customers, company as well as communities. They also regularly support charity and educational causes in their local communities of Bexhill-on-Sea and Leicester.

A major UK financial services provider, they have over 2.7million live customer policies and 3,300 colleagues.

Our Hastings Direct homeworking team of 120 service and sales advisors cover all operational hours. This includes the challenging times of early mornings, evenings and weekends as well as volatile peaks during the day.

We’re thrilled to be helping them tackle these key customer service challenges. And, supporting their multi-award business that has achieved Defaqto 5-star ratings for home and car insurance over the last 4 years.