Using homeworking to extend opening hours and boost employee engagement

Introduction of Family-friendly Shifts

Operating in a fiercely competitive market, this leading insurer is under pressure to optimise every part of its business: people, operations and technology.

As a company that’s committed to its people, it is also keen to maintain high levels of employee engagement and low attrition – a task that’s made difficult by intense labour market competition in and around its two UK centres.

In 2017, as part of its comprehensive Employee Engagement strategy, the company introduced more family-friendly shift patterns within its contact centres – effectively ending shifts after 6pm as well as many weekend shifts.

While regarded as a positive move within the business, it also created a significant resourcing problem. How could it maintain long opening hours (8am – 8pm) when it had fewer people available to work the more inconvenient service hours being offered to customers?

First Homeworking Steps

Homeworking was identified as a possible solution and introduced within a satellite office. Around 120 people were given Citrix-enabled PCs and asked to work-from-home either part or full time. Unfortunately, the trial quickly faltered. Employees had received little prior warning about the move and many found it simply wasn’t for them. With little to no experience of what it took to manage a large team of homeworkers, Managers and Team Leaders also struggled in multiple areas from communication to scheduling, maintaining motivation & productivity, training and monitoring the health & well being of remote workers. The team of 120 people quickly dwindled.

A Pilot Project

It was at this point that the insurer turned to Sensée and, after extensive planning discussions, a 9 month pilot project commenced in April 2018.

The project involved over 134 Sensée advisors providing general phone-based customer service and sales support to the company’s car insurance customers.

Support focused on two key areas. First, evenings and weekends – a strategy that dovetailed neatly with the company’s new family-friendly shift policy. And second, plugging the small scheduling gaps that occurred during the day where the insurer didn’t have the right number of people available, with the right skills, to meet the expected volume and nature of contacts. Sensée’s ability to micro schedule was absolutely key in this regard. With its TeamTonic scheduling solution able to schedule right down to 30 minute slots, the Operations team could simply review its entire daily/weekly/monthly workforce schedule, identify the gaps, and use Sensée personnel to fill them.

It was a flexible approach that delivered significant advantages to the insurer when it came to the commercial arrangement. Rather than specify a precise number of hours required every week/month, it was able to call on Sensée resources via a combination of mandatory hours and on-demand hours using a flexible ‘interval slot delivery’ approach. It also meant that the company only paid for the hours that Sensée delivered.

Moving towards a Longer Term Partnership

Following the conclusion of the pilot in August 2018, the partnership moved forward with changes to the number of contracted mandatory hours, as well as changes in the commercial arrangement.

Under the new approach, the Minimum Contracted Hours (MCH) that Sensée was required to work could be flexed up and down by up to 20% to drive even greater scheduling flexibility, while the requirement to work evenings and weekends was dropped in favour of a mid-week morning focus.

Sensée continued to support the company’s car insurance customers as well as help its client with new business and service calls.

In addition, a new contractual arrangement was introduced that combined payment by productive hours worked with payment by performance. The latter involved a calculation of performance based on 20 key KPIs (from AHT to renewal rate, CSAT, NPS, Quality, New Business sales and more).

The partnership built successfully over the next year. And when the contract was renewed in August 2019, a new skillset was introduced – Renewals. By August 2019, the contract had grown to 212 heads (covering Advisors, Team Leaders, Deputy Team Leaders and Floorwalkers).

Over the next 12 months the Sensée team continued to overcome challenges and frequently went the next step to support its client:

Upskilling the team to email handling to assist during the early stages of the Covid-19 crisis when it was transitioning its own people to home working
Uncovering several ‘ghosting rings’ (where fraudsters have attempted to set up multiple cars on the same policy, or cover multiple drivers on a single policy) potentially saving our client thousands of pounds

Sensée’s advisors and Support & Management remained professional and positive throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and feedback from the company’s Internal Quality Team has regularly praised the efforts of Sensée’s advisors. Customer feedback has also been very positive.

2020 Sensée performance against key KPIs is presented in the table below:

Leading Insurer stats

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