BGL Group invests in Customer Excellence programme to build multi-channel capability.

BGL Group’s strategic focus is to make a difference for its customers, colleagues and communities. The Group has developed a Customer Excellence strategy intended to utilise digital technology with the aim of improving overall customer experience. BGL is a leading digital distributor of household finance products to more than eight million customers who are serviced through Fusion contact centres across the UK.

Significant investment has been committed to build multi-channel capability – the foundations are in place and value is beginning to emerge. To date, the process improvements have included the development of a Self Service Centre, Webchat, Speech Analytics and a Virtual Assistant.

The Self Service Centre (SSC) is an online self service centre which allows customers to quickly and easily access their policy documents and update or edit their details without having to telephone the contact centre. Previously customers had the option to either ring or email to enquire and make amendments to their policy but the SSC now accounts for 12% of the overall contact volume received across all brands. Not only has it improved customer satisfaction, it’s also reduced the volume of calls the contact centre are taking. The Group is looking to develop the SSC further to offer customers the opportunity to make more decisions efficiently.

Webchat has been in place for just over two years with customers serviced by a dedicated Digital Operations team in Sunderland. This channel is now responsible for 3% of overall contact volume with close to 30,000 interactions a month. Webchat is becoming increasingly popular for customers as it’s an easy way for them to get prompt assistance and the answers they need, signposting them to the most appropriate channel to solve their query. Improved competency in this area now enables the Customer Service teams to handle interactions more efficiently than over the phone, while customer satisfaction remains on par with telephony.

An upgraded platform was rolled out earlier this year which provides customers with an improved mobile experience whilst delivering greater insight into customer behaviour. Finally, webchat allows the Customer Service teams to deal with three requests in the time it takes to deal with a single telephone call. This results in more customers’ issues being resolved efficiently and a reduction in costs associated with telephony.

Speech Analytics software monitors over 600,000 calls per month, gathering a huge amount of insight which is used to identify what the teams are doing well and highlight those discussion areas in need of improvement. This insight has been used to improve coaching as part of training sessions and has helped reduce handling time by 15 seconds, as well as minimising the number of customers who need to call more than once to resolve their query. The right technology is in place but next steps look to optimise it: digital communications and online documentation will become standard practice, ensuring customers are delivered the right information in a way they want to receive it.

Finally, the latest development is the Virtual Assistant. This service is an intelligent online help technology that is designed to reduce telephony and webchat contact. It’s an intuitive self-learning technology that takes on a ‘personality’ over time. It has recently finished its second pilot and the teams involved in developing the pilots have been able to refine answers to customers’ questions, which has resulted in the Virtual Assistants now handling hundreds of customer queries with 90%+ success rates. Responses will continue to be fine-tuned to drive optimum customer experiences, allowing more customers to self-serve at a time and place that suits them.

Nicola Sumner, Director Customer Operations – Customer Experience, BGL Group commented:

“We’re striving to make a difference for our customers and put them at the heart of the decisions we make. Our recent Customer Excellence programme aims to empower customers to service themselves more efficiently and effectively.

“Giving customers the power to choose how they want to interact with us has improved overall satisfaction and in the meantime has reduced operating costs as we have fewer inbound calls coming into the contact centre. We’re still in the early stages of the programme and have already seen some great value being delivered but we want to continue to improve the customer experience and serve customers in the way they want to be served.”