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Customer Experience

Ambition is the key to BGL Group’s ECCCSA success


At this year’s ECCCSA European Contact Centre & Customer Services Awards, BGL Group was named as Large Contact Centre of the Year. This was a category that BGL Group also won two years ago.

BGL Group wins Large Contact Centre of the Year at ECCCSA 2019

We were keen to learn more about the steps that the team at BGL had taken to maintain its CX operations at such a high level, so we asked Mark Brannen – BGL Group’s Associate Director for Contact Centre Operations – for his insights.

When BGL Group first won the prestigious ECCCSA Award for Large Contact Centre of the Year in 2017 we were of course really proud of this achievement. Being ambitious is a core BGL value, and for us that means not only being obsessive about delivering good outcomes for our customers, but also being relentless in driving exceptional standards.

So, even while celebrating back in 2017, we were already thinking about what we could collectively do to take our customer service to the next level. The good news was that this would align completely with our Group strategy of making a difference for our customers, colleagues and communities. And, having now won the Large Contact Centre of the Year ECCCSA, we had a great platform to build on!

However, commitments to delivering an unrivalled CX proposition have to be more than just a tagline or a poster on the contact centre wall. That’s why we’ve embedded this behaviour at the heart of our values – thinking differently, disrupting markets to benefit our customers, making the experience easy, and applying a clear focus on getting interactions right first time.

Being creative is critical to our success. We use technology to innovate, and we’re serious about trying new things, failing fast and applying our learnings. That’s essential in a field where change is continuous. A decade ago, for example, around 95% of the contacts coming into the business were voice interactions. Now that figure is close to 70%, and we’re successfully automating the remaining 30%. That’s a significant volume when you consider we’re receiving around 10 million interactions a year.

Investing in people and technology

Working with a CX technology partner like Sabio is clearly important, particularly as we invest in key developments such as our Virtual Assistant solution that supports our fully automated Self Service Centre. Our goal here is to ensure that we’re constantly focused on directing simpler contacts away from live service for automation.

With around 70,000 contacts per month already being successfully handled by the Virtual Assistant, we’re clearly seeing a significant transition. However, we’ve also got to recognise that the shift towards automation is changing the mix of interactions that our contact centre agents are having to deal with. A growing proportion of complex calls means that our contact centre teams are increasingly focused on problem solving rather than simply handling calls.

That’s why we’ve continued to invest in our people, equipping them to manage this greater complexity. Our agents have all undergone training in getting things right first time, while our line managers and department heads have also been focused on ensuring that our CX operations are able to succeed in a landscape where everything is changing around them. An important part of this is making sure that everybody is comfortable with the changes we’re making in technology, and understands how important this is in future-proofing our contact centre operations.

For example, the introduction of Speech Analytics that we worked on with Sabio, has added significant value to our coaching activity. Previously, team leaders had to trawl through thousands of call recordings before coaching sessions. Now the combination of Speech Analytics with repeat call reporting means we can be much more effective by focusing in on where agents are doing well and where they might need further support. Speech Analytics is also vital when it comes to enabling our Lending Support Team to identify potential interactions with customers who may be having difficulties in making payments.

Achieving the right balance between innovation and operational excellence

Even though we’re setting the pace when it comes to innovations around AI-powered self-service and customer engagement analytics, we always make sure we consider technology through the lens of positive customer outcomes. Just because you can automate something doesn’t necessarily mean you should. Going back to our core values helps us keep our disruptive initiatives on track.

Equally important is that we draw on our operational insight to continually refine our digital and self-service activities. With our webchat team, for example, we have a group that have all come from the contact centre, so they are able to resolve any customer query. This means that they can focus in on those customer interactions that aren’t being completed digitally, not just by monitoring digital drop-out rates but by making sure that our webchat team loops back on any issues that may have caused customers to jump from self-service into webchat.

In this way, our webchat team are actively influencing the development of our virtual assistant content, providing the critical feedback our self-service team needs to keep on refining and improving outcomes for our self-service customers.

Getting a better picture of what our customers want and need from us

As we’ve seen over the two years since we first won the ECCCSA Award, customer expectations are continually evolving. With BGL Group handling some 10 million interactions a year, we’re able to build an improving picture of what our customers want and need from us – and we’re working hard to keep on meeting those expectations.

So we’re delighted that, during a period where our business has grown significantly and we’ve accelerated our investment in digital and self-service capabilities, we’ve been able to maintain an impressive 93% CSAT score – and seen our NPS grow from 29 to 51. Now we’ve got to build on this to make sure we remain a contender for future ECCCSAs in the years to come!


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