AmicusHorizon are champions when it comes to contact centres, having scooped the ‘Best Small Contact Centre’ at the 2013 UK Customer Experience Awards. We look at how they make their call centre stand out.

AmicusHorizon is a charitable housing association (contact centre is based in Sittingbourne in Kent) with 60,000 customers in 28,000 affordable homes in London, Kent & Sussex.

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The business hit the jackpot with awards in 2012-13 and pride themselves on superb customer care. Over the last two years, they have worked with their customers to design and implement a customer experience strategy to improve all over service.

How they deal with customers in the contact centre is pivotal to their success.

“We work with people to change their lives – we’re not here to sell widgets” explained John Barr, Director of Customer Experience at AmicusHorizon.

They strive to be the top performer when it comes to peers and benchmark with other major service providers. They are always on the lookout for ways to improve performance, including focus groups, visiting other companies to share best practice and analysing complaints.

“Great customer care isn’t the remit of the private sector. We provide a high quality service to vulnerable, disadvantaged and hard to reach customers who need our help more than ever,” added Darren Hockley, Customer Experience Manager.

In terms of Awards, AmicusHorizon has walked away with:

  • London & S.E. Contact Centre Forum award 2013
  • UK Customer Experience awards 2012 & 2013
  • European Call Centre & Customer Service Awards 2011 & 2013
  • CCA Global Complaints Team award 2013

They have achieved the Government endorsed Customer Service Excellence accreditation for the last two years and were named a Sunday Times Top 100 employer (Top 20 in 2012 & 2013).

As a company, they aim to offer a consistent and pro-active response to customers, and introduced a traffic light system so advisors can see immediately who is available to help with complex issues.

“We treat complaints like gold – after all, they give us valuable customer feedback”

They looked at complaints in 2010 and identified inconsistency with responses. As a result, they made improvements and cut formal complaints from 691 in 2010 to 44 in 2013.

Implementing the customer experience strategy also helped them to smash contact centre performance targets for 2012-13.

  • 12 seconds average answer time
  • 96% calls answered
  • 91.4% calls handled right first time
  • 2.5% calls abandoned (after threshold).

A review of call centre opening hours led to AmicusHorizon outsourcing its out of hours calls, making savings of more than £100K but still offering the same service.

They embrace mobile working so customer facing staff have access to laptops and iPads. Using CRM, they are able access accurate, real time and reliable customer information when they are out and about – making each visit a positive customer experience.

AmicusHorizon realises its best asset is its staff. John told us, “We care about our people. We invest in them to unlock their potential. We create a fun, happy environment – our staff love coming to work”.
“We create surroundings where our staff can develop their skills and knowledge. Many of our Advisors secure promotions to other roles in our organisation – we get it right!,” added Darren.

Contact centre staff are taking part in this month’s Sports Comic Relief on March 21 by taking calls for donations from 18.00 to midnight – just one of the fun elements for the team.

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