Customer service plays a pivotal role in the telecommunications industry. Every interaction, every phone call, every query holds the power to shape a customer’s perception – for better or worse.  

And when you have a vast customer base of around 47 million people in the UK, and an ever-increasing market presence, that’s a lot of opportunities to either fuel loyalty and positively reinforce brand reputation – or the opposite.

This is the situation in which Virgin Media found itself in October, 2021. The multi-billion-pound telecommunications company had reached a turning point. It knew that in order to improve the customer experience, it needed to embrace automation in its contact centres. This was no longer a choice; it had become a strategic imperative.

Communication inefficiencies

The biggest challenge Virgin Media faced was the volume of manual processes in workforce management (WFM) across its multiple contact centres. Simply put, the company was spending too much time and effort making workforce adjustments and tracking agent adherence. It was time-intensive and inefficient, meaning WFM teams couldn’t devote sufficient resources to higher-value tasks.

Moreover, the absence of a unified messaging system led to inconsistent communication and disengaged agents. Notifications to agents were handled manually, as was the scheduling of off-phone work. Non-unified messaging to the organisation’s 7,000 agents ultimately led to inconsistencies that hindered customer service and contributed to poor agent engagement.

These issues undermined the company’s pursuit of operational efficiency. Virgin Media recognised the urgent need to address these challenges head-on and sought a game-changing solution for its contact centres before things got worse.

Transforming operations with a simple solution

Automation has emerged as an indispensable asset for businesses in almost every sector, revolutionising operations with its exceptional efficiency and transformative impact. Automation was clearly the answer and Virgin Media turned to the experts to support the process, from design to implementation.

Virgin Media partnered with a provider of intelligent automation solutions to support the conglomerate. This is in overcoming operational inefficiencies, enhancing agent engagement and ultimately improving customer experiences.

The platform was used to dynamically deliver training directly to agent desktops, send notifications to agents to help keep call-handling time within pre-set thresholds, facilitate agents’ ability to take breaks on time and to use off-phone time to stay current on internal communications. This automated system employs a rules engine that uses real-time – not historical – data to take immediate actions to optimise contact centre operations. 

As simple and transactional calls are now being managed by self-service, Virgin Media recognised the increasingly complex nature of customer calls. It wrote unique rules for its staff that automated the delivery of additional wellness breaks to their contact centre agents to take a breath and relax between difficult calls, helping them to cope better with customer demands. The automation sent notifications directly to employees’ desktops. Once agents received the prompt to take 15 minutes, they could go and stretch their legs or grab a cup of tea. 

The system automatically inserts this time into the workforce management schedule, ensuring adherence without any additional manual input. And every agent is guaranteed this opportunity. The system installed was designed to monitor customer demand, ensuring that breaks didn’t affect the customer experience. 

Expanding on success

Agents remained informed and engaged, delivering exceptional customer service. Across multiple contact centres, call durations decreased by up to 60 seconds, as agents provided real-time guidance and support.

Virgin Media also experienced a 3% reduction in “personal break” usage, thanks to the immediate access to support that agents had during calls with automated notifications, helping them stay within pre-set thresholds for handling time and keeping the call on track to a successful resolution. The streamlined approach, all thanks to automation, led to optimised work schedules and increased overall operational efficiency.

With access to a powerful rules engine, accessed through a simple user-friendly interface, Virgin Media could create rules for a number of initiatives with no need to access costly and critical IT resources. The automated system offered Virgin Media total control of the solution as well as personalised access for the dedicated customer support teams.

The positive impact showcases the power of automation in driving workforce efficiency and elevating customer experiences. 

Delivering a better service experience

Great customer service delivery depends on an optimal blend of human skill and technology. Intelligent automation plays a crucial role in this by streamlining operations. It automates manual tasks and allowing agents to focus on more valuable activities, boosts productivity and cuts costs.

Agents become more engaged with timely notifications and breaks, leading to happier staff, better customer service and reduced staff turnover rates. Real-time data-driven actions empower contact centres to adapt swiftly, giving human agents more time for meaningful interactions and enhancing overall customer experiences.

At the same time, implementing automation can be a challenge. It may require adjustments and a shift in mindsets among employees to ensure a smoother transition. Gaining everyone’s support is essential for success. Such a significant operational shift demands input and collaboration from various teams, including planning, technology and communication.

Having champions of intelligent automation from different areas brings in diverse expertise and ensures widespread buy-in. The system should be flexible enough to accommodate different departments’ unique ideas and strategies. Taking this into account can lead to a smoother implementation process and better results in the long run.

Through the partnership with Intradiem, Virgin Media achieved measurable efficiency and productivity gains, fostering improved engagement and reducing operational costs from attrition. Together, this increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.

And ultimately, that’s the key to successful customer service.

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