The Power Of Proactive In Practise: Elmbridge & VoiceSage, Part II of II
We recently had the chance to catch up with one of our most interesting public sector VoiceSage clients, Elmbridge Borough Council in Surrey. Elmbridge’s Dawn Crewe was speaking at an industry event we supported, the Future of the Contact Centre conference, run by partners at Engage Business Media.
At the event we interviewed Dawn, who has a key role at Elmbridge as Head of Customer Service, to get some thoughts on her pioneering use of VoiceSage in a Citizen Relationship Management context. This is the second of two written versions of her answers to our questions, which are online as videos (two videos: 3 of 4 and 4 of 4) here
What feedback has Elmbridge received on the transformation?
From the outset of this journey we never expected that we were going to have somebody say, ‘Wow, Elmbridge Council is absolutely fantastic; I must do business with them’ – that was never the aspiration.
Our aspiration was to make things as easy as possible for customers to use our services when they needed them, so that they could get on with their day-to-day business. That is what we delivered – and that is what our customers tell us.
When we centralise any services and they come into our contact centre, we bring over existing staff and we train them to become customer service advisers and to use the technology.
It frees up time for them to focus on the more vulnerable customers in our borough to make sure that those customers’ needs are met, whether they call us or whether they pay us a visit – because they are unlikely to use online services. We aim to be inclusive with all of our customers irrespective of their circumstances.
How did residents respond to the Elmbridge transformation?
I can sum up the level of customer satisfaction we’re getting with one quick anecdote. A 90 year-old gentleman called up because we had sent him an invoice for his meals-on-wheels service which he normally paid for by cheque, but we’d stopped allowing people to pay by cheque because of the cost for the organisation, so we asked him to pay by debit or credit card.
He was not at all confident to begin with, but he talked for quite a while to our customer service adviser Georgia, and she talked him through the whole process. He’d never made a payment by card in his whole life, and he said, ‘OK I’ll give it a go.’ So she took a payment, but unfortunately it failed to be authorised. She did it three times during that one phone call, but each time it failed, and she had no choice other than to ask him to contact his bank to find out if there was an issue with the card and the two of them agreed to speak again the next day.
So she called him the following day, and he’d been in contact with his bank and the bank had confirmed that there were some invalid numbers, so Georgia realised that he was giving her the wrong digits. So she tried again. Unfortunately, it failed again, and the pressure was on to try and help him because we didn’t want him to lose his confidence.
She took it very slowly this time, and she asked him to provide all the numbers on the back of the card rather than the last three digits. He did that, but started off saying “0800” – and immediately she realised that he was giving the last three digits of the emergency contact phone number on the back of the card, as opposed to the middle of the strip.
She took the right information this time round, so he made his payment for his service and they had built a good relationship and a strong rapport – and he said that if he were 70 years younger, he would certainly have asked her out!