On the frontline of customer service
Nashua Mobile, the independent telecommunications operator, places recruitment and training of the best possible contact centre agents right at the heart of its call centre strategy.
"The call centre plays an important role in managing subscriber relationships and achieving customer satisfaction in the increasingly competitive telecoms industry," says Mark Taylor at Nashua Mobile.
"About 90% of our customers will have no other direct contact with Nashua Mobile during the two years of their cellular contracts than their calls to our contact centre," says Taylor. "Their expectation of the service level they'll encounter from a call centre is rising all the time. That means we need to deliver great service to every subscriber who calls, or risk losing their business."
The Nashua Mobile call centre has earned recognition from the industry for the quality of the service it provides to the company's subscribers. Nashua Mobile was placed in the top five of the Contact in Gauteng (CIG) Annual Awards for YEAR.
For Nashua Mobile, creating service excellence begins with the recruitment of the best possible agents to staff the company's contact centres.
Candidates need to match a person and job profile that outlines the minimum non-negotiable requirements for prospective contact centre consultants. They then need to pass a series of psychometric tests and quality assurance interviews to be considered for a post in the Nashua Mobile call centre.
When a new agent joins Nashua Mobile, he or she will need to spend several weeks going through induction and on-the-job training before being allowed to interact with customers. The three-week induction course covers human behavioural skills development as well as system competencies.
New consultants 'buddy-up' with experienced agents for two weeks to see how the system works in real situations. After six weeks or so, new agents will start to take live calls under the supervision of their experienced colleagues.
Constant training programmes and monitoring of the call centre environment ensure that high service levels are maintained. Four of Nashua Mobile's top consultants listen to live and recorded calls for quality control purposes, providing feedback to their colleagues that helps them to provide better service to the subscriber.
Nashua Mobile has one supervisor for every eight to ten agents to support the consultants. Performance appraisal and coaching sessions for each agent take place at least every two weeks. In a fast-moving industry like telecommunications, agents need to be constantly trained on the latest handsets, services, packages and technologies so that they can deal with any customer queries and concerns.
"A Customer Experience Campaign was introduced by the marketing department to ensure that consultants 'walk' in the customer's 'shoes' and realise that, despite a common problem, every customer is a unique individual and is treated accordingly," says Taylor.
Nashua Mobile has outsourced about 20% of its call centre requirements to a third party, which allows it to benchmark the performance of its own call centre. The service levels it has achieved are high: the general call centre resolves most customer issues on the first call, and most calls are picked up in between 10 to 20 seconds. When the front-line call centre cannot resolve a call, it is escalated to specialist helpdesks that deal with corporate accounts, Data and other specialised areas.
The Nashua Mobile call centre is underpinned by the Customer Interaction Centre (CIC) software from Interactive Intelligence, supplied locally by Dimension Data. This software provides a pre-integrated application suite to manage all business communications on one platform.