CASE STUDIES

Multi-lingual European Technical Support for a
fast-growing consumer technology company

THE CHALLENGE


Zagg is an ambitious mobile consumer lifestyle company, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. Listed on NASDAQ, will an annual turnover of over $600m, their business model is based on forming distribution partnerships with leading in-country retailers for their range of consumer brands, including audio and power. These large retailers often require a proven ‘in-language’ customer service solution in place prior to kick-off in order to back up the product line and manage returns. When launching their enhanced version of its in-store ‘InvisibleShield’ product line across Europe, Zagg needed a technical support resource that could provide support to stores, in their own language, to fault find and offer instruction to in-store users of the product.

Zagg’s original solution was to use a patchwork of different companies in each of the target countries, but it proved difficult to support and train agents, and made producing over-arching reporting as to the performance of the overall service nigh on impossible.

THE SOLUTION

Arise were already providing support to Zagg in their English-speaking markets out of their Irish headquarters, and Zagg approached the company to see if they could provide the level of technical and multi-lingual support that they required for their new product. Arise had a proven track record of providing technical support for complex industries and put in place a programme to recruit native language speakers in French, Italian, German and Spanish. Their customer support back end system enabled Arise to offer flexible hours of support to suit local markets, as agents could work remotely from home. This also allows Arise to offer cost effective support for new and developing markets, providing flexible service levels that can grow as Zagg builds their footprint in each country.

“We were impressed with Arise’s ability to respond to our additional requirements, and quickly scale their support to meet our multi-lingual requirements. Having our entire European support team based together means we’ve got effective reporting and have flexibility to grow the team as we develop larger footprints in the European market.

We needed a business that was prepared to partner with us as we went from ‘start-up’ stage through to fast growth and could flex their support with us. We’ve found Arise to be extremely proactive in their approach to continuous improvement and have been able to quickly grasp the depth and complexity of our multiple brands and products. We’re incredibly pleased to have found an organisation that can support us as we meet our ambitious growth targets.”

Billy Butler, Customer Service & Strategic Projects Manager, ZAGG Ltd

Delivering industry leading customer service whilst
delivering service improvements and cost reductions. 

Vodafone is a global Communications company and has partnered with Arise for nearly ten years to deliver award-winning Customer and Technical Support to its customers across Ireland. A key part of the KPI’s that measure success is based around annual goal setting – with Arise working with the team at Vodafone to come up with a plan to help them reach their company objectives. Last year, Vodafone set an ambitious target across their entire customer-facing operation. Namely, a 15% reduction in customer contact through operational and process improvements – all whilst delivering an improvement in Net Promoter Score (their primary measure of customer service).

The Vodafone Customer Care Manager sat down with the Arise team at the beginning of the year, and as a team, they worked to come up with a series of initiatives to achieve this stretch target.

Arise turned to the data that they had been collecting over the lifetime of their relationship with Vodafone, and set the Arise Data Insights team the task of coming up with creative ways to reduce customer contact. The Data Insights team came up with a multi-pronged plan that aimed to pick off the ‘low hanging fruit’ as well as looking at process and system improvements that could be implemented to deliver business impact.

The first insight that came from the team was that they were receiving a number of calls from business customers to a generic Vodafone number, with no filtering in place. This number was featured on much of the marketing collateral that customers were receiving, as well as ranking highly on internet searches, so it was decided that trying to push customers to the ‘right’ business number would be too labour intensive. Instead the Arise team suggested making an adjustment to the IVR system that would allow business customers to ‘self-select’ before their call was answered by an agent, and thus avoiding the call having to be manually transferred to a different team. Arise prepared a compelling business case that enabled the Vodafone team to get the required IT changes prioritised and delivered within 6 weeks, and it made an instant impact by delivering customers first time to the correct support team and reducing the number of agent touchpoints. Two thirds (10%) of the call reduction target was achieved from this initiative alone.

At the same time, the Data Insights team identified that a large number of calls were being transferred between the Customer Support and Technical Support teams. Customers might ring in to raise a service request with the Technical team, and then ask to make a Customer Support request or vice versa. This meant the teams were transferring calls between each other – which meant longer call times, and frustrated customers. By identifying the most frequent types of requests, Arise was able to up-skill both teams to answer simple requests that might previously have resulted in a transfer – all backed up by a senior agent within the team who could help with more complicated questions. This had a significant impact, quickly reducing inter-team transfers by over 50% and leading to a better, more seamless customer experience whilst reducing total call volumes by 3%.

Next, the Arise team looked at one of the most labour-intensive functions – number divert.  When business customers had an error on their line, they were able to ask Vodafone to set up a divert to another number.  Customers might call in several times a day to ask the team to switch the divert between team members, and this resulted in high call volumes.  The Arise team looked closely at the existing process and decided that the current system could be modified so that the requests could be managed via email in a back-office team, at a far lower cost than telephone agents.  Using an iterative service improvement approach, the new process was tweaked over time to include a set template so customers provided the right information first time.  The email team guaranteed a 15-minute response time, and customers found the new system easy to use as they could make amendments whilst on the move.  This improvement reduced the average calls per divert event by 26% – all whilst improving customer experience. 

The next programme Arise focused on was reducing the number of multiple calls made by certain customers.  Agents were trained to identify callers who might call several times early on, so they could take proactive steps to reduce follow up calls.  Teams were incentivised to reduce customers who would call more than once, and ‘super agents’ were used to tackle callers on their 2nd or 3rd inbound contact.  Agents were targeted on first-call resolution (FCR), eliminating multiple calls and avoiding inter-team transfers, which improved overall customer experience and led to a significant NPS uplift of around 30%. 

“We very much treat Arise as a partner, and at the beginning of the year came to them with some very stretching objectives. Arise accepted the challenge, and by the end of the year had establish a monthly run rate reduction in calls of 19%, all whilst continuing to improve our NPS score. 

Arise took an extremely proactive approach to the target we set, and all the improvements that we saw across the business were driven by their insights and actions. Their Data Insights team is the best I’ve ever worked with – their understanding of the granularity of the data meant that we were able to pick off all the low hanging fruit that other businesses might have lived with, as well as dealing with some of the bigger issues.

The work that they’ve done as part of this project meant that we smashed our NPS improvement target and far outperform our competitors – setting Vodafone up for success in a highly competitive marketplace. It’s a truly collaborative relationship that has delivered cost reduction across the business at the same time as creating happier customers. We couldn’t be more pleased with the results.”

Brian Kedney, Vodafone’s Customer Care Manager

ComReg: How getting it right from day
one set the relationship up for success.

ComReg is the statutory body responsible for the regulation of the electronic communications and postal sectors, responsible for responsible for facilitating competition, protecting consumers and encouraging innovation. The existing relationship with their outsource Customer Service provider was coming to an end and they kicked off a competitive tendering process by way of the open procedure through www.etenders.gov.ie and in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU). Arise was awarded the contract, scoring higher in the procurement process than any other bidder.

As soon as the contract was signed, the Arise team needed to leap into action as timescales were incredibly tight – handover from the previous service provider had to be completed within 6 weeks. There had not been any interaction between Arise and the stakeholders at ComReg in advance of the project commencement, which meant that relationships between the two organisations had to be built from scratch.

Arise immediately agreed to show ComReg the new office space that they had earmarked for the new team, even though it was a Bank Holiday weekend. And despite it being a completely empty shell, with no fit-out, the ComReg team put their confidence in Arise’s structured ‘Just in Time’ delivery plan.

Whilst the office fit-out was kicking off, the training team spent time at ComReg’s offices, immersing themselves in the business and transferring key training materials into the Arise ”Way of Learning”, designing an in-depth training programme. Arise HR were able to recruit key personnel with experience in the Electronic Communications sector, which meant they already had a detailed understanding of the end customer, the complexities of the industry and how things worked.

The two teams worked closely together, and stakeholders within each business were ‘partnered’ to ensure that communication was happening throughout the different levels engaged in the delivery plan. Tight timescales meant that there was absolutely no room for misunderstanding and each party needed to make sure that conversations were open and honest so everybody had very clear expectations and an understanding of what was to be delivered.

Coincidentally, go-live was scheduled to happen over another Bank Holiday weekend. The Arise team took it upon themselves to be on-site over the weekend to test systems as soon as they were switched over from the previous service provider. Due to the nature of the contract, there was no opportunity to carry out a staged migration so Arise had to be prepared to take on the whole service from 8am on the morning of service switch over. The team and office were fully ready, and the service was migrated seamlessly.

Therese Hourigan, Head of Retail Policy at ComReg, commented: ‘From the minute we appointed our new outsource Partner, we knew delivery was going to be tight. It made for a very intense 6 weeks, but we had a shared vision with the Arise team of what we wanted to achieve. From day one we were incredibly impressed with their openness, attention to detail, and their commitment to delivering an excellent service. There was a high level of trust between the partners, and the responsiveness of the entire team, from senior leadership, training providers and operations delivery was second to none.

From the beginning of our relationship, Arise took the responsibility for delivering on time, and actively sought to take on accountability for the workload which gave us complete confidence in the timeline. We felt the whole team was on top of the plan from day one, keeping us in the loop, and although there was contingency built in, the ‘Just in Time’ nature of the plan was faultless. It really set us up for a great working relationship going forward.”

 

“Because we only had 6 weeks to deliver a fully trained team, ready to take calls and be the customer face of ComReg, it was critical that we had a strict delivery plan. ComReg really bought into that plan, and trusted us to deliver, and that trust and shared commitment meant there was a great deal of co-operation between the two teams. We had a morning meeting every day of the delivery period, which allowed us all to check in on timescales and progress, and by being open and transparent throughout, we were able to build a great working relationship.”

Ger Burke, Director of Solutions and Innovations at Arise

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