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Date : 12/01/2006

Brent Council Implementation case study

As a result, agents have found Eptica Email Management easy to use, with training a faster and simpler process than before.

Benefits Summary:

  • Increased speed and efficiency meeting inbound electronic customer enquiries
  • Email response time reduced by 33%
  • Standardisation of all email responses
  • Improved agent satisfaction

About Brent Council:

Brent Council's call centre receives seven to eight thousand customer enquiries each month covering areas such as: Revenue and Benefits, Street Care and Environmental Health. Approximately 10% of all enquiries are generated by email. Brent Council has five teams of agents dealing with customer enquiries; one being dedicated to responding to all inbound email enquiries. This team was created to serve the increasing number of customers communicating with the council by email.

The Challenge:

As per their service level agreement (SLA) targets, Brent Council's call centre teams aim to respond to 100% of inbound emails within one working day. The email response processes previously in place at the council were time consuming and non-standardised - often the construction of a response would be at the individual agent's discretion - and without automatic alerts or reporting facilities, supervisors and contact centre managers were unable to monitor service quality and performance.

The call centre agents themselves first brought the issues of inconsistency and untimeliness to the attention of Marjaneh Shahabi, Telephone and Online Manager of Strategic Operations: "The call centre teams were keen to reach the service levels set to meet customer expectations. A number of our agents had expressed that the current system was too lengthy, cumbersome, difficult to learn and ultimately inefficient in managing and dealing with inbound customer email enquiries."

With the steady increase of inbound email communication, Shahabi decided to search for a solution which would allow the call centre teams to meet SLA targets, improve speed and efficiency, and raise the overall standard of response customers would receive.

The Solution:

Email management specialists Eptica introduced Marjaneh Shahabi to Eptica Email Management™ at Call Centre Expo in November 2005. Eptica Email Management allows call centres to organise, and where possible automate, the processing of electronic requests, thereby ensuring that customers are serviced promptly, efficiently and consistently. Shahabi saw that Eptica's solution would improve call centre operations at Brent Council and by December 2005, the council had purchased Eptica Email Management.

With Eptica Email Management, incoming emails are first analysed to identify the main topic of the request, then routed to the most appropriate agent, according to the expertise required. In Brent Council's case, the email response team of 11.5 (full time equivalent) staff receive and respond to all email enquiries in the first instance.

One of Brent Council's main objectives was quality of service - they wanted to ensure greater consistency and accuracy, whilst maintaining a high level of personalisation. The current system set up by Eptica now offers agents various tools to reduce delays and boosting quality: For example, agents receive an automatic comprehensive customer history from the council's external back office legacy systems, together with a choice of best response email templates that can then be modified so that each query receives an individually tailored reply.

Eptica's solution also offers Brent Council detailed monitoring facilities. Reports on quality of service and agent workload allow managers to evaluate customer service efficiency in real time, if necessary re-allocating resources to ensure that Service Level Agreements are always met.

The Benefits:

The implementation of Eptica Email management has brought significant benefits to Brent Council and its customers with its speed, standardisation, efficiency and employee satisfaction.

Prior to the implementation, Brent council spent up to 30 minutes responding to an inbound customer email. This time was spent understanding the enquiry - which in some cases involved looking up the customer's history - crafting a suitable response, making sure the tone was correct, running a spell check, etc.. Eptica Email Management has united these processes and reduced response times to just 10 minutes each. Instead of constructing a response from scratch, or copying and pasting from previous emails, agents simply select from a range of standardised templates, pick one to suit the enquiry and then, if need be, personalise it to match the individual customer's needs.

Decreasing the response times has allowed agents to deal with a higher volume of enquiries, thus meeting the standards set by the council. Together with a speedier response come the standardisation, consistency and improved efficiency with which an enquiry is now met. For tricky, complex queries, agents can call upon their supervisors to check their reply before it is sent out to the end customer. Agents are also encouraged to update the Council's response knowledge base by suggesting their own tried and tested replies to their supervisor. Once templates are verified, they are entered into a library to boost the standards and efficiency of operations across the call centre.

As a result, agents have found Eptica Email Management easy to use, with training a faster and simpler process than before. This has in turn increased the morale and motivation of the teams.

Eptica offers Marjaneh Shahabi a wide range of real-time monitoring and reporting features to efficiently manage the contact centre. With over 50 web-based reporting tools, she can closely monitor responses and performance to ensure high levels of customer service are consistently met. A feature that Shahabi particularly appreciates is the ability to programme a report to be generated at a set time - for example, every night - in Excel or HTML, “so yesterday's agent activity report can be waiting in my inbox first thing every morning, ready for analysis” remarks Shahabi.

Information is now at everyone's fingertips: Ergonomic dashboards present a general overview, while sophisticated drill down features give supervisors a precise picture of, for example, an agent's performance, or the number of emails on a specific topic. Interactive alerts have been set up to automatically warn supervisors of any unanswered emails and full, random, or targeted agent monitoring can be carried out. Furthermore, inbound enquiries are now categorised and logged for detailed analysis, improving the Council's understanding of its constituents' needs and expectations.

Eptica worked in consultation with Brent Council to implement Eptica Email Management. At each stage of the project, Eptica monitored and maintained efficiency levels with Brent to ensure that they got the most out of the solution.

Marjaneh Shahabi concludes: "We are very pleased with what Eptica Email Management has done for levels of customer service, speed and efficiency in responding to inbound customer enquiry emails at Brent Council. We feel confident that we are now extremely well equipped to deal with email enquiries as effectively as possible, and that as this method of communication increases, we will continue to meet our Service Level Agreement targets."