The challenge

Brand Biology was appointed to create a customer experience initiative for the British Gas credit and operations department, comprising two teams, both responsible for debt collection. The 275-strong contact centre team was office based, while the 100 field representatives visited customers at their homes and business premises. Senior management was keen for the department to move away from a ‘cash is king’ culture to a customer-centric focus.

Traditionally, credit and operations had focused on ‘collection’, but this had changed. It was felt the team tended to distance themselves from customers, meaning the service given was at best ‘transactional’, and at worst ‘threatening’. Quality checks, such as giving energy efficiency advice, often sounded overly scripted.

Management wanted staff to strive for a ‘win-win’ situation in each interaction. The department therefore needed to focus on rapport building and learn to understand and adapt to different customer needs.

An overall mindset shift was also needed, to challenge negative perceptions about customers’ financial circumstances.

What we did

We conducted two in-depth fact-finding missions to understand the challenges facing the teams. Using this insight, we developed ‘real life’ scenarios, which were delivered by our team of professional actors in a series of interactive group events.

Authenticity, empathy and transformation are at the heart of our behavioural change programmes. We recreated different customer interactions for each team, using our Total Reality® concept to replicate their working environments as closely as possible.

Over several months, staff attended these two-day customer experience training events, designed to equip them with the skills needed to understand different types of customers.

Team leaders attended a one-day leadership event to enhance their coaching skills, where they learned the long-term importance of mentoring staff and the need for top-down commitment to drive changes in behaviour.

The results

Immediate results were visible across both teams. In the contact centre, quality control evolved to become much more focused on customer experience. Staff targets were changed so that there was more emphasis on achieving the right customer resolution. As a result, contact centre complaints reduced by 37%.

100% of field representatives rated the programme as either ‘excellent’ or ‘good’. Employees were left with a much deeper understanding of how best to interact with different types of people and were more confident in dealing with challenging customer situations. This led to a 35% increase in the number of doorstep resolutions. In addition:

  • first time call resolution increased to 80%
  • Net Promoter Score increased by 29%