The future of contact centre technology is ‘insured’ for Premium Choice by ShoreTel
(CASE STUDY) — Premium Choice prides itself on being a genuine insurance broker, finding the best deals for those who often struggle to get a reasonable quote online. The company was established in 1999 by Mark Woods and Richard Dornan with the aim of providing insurance to those who are not well-served by mainstream insurers – for example kit car owners, or people who have only recently passed their test.
With ambitious growth plans, Premium Choice is aiming for a 30% increase in revenue over the next two years.
However, the company faces a rapidly changing and highly competitive market intensified by comparison sites and escalating premiums for insurance. In an environment where customer reviews posted on online insurance aggregators have a dominant influence over consumers, Premium Choice needs to stand out from the crowd, not just on price, but also on customer service.
Rupert Gladstone, head of IT at Premium Choice, acknowledged that customers have often already been through several price comparison sites before getting on the phone. “Excellent customer service is vital for us for this reason alone,” he said. “Our customers may have encountered a problem online, or perhaps they want to speak to someone about the best prices. Whatever the reason, what they do not want is to be dealt with inefficiently. So the faster we can get the customer’s information out to the agent and start having a meaningful conversation, the better for everyone.”
In 2010, the company split from a larger insurance company based in London, and it became immediately apparent that their inherited communications system was not only extremely complex to install and manage but was also very difficult to report out of. It was clear that a new unified communications (UC) system was on the cards – but how to choose?
Solution and results
“We started by reading the Gartner report into unified communications solutions,” said Rupert. “In the report, ShoreTel was the only provider positioned with a strong positive for both value and features for its contact centre and UC solution. Not only that, but the total cost of ownership (TCO) for ShoreTel was significantly lower than that of its competitors. Ultimately, it was a no-brainer: ShoreTel was the obvious choice for our UC solution.”
Premium Choice chose to install the ShoreTel Unified Communications and Contact Centre System 9 through ShoreTel’s partner, Voyager, due to Voyager’s ability to extract all the technical benefit from the ShoreTel solution. The initial hardware footprint was 30% the size of its predecessor, but has now all been virtualised, further reducing the carbon footprint.
Like any service contact centre, Premium Choice’s call centre sees a mixture of sales calls and service calls, currently using a mix of VoIP handsets. Technology is used for a variety of purposes, from sifting out information to get customers better deals to transferring calls to the right person for the customer. Keen to streamline their business processes, Premium Choice deployed ShoreTel’s technology to allow agents to spend more time speaking directly to customers, all the way from initial contact to delivering the right kind of insurance package, which is individually tailored to a customer’s needs. This is especially important considering that, for Premium Choice, the amount of quotes varies dramatically depending on the time of day, with most people phoning up during their lunch break or after work. ShoreTel’s system also addresses capacity, as the network can easily flex up or down to enable Premium Choice to be more cost efficient during off-peak call times.
A key benefit of ShoreTel’s UC and Contact Centre system is its provision of a tailored service across multiple channels to support existing customer niches and new routes to market. Working effectively across desk phones, email, and chat, the flexibility of the system ensures it is also well-suited to a modern office, where hot-desking is commonplace. User experience is paramount to drive productivity. The interface itself is designed to be simple, without the plethora of menus that often plague less well designed UC systems. The ability to track and analyse contacts as they route through the system is also key to successful reporting.
The simplicity of the solution is a key benefit according to Rupert. “We’ve already upgraded our solution four times and each time it was an overnight job rather than taking days to sort out. Not only this, but our administration times have been greatly reduced because the system is so easy to use. Our team leaders are the ones who benefit most. Instead of struggling with an onslaught of calls, they can control the work that flows to their team and the size of that team, which allows them to work far more efficiently. The ShoreTel solution supports our team excellently and ensures that they are as efficient as possible. By using better routing and IVR messages, we can handle more calls with the same amount of staff.”
For the agents, who receive around 4,000 calls every day, another big business problem was the time wasted on fruitless calls with customers who do not want to buy. Using ShoreTel technology, Premium Choice is now able to prioritise those calls which are more likely to result in a sale.
Short waiting times on calls are also a crucial sales driver, as customers hang up if they have to wait for too long. Previously, Premium Choice had problems at peak times, which they found was impacting their customer retention. After installing the ShoreTel solution, they saw this figure reduce by 62%, meaning that customers are now waiting for an average of only one and a half minutes. Not only does this mean that they can service more customers, which creates more sales opportunities for the company, but the customers are no longer kept waiting in lengthy queues that prevent them from getting on with their day.
Another feature of the solution is the ‘click to dial’ facility, which allows operators to find numbers quickly instead of going through manual call backs. Agents had been finding that it was easy to lose a call, but with the ShoreTel solution the number is already in the system and the client can even choose the most convenient number for them to be called back on. The process is extremely fast, meaning that more customers can be helped in less time which also leaves customers feeling that their time is valued.
“The ShoreTel package also includes an effective Disaster Recovery solution,” added Rupert. “Access to the cloud means that we now also operate virtual servers in Egham, far away from our Birmingham HQ. In the case of an emergency the phone system switches over to the High Availability boxes without a loss of service. There are also SIP trunks set up in case of problems with our main BT ISDN lines. We want to be there for our customers whenever they need us.”
“Our aim is to eliminate the nightmare of the customer being passed from agent to agent, from team to team, wasting minutes of their valuable time. With the ShoreTel system in place, this is now a realistic goal, and we can continue to provide the excellent customer service that we have built our reputation on. The customer is happier, we’re happier, and the whole process works seamlessly,” said Rupert.