EE Contact Centre

Raising the bar: improving individual performance and reducing quartile gaps

EE aims to deliver the best network and the best service to its nearly 27 million customers, so that they trust the organisation with their digital lives. As additional proof of its commitment to this goal, EE is investing a further £1.5 billion on top of its £15 billion investment since 2000 - to reach 98% of the UK population by the end of 2014 with superfast 4G.

"Differentiation through exceptional customer service is an important part of our vision," states Adam Webb, Training Manager Planning for EE's customer team. "And understandably, enabling our customer advisors to deliver it is a key priority. Across the industry, far too often I witness misguided effort and spend when it comes to optimising employee performance. The management of training, coaching and one-to-ones, for example, can sometimes be 'scatter gun' at best! The fact is, it makes complete sense to pinpoint the skills and knowledge that drive the best business outcomes before developing a strategy to replicate them."

Managing what matters

EE's customer advisor team is one of the largest in the country. Every day employees serve millions of customers in five major device segments: Android, Apple, Blackberry, Windows and Universal from product enquiry to day-to-day customer service and troubleshooting. Conscious that a strategic, considered approach was necessary to ensure that EE underpins its customer service goals with a 'top notch' training infrastructure, Adam set out to identify technologies that would help deliver rapid and tangible returns and ensure EE gets the most out of its workforce-related investments. After a review of the solutions available both within EE and on the market, Adam selected Optimizer, a unique employee performance optimisation solution from Silver Lining Solutions, which was already used by the organisation.

In 2012, the team began by using Optimizer to help underpin a very extensive and complex learning and development requirement. Firstly, the team used Optimizer to determine the correlation between training and EE's key business performance measures - Brilliance (CSAT), average handling time (AHT), first call resolution (FCR) and Outbound - and between those measures and individual performance. "It's very important to have clear objectives in order to focus the direction of analysis and that's where Optimizer comes into its own as the solution's analytical capabilities are perfect for telling you what you need to know, quickly and reliably, so we are crystal clear about what we need to focus on," says Adam.

Powerful analytics helped to understand where individuals' skills gaps exist and to unearth specific causal factors for issues and trends in performance. Optimizer's skills assessment functionality was integrated with EE's Learning Management System (LMS) capability and, thanks to thousands of assessments per month (over 70,000 in September 2012), Adam's team can easily verify whether employees have acquired training content, assess the effectiveness of the training delivered and understand its ROI.

Managing what matters

To keep customer service top notch, after certification, the Training Team conducts monthly assessments to ascertain product knowledge for everything from loyalty cards to specific hotels and resorts. To further incentivise great performance, knowledge levels and linked to mid-year and end of year reviews.

Reducing the performance quartile gap

This vital understanding is helping EE to roll out an ambitious performance improvement initiative designed to reduce performance gaps between percentiles, with an initial focus on the Apple device customer segment.

"We can now concentrate on reducing performance gaps, thereby unlocking some pretty transformational results. Not only can we compare performance between specific employees, we can also do so between different teams, departments, sites and even third party service providers. The net result is that Optimizer is underpinning robust actions related to personal development and enabling specific 'who, what, when' decisions, completely eradicating any need for a common 'sheep dip' approach to training and development," shares Adam.

Despite such an overwhelmingly successful start to the deployment, Adam is determined not to rest on his laurels. He and his team are committed to maintaining a sharp focus on performance improvement and have plans to continue their performance quartile gap reduction strategy, meaning that excellent standards in customer service will be achieved and maintained across all customer segments.

"We've introduced a programme of cyclic measurement and analysis so that we can keep taking relevant, focused action to maintain positive performance improvements and stop issues dead in their tracks. With Optimizer we are confident that EE will continue to invest in the right areas rather than perceived areas of need," affirms Adam.

Reaping rewards

Although it's early days, EE is already reaping rewards. In the Optimizer pilot, EE is enjoying the following benefits:

  • Customer Brilliance scores are higher in the pilot group AHT targets are being met without impacting the customer experience
  • The number of customer advisors meeting their outbound targets is increasing consistently
  • First call resolution is improving, thanks to the fact customer adviser skills and knowledge needs are being identified and addressed
  • Enhanced MI is giving managers better visibility of training and support needs and an understanding of training ROI
  • Intra and interdepartmental/company comparisons are helping to identify causal factors for good performance and underperformance: 'good' can be replicated and 'under' can be addressed
  • The ability to benchmark third party service providers is helping EE manage suppliers and evidence performance levels
  • A seamless integration with EE's LMS is delivering efficiencies for L&D

"We're starting to see some staggering results for each of our KPI areas and I'm delighted. I put this down to a resoundingly successful collaboration between my team and Silver Lining Solutions and a solution that simply 'works' for our business. I am now an ardent supporter of Silver Lining's technology and people - both internally and amongst my professional network - and look forward to rolling this out to our Apple segment and the other areas of the business," concludes Adam.

Today, Silver Lining Solutions and EE are working together closely to quantify the impact on business performance for Optimizer's pilot deployment and extending the solution to other areas within the customer team environment.

About Everything Everywhere

EE is the UK's most advanced digital communications company and the first in Britain to offer superfast 4G mobile services alongside fibre broadband. We run the EE, Orange and T-Mobile brands, delivering our 27 million customers with the best network and the best service so they trust us with their digital lives. We aim to deliver the UK's best service, through our websites and customer service apps, over the phone and in-store. We have over 11,000 customer service and retail employees who are trained experts in mobile device operating systems. Every year, our service centre teams have over 86 million conversations with our customers, and more than 40 million customers come through the doors of our more than 700 retail stores. Online, we have over 35 million visits per month to our websites.

About Silver Lining Solutions

Silver Lining Solutions enables organisations to pinpoint and replicate the employee skills, knowledge and attributes that drive the best business outcomes - quickly, cost-effectively and at scale. Our teams have deep industry knowledge and extensive exposure to customer management, contact centre and back office environments. This first-hand exposure helps us see things from your point of view - we understand the challenges you face and know how to overcome them to unlock significant business benefits. Leading companies around the world use our unique software solutions to transform the customer experience and achieve step change improvements in sales performance and operational efficiencies.