Hotelplan are specialist tour operators offering the best in skiing and walking holidays. They are respected specialists in diversified UK bespoke and scheduled activities. Hotelplan asked us to create a First Touch call centre approach to reduce Customer Contact resolution time and effort. The success factors were agreed to be increasing customer service efficiency and reducing cost. We achieved this by training the Call Centre Customer Service Team to ‘step up’ and take accountability for their decisions.
The business had two call centre Customer Service teams, specialising in ‘pre’ and ‘post’ holiday issues. The existing customer process was complicated & had several touchpoints. We quickly identified the biggest problem was needing ‘permission’ for the Customer Service team to take accountability for personally resolving issues. The Customer Service team felt they had little or no authority to offer compensation or discounts to customers without managers permission. Problems also arose because managers ‘told’ rather than ‘coached’ their teams – all of which impacted the team’s confidence and the customer experience.
Finally, there was also a lack of trust between the Customer Service Team and other departments resulting in a blame culture.
Process & Insights
By asking key questions in face-to-face interviews and group sessions, we observed the usual approach to customers queries and problems. As a result, we assessed the levels of capability within the team and reviewed levels of empathy when dealing with Customer Service issues. We benchmarked these results against other businesses to identify a clear vision for the managers.
Solution – Coaching & Training
Our two-point solution was to firstly create intensive workshops for the Customer Service team with input from their managers. They quickly recognised that they were allowing the team to not take accountability. Therefore, we also coached the managers from a ‘telling’ style to a ‘coaching’ style – providing them with the skills to support their teams after the workshops.
Because the Customer Service teams were a combination of new and existing staff, we mixed the workshop groups to share different skills and experiences. We co-created bespoke exercises to provide benchmarks for managers to measure the change in their teams. These helped the teams take ownership for their decisions and develop confidence to ask for help – examples were:
- Understanding barriers
- Working as a business wide team – clarifying accountabilities
- Identify and adapt personal conflict handling styles.
- Communication for fast rapport with colleagues & customers
- Mapping the HotelPlan (https://www.hotelplan.co.uk/)customer journey – their role at each stage
Jargon & Language, Questioning, Building Empathy
The training workshops and manager coaching improved the Customer Service First Touch response almost immediately.
Over a short period, trust developed between team and managers. We proved to the managers that by coaching their teams to feel confident to make independent decisions, this positively impacted customer service.
The more this ‘trusted advisor’ approach developed, the more the team felt confident to make solutions happen and take accountability. The ‘blame culture’ that previously existed between internal teams had stopped, meaning communication improved through the business.
Together, we created a successful and sustainable One Touch solution by building trust and support between the team and managers. This resulted in improved efficiency, team confidence and customer service.
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