Call Centre Innovation of the Year 2004

The Professional Planning Forum recently announced this year's Innovation Awards - from a shortlist of eight finalists. An exceptionally strong field, this year's entries showed massive performance improvements as a result of specific work to make major changes within the contact centre. "These award winners show how call centres can make big improvements in attrition and sickness as well as performance", explains Paul Smedley, Executive Director of the Professional Planning Forum. "The award winners got such outstanding results by developing people and performance at the same time ".

The 2004 Innovation of the Year Award went to Norwich Union Life Direct for "Project Eureka", which transformed the centre raising sales conversion by 35%, reducing absence from 15% to 5% and abandoned calls from 20% to 5% in just three months.

Accepting the award, Jonathan Weaver, the senior resource planner, explained how the resourcing team pioneered a change that affected every single person in the contact centre. Improving business results and employee morale at the same time was the critical ingredient of success. “I’m not afraid of a challenge”, he confides, “if you do your work right you can see it come to fruition … people like to work here and I don’t believe they enjoyed it as much before Project Eureka”.

Presented at Call Centre Planning 2004, this was the biggest-ever contact centre planning event in Europe, with delegates travelling over 27,000 miles between them and numbers up 75% on last year. "More directors are now realising that good planning is the key to both morale and performance", explains Paul Smedley. "The role and profile of resourcing specialists has grown significantly in the last year and that's why this conference has now become one of the leading events in the call centre calendar".

The presentation at Call Centre Planning 2004 was one of four innovation awards offered to contact centres who delivered fundamental resourcing changes in order to achieve real, measurable impact on call centre life and performance. Resourcing Innovation Awards were also presented to Client Logic, Holiday Extras and Scottish Power. "These are all centres that have seen what they need to do, risen to the challenge and have demonstrated huge improvements in service, productivity or attrition", comments Paul Smedley.

“We never knew for certain how go, or bad, our scheduling was”, explains Joan Liston, European Operations Director at Client Logic. Setting up a new central support team kept local scheduling teams focussed on local issues, while creating consistency and leverage for clients across 17 sites in 10 countries, with objective measures of scheduling success.

For Holiday Extras, a dramatic 25% reduction in call handling time was achieved by changing the call structure. “We trialed different approaches but the new structure was a clear winner because it increased quality and sales at the same time”, enthuses Howard Dove, Centre Manager. “We focus on what matters most to the customers and our travel consultants were involved from the early stages”.

At Scottish Power schedule adherence improved by 7%, without a real-time team or adherence control system. Preferring to use performance management, the agents now take real ownership of their own time management.

About the Annual Innovation Awards

The Resourcing Innovation Awards are offered by the Planning Forum to contact centres who deliver fundamental resourcing changes in order to achieve real, measurable impact on call centre life and performance.

Awarded to teams for successful implementation of specific projects or new resourcing practices, our unique Innovation Award is open to any European contact centre, whether large or small. It's a chance to gain recognition for the importance of effective resourcing and the value of the resourcing team's contribution to a change introduced during 2003. The award is granted for an innovation, where there has been clear benefit through impact on people, performance, efficiency or the ability to respond to change.

In 2003, T-Mobile led the way, winning the overall award in the Planning Forum's inaugural competition. The Award was presented to T-Mobile for a scheduling review that reduced attrition due to shifts from 15% to 2% within a year. Further awards were presented for scheduling changes at AXA PPP Healthcare and multi-skilling at AVIS Europe. These innovations increased productivity by 6% - 8% and improved customer service.

The eight 2004 finalists were Norwich Union Life Direct, Client Logic, Holiday Extras, Scottish Power, BBC Technology, Coventry Building Society, MORE TH>N and Newport City Council.

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