Contact centres: How to strike a balance between compliance and performance

19th Apr 2013

How to extend compliance across an organisation to optimise customer service quality and hit commercial targets.

As team principal of Team Sky and performance director of British Cycling (including Team GB) Sir Dave Brailsford, famously said, “it’s important to understand the ‘aggregation of marginal gains’.  Put simply….how small improvements in a number of different aspects of what we do can have a huge impact to the overall performance of the team.”

Balancing compliance & performance in sport can be a tough challenge, but Team GB and Team Sky are both glowing examples of how a ‘director of operations’ was able to introduce a culture of small improvements across a whole team, that collectively made a huge difference. 

Likewise, customer-facing organisations can realise significant benefits  from adopting a similar philosophy for their own teams, whether they’re front line or back-office.  According to research firm, ContactBabel, “A 500-seat contact centre, processing 5m calls per year, would spend almost £2m each year just on wrap-up. A 20% reduction in wrap-up time would save around £400,000, quite apart from the savings in training and lower attrition, as well as the benefits of shorter queues and simpler applications.”

So why do so many companies fail to make quality improvements across their entire operation? For many, the answer lies with their perception of QA. Some simply view it as a necessary evil, whilst others are oblivious to the fact that doing it right, first time every time, will not only save both time and money, but will also elevate service levels.

Raising quality and sales targets

One example of a contact-centre based operation which recognised that marginal improvements can be directly correlated to overall business performance is The Claims Guys. The company’s key business focuses on financial mis-selling and financial irregularities, primarily Payment Protection Insurance mis-selling and credit card charges. The company operates from a modern contact centre and prides itself on its high standards and commitment to Treating its Customers Fairly (TCF).

Although the company was already fully compliant, it realised that their existing governance plan and sales targets could be improved by automating its QA processes and procedures.  Business Change & Quality Assurance Manager at The Claims Guys, Margaret O’Connor, says, “We wanted to update all of our manual processes and replace, where necessary, with technology that could be delivered across the whole organisation.  By introducing more efficient QA we would aim to achieve 100% compliance for all customer calls and at the same time optimise our overall advisor performance.

We had systems in place that recorded this information but it was saved in a number of manual spread-sheets which was not as efficient as we needed.  The challenge we faced was that we wanted to manage all our data, all of the time, which would result in better all round management and provide better outcomes for our advisors and our customers, underpinning our commitment to TCF.”

According to The Claims Guys, one of the key problems faced was that there were often key stages overlooked in the overall claims management process. For example, if vital information is missing from a claims form such as previous marital status or the protected loan’s number, the claim can be rejected and the whole process has to start again.

Improved processes, Improved business outcomes

The Claims Guys automated its compliance to achieve lower ‘pack-back’ rates and higher numbers of successful transactions or business outcomes. To address the issue of failed transactions that needlessly resulted in additional business costs, the company introduced the concept of ‘gold’ flags. These were able to expose business critical issues not necessarily covered by compliance. For example, when best business practice is not being employed, it prompts the advisor to ask for the right information such as Loan Agreement Numbers (LANs) and include the correct marital details; both of which could cause a claim to be declined and re-processed. 

In parallel, the concept of ‘red’ flags are used to ensure compliance whilst the gold flags offered the potential to improve sales outcomes by reducing errors and ensuring best business practice at source.  According to The Claims Guys, the key benefit of enhancing QA was that they now had the ability to strategically and operationally align the entire operation, including QA, sales, affiliates and outsourced partners into a single end-to-end value chain that positively and immediately impacts bottom line performance.

Performance improvements across the whole team

The experience of The Claims Guys shows how effective QA delivers far more than just conforming to rules and regulations. Finding a balance between compliance and commercial success is much more achievable if you have the right quality systems and processes in place. 

As with Team GB, to be the best, it’s all about improving individual processes and getting the most from your whole team. Automated QA means you can manage regulation and reputation but still achieve the commercial results you desire.

Phil Norris, Business Consultant at contact centre software provider, Infinity CCS is speaking at The Call Centre Conference being held on the 23rd April at The Heythrop Resort in Oxfordshire.  At the event, Infinity will be launching a competition to reward companies that have the “Best Quality & Compliance improvement suggestion”, with the chance to win a high performance bike worth £1500, plus a licence for Infinity QA worth £20,000  Go to or email [email protected] ‘Bike Competition Entry’

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