Company: Princeton ConsultingCustomer: DRSSubmitted by: Princeton ConsultingDate: August 2002When leading Nordic call centre services provider DRS decided to seek a workforce management system to optimise staff resources and provide working flexibility via the Web, they called in the specialists.

Quality and efficiency are the driving forces behind the success of every call centre. But when companies rely upon you to provide such an operation, and manage their most prized customer relations and potential sales prospects on their behalf, the standard of these services has to reach new heights in professionalism and responsiveness.This is the mission of Telia Direct Response Services (DRS), the 100%-owned subsidiary of the Swedish telecommunications giant that provides companies with outsourced call centre and customer care services. Established in 1986 DRS is now one of the leading and largest Nordic players in its sector, with 1,000 staff employed in customer contact and call centres across Sweden and in Denmark, Norway and Finland.When DRS decided to seek a sophisticated workforce management system to enable its centres to continue to deliver the ultimate in quality service the division turned to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Web-enabled call centre specialists Princeton Consulting.

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Ensuring quality of service with minimal overheads

DRS provides inbound client service and help desk support services as well as outbound telemarketing activities for customers in the telecommunications, utilities, banking and publishing sectors. These clients depend upon the division’s centres not only to manage but maximise each and every interaction with their customers.As such DRS must ensure that its call centre agents can answer all customer queries efficiently and professionally; can identify customer needs and sell products and services to suit, and assist its own clients in fostering the long term customer relationships that result in loyalty for both parties.Achieving this depends upon attracting quality staff by offering flexible working hours that recognises individual preferences, and a culture that promotes staff development. At the same time, optimising staff resources to ensure that calls are handled at all times by the right number and type of agents, whilst keeping overheads to a minimum, is its most critical operational priority.

A delicate balancing act

In the past couple of years demand for the company’s services has been accelerating across Scandinavia. In the past year alone DRS has seen its staff resource grow from 350 to 1,000 agents, with both call and business volumes trebling. In addition customers are increasingly demanding that the division operates call centre services that are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year, and offers a variety of contact methods, from traditional help desk support to web-enabled centres that handle electronic communications.With customer numbers and call volumes growing daily, and the complexity of services increasing, the company realised that it needed to turn to technology to enable it to manage its staff allocation so that quality of service could be assured without further increasing headcount.Lars Hazen, President of Customer Relations Services at Telia Enterprises, said, “Running an efficient call centre is a delicate balancing act – you need to provide just the right amount of staff with the right skills at exactly the right time to ensure that you provide quality of service without unnecessary overheads.

Every agent not on a call costs us money – yet every customer not quickly and efficiently handled is a potential lost prospect for our clients.”He continued, “As well as having the right number of staff we also wanted to ensure that we provided those best skilled to deal with the particular customer contact – be it a telephone service enquiry or an e-mailed request. For years we had been able to balance our resources in this way with human skill – but at the rate we were growing relying upon our own judgement was becoming increasingly difficult and risky.”

Matching technology to business need

The company began looking for a sophisticated workforce management system that could provide the multi-skill functionality it needed, could handle a multi-media operation, and be easily deployable across multiple sites throughout Scandinavia. In particular DRS wanted to deploy a solution that would provide its staff with the flexibility to dictate their own working patterns without needing to consult management.

Hazen said, “Providing flexible working conditions for our staff is critical to our operations, as it enables us to attract better quality staff who also choose to stay with us. A such we required a solution that would enable our staff to enter their working preferences via an easy-to-use Web interface, which would then automatically allocate the staff resource to ensure that the optimal number of agents were available at every shift.”The company came across Princeton Consulting, one of Europe’s leading CRM call centre and e-business specialists, at an industry exhibition.Hazen continued, “We chose to evaluate Princeton because of their reputation across Europe, and when we looked closely at their services they had customer upon customer happy to endorse their approach. Even in these early days of Web-based deployments Princeton could demonstrate proven practical experience that gave us confidence that they could help us implement our chosen solution and gain maximum business advantage from its deployment.

“Princeton Consulting masterminded the integration of the chosen solution – Genysys Workforce Manager – with DRS’s existing CTI software, to enable the division to monitor agent performance against set service level agreements and make any necessary adjustments to their schedule. In addition, the consulting group worked on customising the core product to suit the division’s specific needs.Hazen said, “The solution Princeton proposed fitted our criteria closely, and where we needed additional functionality built into the system they could provide the skilled call centre and e-business expertise to customise the solution to match our exact requirements. They were committed to making the technology work for us.”

Increasing profitability by 10% with rapid ROI

The solution has now gone live at the largest of DRS’s call centres in Copenhagen to support 450 permanent and contracted agents on multiple call types within a 24×7 operation, as well as a second centre in Oslo.

The division’s three Swedish centres will follow, with a final implementation at its newest centre in Helsinki.Hazen said, “DRS is a 24×7 operation, which means we can’t just close down for the weekend while we install the new solution – every implementation has to take place whilst we continue to service our customers. Thanks to Princeton’s excellent project management with the first two implementations we made the changeover to the new solution and a new way of working invisibly from our customers.”DRS is now beginning to use Workforce Manager at its Copenhagen operations to create what-if scenarios that enable it to project call volumes and then model shifts based on the data that provide the correct number of agents with the right skill set. This functionality also enables DRS to assess where it currently has resources that could be utilised to provide additional services to its customers.Hazen said, “In some respects a call centre is like an airline – inevitably it will have empty seats and that wastage is taken for granted.

If you can forecast where those seats are and then sell them that additional revenue goes straight on the bottom line. That’s the capability that the Princeton-Genysys solution gives us, and that’s on top of the 10% increase in profits through higher productivity and reduced costs that we also expect to gain.”He concluded, “How Princeton has taken the core solution and mapped it to our business means that we now have technology that maintains our operational strength and gives us the means to grow our profitability. The savings the solution will provide us will pay for the overall investment within a matter of months, and from there it will enable us to grow our business without also growing our costs – and crucially, without sacrificing quality of service.”