5 September 2019

Bernard Mooney, Customer Care Manager, welcomed guests to their state-of-the-art Service Delivery Centre in Dublin and outlined the challenges embraced by the organisation and its partners as opportunities.

Brexit and climate change provide a complex political and environmental backdrop requiring urgent strategic manoeuvring and agility. Gas Networks Ireland is no stranger to this with a long history of adapting whilst keeping customer service at the heart of what they do.

Marie Lyster, Customer Experience Manager, explained the implementation of the CX guiding principles, a campaign designed to embed understanding of CX importance across the organisation helping every colleague, no matter their role, know what it is they do to make a difference to the customer.

Delegates were then treated to a tour of the facility by Phil, who in his 45 years’ experience has ‘seen it all.’ Phil took us to Lamplighter’s Row - also affectionally known as Coronation Street - essentially a set of a typical street and what gas responders may encounter in their call outs. Kitted out with air pressure valves to replicate gas leaks it is an impressive training and assessment environment – each house even has curtains. Phil explained that customer service is assessed as rigorously as technical aptitude, with an additional assessor taking on the role of the customer.

Environmental commitment to renewable energies extends to the design of the building, which is in part heated by solar fuel which can be viewed from their sky garden.

Facilitated by CCA Advisor Una McLoughlin, 5 core themes emerged from discussions on customer centricity:

Who are you listening to?

Organisations might not be as self-aware as they suspect. Basing good customer service on measures that aren’t analysed effectively may result in the wrong areas of improvement being targeted/prioritised. The voices of our front-line staff should be heard, consider internal journey mapping sessions for departments that have to handover to each other for solutions that will benefit both colleagues and customers.

Measure what matters

Are the days of recording AHT over? Perhaps it is an outdated system that is holding up our frontline staff from resolving enquiries faster. Enquiries that cannot be resolved by self service are often by nature more complicated, they may also be coming from a vulnerable customer. In these cases the quality of the call and the way the customer feels after the interaction may be more important to measure than the time taken. Does the training and values set out for agents reflect what they are ultimately measured on?

Another survey

Being bombarded by surveys after every interaction might result in oversaturation and diminish the importance of the feedback. Organisations need to make sure they are asking the right questions and it isn’t simply a vanity exercise. SMS is a popular choice for 1-10 ratings on high value journeys with a high open rate compared to email and ease of response for user.

Change or die culture

Having core values and creating a culture to attract quality candidates and effectively service customers is vital but how do we know this has been achieved? Employee engagement and customer satisfaction must be effectively measured and expectations appropriately set.

BPO providers in particular are in a state of constant change and with the additional challenge of embedding the culture of clients within their teams.

Operators may also experience localised cultures or perhaps even subcultures which can build a sense of community within the business (as long as over-competitiveness doesn’t become detrimental)!

We don’t have call centre agents anymore

It’s not always a call and it’s not always transactional. Discussions centred on how the role is relationship management and requires emotional intelligence and often a knowledge not only of the products/services but also complex regulations. To attract and retain people for these vital roles renumeration needs to be considered as well as a progressive career path within customer services.