Incorporating Third Party Providers in Performance Programs
How does an international provider of customized cell phone and device insurance programs maintain top-notch, consistent end-user service in a complex environment? As the insurance and protection arm of the world’s largest wireless distributor, countless wireless carriers, retailers, and dealers rely on its performance. The company covers their devices’ full life cycle from initial distribution through to insurance, repair, and replacement. In such a complex logistics operation, point of contact performance can make a huge difference to overall service delivery.
As the size and strength of distributor’s logistics capabilities increased, the insurance arm found it needed to improve its service offering to effectively keep pace. Their contact centre operation, outsourced to a third party, was at the core of the challenge.
Using Orbit’s proprietary feedback platform Compas™ as a diagnostic tool, combined with Orbit’s expertise in analyzing individual performance to determine best practices and areas of greatest improvement opportunity, the client company discovered that their existing provider was seriously underperforming. Even where they appeared to be meeting KPIs, averages had obscured the truth about what kind of scores were actually possible if teams were given better focus and training.
An alternate third party provider, Millennium 1 Solutions, was brought in for a 40-seat test against the remaining seats still held by the incumbent supplier. Having worked together with Orbit in other organizations, Millennium 1 was familiar with Orbit’s systems for performance improvement and embraced the same value proposition.
“If you want to reach a higher level of effectiveness, you need to be looking under the covers at what’s going on with every individual, every day. You’re never done,” says Tom Band, President and Chief Operating Officer, Millennium 1. “Orbit embeds that idea in all their tools to streamline the decision making for front line leaders. The tools provide the focus necessary to efficiently manage a team of 18 people because leaders and agents alike always know exactly what they need to be working on.”
When the client contracted with Millennium 1, Orbit seized the opportunity to raise the performance bar by establishing new KPI standards, based on their analysis of what the metrics could be, rather than what they had been for the incumbent. Together, Orbit and Millennium 1 went through these new metrics and agreed on a timeline for achieving them. A coaching program was put in place to quickly onboard their agents and team leaders, with Compas to provide constant feedback.
At the start of the training process, Orbit provided an editable inventory of proven knowledge and skill development activities for the new agents, based on Orbit’s experience and their previous analysis of the client company. These activities were reviewed and enhanced in conjunction with Millennium 1, creating processes for agents to follow that had depth and flexibility, without sacrificing the simplicity that makes compliance possible. This approach also created a high degree of buy-in right from the beginning.
As with any contact centre organization, there were naturally certain leaders and agents who outperformed others. Their successful behaviours were captured and analyzed, then tested in small groups to refine the new approach before rolling it out to the rest of the teams, creating a virtuous cycle of feedback, coaching, and improvement for all. Millennium 1 and Orbit continue to find new opportunities for improving processes and hence overall performance in this way. And because agents and team leaders are personally involved in process evolution and testing, they feel empowered to take charge of their own performance.
As Tom says, “Initially, team leaders and operational leadership met every week, under Orbit’s leadership, to keep everything on track. But within weeks the teams began to grab ownership for themselves. When they’re part of the process, they start proactively generating their own performance advances very quickly.”
In addition, Millennium 1 uses the information Compas provides about successful agent profiles to hire the right people in the first place. New hires are far more likely to be successful, sooner, by hiring for the specific qualities that have been proven in top performers previously.
An Ongoing Evolution
Millennium 1 was awarded 100% of the seats based on the results achieved. Now, with ten months of data, they continue to home in on what really works, meeting once a quarter with the client to discuss new ways to refine and improve processes and even upping their KPIs. The quality model established on the basis of the old vendor’s capability, for example, has now been modified to better reflect the client’s corporate goals, because Millennium 1 is able to deliver against a more involved quality metric.
It’s an ongoing development. As team leaders realize the degree of focus Compas gives them in managing their agents, they’re freed up not only to coach their teams more efficiently and effectively, but also to contribute to business improvements in a way they wouldn’t have been able to without it.
Gaining third party cooperation in meeting high performance standards is made easier when the provider embraces that value to begin with. But there are other key components to success:
1. The tool, in this case Compas, is as accurate as the input it receives – the operations team needs to make sure they get stakeholder signoff on what metrics go into the tool so everyone agrees on how they’re being measured.
2. Transparency and accountability on both sides creates an atmosphere in which all parties feel empowered not only to control their own success, but to contribute to the team as a whole.
3. Getting the foundational activity correct – coaching, analytics, and the like – allows teams to really focus on delivering results for their clients, not just against stated metrics but through constant value add and process refinements.
“The transparency and accountability on both sides that resulted from Orbit’s approach raised the level of conversation,” says Tom. “People don’t talk about averages anymore. They talk about the specifics of what to fix, and why, and how.”
As they continue their trajectory of improvement, the client is able to attain and even surpass their corporate goals, secure in the knowledge that their third party provider is a solid member of their team.