Where in most organisations the front office can merely be surprised by unpredictable peaks, the back office is often still a black box. Implementing first call resolution will be difficult if the back office is not tightly organized. Menzis, a Dutch health care insurer, decided to organize the back office with Verint as measurement and organization tool. Step by step of course, so that culture shocks are prevented.
Text: Erik Bouwer
The contact centre almost always has a good view on the origin and size of the incoming traffic. WFM provides a good planning and forecasting based on history, ACD provides an equable assignment of calls and reporting on service level. The back office rarely works with the contact centre principles where the incoming workload determines who does what and when. Lots of back offices insufficiently fit their processes to the requirements of the customer. ‘Being there for the customer when the customer wants that’ was an important way for the health care insurer to increase customer satisfaction.
Lack of precise insight
The health care insurer had insight in the handling times, but only for the most important and voluminous administrative processes like registration and alteration. By looking at the processes in detail, one discovered that there were as much as 54 different kinds of activities that could be distinguished. The lack of insight had different causes. Not only large volumes but also smaller processes play a role and a back office often has an informal administrative circuit.
Customers also want to be served fast as far as administrative settlement is concerned. When a fast handling fails to occur, customers can start calling or e-mailing – and other contact channels can get overburdened.
The insurer of course started with mapping out all the processes and their workload. There was a tight cooperation with the personnel of the back office. The insurer also choose a WFM package (Verint) and a project planning was drawn up for the implementation that was carried out by the service provider Tele’Train. Another thing that was looked at was which agreements existed within the department about distribution of work, work and vacation hours, capacity planning.
Changes in occupation
Realizing a strict planning in the back office requires a uniform way of handling capacity (work hours, vacation and so on). The insurer decided not to bring everything into line at the same time, but to deal with it step by step, so that the departments involved could get the chance to adjust to and think about the desired situation. When situations occur where supply and demand don’t match, the insurer wants to solve that together with the employees.
It is not possible to postpone changes with a planning geared to the work supply. Back office employees won’t be able to take their lunch breaks together; but the pain can be alleviated by building in exchange possibilities.
Being there for the customer – at the right moment
Being there when the customer asks to, requires a change of culture. When changing from “determining what you will do today” to a situation where a roster tells you what to do, employees loose a part of their autonomy. Creating involvement and support is thus crucial for rationalizing the back office.
Planning is only possible – just like at the call centre – when the average handling times are known and when these are turned into the norm. Handling times of several activities are measured and determined. Team managers guard the service levels of the back office. The average handling times for administrative activities and the quality of the work are literally included in the assessment methodology. Now there is an instrument to make that visible – an enrichment for the supervisors of the back office because now they have concrete guidance tools at their disposal.
Feedback from the customer was also thought about. It is important for employees that the success of the new approach is endorsed by the insurants. Therefore customers who receive a confirmation letter also receive a flyer that invites them to communicate their findings.
Before the insurer did not know exactly what activities got stuck at which moments, but now it is almost possible to plan the required capacity on a day-to-day basis. This improvement enables the company to better anticipate to the temporary employment agencies.
Another result is that the ‘distance’ between customer and back office is shortened. A lot of customer service environments have thought about the universal agent, who can perform both front and back office tasks. In other words, an environment where front and back office are integrated so that a complete one stop service is possible. This trend is especially noticeable in the United States and the organizing of the back office in a more tight way is now also coming to Europe.
With the introduction of QM and ACD principles in the back office, the quality and efficiency can be increased. It leads to a higher customer satisfaction and brings in more money. A completely transparent back office process is also better for outsourcing – for lot of companies a way to save even more costs.