Established in 2000, iSelect is one of Australia's most well-known health insurance comparative websites, in 2010/2011, the company diversified its offering to include car and life insurance, home loans, utilities and broadband.
The subsequent significant growth in their business meant that they had to find innovative means of providing continued high quality services to their customers. And in doing so, provide new offerings to new and existing clients and be available 24 hours a day.
With low unemployment rates in Australia, iSelect looked to outsource their contact centre business, not for cost saving but rather as a means of enabling business growth – outsourcing would allow iSelect to effectively grow the business, while still providing top quality service to its already established client base.
With this as a base to work from, iSelect investigated the available options, and after careful consideration embarked on negotiations with Merchants to manage its customer service operations.
The pilot project, established in 2016, was a partnership of equals between iSelect and Merchants with the latter designing, building and operating a world class contact centre in Cape Town. The business unit employs a skilled and educated sales force who deliver high quality telephonic sales driven by a desire to always get it right – no matter what 'it' may be.
In addition to availability, the Cape Town project also meant that a number of new verticals identified by iSelect would be easier to launch because of the scalability of the project. Recruitment and ramp up of capacity is also made easier as the talent in Cape Town is on par with what is needed.
Outsourcing would allow iSelect to effectively grow the business, while still providing top quality service to its already established client base.
The biggest challenge faced by iSelect was twofold:
- To find a country and/or company that could deliver on the iSelect brand promise to always get it right.
- To define the correct job profile that fitted a "Sales through Service" approach.
iSelect and Merchants embarked on their partnership with 15 Live Answer consultants and 30 broadband consultants. The success of the pilot project has seen the employment of consultants on the floor, as well as the implementation of three other verticals for the South African consultants:
By the end of June 2017, Merchants employed approximately 200 consultants on the iSelect account.
The contact centre, designed and built by Merchants, embodies the culture and flair of iSelect, and it is carried through from people to processes and even to amenities that are not generally found in the contact centre environment. These amenities include:
By the end of June 2017, Merchants employed 200 consultants on the iSelect account.
Merchants invested in these services and benefits on the understanding that sales can be demanding and that the "Sales through Service" approach requires the consultant to balance the customer's needs with the sale output – a challenge in even the best run contact centres.
Initially, the Merchants Attract team was tasked with finding experienced sales consultants dedicated to their vertical, however there was also a small team of customer service consultants who directed customers to the correct department. Since opening the Cape Town contact centre this team has doubled its size and is currently helping to direct thousands of Australian customers to the right departments a daily basis.
Some consultants joined the account on this vertical, but have moved up to the exciting world of sales. This means that iSelect is not only growing their business, but enriching the labour pool and providing South Africans with needed skills and knowledge.
One of the most effective successes to be realised through this partnership is the twin leveraging of skills and knowledge. Merchants can use the sales experience they have gained through this partnership to provide similar services to other clients, both onshore and off. iSelect on the other hand can leverage off of Merchants WFM, scheduling and optimisation experience to ensure their onshore contact centres are operating according to best practice.
The greatest success however is that iSelect can rest assured that their customers will be taken care of and that when they launch new products, their consultants at home in Australia and here in Cape Town will be able to step up to the plate. And for Merchants, this partnership shows that they are able to provide solutions that go hand-in-glove with the business imperatives of its clients.
iSelect is not only growing their business, but enriching the labour pool and providing South Africans with needed skills and knowledge.