Quality service for a quality product
Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA) is a luxury car manufacturer that, since its inception, has maintained a solid reputation for quality and durability. Supplying premium passenger cars and versatile commercial vehicles such as buses, coaches and trucks to individual and fleet customers, MBSA prides itself on a strong tradition for innovation, coupled with a drive for superior customer service.
A multinational division of the German manufacturer Daimler AG, MBSA provides a range of services to consumers and businesses through several contact centre operations that include Financial Services, Customer and Roadside Assistance, Daimler Fleet Management, Passenger Fleetboard and a Marketing Services Unit.
With around 300 000 new sales worldwide in 2014, the company has a 60-year history in South Africa and provides employment to more than 6000 employees. The organisation is committed to delivering an outstanding customer experience and needed a consolidated outsource solution that would offer an integrated approach to superior service delivery.
Managing change while driving expansion
Following MBSA’s initial decision to outsource five operations and its national switchboard to Merchants, the organisation needed to ensure the seamless transition of 100 existing staff members through an s197 transfer within a tight timeframe of three months, with no breaks in service. Overlapping with this requirement, MBSA also needed to incorporate the additional transfer of its UK-based Financial Services back office function within two months.
Integrating operations for improved service
MBSA serves consumers and businesses in South Africa through several inbound and outbound contact centre operations. The existing six centres were largely run as siloed operations, with limited integration on the floor and varied reporting capabilities and requirements. To achieve its aim of an enhanced customer experience, MBSA needed a comprehensive outsource solution that would implement consistent processes, while driving efficiencies through better planning, monitoring and management of resources.
At the same time, the transfer of its UK-based back office contact centre created an additional need for employee recruitment and training, while managing different UK Financial Services regulations and compliance laws.
Limited MI capabilities across manual systems
Restricted by manual reporting of the customer experience, campaigns, trends, workforce management and productivity, MBSA needed an integrated reporting and workforce management system.
Under cost and time pressures, the solution would need to work in harmony with existing proprietary technology to monitor productivity and performance across its contact centre operations. With seven contact centres - each following different reporting structures, timeframes and metrics - the integrated reporting solution had to incorporate relevant metrics that MBSA executives could understand and use.
Comprehensive outsource, transfer and change management
Merchants’ transfer of 100 staff was completed in strict accordance with s197 of South Africa’s Labour Relations Act, and has been underpinned by career progression opportunities for tenured staff.
To support the effective transfer and consistent service delivery, Merchants invested in a tailored change management programme to provide support, deliver greater transparency and optimise performance. Through Merchants’ bespoke training programme, each individual has a personal career development plan, underpinned by a fair rewards and recognition structure. To address UK-specific financial services regulations, Merchants has designed and implemented a flexible training model to ensure compliance.
An integrated approach to analytics
Merchants proposed an integrated approach to management and monitoring across all seven contact centre operations. With no control over proprietary systems, agents use Merchants’ myinfo portal to capture vital information related to productivity. An automated absence tracker enables management teams to track absence levels across an integrated dashboard, and Merchants’ WFM system gives team leaders useful insight into trends, intervals, peak volumes, breaks etc. A structured roster is now in place to enhance schedule adherence and protect KPIs.
Process restructure and quality
A new training model has been implemented as a value added service and identified for further roll out by MBSA across other sites. The new Merchants quality framework has given management teams a site-wide and transactional view of quality. The implementation of a new contact centre structure is underpinned by established systems, policies and procedures that have had a positive impact on the customer experience.
Improved service and greater efficiency
The new operations structure is supported by a well-defined quality framework and team leaders regularly evaluate agent performance which has had a positive effect on service levels. Delivery of best practice contact centre standards is underpinned by regular training programmes, while efficient processes have driven cost savings.
Improved MI insights into trends
By implementing consistent and relevant metrics that measure the customer experience, management teams are now able to gain useful insight into performance levels. Through effective monitoring, MBSA is able to meet varied reporting requirements across different countries.
The Marketing Services unit can now manage campaigns through strategic planning and reporting, while customer service on the whole has improved. The Merchants team continues to identify opportunities for re-engineering and areas for improvement to achieve operational efficiencies.
Reduction in attrition and improved morale
Morale is up and attrition has dropped by two thirds to 2% over a four-month period. Training programmes have empowered contact centre staff, and managers motivate their teams on a daily basis. Merchants’ Future Leaders programme has seen two employees achieve their development goals, and a growing number of applicants are eager to join the programme.