The business need.
In a normal year, Brittany Ferries carries 2.5 million passengers, plus around 200,000 freight vehicles, aboard 6,000 sea crossings. Those customers are served by a primary contact centre in Plymouth, plus a dedicated freight contact centre, split equally between dual sites in Poole and Cherbourg.
Both contact centres are based on Genesys technology, with the company network built around Cisco CallManager (now Unified Communications Manager), and have been managed by a small, highly committed unified communications team. But faced with a surge in customer interactions due to the pandemic, plus the additional challenges of needing to support advisors working remotely, the team was feeling the strain.
“We had unprecedented levels of demand, both in terms of calls and emails,” recalls Kelly Thornton, one of the Unified Communications technical support team at Brittany Ferries. “There were cancellations, and customers needing to change reservations, all at short notice.” This meant there was also a high risk of escalation and repeat contact, if customers didn’t receive a response within their desired timelines.
The company urgently needed to put in place additional features to manage the demand – such as enhancing its interactive voice response system, to enable self-service and smarter routing, and adding the option to request callbacks.
But with its in-house team already stretched, Brittany Ferries sought some additional expert resource to help it implement these changes.
Brittany Ferries signed up for a “MAC Pack” with Connect. This is an innovative way of accessing specialist IT and networking support without being tied to a monthly fee. The client buys a fixed amount of support credit for “moves and changes”, that it can then use flexibly, as it requires.
When there’s an issue of any sort – from a fault that the in-house team can’t solve alone to a change to routing, or contact handling – the Brittany Ferries team raise a ticket on the Connect portal. Connect’s dedicated Customer Success Manager then identifies the service personnel with the right knowledge, and arranges a meeting with Brittany Ferries to discuss the issue and agree a solution.
Those solutions are then implemented – quickly, where that is necessary, or in a scheduled time window to minimise operational disruption.
“The Connect team has been fantastic,” says Kelly. “The response times have been amazing, and the engineers are all highly skilled.” Though there is a clear escalation path within the contract, there hasn’t been a single occasion where Brittany Ferries have needed to use it.
And though – in the words of fellow Unified Communications technical support team member Steve Madden – he and his colleagues have had to rely on Connect more than perhaps they envisaged, “the MAC pack is still in credit! It’s lasted longer than we expected.”
As well as providing support for fairly straightforward fixes and routing changes, Connect has also become an extension to the Brittany Ferries team for more complex tasks.
“We needed to add the option of customers being able to request a call back if they didn’t want to wait,” Steve explains. “But we were conscious that we may not be able to offer that option at all times, if incoming volumes meant agents might not be able to call the customer back within the permitted time window. When we explained this to the vendor’s team, they said it was too risky. We asked Connect, and they found a solution.”
The implementation was booked in for an overnight period and went smoothly – giving Brittany Ferries the flexibility they sought.
Connect has also been asked to help document the full IVR flows, which hasn’t previously been done, as a precursor to optimising journeys for customers. Other tasks including supporting a move from Jabber to Teams for internal instant messaging.
“It’s not just the fact that Connect has the expertise to cover so many areas,” Kelly concludes, “but also that the whole team are so helpful and supportive. Our Customer Success Manager really understands our business and how we work, and we’re able to learn from the engineers. We’re definitely keen to keep working with them.”