King Price Insurance.

Connect lays foundation for a cloud-enabled future at King Price.

The contact centre sits at the heart of every customer-centric business strategy. However, outdated, inflexible technology constrained King Price Insurance’s ability to deliver omnichannel engagement and superior customer service.

King Price started with approximately 25 staff in 2012 and rapidly grew into an organisation with 1 200, with the call centre a significant contributor to this growth.

Like most start-ups, King Price initially invested in a technology solution that made financial sense and met a specific need at the time. However, as customer volumes rose, and the business evolved from motor-only insurance to commercial, specialised and life insurance, the insurance provider’s communications solution could not scale to meet the growing demands.

Initially, King Price was running multiple PBX solutions, explains Dandre Nel, Product Owner: Telephony at King Price. “These systems were not scalable, which threatened to constrain business growth and erode service delivery.”

The insurance provider’s existing telephony systems also lacked other vital functionality required in the highly regulated financial services industry, such as centralised call recording and retrieval.

“Low workforce visibility and a lack of omnichannel communication capabilities were additional concerns,” adds Nel.

“We needed a more sophisticated telephony solution to support a more sophisticated business,” asserts Dr Wessels.

King Price initiated consultations with Connect SA, a leading local contact centre expert, customer experience and enterprise communications solutions specialist to replace the insurer’s legacy communication technology.

As with many technology transformation initiatives, the initial implementation encountered various challenges but provided important learnings for both project partners.

King Price chose to do most of the change management and implementation internally in an effort to realise the desired outcome.

“We were invested in the process because we knew what worked internally and what didn’t. However, we quickly realised that we lacked the depth and knowledge in the telephony space to achieve our objectives,” continues Dr Wessels.

“The first roll-out included two separate applications – an interactive desktop for inbound calls and a scripter for outbound campaigns,” explains Nel.

Agents required two screens and had to toggle between the applications to work on either inbound or outbound calls, which detracted from the user experience and proved inefficient. “We also experienced issues with reporting and functionality,” adds Nel.

When the initial solution roll-out failed to address the insurer’s business challenges and meet expectations, King Price and Connect SA collectively agreed to revisit their initial implementation approach and solution in a war room-type effort.

The partners collaborated closely during the evaluation project, which kicked off in February 2020. Both parties were honest and frank about the challenges experienced around the solution’s usability, the employee experience and the ability to manage the solution internally.

“The initial implementation helped us understand the value that a qualified managed services provider can deliver when empowered to apply their expertise and experience within specific areas,” continues Dr Wessels.

The collaborative effort highlighted the project’s initial shortcomings and the partners devised a new solution roadmap.

Importantly, the evaluation process contextualised the need to strike the right balance between internal and external execution to clearly define roles and ensure that each party leveraged their specific strengths to successfully implement and manage the solution.

“The initial implementation helped us understand the value that a qualified managed services provider can deliver when empowered to apply their expertise and experience within specific areas,” continues Dr Wessels.

“Consequently, we listened more to Connect SA’s expert guidance the second time around to understand how much we can and should take over internally.”

Connect also stepped up to the challenge by restructuring the team for the second implementation – the company added resources and additional expertise to supplement the maturity cycle within King Price.

Pivotal Data (now Connect SA) – a Genesys Gold partner – engaged directly with the omnichannel customer experience and contact centre solutions vendor throughout the evaluation process to determine the appropriate solution.

Genesys proposed Interaction Connect, a browser-based interaction manager that offers call control functionality, chat features and status management.

The solution did not require Connect to install any components on the desktop, which meant it was easier to roll out.

This was a significant benefit, given that the implementation commenced during the first hard lockdown. Dr Wessels affirms that rolling out the project during the lockdown was not easy because it added complexity, but the project never stopped.

“We broke up project elements into specific streams and allocated key individuals to execute them.”

One vital stream built everything around the analytics component to provide insight into the solution’s telephony, which is vital for a data-intensive company like King Price. “Stats are fundamental to how we run the business,” says Dr Wessels.

The functional stream developed elements such as optimal dialler configurations that allow agents to work accurately and more effectively in an omnichannel environment.

“We wanted to optimise call allocations to agents. This would boost productivity by enabling them to take a call and an e-mail at the same time, for example,” explains Nel.

“This calibration is also essential to get full value and access the full functionality from such a sophisticated solution.”

Connect managed load balancing, general maintenance and system functioning, which helps the King Price team to run a smooth operational channel.

Once fully implemented, Interaction Connect delivered the same functionality as King Price’s previous solution but with better integration – two separate applications became available on one screen, offering a comprehensive, consolidated view of all work items and customer data.

The intuitive and responsive Customer Interaction Center (CIC) client increases agent efficiency by delivering seamless, real-time access to all touch-points, which delivers CX continuity, reduces resolution times and simplifies customer engagements.

“This lighter Web-based solution also means we gain access to the newest version,” adds Nel.

Training agents to use the new solution happened remotely due to lockdown restrictions. But rather than limit progress, Dr Wessels believes the lockdown helped the project gain momentum.

“We had the luxury of focusing on the implementation and training in a very structured way, without distractions.”

The Connect SA team was always available and had representation in every training call and war room feedback session. “The team’s commitment throughout the process was unwavering,” states Dr Wessels.

Following the successful implementation, King Price is now able to deliver a true omnichannel customer experience.

“Importantly, we can deliver and measure engagement on a single platform. Access to granular insights regarding agent productivity, call resolution and abandon rates, and customer satisfaction levels, among others, help us track metrics against performance metrics and progress towards our objectives,” states Nel.

Additional solution functionality ensures the quality assurance monitoring process happens automatically in real-time, creating opportunities to coach agents and improve CX.

The Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) engine efficiently allocates calls to agents to boost productivity.

“This feature is beneficial in the context of a geographically distributed workforce amid the pandemic. Adopting the Web-based Interaction Connect solution made this transition to at-home working a lot easier,” adds Nel.

The solution’s strategic impact on the business is profound, highlights Dr Wessels, as it equips the company with the resources required to execute its vision and mission.

“With the issues resolved and the solution successfully implemented, the focus can shift from getting the right technology in place to successfully operating a large call centre company. Managing call centre agents and helping them deliver better customer experiences will deliver greater business impact as we transition to the next phase of our technology maturity cycle.”

King Price now has the foundation to realise its strategic ambitions through the evolution of its call centre to meet shifting trends in consumer engagement preferences and compete in a more digitally mature market, without compromising on their current voice-first model – a vital channel in a country that caters to multiple languages.

The cloud-based contact centre solution also creates opportunities to integrate other applications into the call centre environment, or seamlessly access additional functionality.

“We can also migrate other services to the cloud and design technology stacks that support the additional capabilities we are currently building,” continues Dr Wessels.

Longer-term opportunities include embracing intelligent telephony, machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to reimagine interactions by predicting customer preferences, hyper-personalising engagements and offers, and customising customer journeys.

“Based on the success of the collaborative approach that King Price embraced in 2020, our working relationship has blossomed,” explains Tanya Phillips, Chief Operations Officer at Connect SA.

“Their willingness to embrace a working relationship that transcends conventional supplier-client roles has delivered success for both partners.”

According to Phillips, Connect SA now operates as a trusted advisor and forms an integral part of the company’s growth and expansion plans.

This is most evident in King Price’s decision to extend the initial five-year contract by an additional two years when it came up for renewal in November 2020.

“We are excited about the opportunities that our new long-term partnership creates, and we look forward to continued success in the additional projects we will manage in the coming years,” she concludes.

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