The business need.
Founded in 1880 to provide loans to working-class families in the north of England, Provident Financial remains a specialist in the ‘non-standard’ lending sector. It has over 2.3 million customers, many of whom might not be able to access services from mainstream credit providers.
Even in the present day, Provident Financial relies on agents to collect customer repayments from door to door. This approach is important in maintaining trust, ensuring monies are collected on time and helping identify potential new sales, since many customers would not pass traditional credit scoring tests.
However, it now also takes online payments, including via its subsidiary Satsuma Loans, and handles large volumes of calls every day.
Over a decade ago, Provident Financial identified a need for a more dependable, scalable contact centre – first for outbound calling, and then to handle its 1 million inbound calls a year. It opted for a Genesys platform, and worked with Connect to get it set up the right way. Ten years on, and the platform itself has transformed – but Connect and Genesys remain integral to Provident Financial’s operations.
The initial deployment of the Genesys solution at the Bradford-based contact centre was focused on helping the Provident Financial team manage calls more effectively. When it was first deployed, the business had no way of knowing how many calls were coming in and, possibly, being lost. The solution also included Genesys Self-Service to handle calls using interactive voice response (IVR) based routing.
Besides improving the visibility and handling of incoming call traffic, the Genesys solution helped drastically improve productivity. Previously, members of the collections and sales outbound calling teams had relied on manual dialling, which was inefficient because several attempts were often needed to reach a single customer. By switching to Genesys automated dialling, agents were able to deal with 40 percent more customer records per day, boosting collections.
As call volumes continued to increase, the company wanted to outsource some of its contact centre load. It worked with Connect to upgrade the solution to support session initiation protocol (SIP), allowing new levels of flexibility, for instance enabling agents to work remotely. This was supported by the introduction of Genesys Continuous Workforce Optimisation to achieve optimum internal and external staffing levels and improve call routing. The latter was particularly important for the small central debt recovery team in charge of managing customers in arrears.
Further innovations under consideration include moving to a true omnichannel operation, including web chat and email integration.
For more than a decade, the Connect and Genesys solution has helped Provident Financial to continue innovating in line with changing customer needs and expectations. The company has been able to deal with increasing call volumes while improving service levels. Bearing in mind that customers phoning to make a payment will not be motivated to stay on the line for long, the lender has set an ambitious target of answering 80 percent of calls within 20 seconds, and getting to 95 percent of calls overall.
“If we are in any danger of not achieving our targets, the flexibility of the Genesys platform helps us avoid the situation,” explains Wasim Altaf, IT Voice Analyst at Provident Financial. “If the contact centre is experiencing high volumes, for example, we will do something to give important calls higher priority. If the contact centre is not reaching its objectives, we start routing calls to outbound teams.”
The improved workforce management has helped the business make significant savings. “Through accurate forecasting, we’ve been able to save around £200,000 a year,” Altaf notes. “Our contact centre is a critical part of our strategy and our business and its availability is paramount. Thankfully, with Genesys we have a very stable system.”
He is also in no doubt about the value of his long-term partner. “Connect is bringing enormous value by helping assess, design , deliver and support the integration aspects of these projects to ensure they proceed to plan with no unforeseen hiccups. ”