The business need.
Trade Parts Specialists (TPS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group UK, supplies genuine parts across five leading automotive brands: VW, Audi, Seat, Skoda and VW commercial vehicles. Employing 1,600 people, including 425 call centre agents, across 82 contact centres throughout the UK, TPS boasts a catalogue of 1.4 million car parts distributed to independent motor traders, body shops and big national accounts. In 2018, it fulfilled 3.4 million deliveries.
However, TPS faced a customer contact challenge. Taking millions of calls a year from independent motor traders, body shops and large national accounts, it struggled to identify each caller, let alone the status of their account or their immediate needs. Lack of visibility was compounded by the fact that its 82 UK-wide contact centres were built on different infrastructures, most with unsophisticated PBX functionality and many with restricted bandwidth, limiting the number of calls agents were able to field.
TPS also lacked the management information to detect and address inadequacies in processing calls and delivering the service customers expected. “We had no idea how many calls we were taking into the business, let alone how many we were missing,” said Leanne Thomas, Head of Operations at TPS. “It gave us very blunt KPIs for the resources we were looking to deploy. In short, every decision we took was based on gut feel. For a company of our size, that’s not a great position to be in.”
To address the operational and customer experience challenges, the Operations team identified two key touch points in need of improvement: the point at which a customer calls TPS and when TPS delivers the parts. That led to two discrete projects – route optimisation and, first, overhauling telephony.
TPS appointed Connect to overhaul the disparate communications. Connect deployed Genesys PureCloud, the all-in-one contact centre solution hosted in Amazon Web Services (AWS), across all 82 sites. At the same time, Connect redesigned the underlying infrastructure, connecting the purpose-built local area networks (LANs) at all 82 centres to its own resilient MPLS (Multi-Protocol Label Switching) network. This provided TPS with two complementary forms of connectivity:
- SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) trunking into the PSTN (Public Switched Telephone Network) to route calls to the relevant centre, and
- private connection into the PureCloud instance on AWS.
The latter option offers an assured quality of service that overcomes the latency and packet loss issues that are often experienced across the public internet.
The first TPS centres went live within eight weeks of project initiation, the speed of deployment aided by the choice of the PureCloud solution.
Traditionally, many customers have bought a mix of technology solutions from a variety of vendors – leading to interoperability and implementation problems. Because PureCloud runs on AWS, applications are available out of the box as micro-services running on a single platform across a single cloud. The Connect implementation offers call, email and web chat routing and interactive voice response (IVR); eFax services; omni-channel management information; and call/screen recording analytics.
The Connect solution met all the key project objectives. All contacts are now answered, and the customer experience is significantly enhanced: integration with the company’s customer relationship management (CRM) system now allows contact centre staff to better track customer need and route calls to the most relevant salesperson.
Connect was tasked with simplifying TPS’s technology estate, installing a reliable network infrastructure and providing a future-proofed omnichannel solution that is fully PCI-DSS compliant. Today, the company’s 82 contact centres are fully interoperable for the first time.
Another crucial benefit for TPS is the ability to gather large amounts of management information. “That’s what we thrive on and what we use for all our decision making,” said Thomas.
Perhaps the most notable example of management information driving action came with the realisation that nearly half of the calls TPS agents handled did not contribute to turnover. “We were actually losing sales opportunities and disappointing customers with our service at the same time,” Thomas acknowledged. Her team calculated that TPS were losing in excess of £600,000 in lost call value every month.
In one example, TPS realised it was taking nearly 8,000 calls each requesting codes for paints it doesn’t sell. TPS is now exploring a self-service solution for paint codes, diverting requests to its website, freeing up agents to handle profit-generating calls.
Agents and management have access to live ‘war boards’, displaying key performance statistics. These include average speed to answer, hold time before initiation, abandoned calls, and calls per site per day. “It’s a really powerful driver in understanding what’s going on in the business and how much we need to improve.”