Prior to our involvement with the RSPCA, the charity operated out of ten regional bases. The manner in which their operations ran was, by their own admission, somewhat ‘old fashioned’ and consequently subject to considerable inefficiencies. The main objective of outsourcing the call centre function was to modernise the operation and achieve significant efficiency improvements. For a charity, ensuring that value is maximised from spend is obviously vital – so this was a key focus.
People and partnership
Outsourcing of the RSPCA contact centre function meant that Capita became the public face of the charity – playing a key role in its interaction with the public. It was therefore important that the team had an empathy with the cause and were motivated by animal welfare – hence selection of the right people with this specific set of skills was given particular emphasis.
Transfer of knowledge was also important in this unique situation so training and supporting processes were developed to facilitate staff being equipped with this specialist expertise - both in terms of dealing with emotive calls and understanding how to advise in respect of potentially emergency situations. A dedicated ‘knowledge base’ was established to support this.
Centralising the service
One of the first and most significant developments was to centralise the service, moving from the ten regional bases to one National Control Centre in Dearne Valley. This has brought about substantial cost savings, improved efficiencies and facilitated a much more professional operation (2009 saw a saving of £417K, while in 2010 the budget was maintained despite a 14% increase in call volume).
Because of our size and customer management capability, we were able to establish a modern, flexible/scalable operation which provides effective support to delivery on the ground – deploying RSPCA personnel to locations where their help/intervention is required.
Technology has been embraced in many forms – one example being the issuing of mobile handsets to the RSPCA team out in the field. Our IT services team has also played a key role in introducing appropriate business systems which provide the foundational infrastructure to the operation.
Another key initiative has been the area of ‘caller resolution’. This involves problem solving with callers to establish whether an RSPCA team member actually needs to be deployed to the situation. Through specially developed training the contact centre staff are able in many cases to help the caller resolve the issue themselves which in turn ensures that resources can be focused where they are really needed.
Maximising operational efficiencies is an ongoing commitment – at present an initiative is underway to assist the charity in its IVR process rationalisation.
The RSPCA/Capita relationship is now well established – November 2013 will mark the ten year anniversary of the partnership. Our Capita team comprises c.150 staff, who are extremely committed to the charity’s cause providing a 24/7, 365 day a year service (very much an emergency service approach).
There is a very low turnover of staff on this contract, with the majority of those who do leave actually going on to be directly employed by the RSPCA in different roles. The Capita team is very much considered an extension of the charity’s own operation.
Over time our team has also come to play an increasingly integrated role in the charity’s activities. As well as fielding calls from the public, they now play a part in fund raising – handing callers off to the dedicated team where appropriate. They are also sometimes called upon to play a supporting role in legal proceedings – capturing evidence during calls and providing notes that are made for reference during prosecutions.
The success of this contract and the true partnership that has been established was illustrated by way of a nomination in the 2011 Call Centre and Customer Service Awards.