Changing the perception of call centres


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    Customer service can be an emotive subject – we all have good and bad experiences to share, and the common perception of a call centre doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. But we’re aiming to change that negative image with a new customer experience centre, based in York.

    Built from scratch, we have consulted during the design process with the people who know best about what they want when they call us: our customers. Our aim is a simple one: to delight rather than depress.

    So, when you call us, you won’t be forced to listen to a recorded message giving you a long list of options or have to queue to speak to a member of the team. Instead you will get a simple choice of three options (to make a claim, if you’re an existing customer, or for new customers) before a member of our staff swiftly takes the call.

    And when you speak to one of our team, you’ll find that – unlike many other call centres – our staff don’t work to scripts, which they repeat day in, day out. The people we recruited were picked for their personalities, not their experience. Our recruitment process was based on two things: a genuine passion for customer service, and an affiliation to the Hiscox values, which include honesty and integrity.

    As a result, our team members come from different backgrounds, but what they all have in common is that they’re bright, friendly people who can genuinely engage with the person on the other end of the line.

    We didn’t look for people who had previously worked in insurance or call centres, because we wanted to train them in our own way. Our staff members undergo a minimum of six weeks of intensive training; more than the industry average, where anything between one week and four weeks is the norm.

    We spend such a long time training them so they know what they’re talking about when someone calls them. Insurance is notorious for being complicated, full of jargon and hedged by small print. People want to speak to someone who can cut through the gobbledygook and give them a straight answer.

    That’s why they are primarily rewarded on customer satisfaction, rather than the sales they make.

    Our approach is working. Since our customer experience centre went live at the beginning of August 2013 it has averaged 94% customer satisfaction. A call centre that people genuinely don’t mind calling? That does make a change.

    Kate Markham
    Managing Director
    Hiscox UK Direct Hiscox UK & Ireland  

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