Frontline is celebrating its 15th birthday and has been a customer of Callmedia – a next-generation contact centre platform developed and owned by networking services supplier Azzurri – since its inception.
In that time it has grown from a four-man team to an 80-strong, 24/7 operation, handling first-line support, triage and follow-the-sun contact centre services to 1,200 clients in multiple sectors.
Enterprise-grade contact centre
Having engaged with Azzurri’s predecessor company to supply a number of Avaya INDeX PBXs in the late 1990s, Frontline first implemented Callmedia to take advantage of enterprise-grade features.
These include computer telephony integration (CTI) – which gives agents the ability to identify which customer is making the call – and skills-based call routing.
Frontline MD David Jones says that when setting the business up, he was adamant that it should have a contact centre solution it could grow into.
“I am very proud that we had such big plans early on, and from the start we engaged with an enterprise solution. It must have been funny for the sales guys to come into a three or four-desk installation, but we already knew the technology would drive us forward.”
More on contact centres
Over the years the Callmedia solution has grown and developed and its skills-based routing and intelligence features can be applied not just to calls but to webmail, chat, SMS and even social media.
This has enabled Frontline to become a “true multi-channel contact centre”, according to Jones. “At peak we have handled 25,000 emails per week.”
Customer intimacy at the core
With a client base of firms in areas such as IT and telecoms, social care, local government and maintenance, Frontline's support teams deal with a wide range of different problems.
“We predominantly work within the out-of-hours element of the contact centre, providing a number of different helpdesks to save our customers the disruption of having their experts interrupted overnight,” says Jones.
One of the UK’s largest and longest-established funeral services is a Frontline client with out-of-hours support. This can involve fielding extremely sensitive calls from bereaved customers.
The firm engaged Frontline in 2006 after an internal review found it needed to improve its out-of-office-hours service. The need was compounded by the requirement to adhere to the recently introduced European Working Time Directive, which was threatening costly and dramatic changes to its business model.
Frontline proposed a system that would support its new client’s customers while protecting its client’s employees from unnecessary calls.
Each of its 400 branches was provided with a unique DDI (direct dial-in) number, enabling Frontline to provide a more localised response to customers. It also trained a number of agents in how the funeral services sector operates. This included extensive site visits and bereavement training.
Frontline now ensures its own teams spend time with their customers – in effect embedding them with different clients – so they can then provide a service more in tune with the customer’s outward-facing image.
Seamless integration is key. I don’t want my customer’s customers to know I’m there
“Seamless integration is key,” says Jones. “I don’t want my customer’s customers to know I’m there – I want to give them the exact same levels of service to the point where we’ve gone so far as to brand areas of our service after them.”
Callmedia enables Frontline to organise its teams to fulfil this objective better. Frontline’s staff are grouped into dedicated client teams, who work only on one particular customer account, and bureau teams. If call volume makes it impossible for the dedicated teams to meet their SLAs, then Callmedia routes the call to the most relevant bureau team member available.
“There will always be someone available within our team of experts to provide that extra bit of common sense or in-depth knowledge to a customer problem,” says Jones.
Frontline claims that sometimes its own offering has surpassed the functionality of the in-house contact centres of its largest customers. One customer even asked Frontline to extend Callmedia over its in-house Cisco infrastructure.
Positioning for growth
Frontline recently undertook a major office move to support growth, substantially expanding the number of staff in its office to deal with steadily increasing call volumes.
The nature of Frontline’s always-on service meant undertaking this move with the utmost care, attention and planning so that customers did not notice any break in service.
Both Azzurri and its teams at Callmedia were able to offer dedicated, integrated engineering expertise for the duration of the move, along with extensive contingency planning, to ensure the move was accomplished with zero downtime.