In November 2010, telecom provider Sky realised an ambition that it had embraced five years earlier: to establish a base of more than 10 million customers and a presence in more than one in three households across the UK and Ireland by the end of 2010. With that target achieved, the company was now preparing for its next challenge. Sky’s new objective was to increase its positive impact on customers’ lives by introducing an ever-broader array of entertainment and communication choices while, at the same time, increasing the revenue value of each and every customer.
It was an objective that HGS was entirely focused on helping them achieve.
HGS worked with Sky to exclusively target pro-active cross selling opportunities among its existing customer base. We established a dedicated centre—the Sky Proactive Contact Centre in Chiswick, West London—entirely dedicated to a progressive and fast-paced programme of outbound calling, which is designed to introduce Sky customers to new opportunities and choices.
Until 2004, Sky’s business was entirely focused on pay-to-view TV. It had, by then, already acquired more than 7 million customers. It then added broadband and telephony services to its portfolio to become a total household entertainment and home communications provider.
Today, over 3 million customers buy broadband services from Sky and only slightly less, around 2.75 million, buy Sky Talk fixed line telephony. Sky has also upgraded more than 30% of its customer base to its market leading HD TV package.
These impressive results have been achieved in a much more complex sales environment than was typical for Sky, when it sold TV services alone. “As our portfolio increases, so do the options available to customers,” says David Jermyn, Head of Customer Upgrades for Sky. “Rather than simple ‘order takers,’ sales people have to act as consultants and advisors, helping customers choose the packages and options that best suit their lifestyle and their pocket. It’s a much more consultative sell that calls for a subtle blend of sales skill and customer focus.”
It was HGS’s customer focus—encapsulated in its ‘engaging with care’ ethos and coupled with a sharp appreciation of commercial realities—that first attracted Sky to the company.
HGS and its agents are rewarded on the basis of the revenue growth they secure for each of the customers they contact, but, since this would be a blunt instrument in isolation, remuneration is also linked to the achievement of desired customer satisfaction and quality scores. Customer satisfaction is measured by an independent third party, while quality scores are jointly calibrated with Sky.
With Sky’s entry into the highly regulated telecommunications arena, issues of call quality— especially in a sales environment—have acquired an added significance. “HGS’s diligence, plus their thorough call recording and review processes, give us the peace of mind we need as well as a clearability to track and resolve issues,” says David.
HGS’s ‘engaging with care’ ethos extends to its clients as well as its clients’ customers. “We align our operational objectives to our clients’ business ambitions and the pressures of the commercial environment in which they operate,” explains Richard Glanville, HGS’ UK Business Excellence Director. “In Sky’s case, that means being able to move at speed, without losing sight of the overall aim to build customer value and loyalty.”
In order to maintain its strong consumer appeal, Sky maintains a constant programme of new service introduction and enhancement. That means HGS must move from one campaign scenario to another with speed and certainty. “In the first six months of 2010 we handled a total of 27 separate campaigns for Sky, an average of more than five campaigns a month,” says Richard.
This pace of business change can only be maintained by thorough processes. “We have constant training and briefing sessions that support the implementation of new campaigns. These are well supported by Sky, who communicate with us in an open, sleeves-rolled-up way that helps us hit the ground running,” says Richard.
HGS monitors its call and sales performance in real time, using performance management technologies to highlight issues early and impromptu briefing sessions to address them fast. “A simple issue, if unchecked, can ruin our sales performance for a day,” says Richard, “and we simply can’t afford for that to happen. If it is an issue we can’t resolve alone, we involve Sky immediately, so that we can work together to resolve it.”
HGS has also been determined to embrace the Sky brand, both in terms of its working environment and its conversational style. “Our agents think of themselves as working for Sky rather than HGS and we have adopted Sky’s language and calling behaviours across all of our campaigns,” says Richard. “That means, whether a Sky customer is talking to us or to another Sky centre, the experience is consistent and brand aligned.”
As part of the HGS solution, we:
- Coached agents on a blend of subtle sales skills, which helped them promote more client products/ services while also focusing on customer experience
- Trained agents to be consultants and advisors who could provide the client’s customers with the best packages from the client’s TV, broadband, and talk services
- Implemented constant training and briefing sessions to ease implementation of new campaigns
- Created the Sky BloO online community, where agents are able to log in daily to access briefings, support, news and updates
- Established call recording and review processes
- Monitored sales and call performances in real time using performance management technologies
- Increased sales conversion rates along with customer satisfaction scores
- Handled 27 separate campaigns for the client in 6 months
- Implemented call recording and review process solutions that provided the clear ability to track and resolve issues
- Developed consistent and brand aligned communication with customers regardless of the contact center taking the call