Social landlord AmicusHorizon houses some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged people in society. Its focus on excellence has seen it win a number of awards, including European Contact Centre of the Year and UK Customer Experience of the Year. With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the organisation has a future-proof solution through which it is enhancing customer service and improving processes.
AmicusHorizon provides a comprehensive suite of housing services to customers in South East England. Its main contact centre is in Sittingbourne, Kent, from where it delivers a range of services, including housing management, income collection, complaints, and satisfaction surveys. The association handles around 32,000 calls a month.
AmicusHorizon was using a housing management system to capture income and property information, but it lacked the sophistication to track customer calls or retain personal records. Chris Roberts, CRM Manager, AmicusHorizon, says: “The system couldn’t tell us how, why, and when customers were contacting us.” The organisation needed a centralised customer relationship management (CRM) system to provide the holistic support customers demand. “Staff need a single view of customers’ histories and preferences. We have to be in a position to deal with customers straightaway and offer tailored advice, whether we’re in the office or working remotely. It’s crucial that case notes go to the right person, are easy to track, and link seamlessly with our other systems. We needed a reliable and customisable CRM system,” says Roberts. Solution
The housing association looked at a number of leading CRM solutions, including ones from Microsoft and Siebel. With help from Microsoft Silver Partner Goldcrest Solutions, AmicusHorizon chose Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0. John Barr, Director of Customer Experience, AmicusHorizon, says: “Goldcrest impressed us with its enthusiasm and professionalism. We’re one of the first housing associations it’s worked with and we’ve both put in a lot of time and effort, learning as we go along.”
Roberts adds: “We wanted a CRM system we could customise, yet be supported by the vendor partner. We looked at some CRM solutions, but they didn’t offer this support post-customisation. Microsoft was happy for us to tailor its system and we’re supported fully by Goldcrest,” says Roberts.
After a comprehensive data cleanse, Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 was deployed to the customer experience team. Previously, this dedicated team worked with a custom-built in-house system that was difficult to use. The CRM system makes it easier to respond to queries because all relevant information and call history is immediately accessible.
Following this success, AmicusHorizon rolled out Microsoft Dynamics CRM in the contact centre. Contact centre staff use the customer database in a number of value-added ways. For example, when a customer calls, the system might highlight an urgent issue. “Creating an active dialogue with customers is important. Some customers are reluctant to talk at first so it’s important that we reassure them,” says Barr.
The next phase involved the income collection and financial inclusion teams, which use CRM via iPad devices when visiting customers in their homes. The financial inclusion team supports customers with issues such as multiple debts or poor budgeting skills. Officers meet customers face-to-face and use a mobile device to access real-time customer information. This is invaluable because staff can update outcomes immediately in CRM. A complete, traceable record is accessible by all relevant service staff. This is critical to building confidence, especially if the client is vulnerable or the issue is time sensitive.
AmicusHorizon has found other ways to use the powerful features of Microsoft Dynamics. To improve resolution for customer complaints, contact centre staff notify a team leader if they sense there’s a potential issue with a customer. The team leader listens to the case call, identifies if something could have been done better, and then contacts the customer within two hours to talk through the transaction. Customers appreciate this determination to provide a service beyond their expectations. Benefits
AmicusHorizon now has a company-wide CRM system, which helps more than 500 front-line staff give great customer service to thousands of customers. With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, AmicusHorizon can provide a better service. In light of the government’s fundamental restructuring of the welfare system, this is particularly needed by the most vulnerable.
Enhanced customer service. The number of live complaints has dropped from more than 600 to just 44 over 18 months. A key reason has been the cultural shift in the way AmicusHorizon staff handle complaints. With access to customer records at the touch of a button, employees have the tools at their disposal to be more proactive, preventing issues before they escalate. Barr says: “We’re now much more evidence-based when we reply to customers. We have accurate, reliable, and up-to-date data at our fingertips.”
Improved processes. In many administrative areas, the new system has provided significant benefits. For example, when Microsoft Dynamics replaced an Access database, to manage 800 to 900 payment calls per month, it reduced the time taken to process each transaction by 10 minutes.
Measurable performance. With real-time data, AmicusHorizon can now measure how contractors serve customers and define issues that cause concern. Evidence-based performance indicators make it easier to challenge poor performance.
Better call handling. Although call length has increased, the “right first time” rate has improved from 77 to 93 per cent in the last year. “There’s a trade-off. The more data we collect and the more we use the visual cues to tailor service, the longer the call. But the benefit is a more comprehensive customer history. This gives a much more positive experience for the caller,” says Barr.
Customer-driven approach. With the government’s recent welfare reforms, housing associations and their customers face considerable challenges. AmicusHorizon can now identify and help customers who need urgent support or those who haven’t responded to campaigns.
Future-proof solution. AmicusHorizon has a flexible platform, which will grow along with the organisation. A key forthcoming requirement is helping customers track, change, and manage their own accounts online. A new mobile application is also being developed for the financial inclusion team so staff can spend even more time in the field helping customers. This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.