Working to avoid the winter blues

It may seem hard to believe but, as this the nights draw in and the weather drops, CET is already on the cusp of its busiest period of the year. Sid Khanim, Head of Customer Relations, and Tony Lucas, Head of Customer Service, explained what plans have been put in place to ensure the best possible service for our Customers as the British winter bites…

Tony: “Our planning for autumn and winter would generally start in April, but this year we actually put in place some new systems as far back as January and February.

“Both myself and Sid had ideas and approaches that we wanted to introduce in order to improve performance and we took the decision to implement some of these towards the end of last winter. By doing this, it gave us the opportunity to evaluate their impact ahead of autumn / winter 2021 and the results were immediately there for all to see, as we recorded new highs in Customer satisfaction levels.”

But exactly how much planning can be done when comes to predicting the demands placed upon the team and what can we do to ensure that we have the required staffing levels in place?

Tony: “As a result of the data that SIMPLIFi accumulates throughout the year, we are able to provide highly accurate and intelligent forecasting with regards to the number of claims and calls per claim that we can expect to receive. For example, as of the day of this interview and with average weather conditions for the time of year, we can predict that we will receive a total of 608 calls from Customers on Christmas Day.”

Sid: “The forecasting is that accurate and we know exactly how many of our people are required to be working at all times. As part of this we established that rigid shift patterns were not the most effective approach to take and, as a result, we have implemented annualised hours. We already have 16 people employed with us on this basis, with more than a dozen currently in training, and plans to recruit approximately another 20, meaning that we can tightly match our resource to Customer demand.”

Tony: “We have also looked to utilise additional internal resource wherever possible, and we have commenced a programme of delivering training across other departments that will allow people to seamlessly switch job roles in exceptional circumstances. It is this approach of creating levers that we can pull, if required, that allows us to successfully navigate any challenging situations.

“We have also looked extensively at the approach to holidays across the team. We certainly didn’t want to say to our people that they must take holidays at a certain time and not at another time, so we have worked closely with them to try to understand when they want to take well-earned time off with their families. Understandably, for many this is heavily influenced by school holidays and the summer months, and the result of this is that 15% of all annual leave is taken during our quieter period and just 5% taken during the winter.”

This approach of communicating openly with our people and involving them in the planning process is not limited to agreeing when holidays are taken.

Sid explained: “We really do place value on ensuring that we engage openly with our teams, to fully explain the rationale for any changes to the way we work, or new approaches that we take. By participating in this two-way communication, our people both understand and feel part of the journey that we are taking; they therefore understand that what is being implemented, is ultimately better for both them and the Customer.

“The change in weather increases demands on the teams and this is something that we are very aware of. By sharing details of our plans and the work we continue to do, we are able give full confidence to our people that we are in the best possible position, as we head towards winter 2021, to ensure that we continue to deliver excellent service for Customers.”

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