Case Study: Public Sector
Comprehensive knowledgebase drives consistency and transparency for foreign-based, UK passport applicants
Engaging HGS and asking callers to pay for service saved up to £10 million for tax payers
Every year around 350,000 UK citizens living outside of the UK applied for new or replacement passports. The information and application forms they needed were available for download on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website. However, when they needed help to complete those forms, had questions about the process, or simply wanted an update on how their application is progressing, they used to call HGS. From our Selkirk contact centre, we provide a 24-hour helpline that makes sure travel hungry citizens in more than 162 countries got the passports they needed—when they needed them.
HGS grasped quickly that its primary challenge would be to provide timely, accurate information to every applicant and to reduce the number of enquiries that needed to be referred to the RPPCs for clarification.
“Callers expected–and rightly so—that we had the answers to their questions, however bizarre or esoteric, at our finger tips,” explained Rob Irons, HGS’s Account Director for the UK Client Services. “However, that was harder to achieve than it sounds, given the number of local variations, the complex nature of the enquiries, and the high degree of change. We realised quickly that we needed to build a knowledgebase that would be a constantly updated repository for all the information we needed to answer callers’ questions. And we knew we needed to build strong, close relationships with the RPPCs as well as the FCO’s Overseas Passport Management Unit (OPMU)—to keep that knowledgebase up to date.”
Within our team, we appointed individuals who were responsible for liaising regularly with designated representatives within the RPPCs to update information and share knowledgebase changes. The process of centralisation was completed, migrating responsibility for processing and completing all passport applications from consulates around the globe, first to a series of eight RPPCs and then, eventually, to one operation in the UK and HGS continued to support it by updating all information to applicants and managing their expectations.
For the FCO, streamlining the operation went hand in glove with improving the applicant experience. By building consistency and centralising processes, both the client and HGS were able to audit the service more effectively, identify problems earlier, and overcome them at speed. All of this information—both data driven and anecdotal—was fed back to the team, where it was used to inform the business improvement process.
The cost of the contact centre service was met, not by HGS’s client, but by callers themselves. At one point, around 25% of applicants, in fact, called the helpline for advice or information, paying to do so either through premium telephone lines or by credit and debit cards. “That means it’s all the more critical that the service we provide is fast, efficient, and accurate,” said Rob.
From the outset, HGS’s service gave the OPMU team a high degree of confidence. The FCO worked closely with HGS to build and deliver a three-week agent training course prior to the service going live but, even so, expected teething problems in the early days. In fact, there were very few. From day one, complaints from callers about any aspect of HGS’s service were very rare, and complaints generally—which typically related to the passport application process or the need to pay or the service—gradually declined. Customer satisfaction scores gradually improved and stood at 79% at the end of the partnership.
Vital support for up to 350,000 passport applicants every year
Operational efficiency driving a 50% cost reduction for
the end user and rising service levels
Underpinned by a comprehensive knowledge base that drives process consistency and transparency
An innovative trust-based contract model based on a ‘user pays’ business model
An uncompromising focus on improving the applicant experience
Contributing to a program of change that has streamlined passport administration and helped save the British tax payer up to £10 million
Extremely low level of complaints about help line service quality
24 hours five days a week operation handling an average of 11,000 calls per month