Client Success Story
Stacking strategies for transformational CX
HGS builds brand loyalty for multinational food company
Strong structures require solid foundations.
In 2014, HGS was contacted by a UK-based, global CPG company that strives to help parents support their babies’ health and nutrition. An expanding portfolio of brands and a growing customer base had increased the company’s volume of calls to their understaffed in-house contact center, and during call surges, the organization was pulling employees from multiple other departments to answer phones.
The company realized that they needed a mature outsourcing partner with expertise in digital customer experience (CX) to modernize, manage, and staff a call center ecosystem, provide exceptional customer support, and help grow brand awareness.
Partnering with HGS marked a first for the CPG company—they had never before outsourced CX operations and strategy to another organization. As the partnership progressed, their growing trust and confidence in HGS allowed us to take on CX responsibilities beyond what a traditional outsourcer generally provides, such as offering insights based on customer feedback to drive meaningful brand enhancements. We also tapped into our digital transformation team to bring true omnichannel CX to life through creative solutions across multiple channels.
HGS has since transformed the client’s customer care model, earning the company new customers and building further brand loyalty.
When we took over the client’s customer contact center operations in 2014, one of the first steps was to create a centralized, full-time team of agents and advisors with two equally important qualities: a laser focus on customer care and CX, and clinical training in fields such as midwifery and nutrition.
This would allow us to effectively handle the full spectrum of queries the contact center receives.
We hired a team of full-time midwives, nutritionists, and other certified healthcare professionals.
Next, we developed an agent training program designed to transform a healthcare professional’s clinical skill sets into exceptional customer care for parents and their babies, helping each agent represent the company’s values and maintain brand voice while educating and advising customers. All agents are trained to effectively provide high levels of service across all contact channels so that customers can quickly speak to the first available advisor. The program continues to deliver as new employees shadow experienced staff and gain hands-on training.
The numbers prove the effectiveness of this training program: HGS agents deliver 92% CSAT (customer satisfaction) scores against a target of 85%. In this customer-focused contact center operation, metrics always focus on CSAT versus average handling time (AHT)—because longer calls could mean more effective support for new parents.
When we began operating the contact center, the company was offering their customers only phone and email support. We immediately introduced chat as another option, but we soon realized that busy parents—whose phone or chat conversations would be cut short if their young babies began crying to be fed or changed—needed a digital, mobile-friendly contact option that allowed for seamless stop-and-start conversations and required less effort than email.
After a 2016 quarterly consumer focus group, we introduced the channel that parents expressed the most interest in: messaging via WhatsApp. Through WhatsApp, customers receive the same level of personalized care and clinical expertise as they would via voice or email contact, but on their own schedules. They can initiate a query and keep coming back to the conversation whenever they have time, helping them get the right answers when they need them.
In 2020, we also moved the complaint team onto WhatsApp, where customers can share photos and videos of their babies’ behaviors, allowing agents to see what the parents are experiencing and provide more targeted advice and a faster resolution. We additionally handle any complaints and queries that come via social media, and our client’s social media partner manages standard social media engagement and interactions while escalating these more complex, nuanced customer contacts to agents and advisors with CX-specific skills.
WhatsApp quickly became the channel of choice for many of the company’s customers, and we receive 50% of today’s queries via the app. Because it is a more cost-effective contact channel, WhatsApp has improved the bottom line while helping the company provide better CX.
In addition to channel additions, HGS has implemented or assisted with multiple CX digital transformation initiatives:
The client replaced its outmoded customer relationship management (CRM) platform with Salesforce in December 2020. We heavily supported the company by advising on the structuring of the new CRM, based on our understanding of and experience with customer journey-mapping. We additionally executed user acceptance testing (UAT) and feedback on setup and functionality to make learning the platform easier for contact center agents, so that they could continue to support customers even as they navigate a new technology.
We mine data and compile customer feedback to maintain or improve service for individual brands within the CPG company. Beyond customer care, our insights on customer feedback lead to actionable product recommendations—data that normally would come from a focus group or survey.
In April 2018, we deployed an artificial intelligence (AI) platform that can highlight trends and sentiment. This also provides the company with greater insight into feedback about products and services and how to improve them.
We collaborated with the client on its DTC launch, designing sales processes if customers contact agents to make a purchase, providing agents with FAQs and training to handle queries related to DTC, and updating systems, such as reprogramming the IVR to direct certain queries (e.g., delayed order) to logistics teams. There was no set launch date for DTC, but in March 2020, the pandemic drove consumers to begin panic-buying. As store shelves emptied of critical CPG and infant products, together we quickly reacted to the circumstances and launched the e-commerce offering on March 24, 2020—one day after the UK enacted its first lockdown—to support customers who needed supplies. Thanks to our foundational work prior to the pandemic, the launch went smoothly, and our agents were able to help thousands of parents secure supplies for their infants.
Prior to our partnership, the client’s in-house operation offered customers just two contact channels, and staffed just one midwife as a part-time agent, pulling employees from other departments to handle customer queries during times of high demand.
Today, the HGS contact center—which handles all customer contacts from all 650-plus products in the company’s growing portfolio—features agents with both clinical skills and CX training, customer-centric contact channel options, and multiple digital transformation capabilities. With most Net Promoter Scores (NPS) between 60 to 80 (incidentally, a score over 50 is considered exceptional), it’s clear that strategies like employing and nurturing the right talent, and enhancing customer care with digital tools and new channels, have made all the difference.
As the COVID-19 threat grew more severe and the likelihood of a lockdown became more apparent, we launched into logistical and compliance-related preparations. This allowed the organization to quickly and seamlessly move agents to a work-at-home contact center environment in March 2020, ensuring continuous customer support, even during a pandemic.
These strategies inspired us to reinvent our operational model for our client’s agents. A new hybrid contact center model allows agents to work at home most of the time, and gather in our brand-new UK Engagement Hub one day a week to collaborate, receive training and mentorship, and enjoy the camaraderie of a team environment.
This model supports HGS agents by providing them with a sense of community and a dedicated workspace away from home along with all of the benefits of a remote lifestyle. It also helps them address customer needs, maintain customer satisfaction, drive brand loyalty and sales, and uphold the client’s exceptional CX.