The customer-for-life software suite
By Use Case
Citizens Advice is a not-for-profit organisation providing help and advice to those who need it in the United Kingdom. Composed of 285 independent local charities, Citizens Advice provided support to more than 2.6million people in 2017-18. Alongside its advisory role, Citizens Advice also acts as the statutory regulator for the energy and post sectors. The organisation has 7,000 paid staff and more than 22,000 volunteers. The organisation was looking at how to manage interactions with people across multiple channels. With so many requests for assistance and support coming in over multiple channels, the Citizens Advice team wanted to standardise and control how data flowed in and out of the support teams. As a not-for-profit organisation, cost control was also a critical factor - reducing the expense to manage service delivery would be a key element for the future.
Lastly, the team at Citizens Advice wanted to improve how the service and support teams were managed through better use of data. Using this data, support services could be directed to where they could make the most difference. Simon Sheridan, Product Manager at Citizens Advice, was given responsibility for implementing the new system for managing service requests and management of tickets across the organisation. The new implementation would be based on Freshworks. “We had a cloud-first mantra in place following our implementation of Google Apps. Freshworks integrates directly with these applications, and the company’s products were the recommended customer service and ITSM solutions available. We also appreciated how keenly Freshworks is priced - we were able to significantly increase the number of agents that we could roll out to compared to other cloud-based services on the market,” commented Simon.
Citizens Advice has a mix of internal and external customers to support, as well as a diverse mix of staff and locations. Internal customers included the organisation’s direct staff and contacts, while the external customers included all those volunteers and employees working for charitable organisations supporting the public. The organisation already had a wide range of IT assets to support, as well as heavy IT infrastructure. The team responsible for internal support were also using complex legacy processes and knew that - with a new approach - performance could be improved.
“We wanted to start afresh with Freshworks around customer support and service, and we had the chance to really improve how we managed our operations. We wanted to standardise how issues came in and were managed over time so that we could improve our performance. Lastly, we had a large number of issues coming in continually, all of which needed to be managed to completion. We implemented Freshworks to help us control all this activity,” explained Simon.
For external customer support, Simon and his team turned to Freshdesk as a helpdesk and ticket management system. This supports all the requests for service from the workers and volunteers at the charitable bodies that make up Citizens Advice. In total, the Freshdesk implementation currently supports more than 11,000 requesters and can scale up to support all 27,000 users. For internal requests, Simon led the implementation of Freshservice as the organisation’s IT Service Management platform. “We liked the approach that Freshworks took around its products - the ease of use and simplified design made it really easy to pick up while having the same design ethos in place across both internal and external support made things easier too,” continued Simon.
Simon’s team implemented the Freshworks solutions in a phased approach, starting with Freshdesk for customer support. Following the success of that initial implementation, Freshdesk was rolled out to more teams internally and then followed by Freshservice for ITSM.
Freshdesk replaced an existing approach which was based on a case management system and email correspondence. While this approach worked, it did not consolidate all interactions around specific requests easily and it could lead to duplicate requests coming through. With Freshdesk, all activities can be linked up to a single ticket, even when multiple people are interacting on an issue.
Alongside the implementation, Simon took the opportunity to revisit the helpdesk and support processes that were in place. This would help the team make the most of the capabilities within the product around automating support steps. “Freshdesk’s user experience is really strong - it makes it easy to work around issues and deliver what a customer asks for, so we wanted to take advantage of that. Freshdesk has allowed us to take away some of the confusion around processes, automated some of the heavy liftings for the team and made it easier for them to do their job,” commented Simon.
“Before Freshdesk, we had a lot of manual interactions to go through and it made it more difficult to close issues,” explained Simon. “We’ve seen improvements in all the teams that we have implemented Freshworks with, and we have reduced the time spent on issues dramatically - the average amount of time is down to a quarter of what it took previously. Overall, we have increased agent efficiency by 40%.”
Citizens Advice now has both Freshdesk and Freshservice implemented, and the organisation is continuing to expand the number of teams that are deployed. Currently, around 60% of the organisation’s support staff are fully moved over to Freshdesk, while 78% of the organisation’s IT staff are using Freshservice.
Moving over to Freshworks provided Citizens Advice with a great opportunity to rethink the organisation’s approach to internal and external service. “Working with Freshworks gave us the opportunity to identify and track our customer journeys, irrespective of where those people are within the organisation as a whole. Being able to control those journeys through better workflows and processes made them more efficient, while the ease of use made it really simple for everyone to pick up and be productive,” said Simon.
Alongside the customer service process insight, Freshworks provides more data on how the organisation is managing all the issues that come in. With Freshworks, the Citizens Advice service management team can report on all tickets and service requests in real time. “Our reporting and measurement can get really granular now, so we can build up a better picture of how we are performing and where we expect more issues to come up over time. This helps us be more proactive in where we put our resources, as well as providing better customer service,” stated Simon.
Over the past year, the Freshservice team at Citizens Advice has dealt with more than 33,000 enquiries. More importantly, the team was able to achieve a customer satisfaction (CSAT) score of 93.1%. The Freshdesk team CSAT rating for the same period was 95%. Overall the teams dealing with customer expectations at Citizens Advice received a 99% recommendation rating from customers.
Looking back at the implementation, Simon and his team have been incredibly happy with the results that Freshworks have delivered. “Today, we are able to benchmark our customer service and satisfaction scores on a quarterly basis based on data as it comes in, rather than having to wait for anecdotal surveys to come through after the fact. Now we have instant interaction and feedback from each ticket so we can act on any negative feedback straight away and fix the issue fast. This makes a huge difference to our customers, and it helps our agents feel they are delivering the best possible service,” concluded Simon.
“Today, we are able to benchmark our customer service and satisfaction scores on a quarterly basis based on data as it comes in, rather than having to wait for anecdotal surveys to come through after the fact. Now we have instant interaction and feedback from each ticket so we can act on any negative feedback straight away and fix the issue fast. This makes a huge difference to our customers, and it helps our agents feel they are delivering the best possible service.”
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