8x8 Virtual Contact Centers Enhance Delivery of HR Consulting and Outsourcing Services
Aon is the leading global provider of risk management, insurance and reinsurance brokerage, and human resources solutions and outsourcing services. The company was formed in 1982 when Ryan Insurance Group merged with Combined International Corporation. The combined company was relaunched in 1987 as Aon, a Gaelic word meaning “oneness.”
Proprietary Phone System Makes It Difficult to Serve Clients
In 2011 the merger of Aon and Hewitt created a new company division, Aon Hewitt, that focuses on HR consulting, employee benefits and pension administration, and HR business process outsourcing for small and medium businesses. Based in Lincolnshire, Illinois, Aon Hewitt has more than 180 clients nationwide, and 300 agents in various office locations who support them.
To provide the best possible customer service, Aon Hewitt sets up a dedicated contact center for each of its clients. This gives the client one phone number to call, and helps ensure that knowledgeable agents assist them. It’s a great idea in theory, but because of the company’s proprietary phone system, it was also a major headache for Abdul Qadir, Systems Manager at Aon Hewitt.
“With our previous phone system, it took months to set up a new call center. Once we did, each agent had their own individual line so there was no way for clients to get through to another agent if the line was busy,” says Abdul. “It was a frustrating experience for callers.”
Lack of Reporting and Recording Features Challenged Company
Aon Hewitt’s proprietary phone system also made it impossible to tell how many incoming calls had been answered, how many had gone to voicemail and how many had been abandoned.
“Our previous phone system had no call reporting features. All calls looked the same—whether they had been answered live or not,” he says. “We needed a detailed breakdown for billing purposes, but that wasn’t even an option.
Even worse, there was no call recording capability.
“Not being able to record or transcribe calls was a huge liability for our company,” says Abdul. “We deal with sensitive issues involving employee benefits and pensions, and we needed a way to document what was said to clients.”
In mid-2008, Abdul began searching for a new call center provider. He conducted industry research, attended product demos, and invited vendors to come and pitch their offerings. At the end of the process he realized two things: virtual call centers were much more cost-effective than traditional ones, and 8x8 had the best virtual call center software solution on the market.
“8x8 has opened up all kinds of possibilities for our business.”
Systems Manager at AON Hewitt
More Than 100 Virtual Contact Centers Go Live in Six Months
Over the next few months, Abdul and his team worked with 8x8 to set up a virtual contact center for each client. By the end of 2008, more than 100 contact centers had gone live.
Every Aon Hewitt contact center now has its own toll-free number, phone queue and voicemail queue. Although agents are often assigned to multiple clients, they can tell from the originating phone number which client is calling and answer the call appropriately.
In addition, 8x8 gives agents multiple options for handling calls and managing queues. For example, agents can set their state to “unavailable” if they need to stop taking calls so they can work on a special project. Agents can also see how many voicemail messages are in queue and decide whether to continue answering calls or start responding to messages instead.
“It’s a big improvement over what we had before,” says Abdul. “With our previous phone system, agents couldn’t mark themselves as unavailable; they just stopped answering calls and no one knew why. 8x8 gives them the tools to communicate internally and balance the workload.”
Reporting Tools Ensure Service Targets Are Met
Another big improvement for Aon Hewitt is the availability of accurate call statistics and reports. The company uses 8x8 call data to track:
1. Calls per month, week and day
2. Live call answer rate per client
3. Voicemail rate for unanswered calls
“We run reports on both our clients and our office locations,” says Abdul. “By comparing the call statistics, we ensure that we’re meeting our service delivery targets for every client across Aon Hewitt.”
Custom Greetings Improve Live Call Answer Rate
A key metric for Aon Hewitt is the live call answer rate. Using 8x8 data, the company can determine down to the minute which calls were answered live and which were sent to voicemail. According to Abdul, this is essential to winning new business and retaining existing clients.
“We use reports showing our live call answer rate to back up our claims about the outstanding service we give to clients,” he explains. “If another company claims their live call answer rate is high, we can show clients that our rate is even higher. It differentiates us in competitive situations, and also tips current clients toward renewing their contracts.”
An 8x8 feature that has increased the live call answer rate is custom greetings.
Whenever a group of contact center agents need to log off while they attend a meeting, they record a custom greeting letting the client know they are temporarily unavailable and when they’ll be back.
“Recording custom greetings has definitely improved our live call answer rate,” says Abdul. “Previously clients would keep calling when agents were in a meeting, and the repeated unanswered calls would bring the rate down. With 8x8 we can let our clients know what’s going on.”
Easy Recording for Legal Protection
Along with custom greetings, Aon Hewitt now records all phone calls. 8x8 stores the recordings for 100 days. After that, Aon Hewitt archives them on a secure drive for 18 months.
“Not being able to record calls with our previous phone system was a significant challenge for our business,” says Abdul. “With 8x8 Virtual Contact Center, we can automatically record and store all calls without our agents having to do anything. It’s a seamless process that reduces our legal exposure.”
8x8 CRM Features Enable Caller Authentication
As a company, Aon Hewitt continuously looks for ways to enhance its consulting and outsourcing services to clients. Agents at the Richmond, Virginia, office have started using the CRM features provided in the 8x8 Virtual Contact Center to track calls, add notes, and follow up on client questions.
“8x8’s CRM features streamline the workflow for agents when they are handling calls,” says Abdul. “They help agents remember to close the loop with clients who requested information and are waiting for a response.”
Agents at the Richmond office are also using 8x8 CRM features to authenticate callers before servicing them. Clients provide lists of authorized users, which are uploaded to the 8x8 contact center software. Abdul believes the rest of the company will soon follow Richmond’s example and begin using 8x8 CRM features.
New Contact Centers Added in Days, Not Months
Over the past few years, Aon Hewitt has added more than 200 virtual contact centers to its original 8x8 deployment, bringing the total to 300. From Abdul’s perspective, the ability to create new contact centers quickly is a major benefit of 8x8’s virtual service.
“In the past it took weeks or even months of coordinating with our service providers to set up a new call center,” says Abdul. “With 8x8, I can get a new toll-free number in a day or two, and then use it to create a virtual contact center by myself in just a few hours. That kind of speed is very helpful to our business.”
Recently a client approached Aon Hewitt with an urgent project: they needed to outsource the prequalification process for 1,000 job applicants. Abdul immediately reached out to his 8x8 account manager, got a toll-free number, and set up a temporary contact center so agents could conduct interviews by phone. Within days, Aon Hewitt had reduced the pool of applicants down to 50 qualified candidates, saving the client an enormous amount of time.
“Back when we were using our proprietary phone system, we never considered taking on a projects like this for our clients,” says Abdul. “We couldn’t move fast enough to meet their needs. By implementing virtual contact centers, we can. 8x8 has opened up all kinds of possibilities for our business.”