Case studies


  • The Future of Retail Banking 2016 - presentation

    At the recent Future of Retail Banking conference in London, ContactPartners Co-founder and Director, Russell Hopcraft, gave a presentation on 'Influencing customer behaviour, one step at a time.' Russell used his time on stage to address some of the threats facing financial services - from AI and Brexit to legacy systems and Blockchain - he offered some practical ways banks can create foundations for change, and generate cash to fund their larger transformation effort.

  • Reaping rewards from mass customisation

    "Thank you to all who gave their precious time to help develop and support this exciting and important initiative. It will revolutionise Private Banking!"
    Head of Advice

    THE BACKGROUND | Untapping potential 'one on one'

    To deliver better customer service and maximise revenue potential, retail banking organisations need to build strong relationships with customers. To do this effectively, it's imperative to have a true understanding of customer needs and preferences for each of the various stages in the customer life-cycle in order to offer the right product or service at the right time - at an individual level.

    This retail bank recognised that its high net worth segment represented an untapped opportunity to cross and up sell products 'one on one', but that the initiative would need to be handled expertly and sensitively as the private banking clientele rightly has high expectations of great customer service and really doesn't want to be on the receiving end of inappropriate sales 'pitches'.

    On the back of the results ContactPartners has delivered for the bank's customer management operations for over 10 years, the team was first invited to discuss this high profile initiative with the project sponsors and then to specify and deliver a solution that would meet the bank's twin requirements of better service and increased revenues.

    THE CHALLENGE | Better service and increased revenues for high net worth customers

    The client wanted to improve customer service and increase revenues for its high net worth segment, but recognised that it needed to overcome some key challenges:

    • Firstly, the solution needed to integrate and be compatible with a significant number of existing systems that had grown organically over time, but these were both expensive and inefficient to maintain.
    • Secondly, the existing system didn't allow the customer relationship managers to perform targeted searches to understand what products or services would be of use to their customers.
    • In addition, the existing system didn't allow multiple future contact scheduling, which made it different for the managers to keep track of customers with a diverse product portfolio or multiple requirements
    • 'Soft' insights - such as personal interests and situation - couldn't be captured which impacted the ability to softly cross and up sell; for example, if a child was about to go to University, that might represent the perfect opportunity to propose a bond.
    • Last but not least, customer financial data feeds were often stale and inaccurate, so were mistrusted by the customer relationship managers who had to spend time cleansing data and researching current customer information via multiple systems - a time consuming and monotonous exercise.

    What a great experience! From start to finish, initial meetings and discussions, staff professionalism, project specification, solution delivery and after delivery service has been second to none. Nothing has been too much trouble, no issue is a barrier that can't be overcome, tunnelled under or scaled for this company. The employees are professional and polite and have a real 'can do' attitude no matter what the circumstance. I wish that third parties were as professional and easy to work with as these guys."
    Telephony Transformation

    THE SOLUTION | Intelligent Relationship Management

    ContactPartners began by holding various workshops with all key client stakeholders to fully get to grips with the requirements and the existing technology infrastructure. It then specified a bespoke customer relationship management solution, Intelligent Relationship Management, and brought in a trusted, specialist partner for the solution build, integration with other legacy systems and to support full testing and launch. Within 6 months, Intelligent Relationship Management was underpinning customer relationship management for the bank's high net worth customer base.

    The powerful customer relationship management solution, which is tightly coupled with the bank's infrastructure, provides advanced, yet user-friendly prospecting and proactive customer management capabilities. By integrating with existing systems and combining all the data the bank holds about its customers in a single view, the solution uses a mix of historical and real-time data to provide a summarised, editable view of each customer, combining history and soft facts as well as all balances, bank and non-bank holdings. Customer relationship managers can easily create sophisticated rules that generate automated prompts and alerts to drive prospecting efficiency. A virtually limitless search capability helps identify customers with the highest propensity to buy or which are due a personal contact. Coupled with an unprecedented and comprehensive view of their financial holdings, customer relationship managers are now fully equipped to contact and serve customers in the right way, each and every time.

    In addition, Intelligent Relationship Management gives regional managers access to a clear, hierarchical set of easy to digest, real-time management information and key performance indicators (KPIs) across the business, allowing them to proactively support their customer relationship managers. They are also able to understand and share what's working - and what isn't - and provide other areas of the business with vital intelligence to improve business performance and capture valuable customer insight to help refine marketing messages and reduce costs through improved targeting.

    "I've seen enough CRM systems to know this is a good one. I would kill to get a system like this into other areas of the business."
    Head of Branch Banking

    THE BENEFITS | Revenue, efficiency and better customer relationships

    Since the introduction of Intelligent Relationship Management, the bank has increased revenues for its high net worth segment and driven incredible efficiencies across its private banking operations. The customer relationships managers have been empowered to do a better job for customers and themselves, which has resulted in increased levels of both customer and employee satisfaction. Customers are having more rewarding conversations as the customer relationship managers are more knowledgeable about individual customer needs, wants and personal situations.

    Although sophisticated, Intelligent Relationship Management offers effortless scalability and is really straightforward to use. Relationship managers are now empowered to make appropriate contact with - and product offers to - their customers at the right time. For the first time, 'mass customisation' is possible: meaning that bespoke, carefully considered - and perceived as truly personal - offers and communications are being made to segments displaying the same traits, needs and wants.

    The solution's integration with existing systems has not only 'joined up' information held about customers, it's driven increased efficiencies across the legacy infrastructure, and, in some cases, given systems that were 'creaking at the seams' a new lease of life, enabling management to contain costs by reducing inefficiencies and extracting value from existing technologies. 

    Last but not least, there has been excellent feedback from the customer relationship managers and 100% user acceptance. Users trust Intelligent Relationship Management because it's reliable, user-friendly and safe. And, quite simply, it helps them do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. 

    Intelligent Relationship Management capabilities especially valued by the client include:                       
    Fresh data can be delivered in near real-time and incredibly sophisticated contact lists can be generated and shared with colleagues to drive efficiencies.

    Everything you need to know about a customer is instantly available in a single, unified view - from a roll-off date on a product to a high balance change overnight - enabling customer relationship managers to make every contact count and offer products and services tailored to individual customer needs.

    Intelligent Relationship Management has a great user interface to access and capture customer information - including non-bank holdings or 'soft' facts, both entirely searchable - which enriches prospecting searches and customer decisioning in real-time.

    The solution's virtually limitless search capability helps customer relationship managers drill down faster and yield search results that build 'hot' lead pools or identify customers that are due to be contacted - helping to build and cement customer relationships.

    Automated alerts remove the requirement for painstaking 'case by case' scenario searches and serves as a helpful prompt to remind customer relationship managers to take action.

    Intuitive performance dashboards are delivering 'on the minute' intelligence on progress and outcomes, allowing regional managers to see performance vs. targets for individual members of the team. This is particularly valued as managers are able to guide individuals, identify and analyse good and bad practice and share learnings constructively across the team.

    "It was a real pleasure to work with you and your full team in ContactPartners. I have worked in Change Management now for over 5 years and this was by far the best relationship I have seen between the group and a third party."
    Change Manager

    About Major Retail Bank

    We'd love to tell you more about this major UK Retail Bank but we can't. Simply because, like many financial services institutions, this organisation has a strict non-endorsement policy. However, as our client is really happy with the work we do and enjoys our close working relationship as much as we do, we are pleased to be able to share details on this strategic customer relationship management initiative - albeit anonymously. From our point of view, we're delighted and privileged to count them as a longstanding client.

  • Improved conversion rates and seamless customer experience for savvy savers at ING Direct

    Improved conversion rates and seamless customer experience for savvy savers at ING Direct

    ING Direct prides itself on its very strong product offering and a total commitment to customer service. That's why, when Robin Middleton, Head of Digital Marketing and Des McDaid, Savings Director at ING Direct realised that it was possible to improve the online savings account application process, they decided to act.

    "At ING Direct, we are constantly trying to do things better for our discerning - and increasingly savvy - client base," explains Robin. "In June 2011, we realised that one of our international sister companies had improved its online savings account application process and that the changes were both being well received by customers and increasing conversion rates. However, we also realised that changing our process was a data management challenge, not just a question of shortening the form and providing call centre capability."

    To help with the initiative, ING Direct brought in specialist customer contact company ContactPartners. "The reason for ContactPartners' selection was threefold. Firstly, data security is our top priority - we needed a partner that met our exacting standards and that would stand up to our scrupulous due diligence.  Secondly, we required a robust track record in financial services - our industry is challenging and complex and we wanted experienced specialists that know how to navigate the complexities and opportunities created by the initiative. Last but not least, our roll-out timelines were extremely challenging - we needed to 'go live' in early September, within less than 2 months! I'm pleased to report that ContactPartners met our stringent requirements with flying colours and that the initiative was soon underway," shares Robin.

    A robust multi-channel solution

    Immediately after selection, ContactPartners worked with ING Direct to understand historical saving accounts application data and to set objectives for the initiative.  ContactPartners then helped ING Direct to design a much shorter and more intuitive online savings account application form and create a call back capability to both support customers with specific questions and confirm customer details before officially opening the savings account. In parallel, ING Direct created a specialist, dedicated team of customer service executives who were fully trained on the organisation's products and best practice customer service techniques.

    ING can now instantly control the percentage of web visitors that see the short form (vs. existing long form) in order to optimise the supply of leads to the telephony team. In addition, the ability to recoup partially completed forms provides ING Direct with a good flow of warm leads to follow up.

    "In addition to a really straightforward and less time-consuming application form, our customers can request a call back if they have a question or require support. As we know where they are in the application process and because the data integration with our CRM is really slick, our customer service executives are able to deal with the specific question quickly and efficiently, which is having a great impact on client satisfaction and net promoter scores," says Robin.

    The project's challenging timescales were met. From project approval, it took under 2 months to design, build, test and implement the new solution and 'go live' was successfully achieved in early September.

    "ContactPartners delivered to our requirements brilliantly and on time. Our customer services team is amazingly motivated, mainly because they are empowered to truly help our customers and have the tools at their disposal to do this well. The close working relationship between this team and marketing is a vital link between what goes on the web and what happens over the phone which benefits the entire organisation," continues Robin.

    Rapid and compelling ROI

    ING Direct realised significant benefits, above and beyond initial expectations:

    • The customer experience was improved. Externally conducted customer satisfaction and net promoter research has revealed good improvements for the short application form vs. the long application form
    • Online savings account application conversions have improved
    • The level of initial savings account funding has increased
    • It is now possible to recoup lost and incomplete forms and proactively contact potential customers - further increasing conversion prospects
    • The dedicated customer service team is highly motivated and engaged
    • There are none of the traditional 'silos': marketing and customer services are fully integrated and committed to creating a profitable customer experience

    About ING Direct

    ING Direct is a UK based company with head offices and telephone banking services based in Reading and Cardiff. ING Direct is wholly owned by ING Group, one of the biggest financial institutions in the world. ING Direct is built on the idea of bringing everyday decency to banking; treating customers in ways we'd like to be treated ourselves.

  • True partnership with Aviva

    "ContactPartners consistently provides Aviva with invaluable and honest advice and insight across all aspects of multi-channel customer contact strategy and technologies.  ContactPartners truly is our tried and tested 'sounding board', in addition to being a frequent source of fresh ideas."

    Warren D'Souza, Aviva

  • A little extra for the Halifax

    ContactPartners has allowed the Halifax to generate an extra £0.5 million in premium income from the sale of regulated products through its direct channels division in under a year, and provides a seamless link between its web site and contact centre.

    When Halifax began selling regulated products via direct channels in February 2007 it was determined to take an integrated approach. "We wanted to pursue a 'joined up' channel strategy that would allow our customers to pass seamlessly between the internet and our telephone based sales teams," explains Head of Regulated Telephone Sales, Simon Wassell.

    Clicktocall capability was already in use across several other divisions of Halifax and its parent, HBOS, was introduced in autumn 2007 to provide click-through connectivity between the Internet and the bank's regulated sales contact centre operation in Leeds. "It has proved invaluable," says Simon. "Before its introduction we were aware that sales opportunities were being lost because people failed to complete their transactions online. The option to connect directly to an agent via ContactPartners' clicktocall technology sidesteps that failure and gives us the opportunity to save the sale. In under a year, it has allowed us to secure around £0.5 million in premium income."

    Saving the sale

    Conversion rates have been impressively high.  Introduced first to support Halifax's Guaranteed Growth Bond and, more recently, its equity based ISAs, ContactPartners has delivered sales conversion rates of over 40%.  "That's similar to the results we achieve through our telephone channel," says Simon.  But with one important difference.  "Our telephone channel deals only with existing ISA holders.  Since they are only being invited to top up an existing investment, one would expect the conversion rate to be higher than average.  By contrast, 75% of the enquiries that come via our internet channel are from new customers.  Given those circumstances, the conversion rate is, indeed, impressive."

    Managing time - catching the sale

    ContactPartners' technology has proved particularly useful during the peak ISA selling period between February and April.  As sales enquiries escalate dramatically, the number of calls increases more than 10 fold.  The clicktocall technology allows customers to schedule a call at a time that's convenient to them, rather than calling the centre and risking delays or queues.  "Of course we still have to make sure that agents are available to make those calls," says Simon, "but even across the busiest selling periods we have been able to do so, secure in the knowledge that the call will be made at the appropriate time.  That translates, quite simply, into great customer service!"

    The ability to schedule calls is one of ContactPartners' greatest strengths.  The Halifax contact centre is open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday and from 9am to 1pm on Saturday, but careful use of the call scheduling facility means that Halifax's sales window remains open even when its contact centre is closed.  "We've designed the call request form so that, if someone is surfing our site outside of hours and requests a call back, they'll be invited to schedule it for a time when we're open.  The sales opportunity is firmly secured and the customer's expectations are managed from the outset," affirms Simon.

    Future plans

    Halifax has clear plans to increase the use of its direct channels for the sale of regulated products. Three new products will be introduced to the Halifax's portfolio later this year and plans are currently being developed to make them available on line, supported with the clicktocall facility. "With these new products we will be firmly engaged in new customer acquisition, where we believe clicktocall can offer greatest value," says Simon with confidence.

    Furthermore, Halifax is working with ContactPartner's management to extend the use of clicktocall to the price comparison sites that are fast becoming a key feature of the sales landscape for financial services.

    ContactPartners' Director, Russ Hopcraft, explains "We're investigating how, by placing the clicktocall icon alongside our clients' offerings on price comparison sites, we can encourage customers to make direct contact.  Our contacts at Halifax, recognising that this could give them a strong competitive edge, are working closely with us on this project."

    The service will deliver a clear win-win for Halifax and the price comparison sites alike, Russell insists.  "Halifax will steal a march on its competitors, while the price comparison sites will be able to use the management information ContactPartners captures to accurately measure and demonstrate the value it delivers to its stakeholders in terms of sales opportunities."

    This innovative and business focused approach is typical of ContactPartners' team, says Simon. "From the outset they've helped us, not just to implement the technology efficiently, but to use it to improve our commercial performance. Their focus on business opportunity and measurable results is a rare quality in technology vendors, and one we particularly value."

  • Enhancing the John Lewis Insurance customer experience

    "Life assurance products are typically harder to sell than other insurance products and need handling sensitively.  In addition, customer trust and confidence are 'top of mind' for John Lewis and we work tirelessly to achieve these across our entire product line and by delivering appropriate customer service," explains Jeremy Thomas, Operations Business Analyst, John Lewis Financial Services. 

    In this context, John Lewis approached ContactPartners for help to enhance customer service for its life assurance product line.  ContactPartners deployed robust click-through connectivity from the website direct to the contact centre, enabling potential customers to request a date and time for John Lewis to contact them to discuss life assurance products in more detail.

    "We are confident that our call back capability has helped break down some of the barriers of life assurance sales.  ContactPartners swiftly grasped the specifics of our requirement and helped us to deliver enhanced customer contact capabilities for our life assurance customers - the team is knowledgeable, reliable and responds quickly at all times," concludes Jeremy.


    Jeremy Thomas, Operations Business Analyst

  • Powering growth, reduced costs and an enhanced customer experience for National Grid Metering

    National Grid Metering has a busy 24 x 7 contact centre based in Gloucester handling some 2m customer service calls per year. 

    One of the companies served by the Contact Centre was OnStream, previously a wholly owned subsidiary of National Grid created to offer a metering service to the rapidly expanding unregulated metering market.

    "OnStream's key driver was growth and the contact centre was instrumental in powering it.  From a standing start, we helped OnStream install over 5 million gas and electricity meters on behalf of its clients - the national energy suppliers - within 6 years and this required robust contact management processes and operations," explains James Cole, Contact Centre Manager, National Grid Metering (NGM).

    To initiate the installation process, end consumers received a letter explaining that their gas and/or electricity meter needed replacing and inviting them to book an appointment to have a new meter installed.  The consumer then contacted the Centre either by phone or via the website - to request a date and time.

    "Although the process sounds straightforward, there are several factors that should not be underestimated.  Firstly, it takes skilled and knowledgeable agents to get customers 'on side' and actually agree to have their meter changed.  Secondly, achieving appropriate resourcing levels to manage the 'spike' inbound call traffic during peak times is very difficult - if you throw resource at it, it's very costly due to the disproportionate variance between peak times and 'lull' periods, where effectively you have highly unproductive agents.  Last but not least, it was vital for us to meet our service levels for critical calls - gas escape calls and 'no gas' situations for example, as non-achievement was linked to financial penalties," continues James.

    To help overcome these issues, NGM approached ContactPartners.

    A robust multi-channel solution

    First of all, ContactPartners worked with NGM to understand customer call patterns and service level requirements for both critical and non-critical calls.  Then, enhancements to existing technologies and the introduction of new capabilities to reduce peaks by leveraging offline and self-service technologies - and which would also improve the customer experience and reduce the overall cost to serve - were explored.

    After suitable due diligence, ContactPartners optimised NGM's Interactive Voice Recognition (IVR) by simplifying its architecture and providing links to self-service.  ContactPartners also implemented "QueueBuster" in order to smooth peak time call traffic - callers are simply invited to leave their contact details and then hang up.  QueueBuster then joins the queue on their behalf and reconnects customers with a phone call once it has reached an agent.

    "ContactPartners quickly got to grips with our requirements and helped us identify and implement enhancements to existing capability as well as a brand new call management solution: a powerful combination that delivered rapid and compelling return on investment.  QueueBuster significantly reduces the number of angry customers and increases overall customer satisfaction - customers hate hanging on the telephone, but are happy to receive a call back without having to wait in a queue," comments James.

    Rapid and compelling ROI

    Within a very short timeframe, NGM realised significant benefits:

    • The customer experience was improved.  A number of surveys showed that customers readily adopted the new and improved technologies and that this led to increased levels of customer satisfaction. Satisfaction levels increased by over 10% and many commented on the novel option to leave their contact details and to avoid waiting in a queue
    • Operational costs were reduced by 8%, namely by encouraging people to self-serve, flattening out the calling spikes and by achieving optimal staffing levels
    • OnStream consistently met its target service levels with 90% of all calls being answered within 20 seconds vs. 80% prior to the introduction of QueueBuster.  This was doubly beneficial in that contractual and financial liabilities were avoided due to call handling standards being achieved
    • The introduction of the new 'self-service' capabilities enabled 'up' and 'downstream' process improvements within NGM, resulting in further efficiency improvements and cost savings. One particular example was the introduction of messaging to encourage customers to 'self serve' and book meter installation appointments via the web portal. This reduced calls and costs in to the Centre and importantly, enhanced customer satisfaction by providing another option to satisfy the customer's requirements
    • Employees were less stressed at peak times and more engaged overall as they were able to use their skills and knowledge to deliver consistently good levels of customer service

    "ContactPartners helped us achieve considerable and tangible benefits extremely quickly.  The bottom line is they are experts at making customer contact 'better' - and ultimately professional.  In terms of ContactPartners' working style, I'd sum it up with 3 words: focused, passionate and timely," concludes James.

    On 24 October 2011, OnStream was acquired by Macquarie Group for £274M.  ContactPartners and NGM continue to collaborate closely on various customer management initiatives.


    About National Grid Metering

    National Grid Metering is a subsidiary company of National Grid and provides metering services in the regulated gas metering market.  National Grid currently owns some 15 million domestic, industrial and commercial gas meters.  


  • Improving call answer rates and customer satisfaction for Norwich & Peterborough

    "ContactPartners has helped us achieve significant improvements in call answer rates and customer satisfaction," explains Chris Burke, Resource and Planning Manager.

    Managing calling peaks in a busy contact centre can be challenging.  ContactPartners helped us rise to the challenge by implementing "QueueBuster" - intelligent call management technology which invites callers to leave their contact details and then hang up, before joining the queue on the customer's behalf and calling them back once an agent becomes available.

    Operational benefits have also been compelling.  Advisors are more engaged as they feel they are doing a better job for customers and shift planning is much easier as small, planned and unplanned rises in call volumes can be managed without increasing staffing levels and incurring unnecessary expense.

    Last but not least, ContactPartners' deep understanding of customer contact and how to leverage technology to optimise the customer experience is impressive and their working style makes them a trusted and valued partner."


    Chris Burke, Resource and Planning Manager

  • Branching out to customers cost-effectively for a leading UK retail bank

    "Although our initial driver was to increase branch efficiency - and ContactPartners' performance in this area has certainly exceeded our expectations - we're deriving additional business benefit from improved customer insight to better understanding the scale of our branch prospecting activity.  Feedback from our branch staff on the 'ease of use' of the new prospecting solution has also been exceptionally positive."

    Senior Manager, Leading UK retail bank