Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board PureCloud Contact Centre

Taking the first steps


Stories of large, multi-national contact centre deployments often steal the media limelight but, increasingly, smaller organisations are capitalising on the employee productivity and customer experience improvements available from contact centres today.


However, the deployment of contact centre technology can be a daunting task for organisations that lack the required experience and resources. For these businesses, it can be tempting to consider only immediate, short-term requirements and the simplest solution.


Contact centre functionality is changing fast, though, and consideration of future requirements and return on investment is critically important to building a business case that allows access to a broader set of contact centre features in the future. For many smaller organisations, the biggest challenge is finding the expertise and knowledge necessary to make that decision now.


Addressing change


Perhaps the greatest and most rapid changes of any industry today are happening in farming, where ‘a new agricultural revolution’ is driving productivity, competition and automation to new levels. Against this dynamic backdrop, the Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board is helping the industry to unite around a common goal to lift productivity, collaborate, innovate and drive change. The levy-funded board is financed by subscriptions from farmers, growers and supply chain businesses that have access to a raft of services designed to help them work and trade more competitively.


To this end, the AHDB web site offers farmers a diverse set of online tools ranging from Farmbench – helping control costs of production; Milk Price Calculator – helping optimise milk prices; Pig Cost Calculator – allowing calculation of pig production cost, and much more. Access to data provides insight into markets for cereals, potatoes and livestock whilst projects such as Farm Excellence and Great Soils offer the findings of ongoing Research and Knowledge Exchange Programmes.


Supporting this activity, the AHDB bureau helpline service is organised around three sectors specialising in livestock, cereals and potatoes. The service comprises a team of four agents plus supervisor Nicola Gumery who explains the motives for moving to a modern contact centre system.


“We need to be accountable to our customers who are paying for services, so our immediate requirement was to monitor calls – how many, how long, which services and so on, in order to report on time and resource incurred specifically for each sector. Importantly, we also wanted to gain insight into team performance and uncover any issues before they impact the customer.”


“We couldn’t do this with the existing system which offered little more than standard phone features, like call holding, voicemail, etc. We wanted to benefit from the capabilities of a modern contact centre system but, at the same time, it was really important that we didn’t let the technology change the close, personal relationship and culture that is such an important feature of the farming community.”


Operationally, agents were dealing mainly with inbound calls and emails of which most involved supporting and encouraging customer self-service access to the web-based data and online tools. The range of calls varied from simple queries, regarding password login failure, through to requests for help from livestock breeders who lack the computer skills (or the computer) to access the online services. For the system, this meant management of voice was a priority.


An interactive approach to implementation


With requirements focused on monitoring team performance, reporting on activity and managing inbound calls, AHDB selected Foehn from an initial list of twenty candidates.


The Genesys Purecloud system recommended by Foehn fulfilled requirements for delivering accurate reports on cost, time and resourcing. Performance metrics, like wrap up codes for emails and phone calls, offered insight into team activity and many other features provided opportunity for the system to grow with customer service requirements in the future.


Rated by Gartner, Forrester and Frost & Sullivan as the leading cloud contact centre system, Purecloud pricing was exceptionally competitive but, at the same time, stretching the AHDB budget. Exceeding the budget threshold would have triggered a requirement to undertake a laborious government tender process. To help avoid this delay, Foehn was able to reduce professional services costs and fall within budget by training and mentoring the in-house AHDB team in a DIY approach that reduced set up and deployment costs.  For example, using screen-share collaboration, the Foehn team was able to demonstrate how to set up a queue, configure music on hold and set up set up work flows in the system, leaving the AHDB team to do the leg work involved in implementation across the system.


The onboarding process also adopted close collaboration in a two-way process that centred on a simple spreadsheet defining the scope of works. Interestingly, this not only provided a clear schedule of activity but also served to improve definition of requirements and made the team think proactively about what was needed.


A seamless partnership


By working in close partnership with Foehn and sharing the deployment challenge, the AHDB team was able to complete on-boarding faster and at less cost.  Nicola sums up the value of the collaborative approach to the project.


“Before meeting Foehn, our experience of contact centre systems was minimal. We knew we needed to improve our handling of in-bound calls better and we knew what we needed from a management point of view. What we didn’t know was how to achieve this technically.”


“Without experience of specifying and deploying a contact centre, we also knew that we had to work closely with a team we could trust and rely on to direct us to the best solution for the long term. Immediately, with Foehn we detected that reassurance and knew these were people we could work with.”


 “Foehn’s Professional Services effectively became an extension of our own management team and the value of that working relationship can’t be overstated. There’s no doubt it enhanced the speed and time-efficient completion of the project as well as the quality of the solution. Close collaboration was helped by conducting most of the project remotely via conference sessions without the need for frequent face-to-face meetings. We just clicked with Foehn and I’m truly delighted with the result.”


Moving forward, Nicola is already considering expansion into other Purecloud features such as SMS messaging, a user-friendly communication for farmers, and group chat that will further enhance agent and team performance. For sure, whatever the future of the farming industry holds in store, AHDB’s forward thinking has ensured that they can meet the challenges posed for the contact centre.