Page 4: Implementation
Once an organisation has developed a new strategy, it needs to put it into practice. In business, this process is known as implementation. The result of the changes was that in the 12 months from mid 1992 to mid 1993, over four weekends, The Equitable took groups of staff through a radical change process. Their working environment and organisation altered completely from ‘old style’ to ‘new style’ between close of business on Friday to reopening on Monday.
Customer servicing is now provided by a number of multi-skilled teams, each taking its share of all incoming written work across the entire range of individual products and processes. The work is randomly allocated by the system across all teams. A paper in area handles all incoming paper, references it and scans the documents on to the image system for handling in the paperless servicing unit.
Once the client’s request has been dealt with, the resulting paper output is handled by a separate dispatch area called paper out processing. This means that there is no need to handle clients’ papers in the servicing area. A dedicated telephone call centre deals with all incoming telephone enquiries and transactions. It currently deals with about one third of all client servicing work, although this proportion is already growing as telephoning becomes the preferred method of service.
The Client Servicing Centre now:
around 14,000 servicing requests each week
over 1,500 new business proposals each week
between 2,000 and 3,000 cheques per week
in excess of half a million policyholders with over one million policies
in excess of 6,000 telephone calls per week
over 2 million pieces of paper onto image during a year
around 2.8 million output documents
in excess of £1.9 billion of incoming money and deals with in the order of £0.75 billion worth of payments each year.
However, the operation and the technology are constantly evaluated and improved where necessary. The major benefits to The Equitable arising from both the new technology and the new operation can be summarised as:
- Reduction in costs - following the implementation of the new technology, the increased productivity led to a 30% reduction in staff (largely through natural wastage although there were some voluntary redundancies). In addition, business volumes have increased substantially and this extra work has been absorbed by the client servicing teams. Paper storage has been reduced with space only needed to retain historical documents.
- Service improvements -the Equitable has dramatically improved its servicing times. For example, all new business and money receipts are processed on the day of receipt. The average response time to client enquiries has been shortened from ten to three working days. The telephone desk receives in excess of 6,000 calls from customers each week. Rapid access to client details and correspondence allows staff to resolve over 90% of enquiries during the course of the telephone conversation.
- Work control - the work position can be viewed at the touch of a button and documents can be viewed quickly and easily to respond to client telephone enquiries. All of the tedious work involved with the recording and collation of work control data is now done by the systems.
- Job satisfaction - although the staff have gone through significant upheaval, the removal of departmental barriers gives them greater variety of work which results in more opportunities for learning and development. The new approach focuses on the customer and not the task, and has removed the time consuming, less interesting tasks which previously got in the way of providing excellent customer service.