Reducing call centers calls with self-serve
Content-first approach exceeds expectations
Virgin Media Ireland’s call centres were oversubscribed by frustrated customers who needed support with their products and services but could not find the advice they needed on the website.
The care team, who spent their days talking to customers about their issues and had first-hand insight to which areas were the hardest to navigate, were Virgin Media Ireland's secret weapon in solving this issue.
Reduce calls to the call centre by 4%
To optimise the Support experience on the website, and establish several key user journeys to illustrate this
Promote the website, as the channel of choice for support
Improve the findability, legibility and SEO of content
In the first month after launch, Virgin Media Ireland experienced:
- An overall 6% drop in calls to the Support team (exceeding the objective of 4%)
Specific call drivers to the call centre were drastically reduced, including:
- 63% drop in calls from the Moving Home page
- 22% reduction in calls from the Contact Us page
- 19% reduction in calls from the Support landing page
Looking and listening closely
The project kicked-off with research and Information Architecture (IA) work to get a closer look at what was there and what needed to change. Specifically, we found:
Content was buried in different areas and repeated in different places
Media was used inconsistently
FAQ-style content was not findable by search engines
There was little or no related content offered to ease customer journeys
We began with card-sorting tasks to determine how best to restructure the Support section. We also identified core customer complaints that they came to the site to resolve – including Moving Home, transferring a home phone number and not being able to connect to the internet. We then bolstered our findings with user testing over five key user journeys. Our research demonstrated that users were more comfortable navigating relevant content when the information is categorised by products. This then became the navigation of the new support area.
Designing for clarity
From the start, our designs had been geared up for easy translation into AEM templates and Virgin Media Ireland’s existing component library. But we also had to consider the needs of each support article, the use of existing supporting media and the expectations of users within our design work.
The design needed to look and feel different from the sales area of the website. It needed to be streamline, clear and functional. By limiting full-bleed imagery and using large headings and a bright colour palette on white backgrounds, we achieved this boldly simplistic approach.
Users were presented with too much information to make an informed, confident decision about what to read. To alleviate this, we made the text bigger, bolder and easier to read; made styling consistent; supporting images were inserted in clickable areas to aid navigation and product recognition; topic list layouts were flexible so more could be added or removed in the future.
With this in mind, we created a set of four design templates broad enough to fit the majority of the 400 support pages.
Audits and recommendations
To accompany our proposed IA and navigation and design templates, our copywriter took a close look at the current tone and language of the Support area. She found it was typically Virgin: playful and easy on the ears, but for time-poor and frustrated customers with an intermittent internet connection or a mobile issue, it was unsuitable. She developed this audit into a short guide, to help everyone creating the new content, achieve a more direct and concise tone, illustrated with real examples from the site.
Preparing for sprints
We suggested using GatherContent as our content production platform – a first for both us and Virgin Media Ireland. It allowed us to organise, structure, communicate and produce the content in a single place. In GatherContent, we created a new ‘group’ to work on the project. This included the project’s key stakeholders - who could get constant visibility on our progress via the project’s dashboard in seconds.
We designed a workflow for the project with Virgin Media Ireland. This remained flexible throughout and allowed us to add or edit a flow to make us more efficient. This ability to remain agile and respond to changing demands as the project developed was crucial to our eventual success.
Touching base and gaining trust
Before the production sprints began, our copywriter went over to Limerick to meet the care team experts, developers and key stakeholders we would be working with and present our approach and design templates. We also took the opportunity to brainstorm their customer terminology together to inform the fresh copy and also the meta data. Together we created a list of interchangeable terms, then identified which one the customers used most over the phone: for example, we would use: ‘hub’, not ‘modem’, and ‘phone’ not ‘handset’ in the new content.
While we were there we assigned each page in GatherContent to a care team expert depending on their preference and knowledge of that product or service. Working side-by-side like this, meant the next phase was much easier, trust was built between us and we were able to incorporate their ideas and opinions too – leading to collaboration, coherence and importantly for an intense production phase: camaraderie!
The three care team experts were taken off the phones and tasked with writing the first draft of content - making sure all the current gaps in advice were filled in. Inevitably some pages required some quite complicated edits that we had to confer with them closely about. Our copywriter worked closely with a Virgin Media Ireland copywriter to edit what the care team experts had drafted. This step was essential - acting as a layperson sense checking and having the experience to shape the tone and language to ensure it was clear and succinct for customers.
Article copy and metadata was optimised to be SEO-friendly, so customers could now find individual support articles using google. The new structure meant the call centre staff could find articles quickly, and shortened URLs are easily shareable.
We suspected there would be a certain number of pages that would not fit into one of the six design templates we had created. Our designer was on-hand to respond to these by making custom templates - working closely with both the care team to better understand the needs of that page and also their developers to make sure it was possible to execute her custom designs within the timeframe. By the end of the process, we had designed and built a total of 18 custom pages. The result was that we had more flexibility and our content was never compromised to fit to a design.
We made a fair amount of amends to the original IA during the sprints. The current content was so repetitive and extensive it wasn’t really possible to know what we needed until we started writing and it was essential to remain agile in our approach in order to create the best possible new site.
Working with a client’s internal resource in such a collaborative way has led to a transformation of internal processes. The new content-first approach has been widely adopted. Design, IA and content guidance continues to inform the Virgin Media digital teams.
It also meant we were absolutely efficient and so we could deploy 280 new pages within six weeks in budget with a small team of ten. The takeaways and learnings from the new style of production of this project were unprecedented for us and Virgin Media Ireland and has fundamentally changed how we can deliver value to clients implementing this sort of website redesign.
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