A leading retail bank tackles the challenge of highly variable call volume

Business challenge

The retail bank operated several contact centers to service its core retail customer base. This covered standard telephone banking activity such as managing account enquiries, assisting with money transfers, setting up or canceling direct debits, handling complaints and so on.

Managing fluctuating call volume was an ongoing challenge for the bank with Mondays and Fridays being particularly busy days. Call volume was also higher at the beginning of the month when people got paid and at the end when they were most likely to go overdrawn.

The bank’s resourcing operations could not cope with the varying call volume patterns as their contact center staff worked a standard 7.5-hour shift. This affected the bank in two ways: it did not have enough people to answer the phones during busy periods, while at quieter times the bank was burdened with paying employees who had nothing to do.

The result: poor customer satisfaction and high costs.

Firstsource solution

The bank turned to Firstsource for a flexible staffing solution. It wanted the ability to vary the number of people working in its contact centers each day – based on call volume forecasts. It also wanted Firstsource to be responsible for hiring, training and managing people, and take accountability for performance.

Firstsource currently manages the entire employee journey for the bank – from recruitment advertising, assessment, hiring, screening and induction to training, onboarding, ongoing coaching, performance management, payroll and benefits. The bank provides the contact center infrastructure and IT systems but is not involved in the direct management of employees. This allows their senior teams to focus on high-value, strategic activities.

On any given day, Firstsource deploys 100 to 200 people in the bank’s contact centers. Associates work an average of 37.5 hours a week, but depending on call volumes across the month, hours can flex up to 45 or down to 32 in any given week. Daily shifts can vary from 6 to 10 hours to match call volumes across the week.

Firstsource’s ability to deliver results has strengthened the partnership, doubling the scope of the relationship over the past five years.

Business impact

Firstsource’s flexible staffing solution delivered several tangible benefits for the bank.

  • The client’s contact center resources matched their predicted call volumes. This means the bank isn’t paying for people to be present when they’re not needed and is better able to service customers during busy periods.
  • Firstsource ramps up or down quickly to meet any changes in demand. On one occasion, Firstsource hired, trained and placed 100 people into the bank’s main teams within 12 weeks.
  • The bank benchmarked Firstsource teams against their internal teams. Firstsource team met KPIs on three main categories and exceeded KPIs on two key categories.
  • The bank has adopted some of Firstsource’s best practices to improve its internal processes. For example, Firstsource revamped the bank’s training materials using its deep domain expertise and the bank subsequently implemented it across their in-house operations.

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