Capita is one of the largest technology companies in the UK, with a business that touches over half the population in some way, shape, or form every day. One of its six divisions, Software, is currently undergoing an extensive customer service redesign that is being driven by a desire to be outcomes focused.
Just two years ago Capita Software was made up of 37 different companies, which were largely institutionalised via acquisition. Michael Noonan, Capita Software’s Divisional Transformation and Operations Officer, explains that this was not really effective or efficient. In the past, as long as these businesses “hit their number, they’d be left alone”.
However, when CEO Jonathan Lewis joined in 2017, the company embarked on a mission to transform the Software division into a product house in its own right. Noonan says that it wants to properly serve Capita’s software markets and “delight customers”. He adds:
That’s when we started to get in contact with ServiceNow, because we’ve got over 100 different products in the market and for those products we’ve got 26 different service desks.
So, for example, a year ago, if you were a customer of our education and our finance software, you had two different ways of contacting us. And those two different teams didn’t talk to each other.
A new approach
Capita Software wants to take make use of the ServiceNow platform to create a single organisation, one that operates using standardised processes. In fact, Capita ruled out other vendors because they required more customisation, whereas ServiceNow fit the bill straight out of the box.
Noonan and his team signed the deal with ServiceNow back in March, where he urged that it go live within 20 weeks. This required moving 26 service desks off of various products, as well as reorganising into a single support team. This was no small task. He explains:
Everyone said it wasn’t possible. Even the ServiceNow team said it was too quick. But I thought that if we stick to out the box and get the teams together to do workshops, we should be able to do it. And we put our first product live in 17 weeks. We’ve got six key products on now, which is over 2,500 customers on it.
By the end of the year we will have 25,000 customers on it, which is about two thirds of our business.
Some benefits since launch are already being gleaned. For example, back in January, just one of the service desk teams was working on 5,000 open tickets. Noonan says that employees were literally walking out the door because of stress. That team - part of the newly formed single Capita Software Customer Support - is now down to 150 open tickets.
On the benefits, Noonan says:
We wanted to create a single organisation, one that had standard processes. We want our staff to be motivated and engaged, not feeling overworked and stressed. We can now get customers to self serve, do communities, share best practice. That was great from a customer experience - they only have one way of contacting us. When our customers have an issue now, we can pre-load their data in, we can tell them what products they’ve got, we can pre-populate some of our forms, we can get to the nub of the issue really quickly.
Behind the scenes, that’s encouraged our agent experience as well. That’s key and as important. If the agents are still feeling stressed, the service back to the customer won’t be as good. It’s now much simpler to use, they get the right information at the right time in the right way.
The low value interactions they had with customers have now been pushed onto the portals - we’ve had a 30% swing on to the channel shift and portal. That then enables our agents to work on things that they need to work on.
A new team
So, since implementing ServiceNow and reorganising from 26 different teams into one new team, Capita Software has put in a new line management structure, created a new business vision and implemented a motivation model too. The headcount has been reduced by just 20 people, through natural departures (people planning to leave anyway), but the team has simultaneously managed to take on more work than it was doing previously because of the efficiencies introduced.
However, despite the benefits already seen, Noonan admits that the rapid transformation process hasn’t been without its challenges. Firstly, change management and culture change have been a focus. He says:
We are managing that with great difficulty. It’s been a challenge because people have said ‘this is our way of working and it works, why are we transforming?’. What we have done a lot of is creating communication channels, we’ve got events where we go out, just so that we can bring people together and they feel empowered to do the job. Our Director of Support has also gone out to all the different teams, spent time with them, and talked them through it. We’ve also engaged our senior execs, so that when they go out, they talk about ServiceNow.
I think the big swing though, was seeing those 5,000 tickets down to 150. You can’t put that in a jar. They tell their colleagues. That peer voice is really good.
Noonan adds that in early September, the team began to measure customer satisfaction. For every third or fourth ticket that’s raised, it gets surveyed. The customer satisfaction score was negative before the new approach, but has now seen a 40% swing into the positives. This has also had a impact on the team’s morale.
That being said, Noonan also warns that for companies embarking on such a project, that they should consider the impact of data from the outset. He says:
Data, data, data. Working out your data is really key. We had 10 years of different types of data. We would have the same school name, which you think would be simple, spelt six or seven different ways. Trying to rationalise that across the board - when you’ve got 38,000 different customers - is difficult.
When you start layering that down, it gets really, really complex. We didn’t start it early enough. We now have started it, I’m glad to say. If you haven’t thought through that data stack, or have people that are data driven, it will cause you difficulty later on.