Lomma - From backmarker to the podium in record time
The municipality of Lomma is an attractive municipality highly awarded in different areas of residential services. The overall quality of local government service is high, but when the customer service was evaluated through a survey by the Swedish association of local authorities and regions (SALAR) in 2008, Lomma ended up rated at place 180 of all Swedish municipalities. When asked if residents contacting the local government services by phone were given an answer to their question, only 27% answered Yes. This was the lowest percentage of all municipalities participating in the survey. The same result for email contacts with an answer within 2 days was 43%.
A first step towards targeted goals
As a result of the alarming service levels detected through the survey, the municipal executive committee decided that efforts to increase the service level needed to be prioritised and an enquiry was initiated. Targeted goals were increased ratings in future SALAR surveys as well as similar customer service evaluations. The plan was to establish a contact center for customer service inspired by a model for a contact center priorly succesful in the municipality of Skellefteå. Main focus of this model för customer service was the idea of a ”one stop shop” for all matters.
Consultant support secured a high quality of management information
Gabriella Sjöberg, do-be consulting, was the consultant contracted to assist in the enquiry, securing complete and accurate management information concerning opening a contact center. In this process, a holistic point of view combined with concern for details and a good understanding of all parts of the organisation was of key importance.
- Gabriella contributed with an invaluable systematic approach in this process, Jan Sohlmér , kommundirektör in Lomma says. She put all pieces together and by her competence and experience, we secured that no parts of management information were lost .
In december 2011, the result of the enquiry was presented in a report suggesting that a contact center was to open, and in January 2012 the process of opening the center was up and running. A thorough process of organisational change was initiated and in March a group leader for the new service function- Lomma contact center- was contracted.
A critical factor for success when improving service is the staff. Good service consist of a sense of customer service and nice reception as well as a high competence and knowledge of all parts of the organisation.
-The targeted goal for a contact center by all means differ from a traditional call center or switch board. A call center or switch board works with the aim of transfering callers somewhere else in the organisation, that is the purpose is to slot callers on as quickly as possible, Jan Sohlmér explains. In a contact center, the aim is to keep the caller or visitor and deliver an answer avoiding to transfer them somewhere else. We chose to formulate new work descriptions and employee profiles as a base for recruiting staff to the contact center. The staff were given new titles, municipality guides. The municipality guides were recruited internally and the recruitment process involved thorough aptitude tests.
February 1 2012, gates opened up to the contact center residing in the municipality building in central Lomma. Premises were adapted to fit the new service function. Today, 5 municipality guides ad a group leader work here, handling (and closing) 65% of all incoming matters.
- To enable desired effects of opening a contact center and working towards a ”one stop shop”, many internal processes had to be changed. The web is adapted and individual contact information to second line administrators has been removed. Jan says. All municipality guides were given education to be able to handle the most common and frequent incoming questions and matters. It was important to ensure a unity in information and service given. Subsequently, new types of matters are added to the service offer and some of the mattersoriginally intended to be handled within contact center are redundant. Customer needs and prerequisistes are constantly changing and we have to adjust at a suitable pace to maintain quality in service provided.
Silver medal 2014
In the autumn 2014, Jan Sohlmér and other representatives from Lomma were invited to speak at the Swedish quality convent about their work with contact center. The goals formulated by the municipal executive committe in 2011, are fulfilled and exceeded. In the 2013 SALAR service survey,the same year as contact center opened, Lomma was rated 4 of all Swedish municipalities ( compared to 180 in 2008). In 2014 they managed to score a silver medal, rated as first runner up in the whole country
Results showed that 100% of respondents received an answer by email within 24 hrs ( average for all municipalities w
as 74% ). Now we aim for the gold, Jan concludes and gives his top advice on important things to consider when opening a contact center:
- Information is a key- Inform as many as possible as often as possible throughout the whole organisation
- Draft an aligned strategy for all communication channels, supporting the processes of the contact center.
- State a clear rigid policy on how to handle and present contact information to second line employees.
- Formulate a finance model with a clear sharing of costs.
- Ensure that Municipality guides have the right attitude to service- do not let go of the customer!