Develop Life - People, Project, Knowledge

Case Study - Off-Shore Service Partner Management

This major Telecom Brand set a goal to differentiate through an improved service offering. Rather than drive customers into the normal "generalised" channels of customer service, technical helpdesk and bill payments, they chose to specialise based around the customer's own device. By putting the device at the heart of their offer, they'd be able to support customers with experts in the technology the customers were using.

This meant a complete revision to the company's operating model, and the retraining of every customer serving member of staff. The challenges were significant - 13,000+ staff, working in-house in the UK and also across three global geographies and seven outsourced partners. In order to contrinute fully, these service partners would need to fully understand and buy into their Client's Vision, then collaborate over a 12 month reskilling programme, during which the Client also launched a new 4G Brand to market.

Overview and approach

Peter Venn was brought in to support the reskilling programme offshore, with particular focus on the Indian Service Partners, where the majority of the headcount resided. He was recruited because of his experience in key areas of:

  • Project Management
  • Setting up and managing contact centres
  • Service Partner management
  • Off-shore contact centre culture
  • Learning and development and Quality Systems.

Understanding how outsource Service Providers operate, Peter quickly developed strong relationships at the senior levels of their organisations and also (and in particular) within their operational and training functions. As this was such a significant change to operational practices, it was important to work closely with the offshore stakeholders to allay their concerns and create a feeling of confidence.

One significant challenge was how to plan for service delivery success over a long period of time when every single advisor would be requiring up to eight days of reskill training. Service level failure over this period was not an option. As a result, we worked closely with the Training and Forecasting functions to ensure that the right headcount could be in place to support customers while allowing the reskill programme to deliver within the allowed timescale.

The Delivery

With the training design in progress, we already had an understanding of the likely timings of each reskilling course (of which there were several). Creating teams of specialisms in Apple, Android and Windows devices, whilst also supporting the "non-smart" phone market with expertise, created the need for a very thorough training delivery plan that addressed the proportionate numbers of agents required for each specialism and the maximum numbers of agents able to be released for periods of up to eight days without affecting BAU service delivery. As an anecdote to this, in one Service Partner delivery centre there were nineteen trainers, all with a mix of specialist knowledge and all of whom needed to be retrained in order to deliver the new courses to their agents. This was accomplished in several ways, including bringing device experts in from the UK to deliver "Train the Trainer" courses and evaluating their success. Co-ordinating this across 11 different sites and 7 Service Partners in three geographies was a task in itself.

Over this twelve month period, Peter spent the majority of the time working directly on-site at the Service Partners' offices, mainly in India but also at times in the Philippines and South Africa. Working as joint teams, we learned to adapt to country-specific cultural requirements, adapting the training courses as necessary and working up the plan.

Further complications arrived in the shape of revisions to one of the core courses, which meant adding an additional two days to the course and retraining those who had already attended. Additionally, the Telecom company decided to apply another service differentiator in the shape of a new, streamlined call structure. However, the most significant mid-project change was the launch of a third Brand, meaning that operations that were already twin-branded needed to incorporate this third Brand into their service offerings.


Peter took on the role of supporting the Service Partners in their own delivery. He did this through quality assessments of the training delivery, one to one trainer coaching sessions, agent coaching and "post-course" call evaluation/quality monitoring. Operating as the key liaison between the Telecom organisation and their Service Partner Training Divisions, Peter ensured that plans were delivered, training delivery was consistent and agent assessments met the targets for "proof of learning".

However, proof of learning does not necessarily equate to effective service delivery, so Peter contributed directly in several operations to help embed the essence of the new operating model and, in particular, the advanced communication skills needed to ensure customer satisfaction and delight.

At the end of the twelve-month programme, the programme had successfully:

  • Put the customer's device at the heart of their service delivery
  • Retrained over 13,000 contact centre agents
  • Rebranded the call structure into a modern, fresh and less formal framework
  • Supported the Customer Service and Technical Support requirements for the launch of a new 4G Brand.

Other Case Studies

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