Red Funnel Ferries Moves to Multimedia Contact Center to Improve Customer Service

20 Oct 2015

This is part of a series of case studies showcasing how companies achieve their business communication objectives with Mitel technology

"Every summer we can rent a cottage in the Isle of Wight - If it's not too dear," sings Paul McCartney in the Beatles' "When I'm 64." However, to travel to the Isle of Wight, you need to take a ferry.

As the "Original Isle of Wight ferry operator," Red Funnel Ferries operates 30,000 sailings annually between the UK mainland and the Isle of Wight, 365 days a year, 24/7. The company carries 3.2 million passengers and 700,000 vehicles per year and apart from ferry travel, customers can book hotel and holiday accommodations, attractions, festivals and events through Red Funnel. Customer service is a key part of their business, requiring a fully featured and reliable phone system and contact center.

When the company's Cisco Call Manager and voice-only contact center solution approached end of life, the company realized that it was not only time for an upgrade or replacement in order to future proof the infrastructure, they also wanted to improve the system's resilience and enable their ability to interact with customers via multiple channels, including social media.

Their communications partner, Charterhouse Voice & Data, conducted an evaluation of various technologies once they fully understood the requirements. "Having partnerships with a number of key vendors means we have access to a lot of technology; however after conducting a full analysis on Red Funnel's requirements, Mitel's technology stood out in this situation." Stuart Scott, Lead Consultant, Charterhouse Voice & Data.

They designed Red Funnel's solution by installing a Mitel MiVoice phone system throughout the organization, including the headquarters and terminal areas, and deployed Mitel MiContact Center for their contact center agents. According to Chris Elliott, Red Funnel's Contact Center Manager, "The Mitel solution was chosen for its ability to integrate solutions that met our business objectives, from flexible workflow management to social media integration and recording functionality, all of which assists our vision to supply a framework that meets our customers' needs."

Red Funnel's contact center handles inbound customer service, support and sales across a wide range of interactions that include enquiries, bookings, holiday packages and more. Going beyond voice-only interactions, the contact center also routes and queues email enquiries as well as social media interactions. For example, the company delivers social customer service via Twitter interactions on the company's @redfunnel and @rf_travel news feeds. In order to "promote a customer-orientated support system," agents can handle all interactions regardless of channel and are fully trained and able to handle a wide spectrum of enquiries, including phone calls, email and social media. The same agents that handle voice calls also handle email and social media interactions, making them more productive. Many Red Funnel customers have taken to social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook to post questions and comments about the ferry service, so Charterhouse integrated Bizvu Social software with the Mitel contact center; the company now actively monitors the social media streams and respond to customers using these channels. Chris explained, "We used to get inundated with enquiries when we experienced delays and cancellations due to weather conditions. Our contact center has up-to date information on all of our vessels and can proactively publish when there are delays or cancellations to notify our customers." He added, "A customer may post a tweet asking why the service is delayed, and get a response from the contact center team that provides information on the current service status in real time. We can be more proactive and notify customers of issues, which cuts down on the number of calls we have to handle."

When a customer posts a tweet to @redfunnel or includes #redfunnel or #IOWferries in a tweet, Charterhouse ensures the twitter message is sent as an email to the Mitel contact center system and distributed to Red Funnel's agents through Bizvu. The agents receive the social media interactions through the email queue and don't need to log in to Twitter or Facebook. Their responses are posted on Red Funnel's twitter page along with the customer's twitter handle so that the customer gets a personalized response.

Since Charterhouse designed and deployed the Mitel system, Red Funnel found an overall increase in customer satisfaction across all of its metrics, including Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and customer satisfaction surveys. Chris notes that customer compliments have increased by 116% year on year, while the number of complaints has gone down by 16%, and that "Red Funnel's social media strategy has proved to be a great success resulting in quantifiable improvements in customer satisfaction as stated by customers." He adds, "The contact center system enables Red Funnel to proactively support customer engagement strategies that enhance and strengthen our brand identity and lets us freely communicate information about service disruption proactively, which subsequently reduces the inbound call volumes in the event of delay and/or cancellations to service."

The integrated Mitel contact center has a strong social presence and provides support to Red Funnel's social media services, specifically Facebook and Twitter. In 2015, the company was awarded "Social Customer Service" and "Customer Experience" Team of the Year by the London and South East Contact Center Forum, based on Red Funnel's commitment to providing a unique customer experience that promotes real-time, in-the moment support to its customers. The solution is underpinned by a six site resilient Charterhouse MPLS network.

David Bass from Charterhouse said, "It's a project that has it all; a resilient Mitel infrastructure spread across multiple locations, a 21st Century Contact Centre and underpinning it all, a resilient and robust wide area network".
Going forward, Red Funnel plans on adding and integrating web chat to facilitate customer support. When the company moves into its brand new terminal in 2017, it will also move much of the phone system infrastructure to the cloud and will migrate to Mitel's MiCloud.

When asked about the success of the new system, Chris stated, "Our Mitel implementation has supported our vision to deliver a customer-centric proposition that has added significant value to our customers' experience. As a business we are passionate about delivering exemplary levels of customer service and the integration has supported our vision and provided our customers with an efficient and effective support service."

"A key part of our success has been our partner Charterhouse Voice & Data PLC that helped us design and implement this solution," Chris concluded.

As Paul McCartney asked in "When I'm 64," who could ask for more?

This paper is sponsored by Mitel.



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