Swansea based BPO The Consumer Helpline guarantees customer SLAs with Surfboard WFM

A team of agents from BPO, The Consumer Helpline (TCH Group)
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Picture of Shannon Ashley

Shannon Ashley , Design lead

Not just any BPO 

The Consumer Helpline (TCH Group) is a Swansea and South Africa based award winning BPO managing over 600 agents. 

Working with customers in industries such as insurance, utilities, travel and retail, TCH puts their people, technology and processes at the forefront to not just be another BPO. 

As a BPO, TCH is responsible for protecting the brand and reputation of their customers through superior service – reflected in the quality of and speed of service they provide. 

With BPO customers fastidiously measuring SLA performance, CSAT and their spend on outsourced agents, TCH maintains a high degree of accountability to its customers to ensure they’re getting value for money and can trust TCH to be a guardian of their brand. 

Company size: 200+

Industry: BPO

Headquarters: Swansea UK

Founded: 2016

TCH’s vendor selection process – balancing coverage and fairness

Scott Williams, Workforce Manager at TCH, had a wealth of experience with workforce management software prior to joining TCH, having worked with Verint, Alvaria and NICE in previous roles. 

In order to align with TCH’s internal culture as well their obligations to their customers, he was looking for something that combined accurate reporting alongside agent self-serve and flexible scheduling features that could balance coverage with fairness. 

BPOs typically see attrition of 100% annually. Through focusing on providing good jobs to their agents, TCH has industry leading retention rates of their employees. Offering flexibility in scheduling as well as a workforce management tool where agents could easily request changes and have visibility into their own workflows was critical in the checklist of what TCH was looking for. 

The most important thing for TCH is to ensure that they can provide their clients confidence that they are able to deliver on their contracted metrics, specifically around SLA attainment. With their WFM, they require the ability to input custom rules to optimise a schedule that achieves these metrics with ease. 

In addition to the vendors Scott had worked with previously, he also met other providers both on the standalone shift planning side like Deputy, as well as other newer entrants to the workforce management space like Assembled and Puzzel. 

Despite standalone shift planning vendors being cheaper, TCH felt they wouldn’t be able to get as much value from them or elevate their processes without overly manual processes to make these systems work for them. The other modern workforce management players didn’t align culturally to what Scott was looking for; both in terms of a long term partner to evolve with TCH but also a tool that would be focused on building equal experiences for TCH’s agents, whose happiness, development and fulfilment is at the core of their success.

“When choosing our WFM vendor, we wanted to select a company that not only suited our WFM requirements, but culturally had a similar ethos and values to ourselves. 

Natasha, Elva and Sagar have been a huge support from the initial contact all the way through to ‘go live and continue into live service also”. – Scott Williams, Workforce Manager

Surfboard’s solution

From spreadsheets to workforce management software

TCH was able to navigate the transition from spreadsheets to workforce management software with no friction. 

With previous systems Scott had worked with, this required a 3-4 month implementation timeline with onerous time commitments required from WFM and data teams. 

With Scott’s extensive experience with WFM software, he knew not to be wedded to replicating exactly what he could do in spreadsheets but to look to get more value from a system through dynamic reporting, accurate timesheets and having the system automate what isn’t possible in spreadsheets. 

Surfboard’s ability to integrate into existing systems, input rules and constraints with a simple and easy to use interface and provide agents with self-serve capabilities, onboarding was complete in weeks. 

The high touch service from their dedicated customer success manager and the broader Surfboard team also meant that any onboarding teething issues could be resolved quickly and proactively. Outside of onboarding, the TCH team has regular access to Surfboard’s team to flag any bugs or issues as well as proactively ensure TCH’s success criteria are being met with Surfboard.

“Moving away from Excel-based rostering was a critical business objective for TCHGroup. Surfboard has made the move easy whilst also saving many hours a week in administration tasks. We are now working on integrations with our HR and CRM tools to give us the single data intelligence view. Our staff already love the features of shift swap, calendar views of their colleagues shift patterns and the easy-to-use interface, the calendar integrations is also a firm favourite. We look forward to continuing our journey with the Surfboard team and evolving our WFM” – Scott Williams, Workforce Manager

Riding the waves with Surfboard

TCH began onboarding with Surfboard in January 2024 starting with their Swansea based team of 175 agents and focusing on a few select client accounts across insurance and utilities.

The Surfboard onboarding team travelled to Swansea for an in-person session to ensure their workforce management processes were set up as expected and to help elevate their ways of working from what they were previously doing on spreadsheets. 

The onboarding session meant that Scott could work with the Surfboard team to codify their internal constraints around working hours and matching skills to demand for intraday scheduling. 

They also scheduled two onboarding sessions for agents to understand their new workflow in Surfboard, including how to request schedule changes, submitting availability, rating their shifts and connecting to existing systems like Outlook calendars. This meant that the cultural shift of migrating from spreadsheets to software was adopted successfully, having the full team as part of the journey and understanding the value of this cultural change. 

Since onboarding onto Surfboard, Scott, TCH’s workforce manager has saved the equivalent of ten hours per week on workforce scheduling but most importantly has a single source of truth to indicate how well scheduled each team is relative to client requirements. 

With this ease of visibility and reporting, TCH has the ability to proactively communicate their performance to their clients putting them at ease. 

In addition to Scott being able to focus on higher leverage pieces of work in his role, he’s also seen since the implementation of Surfboard improvements to client SLA delivery, schedule adherence and team productivity.

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