Our client – a major utility retailer and network business – faced the need for dramatic change following the deregulation and industry restructuring agenda which was bearing-down on the organisation at dramatic pace.

A key component of its business – its Contact Centre – was located over two geographically dispersed sites. The centre was historically responsible for customer service type activities – service connections, disconnections, enquiries and network outage issues.

The senior executive team knew that within a few short years, the business would be separated into Retail and Network businesses, and the customer assets sold off.  In order to achieve the highest sale price per customer and also provide the greatest possible chance of staff cementing their value to the new retail owners, radical cost and performance improvements had to be achieved.

This included dealing with the Contact Centre’s inappropriate remuneration and career models, which generated costs over 30% higher than market average. There were also a range of other entrenched flexibility and performance disadvantages which needed to be dealt with.

The centre also needed to move to a sales and up-sell / cross-sell footing, from its purely service-only roots.  These issues all needed to be dealt with against the backdrop of a 98% unionised workforce and intense mistrust of management.

Catalyste’s Role

Catalyste partnered with the client to deliver a multi-year program of end-to-end business and technology transformation – all integrated within a comprehensive business involvement and organisational change management program.

Catalyste was involved from the initial business case and strategy formulation, right through implementation of a new career model, process improvements, new learning tools, workplace improvements etc. – while heavily involving the client’s own people.

Key elements of our work included:

  • Development of the business unit Strategy Map, Target Operating Model and Balanced Scorecard, cascaded-down to each individual and team
  • Integrated Learning and Career Model based on agreed ‘competency blocks’ (role groups) – skills and behavioural attributes – with progression and remuneration linked to skills attainment, rather than time-in-job
  • Industrial engagement framework, ensuring industrial process compliance whilst enabling pace of change to be accelerated
  • Improvements to the physical working environment – designed by staff themselves
  • Implementation of new call recording and knowledge management capabilities
  • Management of all organisational change and communications.

Value Delivered

The program was completed ahead of schedule and under budget, while improving all key performance indicators. Key valued delivered included:

  • Financial performance of the Contact Centre improved dramatically through the interventions, with new hires conforming to industry-standard pay and progression rates.  This bottom line impact alone created a 5 year NPV in excess of $5M
  • The Retail business unit was able to bundle, cross- and up-sell dual-fuel and other products through the Contact Centre channel for the first time in its history.  Staff enthusiastically approached the improved product range, increasing levels of customers under contract (formal or informally via structured payment arrangements) dramatically, and exceeding Retail expectations
  • The Contact Centre expanded its interaction capabilities to support web and email originated traffic, as well as integrate handling of back office correspondence which had previously been part of other business units – saving further costs across the organisation, and increasing customer responsiveness by applying target service levels to these transactions
  • The change was realised with a dramatic improvement in employee engagement – and in a true partnering approach between Catalyste and the client. Staff participated in “Design and Review Teams” for all key workstreams, designing their own future operating and working model
  • The employee involvement / co-design model was so successful, it was adopted by the business as their preferred method of engaging the broader business in change, and is still in force, years after the project finished
  • Levels of union membership – especially the prevalence of union delegates – declined dramatically during the program.  Of the original 12 union delegates, all but 3 resigned their posts, and many  joined the management ‘fast track’
  • The original objective of increasing the value of the customer base for a Retail separation and sale was achieved, with the customer assets fetching premium prices through the market sale process – their value increased dramatically by the number of customers formally retained under dual-fuel contracts and efficient payment structures.

Further Information

Our Catalyste consulting lead on this project was Gavin Ger.

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