Arcus and Amazon Enable the NHSBSA to See Potential for £500,000 Saving and Increased Customer Satisfaction Using Amazon Connect and Amazon Lex

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By Richard Miller AWS Product Manager

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Penalty Exemption Checking Service - Drug prescriptions within the UK National Health Service (NHS) are free for eligible citizens who have been diagnosed with a chronic illness or are retrieving appropriate social security benefits. When visiting a pharmacy, if a member of the public declares themselves as being exempt from prescription charges they are taken on trust and drugs are dispensed, but details are checked later. If the citizen is found to not be eligible they are sent a penalty charge in the post. A help line is provided by the NHS Business Services Authority in Newcastle, UK to allow citizens to query the charge and have their eligibility details checked as mistakes are sometimes made due to the complexities of the exemption criteria.

Previously at the contact centre, when the call was received the Agent would start the conversation with "Hello, you're through to Sophie. How can I help you today?" This resulted in the often frustrated and irate caller explaining their situation and how they should not have received the charge, this explanation could take up to 120 seconds. Before the agent could start to help the caller they needed a reference number, capturing this number takes a total of around 30 seconds for the caller to read it out and the agent to enter it into a back-end system and the results to be displayed.

The NHS Business Services Authority have run a proof of concept using Amazon Connect where upon calling the help line Amazon Lex is used to ask the caller to provide their reference number along with the reason they feel they are exempt of the charge. These details are used to “screen pop” to the agent appropriate reference details, along with a whisper in the agent’s ear giving details of what the caller has said to Lex. This allows the Agent to be proactive in answering the call and now starts the conversation with "Hello, you're through to Sophie. I've got your details in front of me and I understand you feel you are exempt because of …. Let me look into that for you"

The 30 seconds taken to get the caller to read out the reference number is instantly saved. Identity checks are processed in under 10 seconds as these facts (Date of Birth, address) are well known to the caller. 

The greatest improvement is in the re-structuring of the agent dialogue with the customer. Previously, the caller spoke first explaining their situation and often got irate. The Agent was passive while the caller explained the situation, however they could not help until they had a reference number. Now the caller becomes passive as they know that the Agent understands their situation and will try to help them. 

 

During trials this has led to an average saving of 90 seconds per call. Over a month this has a net effect of reducing agent time by 106,500 minutes. As Amazon Connect is based upon utilisation billing this reduction in time can save £500,00 ($650,000) per year in running costs.

 

The objective was to improve satisfaction and reduce costs, observed outcomes have been:

  • Reduced stress for agents - Callers stay calmer allowing the agent to keep control and resolve the call smoother.

  • Caller needs are understood faster - Agents can prevent a call escalating and understand the caller’s needs leading to a faster resolution.

  • Reduced costs - Usage based billing showing a direct relationship between improving the customer experience through lower call time and reducing TCO

  • Callers are happy with natural language interfaces - Through using Amazon Lex callers use a natural language interface which they are happy with as customer satisfaction scores (also collected using Lex) report 87% satisfaction with the service.

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To find out more about the work undertaken, the observed outcomes and how Arcus can help you to use Amazon Connect to restructure your call centre and realise compatible savings, please contact Arcus Global or come along to presentations from Chris Suter of the NHS Business Services Authority at AWS re:Invent in Las Vegas:

  • Connect Appreciation Event, Tuesday 27th November 2018 @ 17:00

  • Architecture Chalk and Talk, Wednesday 28th November 2018 @ 12:15