If You’re Happy and You Know It, Wag Your Tail: The RSPCA Builds a Modern Customer Experience powered by Vonage
Modernize, enhance and streamline the customer experience, innovate income generation and ultimately improve animal welfare - all on a tight budget
Vonage Contact Center, Vonage SMS API, Intelligent Routing with Salesforce, Conversation Analyzer
Improved customer satisfaction by 30%, provided omnichannel advice and resources for animal welfare and introduced a new SMS option for donations
Founded in 1824, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) is the oldest and largest animal welfare charity in the UK and its vision is a world where all animals are respected and treated with kindness and compassion. Its Control Center cruelty line takes over a million calls a year from the public ranging from reports of animals in crisis to questions on how to best provide care. Their staff rescue, save, care for, rehabilitate, rehome and return to the wild hundreds of thousands of animals every year – and it all starts with a call.
The Vonage Communications Platform (VCP) provides the RSPCA with a fully programmable contact center application that enables flexible, scalable, intelligent and personal omnichannel communications, incorporating purpose-built solutions including the Vonage SMS API, Intelligent Routing through Salesforce and Conversation Analyzer. To modernize the customer experience and improve outcomes through digital transformation, the RSPCA relies on Vonage.
Jacqs Harper, Customer Experience Consultant for the RSPCA explains, “Over the past year or so we’ve really focused on modernizing our customer experience, and we're really trying to move from quite a monochannel world to a much more omnichannel world, where we integrate our people and digital channels. We've found that Vonage has been a great partner to help us on the journey.”
Flexibility to Innovate
Though the RSPCA is proud of its nearly 200 year history of service, the team was eager to update its customer experience and increase the flexibility of its solution. As a charity, it focuses on its mission – animal welfare – and needed a partner that was agile and willing to work with it in a way that was not time-consuming or costly. Its principal approach to improvement and change has been to run trials and small-scale pilots of new channels and functionalities.
Vonage provides the RSPCA with a range of communications APIs and contact center solutions that can be built, revised and integrated into its existing platform at a moment's notice to serve what it calls its “always be in beta” mindset.
“At any one point in time, we might have 10 different customer experience pilots going on where we make a change to the customer journey. One of the things that's been super helpful working with Vonage is just the level of support that we've had from our success manager,” said Harper. “Rapid iterations and a ‘test and learn’ culture require that we meet regularly with our Vonage success manager and work in a very agile fashion.”
The Vonage team has also supported the RSPCA with idea generation and problem solving. Examples of solutions built for other Vonage customers that have proven to be impactful become a “shortcut to success” for the RSPCA team.
Intelligent Channel Options Make Everyone’s Lives Easier
With more than a million calls a year to process, it’s a big challenge for RSPCA to ensure that it is answering and responding to those that are most important. And as a charity with limited resources, it’s very important that its contact center agents are empowered to work smarter - not harder. The RSPCA needed a communications solution that allows it to not only offer self-guided advice and solutions via Interactive Voice Response (IVR) while routing calls to the correct agent when needed, but also to provide follow up information through additional channels and touchpoints, like SMS.
For example, legally, stray dogs are the responsibility of the local council, and the RSPCA cannot respond to incidents involving them unless the dog is injured. That's information that can easily be given to people in an automated message or even a text with a link to contact the right organization. Leveraging modern technology allows the RSPCA system to sort incoming calls and separate urgent issues from those that can be addressed quickly and simply via voice or text.
With a single, integrated cloud communications platform, Vonage offered all of the tools needed to build an engaging, intelligent experience for callers and agents. Vonage’s intelligent routing and deep Salesforce integration helps ensure that crucial calls are answered by the right agents, and that responses to frequently asked questions are available via IVR, while Vonage APIs allow agents to push additional resources and information to people via additional channels. The team’s latest pilot test is of the Vonage Conversation Analyzer which gives the RSPCA the power to analyze and review calls to ensure that it is identifying and addressing issues as they arise. And adapting its system is made simple by the flexibility of the Vonage platform.
“One of the things that we've found very useful about the Vonage Communications Platform is that it's extremely user friendly for us to make adjustments to our own system,” said Mike McCahon, Operational Services Manager at the RSPCA. “This self-reliance allows us to react swiftly as situations evolve. At the start of the COVID crisis, we were able to quickly put up messages answering questions like, how is pet care impacted by the pandemic? Is it okay to walk your dog? Should you be worried about transmission via animals? The top questions we were being asked could be swiftly recorded, posted onto our IVR, and available to the public within days.
“Similarly, Vonage enabled us to successfully navigate the COVID pandemic because it empowers remote delivery of our services. We were able to transition our several hundred agents from working in one large building to all working remotely - which meant that we kept our people safe. Thanks to Vonage, we had the power to do that practically overnight, while some of our competitors were still wondering, "How are we going to manage?"
Feedback + Adaptation = Improved Customer Experience
Feedback and adaptation are crucial to a modern customer experience. Using the Vonage SMS API, the RSPCA has been soliciting direct customer feedback following calls, and then taking action based on what it learns.
“When I joined the RSPCA in August of last year, I realized we didn't have a mechanism for measuring how satisfied our customers were with us,” said Harper. “So quite quickly, we got together a small group of RSPCA employees and our Vonage customer success manager, and we were able to deploy a small survey that allowed us to understand better the experience our customers were having. The really great news is that since we deployed that survey and we were able to get the feedback, we've actually improved our customer satisfaction by around 30 percent.”
Call to Action Increases Charitable Donations
As a charity, every single penny counts - particularly during the COVID crisis. Income generation is such a focus for the RSPCA team, and it’s always looking for new and better ways to connect with and encourage potential donors. The Vonage Platform has enabled the team to follow up with callers using SMS with a call to action to support the work that the RSPCA does. Now, its contact center agents can provide a memorable customer experience, and then turn that directly into lasting support for animals.
“When we started the donation SMS pilot program, the agents in our contact center were so passionate about it. They believe they're delivering a great experience and the types of people who contact us really would want to be supporters of the RSPCA,” Harper explains. “So the agents started to tell callers about the fact the donation ask was coming and encourage them to look out for it and take action. To see that passion from our team just lets us know that we’re on the right track, and the things that we're doing genuinely are making a difference - for our customers, for our agents, and for animals.”
Partnership is Key
While the flexibility, reliability and intelligence of Vonage’s solutions are valued by the RSPCA, just as important is its relationship and confidence in the Vonage team. Knowing that Vonage is a trusted communications partner allows the RSPCA to focus on what truly matters - the animals in its care.
“In the end, our whole purpose is animal welfare,” said McCahon. “And like every charity, we have to make the money we have count. We need our communication systems to work well and be capable of being made better. We have the same drives as any commercial organization in terms of we want to manage our call center, we want to manage the experience of the people coming in and talking to us and we want to efficiently move information elsewhere into the organization. And Vonage has helped us do that.”
Harper added, “Working with Vonage allows us to be agile and feel secure in knowing that, when we hit a roadblock, there will be a quick resolution. Hours, not days. As a business leader, that's what you're looking for. You don't really want to have to get drawn into the technical detail, you want to be confident that your experts are empowered to get things done. Vonage gives us that confidence.”