About Ian Williams
Ian Williams is one of the largest privately-owned property services companies in the UK specialising in the social housing, education and commercial sectors. The organisation delivers innovative planned and responsive repairs nationally and works in over 400,000 homes a year.
The mission of Ian Williams is to be “a company loved by its employees and customers.” The secret to the company’s success lies in its people, which is why they are dedicated to providing a great place to work, opportunities for career development and support for employees to fulfil their full potential. Their efforts have been recognised with Investors in People Gold accreditation. Ian Williams takes this people-centric approach into building outstanding customer service through investment – leveraging training, technology and process re-engineering to complement its existing services.
The call centre, iwhub, is the “shop window” of Ian Williams and plays a pivotal role in the daily provision of services to it customers. The iwhub team interacts with customers and client managers throughout the repair process – from initial phone calls for new jobs to setting appointments and addressing general inquires.
While Ian Williams acknowledges past success, they know that it’s today’s investments that really matter. They had already made some improvements to the iwhub, such as moving to a centralised model and a location with further room for growth, but they were still burdened with an legacy system that no longer met the needs of the business: “From an operational standpoint, we have been struggling for a number of years with a solution that was fit for purpose when it was put in – but moving on to the growth and diversification of our business, it really no longer was fit for purpose,” as IT Manager Mike Dunstan explained.
Ian Williams wanted to move to a cloud contact centre solution that could integrate with their job management system and help them better manage their customer service. Due to their core market of social housing and the resulting close collaboration with the government, it was crucial that the solution met stringent privacy and security restrictions, while still allowing for ease of use and flexibility – because in the end it always comes down to their customer and employee experience.
To improve service desk employee experience, Ian Williams was looking for more scope for blended working practices and to make working from home easy. It was also important to facilitate training, boost productivity and enhance the user experience – as Mike Dunstan said, “happy people means that we’re productive, which means happy clients.”
Ensuring reliability and the ability to recover from disaster was also exceptionally important for the IT team – no matter what, Ian Williams customers and operatives should not be left in the dark. But as Mike Dunstan explained, “we have a very small internal IT team. We don't have the resources to support and manage our environments. A cloud-first approach is obviously very attractive for us because we’re essentially taking software as a service rather than having to worry about maintaining servers or applying application updates and patches.” This meant they were looking for a solution in which they could have confidence in the uptimes and disaster recovery from a partner with a good track record.
With such a diverse range of challenges and requirements, Ian Williams initially struggled to find a solution that would fit their needs out of the box. Mike Dunstan turned to trusted local partner Wavenet to develop a tailored solution: “I think that first and foremost is the technical solution you’re looking for, but absolutely critical to any of these solutions is the relationship in the background. Without that strong partnership approach and that relationship in place, you’re probably heading for world of pain later. So, I was happy that it was a good relationship and a good solution, which is the magic combination.”
Five9’s cloud call centre technology provided an open API that would enable integration with their job management system as well as capabilities for SMS, web chat and email management.
With better call routing, reporting capabilities and real-time displays, Five9 has enabled call centre supervisors and service desk managers to manage their teams more effectively and streamline their processes. Ian Williams has also been able to win more contracts with better capabilities to engage with e-clients. All in all, the call centre is providing their clients with a smoother experience and improving customer satisfaction.
But the true test of the new cloud contact centre solution came shortly after implementation in early 2020. When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the UK, Ian Williams was impacted particularly hard – much of their work requires their operatives to be in people’s homes. Keeping clients and Ian Williams operatives informed during this challenging time was imperative, and with Five9’s cloud-based solution, the call centre was able to seamlessly stay in operation: “With the cloud contact centre solution in place, we were able to send all agents home with a laptop and continue working. That in itself is a huge tick in the box, and one of the core aims strategically was that flexibility in the product which was obviously proven far beyond anything I would have expected.”
With control measures in place, Ian Williams slowly started to ramp up their operations and was able to bring 100% of its employees back to work late summer 2020. Moving forward, the call centre will continue to make use of a more blended approach. With the ability to work from anywhere, agents can be much more flexible which has resulted in increased productivity and employee satisfaction. Ian Williams is continuing to look for ways to improve and are working with Five9 and Wavenet to introduce gamification to make the call centre more interesting for agents.
“Now we are very well aware in our current environment that that our technology has to be able to change quickly, evolve and move rapidly with the requirements of our clients. Equally, data security has become increasingly important. So Five9 is very closely aligned with what we are doing to streamline and make our processes more efficient and provide a better quality of service internally to our staff, which should lead to happier people and happier clients” – Mike Dunstan, IT Manager, Ian Williams