This is a period of invigorating change for NFU Mutual, which can perhaps best be encapsulated by the introduction of a brand-new Telephony team in our Telephony Centre of Excellence within our IT department. Guided by the newly appointed Service Owner Nick Botwright, the Telephony team will be integrating a new software platform into our computer and phone systems. But that’s not all – this Cloud-based technology has the scope to increase efficiency and introduce new tools to ensure we continue to put our customers at the heart of everything we do. But first, they need to build the team.
We sat down with Nick, along with Peter Brown, who’ll be overseeing this transitional phase of the programme, to talk about how the Telephony team will help to drive NFU Mutual forward, and the kind of people they want join the team.
Thanks for joining us! Let’s start off by describing, in your own words, what the function is of the Telephony team?
“In broad terms, the team supports the Telephony systems,” explains Nick, “which is the solution that handles and directs all the incoming phone calls to the teams at our Contact Centres, Regional Service Centres, Back Office Teams and agencies across the UK. This was all previously outsourced to an external company, but we’re bringing those skills in-house. As part of that, we’re introducing a new platform, CXone, and creating a ‘Software as a Service’ (SaaS) Contact Centre. Basically, it involves moving our traditional telephony to a more modern Cloud-based system.
“We’re replacing two separate legacy systems, starting with our Contact Centres,” adds Peter. “Then we’ll roll out the system to our NFU Mutual Agency Network, so that we’re all on the same platform. As we have over 250 agencies across the UK, the roll out is likely to continue until the end of the year.
We’ve already migrated thousands of phone numbers over to the new system, which will allow us to integrate several other tools and solutions. For example, the new system not only covers our call recording solution, in line with the FCA regulation requirement for our calls to be recorded, but it also integrates a PCI DSS-compliant solution that means card numbers aren’t recorded when we take payments over the phone.
There’s crossover with other areas of the business too, like marketing, where we can measure the impact of a specific advertising campaign by monitoring the calls to the associated phone number. These are just some of the features already in place, but there’s scope to introduce many new tools that will support NFU Mutual in the future. At the moment, the majority of our business comes over the phone, so this team definitely has an incredibly important job.”
It certainly sounds important. How do you think the Telephony team will support NFU Mutual in the future?
“Well, we’re already crucial to the business,” says Nick. “We’re working with every area of NFU Mutual, interacting with and supporting everyone, so we’ve got a big load on our shoulders. And as a business, we have a very close relationship with our customers too, both over the phone and face-to-face. If anything goes wrong with the phones, our customers can’t reach us - which is a big problem!
We’re currently only applying the first level of what this new system can do – which is intentional, because we don’t want to run before we can walk. As we build up the team, we’re looking for people who have experience with these platforms and understand all the features, so that we can begin to introduce them into the business and start to make the most out of the technology. They’ll be gathering initial requirements, configuring, testing and deploying – in a way that allows us to continue to provide the excellent customer service we’re known for.”
It sounds like a chance to really help direct and push NFU Mutual forward.
“Absolutely, this is a brand-new team so there’s real opportunity to make your mark and help steer us in the right direction,” says Peter. “This new CXone system is brand new to NFU Mutual, so you’ll very much be on the front line. Plus, the Telephony team is part of a wider support team for all our systems, so there is certainly space to move up and progress in your own career too.
“But, as Nick says, we don’t want to run before we can walk, so first of all we need people with strong technical skills, including experience with SaaS cloud-based Telephony, so they can hit the ground running. People who know how to build a new IVR call flow or troubleshoot call routing problems. It’s a fast-paced system and we need people who already have the skills to handle that right off the bat. Then, looking further down the line, we’ll also need people who can work with the business teams and make sure they’re getting the most out of the platform we’re giving them, looking for opportunities to streamline how it’s used for better efficiency – so business analyst skills are also of interest.”
“I’ve worked in corporate Telephony for 26 years,” says Nick, “and SaaS systems are a relatively recent introduction; I’ve been through the transition to a Cloud-based platform at my previous company, and there are huge benefits to be gained from features like CRM integration, screen popping, omnichannel communications, call transcription and sentiment analysis. I’m anticipating that people who join the team will have also been through a similar transition, because there are very few people with a purely Cloud-based background.
What’s great about coming to NFU Mutual is the hybrid working. As most of the business users we support are across the UK there is some travel to their sites, but you can also provide support remotely. All we need is for you to be online and available for contact at short notice. We have great facilities when you’re in the office and full support to work some of your hours from home. To ensure you have the right balance of office and home working, we’re open to discussing what this might look like for you.
I feel like with the team at the moment, we all work together very closely and there’s a great collaborative atmosphere. I’m really excited to bring new people on board and start expanding what we can do together.”
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