Three complementary businesses - one unified purpose

Our purpose: To help our clients to secure the right investment to drive value and to do the right thing for customers – staying optimally organised, market relevant and business ready for the future.

We can help you to understand customer value – driving down costs, identifying hidden risks and supporting the transition of delivery – so that you can transform confidently, innovatively and successfully to secure your future through better customer engagement.

Evaluate

Operational, risk and cost implications with robust analysis

Plan

To implement change with innovation and agility embedded

Procure & Deliver

With governance assured and without hidden risk

Sustain

Acquire the skills and knowledge to adapt and flex for the future

Evaluate

Operational, risk and cost implications with robust analysis

A major mobile phone retailer had approached Ember to help to assess new operating model options in the face of cost challenges and a looming capital investment requirement. The retailer had primarily invested in its retail environments where customer interactions are conducted face to face, and despite being recognised as strategically critical, the contact centre did not benefit from the same level of internal profile or investment. The situation was further compounded by a belief that they could not deliver the required level of customer experience and digital transformation from its existing in-house operations. A position we quickly ratified.

In order to transform the client’s operations, Ember led a project team tasked with assessing options for improving investments, site rationalisation and the potential for outsourcing some or all of the services. Ember recommended the outsourcing of the contact centre operation, and designed a robust model with a compelling commercial rationale and financial incentive to reinforce this course of action. Following board level agreement, Ember managed the end to end procurement process, which included complex and ground breaking commercial structures that needed to be carefully gauged to deliver both financial and operational outcomes. Ember also ensured that the governance structures were properly specified, budgeted and implemented.

A major British multinational retailer and ‘British institution’ turned to Ember for advice on their best course of action as they approached a break in an existing outsourced contract.  This large scale contract was not only costing above market benchmarks, but it was failing to deliver the levels of service quality that had been synonymous with the brand for over a century. The governance and delivery issues were shared jointly by the client as well as the vendor, and the contract break option provided the retailer with an opportunity to explore and consider their operating model and the outsourcing and partner options.  Ember considered a number of options including whether to re-negotiate the existing contract, bring the operations back in-house or approach the open market for re-tender.

Ember undertook a business case assessment of each of the retailer’s options to establish which would deliver the best outcome and commercial viability for them. Ember considered the effects on performance and cost, and the risk factors associated with each course of action – recommending that a re-negotiation of the existing contract would serve the retailer best. Due to Ember’s expertise across customer management, legal advice and outsource procurements, the Ember team was retained by the retailer to lead the contract negotiations on their behalf.

The end result was that Ember was able to save the retailer from undergoing a costly and risky re-tender process. Instead, Ember delivered a revised contract at a reduced delivery cost and driven significant improvements to performance, flexibility and governance. Both parties are better aligned with the activities and incentive for the partner organisation being more closely allied to the client’s need.

In a highly regulated and competitive market, one water and sewerage company was limited in meeting both customer service and regulator expectations by the fragmented technology in their contact centre. They needed help to secure the necessary investment to deliver an improved consistency of service at a reduced operating cost. With the water market due to open up to wider competition and with minimal knowledge of the technology vendor industry or landscape, the organisation turned to Ember to help create a robust business case that would demonstrate the impact on performance and cost to provide the basis for investment approval.

Ember helped the company to understand scope and impact of a range of options. Significantly Ember worked with the client to incorporate the impacts of other business transformation programmes that were running in parallel, such as the implementation of new billing and customer systems. Having an impact on the operating model, core customer data and business processes, the linkages between the technology upgrade and other business transformation projects had to form part of Ember’s considerations.

Working closely and effectively with the client’s procurement team and adhering to EU protocols for procurement, Ember defined the business, technology and commercial requirements for the contact centre technology upgrade.  Ember provided guidance on budget expectations and the desired supplier credentials to attract a supplier with the relevant capability to deliver the solution within the budget parameters.

The small specialist team led the project through all stages of the procurement process through to securing the client’s preferred technology partner that fitted the investment potential.

Ember developed and evolved the business case throughout the project and ensured this met stakeholder goals to gain their approval. Throughout the process the client’s incumbent suppliers were appropriately engaged and robustly assessed ensuring the risk to the existing service was mitigated.

As a result of Ember’s structured approach to procurement, the client’s acquisition of new contact centre technology has delivered considerable improvements in investment levels and commercial position. By selecting the right technology solution, the organisation’s contact centre has substantially improved functionality and channel choice and has a clear roadmap for future development. Furthermore, by aligning resources to the demand more effectively their customers have benefitted from easier access to and improved responsiveness from the contact centre team.

Ember helped a consumer body organisation gain insight into their customer engagements while improving their call centre Quality Assurance (QA) process.  Our client, who previously utilised the services of an external provider, found that while they received good basic reporting, there was little flexibility on gaining additional insight from the calls as they were only able to review a few calls per agent each month.

Ember’s Managed Analytics team installed a speech analytics platform to form the basis of both the QA and Insight programs. With key QA elements loaded, all agent calls could be scored and data provided back to the client within a few hours after the call is completed. Once the QA processes were running automatically, the Ember team used the analytics platform to investigate additional areas such as identifying the reasons for the calls, establishing agents’ sales styles and performance levels, and elements driving their call handling strategy.

The wider coverage of calls gave valuable insight into the conversations between customers and agents, highlighting the priority areas for changes to be made based on factual data. This not only improved the quality of the QA system, but released the resource required for QA execution.  Eliminating the need for our client to invest in a speech analytics system directly or recruit specialist analytics resources, Ember Managed Services supported the setup, configuration and integration of the system. Ember’s ability to provide this insight and improved QA quickly and easily without client investment in specialist resources, allowed our client to focus on delivering the changes needed for improving their business and customer engagement.

A small but fast growing financial services company was struggling to manage its workforce, service delivery and business growth efficiently, as the technology that had been suitable for the business initially was impeding operations and impacting on both growth and cost to serve.  To avoid any further impact, they initially approached the market in order to source a solution that will help with their customer engagement and team management and that would flex with them as their business grew. A number of technology vendors presented their solutions, but it became apparent that their selection would need to be based on a clear view of their priority requirements for this new solution and the best deployment model for them. They turned to Ember.

Ember helped to decipher their key requirements by assessing the existing customer service operation and how it might benefit from an updated, multi-channel approach – looking at which areas could be improved with updated technology and the key functions that needed to be deployed.

Once the scope of the requirement was complete, Ember created a shortlist of viable vendors and ran a streamlined procurement process to select the best supplier. Involving all key stakeholders during the procurement process also ensured that there was buy-in from the key areas of the business for the eventual preferred solution. The Ember team helped the client to understand what an appropriate deployment model would look like and how contact centre metrics could help them deal effectively and efficiently with their growing client base. This allowed the client to make an appropriate vendor selection which would help them to realise the benefits of upgrading their contact centre systems and the features that would be most important to them.

Since then, they have increased the number of contact methods with the introduction of webchat, self-service IVR and now provide a more consistent customer experience regardless of channel. The business understands the criticality of support services such as workforce management and that the infectious excitement from vendors raving about the functionality of their technology, does not always solve the priority issues.  The solution purchased was significantly cheaper than the organisation’s preferred solution prior to Ember’s involvement – it is ‘right-sized’ for the company and they now have the foundation in place to grow their business and continue to improve the customer experience.

One of the world’s most well recognised fast food restaurant chains had become aware of a rapid increase in non-restaurant based customer contact and had growing concerns that the responses to these interactions were misaligned with the brand and were inconsistent with the in-restaurant experience.  The chain suspected that customers’ use of social media was primarily responsible for the growth in customer contact and that the chain’s capabilities, processes and systems were not equipped to handle it to a satisfactory level.

The client approached Ember to undertake a review of the operation to set out where investment should be focused. Engaging with stakeholders throughout the organisation, Ember reviewed the current demands and potential efficiencies, the existing service delivery model and the technology options.

Ember found that the existing operation was under resourced and focused predominantly on escalated complaints, leaving the large number of simple queries and minor concerns without the attention they required. To make it easier for customers to contact the organisation via the channel of their choice, Ember proposed a number of recommendations for dealing quickly and simply with customers online that would drive brand advocacy and customer satisfaction.

This entailed the introduction of a new operating model that would change the operating practises to empower front-line staff to respond and close issues, and embrace social media as a service tool to engage with customers via their preferred communication channel. Furthermore, Ember recommended that the client utilise an outsource partner to provide frontline support that would be backed up by an in-house team for the management of more serious complaints.

Ember was appointed to help define, develop and implement an optimal operating model that would deliver the social media processes and customer engagement to a standard pertinent to a global brand. This has led to improved social media presence and response levels resulting in the effective recovery of customers and enhanced brand advocacy.

Plan

To implement change with innovation and agility embedded

Ember was approached by a financial services company with a unique product and service that is supported by internally developed systems. Its contact centre systems, however, had not kept pace with the organisation’s growth and was proving both unstable and lacking in functionality. Seeking both industry expertise and unbiased advice and support, the company approached Ember.

Independent and vendor-agnostic, the Ember team instigated the process to select an appropriate partner and procure a product set that would underpin the finance business as it grew. The team assessed the existing and future function requirements to ensure an optimal solution was obtained, and established a business case that would withstand scrutiny from the executive sponsors and gain budget approval for the recommendations to be implemented.

Due to Ember’s understanding of contact centre operations and the technology environment Ember was able to design the system architecture as well as the core functional requirements prior to engagement with potential technology vendors. This initial scoping helped to reduce the complexity of the process, minimise the number of suitable suppliers and shortened the overall project length. The end result was an appropriately sized solution delivered in time with a competitive commercial model.

The client was able to rely on Ember to manage the process, being required at key decision points only. This greatly reduced management time for the client whilst ensuring they were fully involved in all the key decisions being made.

One of the world’s most well recognised fast food restaurant chains had become aware of a rapid increase in non-restaurant based customer contact and had growing concerns that the responses to these interactions were misaligned with the brand and were inconsistent with the in-restaurant experience.  The chain suspected that customers’ use of social media was primarily responsible for the growth in customer contact and that the chain’s capabilities, processes and systems were not equipped to handle it to a satisfactory level.

The client approached Ember to undertake a review of the operation to set out where investment should be focused. Engaging with stakeholders throughout the organisation, Ember reviewed the current demands and potential efficiencies, the existing service delivery model and the technology options.

Ember found that the existing operation was under resourced and focused predominantly on escalated complaints, leaving the large number of simple queries and minor concerns without the attention they required. To make it easier for customers to contact the organisation via the channel of their choice, Ember proposed a number of recommendations for dealing quickly and simply with customers online that would drive brand advocacy and customer satisfaction.

This entailed the introduction of a new operating model that would change the operating practises to empower front-line staff to respond and close issues, and embrace social media as a service tool to engage with customers via their preferred communication channel. Furthermore, Ember recommended that the client utilise an outsource partner to provide frontline support that would be backed up by an in-house team for the management of more serious complaints.

Ember was appointed to help define, develop and implement an optimal operating model that would deliver the social media processes and customer engagement to a standard pertinent to a global brand. This has led to improved social media presence and response levels resulting in the effective recovery of customers and enhanced brand advocacy.

In 2020 the water industry in England and Wales will face a significant change in the way its members engage with their customers – consumers will have the freedom to select the water supplier of their choosing, creating a step change in the way the industry works and increasing competition amongst providers. Suppliers are getting business ready for this increased competitive environment, which is already highly regulated by OFWAT.  With customer service and complaints being key measures of supplier comparison by OFWAT, the lower the rank of a water company, the greater they are fined and penalised.  Taking advantage of this period of preparation before the regulatory change comes into force from ‘Water 2020’, one of the lowest-ranked water companies approached Ember to help them transform the way they were operating and so raise their performance and ranking levels.

Despite having copious amount of management information there was no insightful data to see how their current operation was functioning and therefore what needed to be done to help them become more up to date, digitised and with automated self-serve options.

The Ember team took an immersive approach to gain a full understanding of the existing processes to explain why the organisation had been deemed so comparatively unfavourable to OFWAT that it earned such a low ranking.   The Ember team conducted an operational review, spending time across multiple sites within business areas that were under the umbrella of customer relations – such as billing, service and metering. Additionally, as well as making general observations, the team listened to customer calls, conducted a system review that included the extraction and the use of data across 14 different systems, and a data analysis.  The Ember team spent time with the client’s own teams, interviewing employees, advisors and key stakeholders.

Ember undertook customer journey mapping that incorporated these disparate systems through workshop sessions, and worked through the water company’s Customer Demand Value Model – a methodology that helps identify the value of the client’s customer interactions ie. the functions that are identified to be valuable to both customers and organisation, valuable to one party but not the other, or mutually irritating.

Throughout this process of discovery, it was evident that the foundations of the contact centre operations were hindering the company’s ability to both improve service performance and take advantage of digital technologies. The little self-service functionality that they had was far from streamlined or fully automated, and was hampered by the need for human intervention in the processes.

Ember’s recommendation was that the only way the organisation could improve its performance and become ready for the future was to focus first on building the right operational foundation to support its long term goals. Only then could it introduce digital services and offer self-service functions to its customers.

With Ember’s guidance and analysis-based evidence, the water company took Ember’s advice and can now demonstrate an improvement to its customers’ experience with a fully automated self-serve function that allows customers to have a quicker response, reduces the number of touchpoints required and enables a more proactive relationship to take place.

As a long standing outsourcing contract was nearing expiry, a luxury brand automotive company sought advice from Ember for its re-tendering.  The scope of the project included and for help in defining both the shape of the new contract and the selection of the most appropriate outsource partner to deliver it.

A crucial outcome for the client was ensuring that the new contract and commercial structure would enable the alignment of the partner relationship to the client’s own business culture. The Ember team worked closely with the client team to create a ‘new world’ operating model and associated business case that would meet the exacting requirements of a world renowned luxury brand. Once approved, Ember provided end-to-end procurement support throughout the process from the initial request for information (RFI) stages to the eventual signing of the contract and transition.

Ember advised the client over a 12 month period from initial scoping through to transition and implementation. With Ember’s legal expertise supporting the contract negotiations, our client acquired a new partner under competitive commercial terms alongside an associated best in breed contract.

Ember worked with a major digital direct insurance firm who hadn’t invested substantially in their contact centre technologies for years and which were about to move out of support, creating risks for their business. Where the client had invested in technology they had done this incrementally with a focus on minimising their investment each time. This resulted in the client’s multi-site services operating on different technologies, which limited their ability to properly align their resources to customer demand or to efficiently provide a good level of service.

Ember engaged with the client to develop a clear view of what they needed by firstly re-designing the key journeys to support the client’s vision. Ember’s customer journey design services helped the client define the capabilities needed to deliver more effective customer experiences and set out the benefits that formed part of a strong business case.

The Ember team then led the procurement activity with IT, business and marketing goals aligned to find the right solutions from the right partners, which fully considered the existing contractual arrangements.

As a part of this process the Ember team benchmarked investment levels and identified substantial savings and set out the delivery roadmap. As with many clients Ember found that key stakeholders had differing priorities and perspectives on the investments required. Through the process of re-designing the customer journeys and linking the investment to a tangible benefits was a positive force in helping to align priorities across the business. The result of combining this alignment of strategic vision and embedding a commercial and legal approach throughout the process, not only removed business risk but saved the client multiple-millions of pounds of investment.

The client’s customers also benefitted from the new technology, as it not only supports better and easier customer journeys by allowing resources to be virtualised across sites creating improved responsiveness and service levels, but it also gives customers a greater choice of contact and service options.

Ember worked with one of the world’s largest airlines to help it mitigate the looming risk to its business created by two factors.  Firstly the client had severely under-invested in contact centre technology in recent years. Secondly, the changing market and customer demands meant they were no longer able to either service clients well across traditional contact channels or plan to enhance the services in order to be able to provide material commercial advantage.  With technology so out of date that spare parts and vendor support were no longer available, the problem was compounded by the airline’s poor reputation across the market. Specifically, supplier perception was that the organisation was not serious about investment as the airline had tried and failed a number of times to build a strong enough business case and strategic rationale to gain approval and move forward.

In order to address additional concerns about complexity and gaps in the airline’s proposals Ember were engaged to validate and expand on the scope of requirements before taking it to the supplier market, and to ensure they were fit to proceed with the procurement process.

Working with the IT and key business stakeholders, Ember enhanced the proposal to address the requirements of the business against which an appropriate shortlist of potential technology suppliers would be drawn.  Without sufficient industry knowledge in-house, the airline relied on Ember’s market insight to shortlist suppliers and initiate their engagement with a more credible and considered proposal brief.

With relations between procurement and the business strained as a result of previous failed attempts to deliver this change, and the procurement team having limited resources and understanding for managing a project of this nature, Ember worked with a small and specialist group of business and IT stakeholders and applied specialist expertise across procurement, operations, technology, commercial and contracting to define and lead a collaborative procurement process.

The airline’s relied on Ember for guidance on market solutions and pricing which supported the clients negotiating strategy.  In addition with both the airline’s operating model changing during the process and the future demand forecasted from channel mix, customer preferences and volumes expected to impact the business significantly, Ember’s market knowledge and procurement expertise was vital to setting the goals of the negotiating strategy. The technical, commercial and contractual principles were incorporated from the outset, which introduced a fundamental change in the airline’s traditional approach to procurement. With a clearly robust and market-appropriate specification and with vendors fully briefed and engaged throughout all stages of the process, Ember were able to support the airline in selecting their preferred supplier between three highly competitive and proposal compliant bidders.

Through Ember’s market insight, procurement and negotiation expertise, the airline benefitted from a substantial improvement in the total solution price with the technical and commercial solutions finalised to accommodate the wider business’s future operating model and demand. Moreover, the project has delivered a greater level of access to customers with the technology enabling the airline to build personalised and consistent experiences and omnichannel functionality for customers to move from online and mobile application journeys and into the contact centre.

In a highly regulated and competitive market, one water and sewerage company was limited in meeting both customer service and regulator expectations by the fragmented technology in their contact centre. They needed help to secure the necessary investment to deliver an improved consistency of service at a reduced operating cost. With the water market due to open up to wider competition and with minimal knowledge of the technology vendor industry or landscape, the organisation turned to Ember to help create a robust business case that would demonstrate the impact on performance and cost to provide the basis for investment approval.

Ember helped the company to understand scope and impact of a range of options. Significantly Ember worked with the client to incorporate the impacts of other business transformation programmes that were running in parallel, such as the implementation of new billing and customer systems. Having an impact on the operating model, core customer data and business processes, the linkages between the technology upgrade and other business transformation projects had to form part of Ember’s considerations.

Working closely and effectively with the client’s procurement team and adhering to EU protocols for procurement, Ember defined the business, technology and commercial requirements for the contact centre technology upgrade.  Ember provided guidance on budget expectations and the desired supplier credentials to attract a supplier with the relevant capability to deliver the solution within the budget parameters.

The small specialist team led the project through all stages of the procurement process through to securing the client’s preferred technology partner that fitted the investment potential.

Ember developed and evolved the business case throughout the project and ensured this met stakeholder goals to gain their approval. Throughout the process the client’s incumbent suppliers were appropriately engaged and robustly assessed ensuring the risk to the existing service was mitigated.

As a result of Ember’s structured approach to procurement, the client’s acquisition of new contact centre technology has delivered considerable improvements in investment levels and commercial position. By selecting the right technology solution, the organisation’s contact centre has substantially improved functionality and channel choice and has a clear roadmap for future development. Furthermore, by aligning resources to the demand more effectively their customers have benefitted from easier access to and improved responsiveness from the contact centre team.

One of the UK’s prominent Local Authorities was preparing to embark upon a strategic consolidation of external suppliers that each provided different aspects of the council’s established digital programme of services to citizens and businesses.  Seeking an independent view and expert advice, the local authority asked Ember to help them determine how best to secure the continuation of essential services in the short term, and define and plan for the longer-term strategic goals for the future.

The project entailed a comprehensive review of both the organisation’s plans and the design of the future state operating model and its component parts. The Ember team also assessed the procurement approach, the contracts risks and mitigations and found that the existing programme was in disarray and if continued, would be on course to fail. Plans were inadequate, governance was poor and the business case was notional.  Consequently, the organisation was reluctant to continue as faith in its ability to deliver the programme was diminishing.

Ember took the bold move and recommended that the programme was stopped and that existing suppliers were extended to continue providing their current services until a revised and refreshed programme could be established.

Ember reviewed all aspects of the digital programme and included a key component – the establishment of an Integrated Contact Centre for all first line contact with the council.  Details of existing supplier contracts were assessed to determine their contract termination dates and extension rights, and their obligations relating to the provision of services during any transitional phases.

With existing supplier contracts extended for an interim period, the local authority was able to implement Ember’s recommendations for immediate action, and enabled them to create a revised and refreshed programme for the future.

A small but fast growing financial services company was struggling to manage its workforce, service delivery and business growth efficiently, as the technology that had been suitable for the business initially was impeding operations and impacting on both growth and cost to serve.  To avoid any further impact, they initially approached the market in order to source a solution that will help with their customer engagement and team management and that would flex with them as their business grew. A number of technology vendors presented their solutions, but it became apparent that their selection would need to be based on a clear view of their priority requirements for this new solution and the best deployment model for them. They turned to Ember.

Ember helped to decipher their key requirements by assessing the existing customer service operation and how it might benefit from an updated, multi-channel approach – looking at which areas could be improved with updated technology and the key functions that needed to be deployed.

Once the scope of the requirement was complete, Ember created a shortlist of viable vendors and ran a streamlined procurement process to select the best supplier. Involving all key stakeholders during the procurement process also ensured that there was buy-in from the key areas of the business for the eventual preferred solution. The Ember team helped the client to understand what an appropriate deployment model would look like and how contact centre metrics could help them deal effectively and efficiently with their growing client base. This allowed the client to make an appropriate vendor selection which would help them to realise the benefits of upgrading their contact centre systems and the features that would be most important to them.

Since then, they have increased the number of contact methods with the introduction of webchat, self-service IVR and now provide a more consistent customer experience regardless of channel. The business understands the criticality of support services such as workforce management and that the infectious excitement from vendors raving about the functionality of their technology, does not always solve the priority issues.  The solution purchased was significantly cheaper than the organisation’s preferred solution prior to Ember’s involvement – it is ‘right-sized’ for the company and they now have the foundation in place to grow their business and continue to improve the customer experience.

Procure & Deliver

With governance assured and without hidden risk

Ember worked with one of the UK’s top four network service providers to help them implement a digital change programme without detriment or interruption to service. The business case for the project was to increase the flexibility of their contact centre estate and deliver cost savings to the business, but also deliver a superior level of service to their customers.  The client had an experienced and competent team in-house with a significant amount of their core services and support already outsourced. Ember developed a detailed business case which increased the scope and capability to be delivered whilst reducing the risk. This additional rigour and scope would prove to be invaluable in gaining internal approval.

The first stage was Ember’s review of the organisation’s existing operating model. Conscious not to compromise the significant strides that the client had taken over recent years to become the least complained about telco, Ember made recommendations for change that included the outsourcing of its UK contact centre operations. Based upon Ember’s proposals and robust cost justification, the business plan was approved and Ember was entrusted with supporting the client throughout the procurement process – from the selection process to find their preferred supplier through to contract negotiations and supplier transition.

The result of Ember’s advice and specialist contract negotiation delivered the client significant cost savings from Year 1 of the operation and an upturn in customer satisfaction feedback and Net Promoter Score. The client now has a champion/challenger operating model creating sustainability and performance based flexibility for delivery of ongoing services in a fast changing environment.

A major mobile phone retailer had approached Ember to help to assess new operating model options in the face of cost challenges and a looming capital investment requirement. The retailer had primarily invested in its retail environments where customer interactions are conducted face to face, and despite being recognised as strategically critical, the contact centre did not benefit from the same level of internal profile or investment. The situation was further compounded by a belief that they could not deliver the required level of customer experience and digital transformation from its existing in-house operations. A position we quickly ratified.

In order to transform the client’s operations, Ember led a project team tasked with assessing options for improving investments, site rationalisation and the potential for outsourcing some or all of the services. Ember recommended the outsourcing of the contact centre operation, and designed a robust model with a compelling commercial rationale and financial incentive to reinforce this course of action. Following board level agreement, Ember managed the end to end procurement process, which included complex and ground breaking commercial structures that needed to be carefully gauged to deliver both financial and operational outcomes. Ember also ensured that the governance structures were properly specified, budgeted and implemented.

As a long standing outsourcing contract was nearing expiry, a luxury brand automotive company sought advice from Ember for its re-tendering.  The scope of the project included and for help in defining both the shape of the new contract and the selection of the most appropriate outsource partner to deliver it.

A crucial outcome for the client was ensuring that the new contract and commercial structure would enable the alignment of the partner relationship to the client’s own business culture. The Ember team worked closely with the client team to create a ‘new world’ operating model and associated business case that would meet the exacting requirements of a world renowned luxury brand. Once approved, Ember provided end-to-end procurement support throughout the process from the initial request for information (RFI) stages to the eventual signing of the contract and transition.

Ember advised the client over a 12 month period from initial scoping through to transition and implementation. With Ember’s legal expertise supporting the contract negotiations, our client acquired a new partner under competitive commercial terms alongside an associated best in breed contract.

A major British multinational retailer and ‘British institution’ turned to Ember for advice on their best course of action as they approached a break in an existing outsourced contract.  This large scale contract was not only costing above market benchmarks, but it was failing to deliver the levels of service quality that had been synonymous with the brand for over a century. The governance and delivery issues were shared jointly by the client as well as the vendor, and the contract break option provided the retailer with an opportunity to explore and consider their operating model and the outsourcing and partner options.  Ember considered a number of options including whether to re-negotiate the existing contract, bring the operations back in-house or approach the open market for re-tender.

Ember undertook a business case assessment of each of the retailer’s options to establish which would deliver the best outcome and commercial viability for them. Ember considered the effects on performance and cost, and the risk factors associated with each course of action – recommending that a re-negotiation of the existing contract would serve the retailer best. Due to Ember’s expertise across customer management, legal advice and outsource procurements, the Ember team was retained by the retailer to lead the contract negotiations on their behalf.

The end result was that Ember was able to save the retailer from undergoing a costly and risky re-tender process. Instead, Ember delivered a revised contract at a reduced delivery cost and driven significant improvements to performance, flexibility and governance. Both parties are better aligned with the activities and incentive for the partner organisation being more closely allied to the client’s need.

Ember worked with a major digital direct insurance firm who hadn’t invested substantially in their contact centre technologies for years and which were about to move out of support, creating risks for their business. Where the client had invested in technology they had done this incrementally with a focus on minimising their investment each time. This resulted in the client’s multi-site services operating on different technologies, which limited their ability to properly align their resources to customer demand or to efficiently provide a good level of service.

Ember engaged with the client to develop a clear view of what they needed by firstly re-designing the key journeys to support the client’s vision. Ember’s customer journey design services helped the client define the capabilities needed to deliver more effective customer experiences and set out the benefits that formed part of a strong business case.

The Ember team then led the procurement activity with IT, business and marketing goals aligned to find the right solutions from the right partners, which fully considered the existing contractual arrangements.

As a part of this process the Ember team benchmarked investment levels and identified substantial savings and set out the delivery roadmap. As with many clients Ember found that key stakeholders had differing priorities and perspectives on the investments required. Through the process of re-designing the customer journeys and linking the investment to a tangible benefits was a positive force in helping to align priorities across the business. The result of combining this alignment of strategic vision and embedding a commercial and legal approach throughout the process, not only removed business risk but saved the client multiple-millions of pounds of investment.

The client’s customers also benefitted from the new technology, as it not only supports better and easier customer journeys by allowing resources to be virtualised across sites creating improved responsiveness and service levels, but it also gives customers a greater choice of contact and service options.

Ember worked with one of the world’s largest airlines to help it mitigate the looming risk to its business created by two factors.  Firstly the client had severely under-invested in contact centre technology in recent years. Secondly, the changing market and customer demands meant they were no longer able to either service clients well across traditional contact channels or plan to enhance the services in order to be able to provide material commercial advantage.  With technology so out of date that spare parts and vendor support were no longer available, the problem was compounded by the airline’s poor reputation across the market. Specifically, supplier perception was that the organisation was not serious about investment as the airline had tried and failed a number of times to build a strong enough business case and strategic rationale to gain approval and move forward.

In order to address additional concerns about complexity and gaps in the airline’s proposals Ember were engaged to validate and expand on the scope of requirements before taking it to the supplier market, and to ensure they were fit to proceed with the procurement process.

Working with the IT and key business stakeholders, Ember enhanced the proposal to address the requirements of the business against which an appropriate shortlist of potential technology suppliers would be drawn.  Without sufficient industry knowledge in-house, the airline relied on Ember’s market insight to shortlist suppliers and initiate their engagement with a more credible and considered proposal brief.

With relations between procurement and the business strained as a result of previous failed attempts to deliver this change, and the procurement team having limited resources and understanding for managing a project of this nature, Ember worked with a small and specialist group of business and IT stakeholders and applied specialist expertise across procurement, operations, technology, commercial and contracting to define and lead a collaborative procurement process.

The airline’s relied on Ember for guidance on market solutions and pricing which supported the clients negotiating strategy.  In addition with both the airline’s operating model changing during the process and the future demand forecasted from channel mix, customer preferences and volumes expected to impact the business significantly, Ember’s market knowledge and procurement expertise was vital to setting the goals of the negotiating strategy. The technical, commercial and contractual principles were incorporated from the outset, which introduced a fundamental change in the airline’s traditional approach to procurement. With a clearly robust and market-appropriate specification and with vendors fully briefed and engaged throughout all stages of the process, Ember were able to support the airline in selecting their preferred supplier between three highly competitive and proposal compliant bidders.

Through Ember’s market insight, procurement and negotiation expertise, the airline benefitted from a substantial improvement in the total solution price with the technical and commercial solutions finalised to accommodate the wider business’s future operating model and demand. Moreover, the project has delivered a greater level of access to customers with the technology enabling the airline to build personalised and consistent experiences and omnichannel functionality for customers to move from online and mobile application journeys and into the contact centre.

In a highly regulated and competitive market, one water and sewerage company was limited in meeting both customer service and regulator expectations by the fragmented technology in their contact centre. They needed help to secure the necessary investment to deliver an improved consistency of service at a reduced operating cost. With the water market due to open up to wider competition and with minimal knowledge of the technology vendor industry or landscape, the organisation turned to Ember to help create a robust business case that would demonstrate the impact on performance and cost to provide the basis for investment approval.

Ember helped the company to understand scope and impact of a range of options. Significantly Ember worked with the client to incorporate the impacts of other business transformation programmes that were running in parallel, such as the implementation of new billing and customer systems. Having an impact on the operating model, core customer data and business processes, the linkages between the technology upgrade and other business transformation projects had to form part of Ember’s considerations.

Working closely and effectively with the client’s procurement team and adhering to EU protocols for procurement, Ember defined the business, technology and commercial requirements for the contact centre technology upgrade.  Ember provided guidance on budget expectations and the desired supplier credentials to attract a supplier with the relevant capability to deliver the solution within the budget parameters.

The small specialist team led the project through all stages of the procurement process through to securing the client’s preferred technology partner that fitted the investment potential.

Ember developed and evolved the business case throughout the project and ensured this met stakeholder goals to gain their approval. Throughout the process the client’s incumbent suppliers were appropriately engaged and robustly assessed ensuring the risk to the existing service was mitigated.

As a result of Ember’s structured approach to procurement, the client’s acquisition of new contact centre technology has delivered considerable improvements in investment levels and commercial position. By selecting the right technology solution, the organisation’s contact centre has substantially improved functionality and channel choice and has a clear roadmap for future development. Furthermore, by aligning resources to the demand more effectively their customers have benefitted from easier access to and improved responsiveness from the contact centre team.

A small but fast growing financial services company was struggling to manage its workforce, service delivery and business growth efficiently, as the technology that had been suitable for the business initially was impeding operations and impacting on both growth and cost to serve.  To avoid any further impact, they initially approached the market in order to source a solution that will help with their customer engagement and team management and that would flex with them as their business grew. A number of technology vendors presented their solutions, but it became apparent that their selection would need to be based on a clear view of their priority requirements for this new solution and the best deployment model for them. They turned to Ember.

Ember helped to decipher their key requirements by assessing the existing customer service operation and how it might benefit from an updated, multi-channel approach – looking at which areas could be improved with updated technology and the key functions that needed to be deployed.

Once the scope of the requirement was complete, Ember created a shortlist of viable vendors and ran a streamlined procurement process to select the best supplier. Involving all key stakeholders during the procurement process also ensured that there was buy-in from the key areas of the business for the eventual preferred solution. The Ember team helped the client to understand what an appropriate deployment model would look like and how contact centre metrics could help them deal effectively and efficiently with their growing client base. This allowed the client to make an appropriate vendor selection which would help them to realise the benefits of upgrading their contact centre systems and the features that would be most important to them.

Since then, they have increased the number of contact methods with the introduction of webchat, self-service IVR and now provide a more consistent customer experience regardless of channel. The business understands the criticality of support services such as workforce management and that the infectious excitement from vendors raving about the functionality of their technology, does not always solve the priority issues.  The solution purchased was significantly cheaper than the organisation’s preferred solution prior to Ember’s involvement – it is ‘right-sized’ for the company and they now have the foundation in place to grow their business and continue to improve the customer experience.

One of the UK’s prominent Local Authorities was preparing to embark upon a strategic consolidation of external suppliers that each provided different aspects of the council’s established digital programme of services to citizens and businesses.  Seeking an independent view and expert advice, the local authority asked Ember to help them determine how best to secure the continuation of essential services in the short term, and define and plan for the longer-term strategic goals for the future.

The project entailed a comprehensive review of both the organisation’s plans and the design of the future state operating model and its component parts. The Ember team also assessed the procurement approach, the contracts risks and mitigations and found that the existing programme was in disarray and if continued, would be on course to fail. Plans were inadequate, governance was poor and the business case was notional.  Consequently, the organisation was reluctant to continue as faith in its ability to deliver the programme was diminishing.

Ember took the bold move and recommended that the programme was stopped and that existing suppliers were extended to continue providing their current services until a revised and refreshed programme could be established.

Ember reviewed all aspects of the digital programme and included a key component – the establishment of an Integrated Contact Centre for all first line contact with the council.  Details of existing supplier contracts were assessed to determine their contract termination dates and extension rights, and their obligations relating to the provision of services during any transitional phases.

With existing supplier contracts extended for an interim period, the local authority was able to implement Ember’s recommendations for immediate action, and enabled them to create a revised and refreshed programme for the future.

Ember was approached by a financial services company with a unique product and service that is supported by internally developed systems. Its contact centre systems, however, had not kept pace with the organisation’s growth and was proving both unstable and lacking in functionality. Seeking both industry expertise and unbiased advice and support, the company approached Ember.

Independent and vendor-agnostic, the Ember team instigated the process to select an appropriate partner and procure a product set that would underpin the finance business as it grew. The team assessed the existing and future function requirements to ensure an optimal solution was obtained, and established a business case that would withstand scrutiny from the executive sponsors and gain budget approval for the recommendations to be implemented.

Due to Ember’s understanding of contact centre operations and the technology environment Ember was able to design the system architecture as well as the core functional requirements prior to engagement with potential technology vendors. This initial scoping helped to reduce the complexity of the process, minimise the number of suitable suppliers and shortened the overall project length. The end result was an appropriately sized solution delivered in time with a competitive commercial model.

The client was able to rely on Ember to manage the process, being required at key decision points only. This greatly reduced management time for the client whilst ensuring they were fully involved in all the key decisions being made.

Sustain

Acquire the skills and knowledge to adapt and flex for the future

One of the UK’s prominent Local Authorities was preparing to embark upon a strategic consolidation of external suppliers that each provided different aspects of the council’s established digital programme of services to citizens and businesses.  Seeking an independent view and expert advice, the local authority asked Ember to help them determine how best to secure the continuation of essential services in the short term, and define and plan for the longer-term strategic goals for the future.

The project entailed a comprehensive review of both the organisation’s plans and the design of the future state operating model and its component parts. The Ember team also assessed the procurement approach, the contracts risks and mitigations and found that the existing programme was in disarray and if continued, would be on course to fail. Plans were inadequate, governance was poor and the business case was notional.  Consequently, the organisation was reluctant to continue as faith in its ability to deliver the programme was diminishing.

Ember took the bold move and recommended that the programme was stopped and that existing suppliers were extended to continue providing their current services until a revised and refreshed programme could be established.

Ember reviewed all aspects of the digital programme and included a key component – the establishment of an Integrated Contact Centre for all first line contact with the council.  Details of existing supplier contracts were assessed to determine their contract termination dates and extension rights, and their obligations relating to the provision of services during any transitional phases.

With existing supplier contracts extended for an interim period, the local authority was able to implement Ember’s recommendations for immediate action, and enabled them to create a revised and refreshed programme for the future.

Ember’s recruitment consultancy Mottram Search worked with a newly created joint venture between two FTSE 100 companies who urgently required a customer focused COO to drive their operations forward.

Mottram Search worked with the client on a retained basis to develop a fast track search and selection process which was completed within 6 weeks of receiving the brief.

All shortlisted candidates were assessed on the same day via a comprehensive assessment process which involved three interviews in different formats.

The final two candidates not only completed online assessments, but developed and delivered a presentation to the board and met the CEO of both parent companies.

The offer was made within 2 weeks of the shortlist being completed and the client now has a new COO.

A global software business recognised the need to radically transform the way they support their customers after losing one of their largest clients. They required a consolidation of their customer support operations which were spread across 40 countries to run under a new function, under the leadership of a single person.

This new function required a new global leader capable of strategic thinking, leading major transformation with the ability to ensure strong operational rigour was in place.

Tapping into the Groups extensive network, Ember’s recruitment consultancy Mottram Search developed a shortlist within two weeks alongside an end to end selection process and timeline. This enabled 6 candidates to be assessed and an offer to be made within 5 weeks of being briefed.

A financial services start up required the creation of a brand new customer service team. This required starting from scratch – no office, no equipment, nobody to do the interviewing, not even a company name. Before even starting the hiring process, Ember’s recruitment consultancy Mottram Search worked on a retained basis to develop an employee proposition, organisation structure, role profiles as well as a comprehensive selection and an assessment process using their qualified occupational psychologist.

Following this Mottram Search successfully project managed, sourced and selected 1 Customer Service Manager, 2 Team Leaders, 8 Senior Advisors and 8 Customer Support Experts.

Parallel with this work, Ember Real Results developed and delivered soft skills training and digital engagement skills.

A leading private healthcare provider recognised the enormous potential of creating a new digital engagement strategy to drive business demand and to better service its customers however recognised that it needed to build a team with the right skills and experience to do this at the required pace.

The newly appointed Digital Transformation Director had secured a significant budget to invest in delivering their high level digital vision however required an entirely new team to deliver it. Ember’s recruitment consultancy Mottram Search successfully filled all 4 vacant direct reports within his team. The roles includes Head of Digital Strategy and Planning, Head of Digital Marketing, Head of Digital Content and Head of Digital Insight.

With the close relationship built throughout the assignment, Mottram Search are continuing to help the client further enhance their digital team through sourcing people with new skills.