Operating globally with over 4,000 employees, Blackhawk Network (BHN) is the leader in global branded payment technologies.
BHN’s portfolio includes Gift Card & eGift products, promotions and distribution that grow revenue faster, rewards & Incentives that build loyalty and acquisition, and payments that enable businesses and customers to access and disburse funds in convenient and innovative ways.
Their global branded payments network unlocks business opportunities for some of the biggest brands in the UK and beyond.
Supporting the needs of an expanding customer base
Operating in 28 countries, BHN issues 775 million gift cards every year. It prides itself on delivering tailored support for the customers of every one of its partner brands.
With its existing telephone network and associated contact centre solution reaching end of life, the company needed to find a replacement. This had to meet specific criteria. Firstly, it had to scale to handle BHN’s 1.5 million annual interactions, a third of which happen in the peak months of November and December. The platform also had to be flexible to meet the differing needs and processes of each of its partner clients, delivering a personalised experience for every customer.
On the technical side, the new solution had to integrate closely with Microsoft Teams, BHN’s chosen unified communications platform.
Finally, given that the solution would handle confidential personal and financial information, security and data sovereignty were crucial, as John Hobson, EMEA Customer Services Director, BHN explains: “We manage payments on behalf of our own and our partners’ customers. That means the security of consumer data, including recordings, emails, and chat transcripts is extremely important to us and our clients, and we must meet regulations such as the GDPR. We needed a solution that fitted into our technical architecture while scaling to deliver excellent service across all interactions.”
An integrated solution deployed on the cloud
After extensive research and in-depth product demonstrations, BHN chose Enghouse Interactive’s Communications Center (CC) platform and Quality Management Suite (QMS) due to their close integration with Microsoft Teams and ability to operate within the company’s private cloud infrastructure. Offering a single, fully integrated solution with a user-friendly interface, CC enables intelligent handling and management of all customer interactions, while QMS provides recording and coaching solutions across multiple channels including voice, email and chat.
Deployed on BHN’s private Microsoft Azure cloud, CC was rolled out in 10 weeks to initially cover voice and email channels. This included the creation and configuration of 173 call queues within the company’s contact centre and full training for its 300 customer service staff who are split between BHN’s European offices and its global customer service centre in El Salvador, central America. Training was delivered remotely by Enghouse to administrators and managers, with Blackhawk Network then creating its own courses for users, to ensure they were quickly up to speed on the solution.
“Overall, the deployment was a really smooth process from day one, even though the whole project was carried out remotely due to COVID restrictions and the location of our main contact centre in El Salvador,” adds Kevin Smith, Senior Manager, Global Voice and Telecoms, BHN. “The teams from BHN and Enghouse worked really well together to create a solid deployment and implementation plan that highlighted the benefits of the partnership from day one.”
Incoming calls and emails are now routed to contact centre agents in El Salvador who provide first-line support, answering voice calls through their Teams phone. Interactions can then be escalated and transferred to European teams for second-line support, inside or outside the customer service team.
Empowering the contact centre team to deliver responsive service
Since the new contact centre solution went live in February 2022, BHN is benefiting in four key ways:
Thanks to the ease of use of the Enghouse solution, BHN has been able to cut training time for new agents by 50%, without impacting performance. Given the company scales agent numbers around peak, this dramatically improves the onboarding process, ensuring agents are up to speed more quickly. Additionally, due to its enhanced reliability and improved manageability, the system requires less input from IT. Administration can now be carried out by a single person, rather than a larger team which frees up IT staff to focus on more strategic projects.
Improved reporting and quality management
Previously sharing performance reports with the business was a manual, spreadsheet-based process. Now, with the combination of Enghouse’s in-built reporting capabilities and close links to Microsoft Power BI, the contact centre can share real-time information with the business, along with automating report generation and distribution, saving up to 4 days per month.
With the integration of QMS into the platform BHN can also gain deeper insight into agent performance. As Hobson explains, “We now conduct all agent evaluation and quality assurance using QMS’s in-built quality scoring metrics, enabling us to report on agent performance and identify areas for coaching. This is a major step forward from our previous platform as we can effortlessly identify trends and areas of potential growth for the team. Our quality team is constantly finding new ways to use QMS, such as pinpointing particular issues and identifying call drivers during peak times.”
Increased responsiveness and control
The customer service team now has much greater control over the day-to-day operation of the platform. It can make changes to the solution, such as around call routing, time and priority changes and enabling announcements, for over 200 queues without requiring IT involvement. This enables the company to be more responsive and swiftly react to customer needs.
A future-proofed partnership
BHN wanted a platform – and partner – that would expand to meet its needs as it evolved. It has already added a live chat channel to its solution to cover peak periods, as well as investigating social channels such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger in order to widen choice for customers. Another area they are looking at is introducing customer surveys on every channel to close the loop on customer satisfaction. They are also benefiting from Enghouse’s close partnership with Microsoft, with Enghouse introducing new features that leverage the latest Teams functionality.
“The Enghouse solution is delivering real benefits to our customers, making servicing interactions much easier and ensuring we truly deliver for our clients and their customers,” concludes Hobson. “We see this as a long-term partnership – there’s lots more we want to do with the platform and more features to unlock as we move forward. We believe we have found a technology partner that will help deliver on our strategy as we move ahead.”