Head of Operations Ed Lane explains what the win represents for our Team, and for FirstCare members.
We’re delighted that FirstCare won GOLD for Most Effective Application of Technology at the prestigious European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards (ECCCSAs). For those unfamiliar with the awards, the ECCCSAs are the longest running and most recognised awards of their kind, with a notoriously robust judging process and an esteemed membership of preeminent organisations. Competition in this category, for example, included Microsoft and The Very Group - who took home the SILVER and BRONZE awards respectively.
Of course, FirstCare prioritises members and the service they receive over awards and accolades and we're extremely proud that even during the darkest times of the last year, our customer satisfaction levels exceeded 90%.
But the reason we’re so pleased to win this particular award is that it celebrates the combination of our two greatest assets – our technology and our people.
FirstCare helps large organisations to support employee wellbeing and boost productivity with a service that combines both ‘tech’ and the human ‘touch’. We are acutely aware that one is ineffective without the other. This award recognises the hard work of our whole team, from the IT and product development teams responsible for our tech systems, and the nurses who answer calls - to the absence advisors, account managers, and data scientists that bring such value to the information we record.
The GOLD award highlights our commitment to providing a resilient service - even in what has been an exceptionally challenging year.
Our technology helped us to adapt
In 2019 we began an ambitious digital transformation programme designed to enhance our 24/7 service, evolving from on-site systems to an integrated cloud-based operation.
Thankfully, this investment in digital tools meant that even when demand during the pandemic peaked at more than 800% over normal levels, our service remained stable – and helped to keep members' employees and organisations healthy during this time.
Our new FirstCareInsight platform provided analyses and alerts as the pandemic emerged. We were able to give clients invaluable updates on symptoms, highlighting infection hotspots and ensuring guidance and support was always on hand.
The latest cloud-based systems also enabled us to switch to remote working quickly; routing calls and managing cases via the secure IT systems. In just one ten-day period, we moved all staff from our HQ in Watford to homeworking.
FirstCare frequently extols the benefits of learning from experience, planning ahead and using data to inform your business decisions. That’s exactly what we did - and what we helped our members to do – following the first wave of COVID-19, so that we were all much better prepared for the second.
Our investment in technology has helped us continue to offer the level of service and stability our members rely on. It also means that new and existing FirstCare members will be well placed to navigate the ‘new normal’ and its ongoing challenges as restrictions continue to ease.
How important could a call service be?
The reason the ECCCSA Awards exist is because providing consistently high levels of service and managing capacity in any call centre is notoriously difficult. And for FirstCare’s team, managing capacity reliably is vital because the wellbeing of callers is at stake.
We received the equivalent of a full month’s calls in the first week of the pandemic. And a significant percentage of the calls we receive relate to serious medical conditions, such as cardiovascular emergencies or mental health crises. These are known as ‘Code Red’ calls, where there’s an immediate risk to life.
During the first wave of the pandemic, Code Red calls (half of which are typically received outside of traditional office hours) increased by 117%.
Even without these ‘immediate’ crises, our service has a crucial role to play. Every day, we provide frontline advice and support to help reduce the enormous personal and financial impact of injury and illness in the workplace. The impact of lost working days can be huge and typically costs the UK economy in excess of £56bn per year.
FirstCare enables employers to understand the needs of their staff to ensure the right support is given in time to improve employee wellbeing, and manage and minimise unplanned leave. This is especially important for FirstCare members, as the majority are key workers within sectors like transport and logistics, manufacturing, the police and healthcare - including 40,000 NHS staff.
A big thank you
We adapted quickly to respond to increased demand and continued to improve the quality, speed and effectiveness of our service during the biggest test we’ve ever faced. And after an exhausting but rewarding year, being named the winner of Most Effective Application of Technology is a good reflection of what members can expect from FirstCare and also a great celebration of the hard work the whole team has put in.
We’d also like to offer our sincere congratulations to all the finalists, there was definitely some tough competition for this award.