The agency has posted outstanding growth figures, while expanding its operations and getting its staff trained for the steady shift toward online customer service via webchat, writes Kim Benjamin.
Firstsource has been named Marketing's Contact Centre Agency of the Year for the first time, following a remarkable 12 months of growth, during which it not only increased its business, but also invested significantly in its people.
The judges were particularly struck by the business' ability to adapt to the needs of a wide range of clients, which include Sky, O2 and Giffgaff.
'Its business growth has been very impressive, especially in terms of people numbers, and to have demonstrably delivered for its clients consistently through this growth is to be commended,' commented one.
In 2011, Firstsource increased its revenues in the UK by 20% - from £78.3m in 2010 to £94m, with global revenues of £290m over the same period. It also expanded into the Republic of Ireland, where it now has two contact centres, with more than 3800 employees. UK operations have grown through existing clients, with three contact centres located in Middlesbrough, Belfast and Cardiff, following an investment of more than £3m.
This Middlesbrough and Cardiff expansions were largely the result of one of the agency's major clients, Sky, reviewing its portfolio of customer service partners and consolidating them into two companies, with Firstsource being one of the two. Firstsource then took on more than 700 staff from outgoing partners.
Technology has been a huge contributory factor in Firstsource's impressive development. One of the key trends in customer service in the past two years has been the move to online service through the use of webchat, enabling call centres to reduce call volumes while improving levels of customer satisfaction. Firstsource is now the biggest user of LivePerson in Europe, the industry-standard webchat solution.
The agency uses the technology not only for customer service, but also for sales, to achieve better online conversion rates.
According to Firstsource, online technical support via live chat resolves most customer issues within three minutes - and 96% within an hour - achieving satisfaction rates in excess of 85%.
Judges also commended Firstsource's people strategy, which it said demonstrated a clear intent and focus on supporting the community through recruiting those candidates who would otherwise struggle to get back into work.
The business has developed partnerships with Business in the Community, developing Strive 2 Work and Kickstart to Work initiatives for the long-term unemployed, as well as offering flexible working opportunities.
In October, a superb year for Firstsource was rounded off by being named as 'Outsourcer of the Year' in the European Call Centre and Customer Service Awards 2012.
FOCUS ON - SKY
Firstsource has worked with Sky for more than 10 years. In that period, Sky has grown its customer base to more than 10.5m subscribers. Firstsource has more than 3000 customer advisers working on the account, providing support for TV and broadband services.
Whenever Sky launches products, Firstsource makes an extra effort to underpin the programme by providing additional resources to help those customers who are interested in the new services. When Sky launched broadband, for example, Firstsource drew on its Londonderry centre, and it has replicated this approach to good effect for the launch of Sky Plus and Sky HD.
In addition, the agency's webchat services for Sky have achieved Net Promoter Score rates of +37 and in just six months, realised sales of more than £3m.
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