The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) administers the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme, which reassures UK holidaymakers that their healthcare costs are covered if they fall ill while travelling in Europe. The NHSBSA call centre deals with a number of different enquiries and the agency’s customer base covers the whole of the UK population, requiring it to forecast calls from as many as 60 million people.

As EHIC cards need to be reviewed every five years, the NHSBSA's contact centre was constantly receiving high volumes of calls from customers needing new cards - 300,000 per month on average, but up to 2 million per month in peak periods. These straightforward calls were handled by agents, meaning they had less time to respond to calls involving more complex and detailed customer needs.

KCOM determined that any successful solution would need to handle a high volume of calls, extend the availability of customer service beyond the contact centre’s opening hours, deliver significant cost savings, and facilitate a more agile and effective customer experience.

To tackle these challenges, we implemented a hosted cloud-based solution featuring natural speech recognition. A caller speaks to a virtual agent and all the required information is collected as callers give their details. As the NHSBSA is now no longer reliant on traditional customer service agents for straightforward transactions, the number of calls that can be taken has grown exponentially, and the agency has the flexibility to scale services up or down as required.

The cloud-based voice recognition solution is delivering huge cost savings for the NHSBSA. EHIC card requests and renewals are now automated through the voice recognition system, making a potential 70% saving if the transaction is fully completed without human staff. In the first three years since the system was implemented, the NHSBSA has made a saving of £700,000. Meanwhile, staff are free to deal with more demanding enquiries.

“We are confident the system will continue to improve efficiency,” says Brendan Brown, Head of Operational and Shared Services at NHSBSA. “This has come about through a genuine sense of mutual trust between KCOM and ourselves, and this has led to us considering new projects with them for the future.”

Organisation 3.0, Customer Experience, Public Sector