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Aviva raises the bar with Sensée

A ward winning customer service


  • Efficiency gains of c. 30%
  • Ability to meet peak demand with agile resourcing and short shifts
  • Complete brand and cultural alignment to strategic “Systems Thinking” initiative
  • Virtual recruitment, training and service delivery
  • On-demand access to skilled, highly productive agents able to empathise with customers
  • CSAT scores that exceed Aviva’s in-house operations
  • Complete control, security and visibility of homeworking operations
  • Disaster recovery peace of mind

The quest for a culturally aligned partner

As a leader in the highly competitive insurance industry, Aviva is fully aware of the importance of delivering exceptional, compliant customer service alongside its superior product portfolio to secure and retain market share. That’s why, in 2012, the organisation set out on a mission to be recognised as the benchmark for customer service excellence, and introduced 'Systems Thinking', an innovative, strategic initiative designed to underpin customer service objectives by removing targets and introducing measures that track all aspects of performance but with no single focus on one.

Given that Aviva receives over 5 million customer contacts each year, this was quite an ambitious objective. In addition to these exceptionally high call volumes, customers contact Aviva at times of distressing, life-changing events – from the loss of a family member or a car accident, to the theft of cherished possessions or a natural disaster - so it is crucial that all calls are handled effectively, and with the greatest possible empathy to the specific customer circumstance.

The constraints of traditional bricks and mortar operations – namely a fixed recruitment catchment area and rigid, 8 hour daily shifts - made it challenging or Aviva to deal with typical calling patterns, and also changes in demand. On top of this, Aviva also needed to meet stringent regulatory requirements, so an ability to manage processes was essential.

“It’s very clear that consumer habits are changing; the days of 9-5 are gone. Customers want to talk to knowledgeable agents when it suits them, and intraday fluctuations can mean that we deviate from standard scheduling by 50-60 people at the highest peak. However, on the other hand, employees want rewarding work and don’t want to commute to work split shifts. We needed to find a partner that would rise to the challenge of these conflicting requirements, deliver compliant, world-class customer service, and align perfectly with our 'Systems Thinking' strategic initiative,” explains Chris Nobbs, Head of Contact Centres at Aviva.

After a lengthy due diligence followed by a tender process, Aviva appointed Sensée to pilot the virtualisation of their contact centre operation through homeworking.

The blueprint for success

Just a few months after being appointed, Sensée had created a high performance homeworking contact centre operation. HomeAgents were recruited specifically to work in line with existing peaks in customer demand. To be in line with 'Systems Thinking', recruits needed to be equipped with the skills and knowledge to handle all customer service, sales and retention for Aviva’s discerning customer base. Given the diversity and level of skills required, the virtual classroom training course lasted a full 6-weeks (as it does in-house). Sensée's proprietary and specialist homeworking technology platform integrated with Aviva’s own systems and ensured fully compliant processes and customer interactions whenever appropriate.

Furthermore, unforeseen events, very close to Aviva’s heart for its customers, can also have serious implications for its own operations. "Of course we too are at the mercy of weather and natural disasters, so it gives us great peace of mind to know that if we do get snowed in or flooded, Sensée’s homeworking network can, if need be, take over virtually instantaneously," shares Chris.

With the pilot, Aviva set out to prove that homeworking could deliver efficient, cost-effective, resilient and compliant customer service that also constituted great experiences for its customer base. Aviva made sure that all activities met stringent obligations. As Sensée delivered on all fronts, Aviva decided to scale its use of homeworking and today, Sensée employs approximately 100 home agents dedicated to Aviva and has also implemented Sensée homeworking in other brands of the business.

Prestigious, industry recognition

Since 2012, Aviva and Sensée have enjoyed an open and collaborative partnership. Aviva is implementing some very refreshing approaches to innovative working that are being replicated by Sensée and paying dividends. For example, average handling time targets have been abolished so that agents can meet the needs of customers and give them the best quality of service. This also frees up expensive management time – both within Aviva and Sensée - to focus on higher value activities, such as process innovation and agent upskilling.

Aviva’s commitment to customers – and to being recognised as the benchmark for customer service – has led to the organisation winning the prestigious 'Top 50' large contact centre award for two consecutive years. "To say that we are proud of this achievement would be an understatement, but it would only be truthful to acknowledge that without a doubt, Sensée played an equal part in our success. From our perspective, they’re us, they are no different" shares Chris.

"Sensée has de-risked homeworking and is the best in their field; they do what they do really, really, well. From the quality of their people and processes, right through to specialist technology that delivers the control, visibility and security levels we require in a regulated environment, I haven’t come across another outsourcer than can provide services to this level and give a company like ours the confidence to be the first to adopt homeworking. In my view, Sensée is the clear market leader," concludes Chris.

About Aviva

Aviva provides around 31 million customers worldwide with insurance, savings and investment products. Aviva is the UK's largest insurer and one of Europe's leading providers of life and general insurance. The company is committed to serving our customers well in order to build a stronger, sustainable business, which makes a positive contribution to society, and for which our people are proud to work. Aviva is a regular member of the elite Top 50 for Customer Service in the UK.

About Sensée

Sensée unlocks significant benefits by transforming the way companies work. Our multi-channel customer management services, delivered by highly skilled home agents, give our clients unprecedented agility to respond to rapidly changing market conditions, significant operational cost reductions and exceptionally high levels of customer satisfaction. The leading homeworking outsourcer, Sensée employs c. 700 home agents to serve a prestigious client base that includes Argos, Aviva, Eurostar, PhotoBox, RAC and Rank Interactive.