Fonterra opts for cloud solution to modernise contact centre

When dairy Co-operative Fonterra modernised its global contact centre platform, Genesys Cloud and implementation partner Pyrios did the job.

For many years, New Zealand’s Fonterra ran its farmer and customer facing service centres on a collection of non-integrated, on-premise contact centre solutions. When the Co-operative sized up digital channels to transform customer experience and operating efficiency, the chasm between traditional technology and possibilities in the cloud drove the selection of Genesys Cloud and implementation partner Pyrios.

Now, with Genesys Cloud at the centre of Fonterra’s contact centre operation, a critical piece in the dairy Co-operative’s overall customer experience has moved from the dark age to light years ahead.

“Genesys Cloud, with Pyrios, has transformed the way we work.”
Melanie Tuck, Manager, Farm Source Service Centre

Divergent technology obscures single view of customer

Fonterra produces 30% of globally traded dairy products and yet runs a lean contact centre operation – around 70 seats – across four separate contact centres.

The biggest centre, known as Farm Source, supports the Co-operative’s around 10,000 New Zealand farms. During peak milk season Farm Source can manage up to 1,100 calls a day, and over the full season around 145,000 inbound calls and 70,000 outbound calls. Other call centres support Fonterra’s Australian farmers, brands including Anchor and Mainland, and a credit control team.

However, with each contact centre operating independently, and the prospect of integration unlikely, Fonterra had to look past its on-premise platform to improve both customer and end-user experience.

Upgrade decision leads to cloud

Five market-leading providers were put through their paces, with Fonterra selecting Genesys Cloud 3 and implementation partner Pyrios to spearhead the transformation of its enterprise service management capabilities. Moving to the cloud was the first step.

“Genesys Cloud delivers the omni-channel experience today’s customers expect, including the ability to remain innovative and providing the opportunity for farmers and customers to engage in multiple ways beyond voice communication,”
Tuck said.

Developments supported by the new platform have reduced the number of inbound calls by 29%, enabling the Farm Source Service Centre to move six fulltime equivalents to higher value-add roles.

Combined with broad benefits delivered by cloud services – including simple licensing, continuous upgrades, and seamless feature enhancements – Fonterra’s Service Centres can flex and adapt call centre technology with minimal development and support costs. Recent service additions include call-backs to suit farmer schedules, webchat, screen shares and co-browsing.

Smarter resourcing improves agent productivity

Fonterra’s Service Centre managers now work more proactively to support resourcing requirements, call flow changes, agent onboarding, and queue management, driving efficiencies across the service centre.

Specifically, managers use agent and call arrival data to make smarter rostering and scheduling decisions, confidently redeploying contact centre staff to other parts of the business as call volumes ebb and flow. Managing this task is easier too, with rostering that once took two weeks of work now completed in just two hours a month.

On the training front, richer information ensures Fonterra team leaders identify struggling new hires for additional training. Agents themselves directly benefit from more information and control, trading shifts and lodging leave requests online. The net effect has boosted agent adherence to schedules by 10% and reduced calls overflowing to a third-party provider by 21.8% over the past year. Agents also said improved work-life balance made them happier in their jobs, easing the load on Fonterra workforce analysts. Building on these successes, the Service Centre has introduced a work-from-home policy to encourage more flexible working arrangements to further improve work-life balance.

Cloud agility beefs up business continuity

Newly nimble in the cloud, Fonterra’s contact centre operation handles unforeseen events with ease. A flood event in the South Island of New Zealand demonstrates the adaptability of its platform.

When rain bucketed down and calls from both farmers and internal stakeholders spiked, Fonterra was able to ringfence calls originating in the South Island, managing them in a single high-priority queue manned by the company’s most experienced agents. Additional self-service options diverted inbound calls to an after-hours provider, freeing up agents to assist farmers with urgent needs.

“The team responded to this event in the moment, prioritising calls with farmers most affected while ensuring services to other farmers and customers were maintained,” Tuck said.

More recently, when pandemic measures came into play, Fonterra was able to shift its entire Service Centre to ‘virtual’ at-home working. At the same time, it launched a new 0800 online sales channel to handle sales orders and enquiries to support the retail stores network, which had refocused on product distribution, without missing a beat.

The move to at-home working has also helped to retain high-performing agents who otherwise would have left the business. Keeping these agents in the fold ensures Fonterra is covered for peak calls throughout the milk season.

“Having to move to remote working proved how agile the team could be and provided a very high-speed proof of concept in relation to the technology,” Tuck said.