Call centre operators can use their initiative in customer calls under new plan

Norwich Union (NU) is to rip up the sales and service scripts used in its seven call centres worldwide in a drive to improve customer service and retention rates.

The insurer is in the process of enabling thousands of agents in the UK and India to use their own initiative and product knowledge when dealing with customers, rather than rely on a script.

Chief operating officer for Aviva offshore services, Sean Egan, said: "What we are really after is customer stickiness.

"We want customers to stay with us because we listen to them, rather than mechanically taking them through a process."

The programme has already been introduced in the UK and will be rolled out in its three Indian centres over the next six months.

Agents for NU Direct and other business areas will be encouraged to work across processes to deal with customer inquiries or problems in one call, rather than passing the query to someone else.

Egan said: "One of the unexpected outcomes is that by focusing on a customer's needs and taking a judgment about what you need to speak to a customer about, call times actually fall.

"We need to rely on the experience of our agents."

Egan denied the change would have any compliance issues, claiming that training, call monitoring and the company's Frontline quality control tool would ensure FSA regulations were met.