The Foschini Group's debt collection call centre, a division of the company's financial services arm (FGFS), wanted to improve general efficiency and increase the number of right-party contacts by an initial benchmark of 15%. With bad debt being a huge problem in South Africa, it is becoming increasingly important to be able to contact customers directly and on the first attempt.

Having a 15-year working relationship with the technology company CEB Group, Foschini consulted them to help identify the right solution that would best meet its specific collections needs. CEB, in conjunction with Aspect Software, proposed Aspect Campaign Optimizer, a sophisticated Best Time To Call solution that helps companies achieve the levels of successful, quality contacts needed in order to develop, execute and manage high-yield collections, sales and proactive customer care campaigns.
Aspect Campaign Optimizer, the campaign management capability of PerformanceEdge, improves decision making with real-time and historical business intelligence that can be used to refine and improve campaign strategies, leverage agent resources with automated workflows, as well as proactively move contact records to the next step of the interaction lifecycle.
In addition, Foschini was already using two other Aspect products – an Aspect Dialler and Aspect Spectrum ACD – so it would be very easy to integrate Aspect Campaign Optimizer with the company's existing Aspect platforms. Fifteen years ago, Foschini started with 12 agents on an Aspect product. Today, the company has more than 300 agents on the Aspect Dialler product.
The product's sophisticated patented algorithms track call result history over time and this information enables Foschini to predict the best number to call and the best hour of day to reach the person at that number.
"Another reason we recommended Aspect Campaign Optimizer was because it would give the contact centre a more scientific approach to tracking down customers, rather than just churning through the accounts," says Anton Wasmuth, CEB.
According to Henry McCracken, regional sales director, Africa at Aspect Software, the product also provides robust filtering and prioritisation capabilities to ensure regulatory compliance, such as Do Not Call requests to make sure Foschini's calling efforts are directed at receptive customers.
"Using this targeted information, Aspect Campaign Optimizer creates optimised outbound calling strategies according to the company's campaign objectives and prioritised by criteria they specify. The optimised accounts are then fed to the Aspect Dialler for execution, dynamically adjusting record levels as agents log in. The entire process is automated and there is no sorting on the dialler required during optimisation," he explains.
The result for Foschini is reduced call attempts with improved campaign results, which translates into more money collected, higher sales per hour and improved customer contact with lower telecommunication charges.
All of these capabilities combined to help Foschini make the decision to implement Aspect Campaign Optimizer in their contact centre to improve their collections processes.
The proof of concept (POC) went smoothly, with seamless integration from a technical perspective. Collections manager of the Foschini Group, Alma Fouché, explains that once the staff learned the new approach, working with Aspect Campaign Optimizer began to bring big benefits.
"We have adapted and feel Aspect Campaign Optimizer was a worthwhile investment. It's essentially the 'brain' on top of the dialler, which calculates and synchronises the call centre hours, the number of agents and accounts, the required number of calls per hour and also re-optimises calls from first-choice to second-choice, ensuring that agents are utilising their time and being efficient, as it's unproductive to leave messages."
CEB ran the POC for six months and attained the benchmark that was set, showing on average, across all dialler feeds, an improved Right Person Contact lift of 18%. Foschini has now been running PerformanceEdge – Aspect Campaign Optimizer live for several months. To date, the company has attained an average lift across the board of 15%, which equates to about $1,5-million per collection cycle.