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INPS: guaranteeing Citizens the best possible contact experience

Published by CMI in September 2014

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The main Italian social security and welfare institute chose the multi-channel approach some time ago, and in order to guarantee the best possible quality, it has designed unequivocal procedures for all channels and activated unified data banks. Agent training is the key element in this approach, and is constantly monitored.

The INPS-INAIL Multi-channel Contact Centre employs over 2000 agents spread over 14 sites, operating in 8 Italian cities and managing around 23 million contacts a year through a variety of channels.

The service is available in seven languages other than Italian - German, English, French, Polish, Spanish, Russian and Arabic – and is provided from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

Three years ago, these large numbers prompted INPS to entrust the project to an ATI Temporary Association of Companies headed by Transcom. We spoke to Antonella Pizzolante, in charge of the project “Quality, training and support for Contact Centre operations”. 


What touchpoints have been activated by INPS?

INPS has been adopting the multichannel approach for some time now, to enable users to easily access information and services. The multiple channels (telephone, fax, web, voip, skype and mobile) managed by the Contact Centre are complemented by the Tax Advice Centres (CAF), Pension Assistance Offices and local INPS offices.


How are the touchpoints integrated to avoid discrepancies between the services and the information provided?

The need to provide the same information and services regardless of the channel selected by the user was the fundamental principle on which the individual procedures were designed. They are the same for all channels, and designed for operation with unified data banks accessible from different points. Both the services and the information resources are integrated and open to the different touchpoints.


Is the telephone still the main channel used, or is there a trend towards the use of other digital means of communication?

The telephone certainly remains one of the main channels, although there is a growing trend towards the digital provision of services. In 2013, the website was accessed 429.9 million times, with 4.6 billion pages visited, and the number of PINs issued up to 2013 totalled 14.5 million. Today, the digital cover rate of INPS services and processes is 100%; this means that the Institute has implemented all the measures necessary to achieve the computerisation targets set, and is continuing to raise and improve the levels of computer-provided services.


What user satisfaction objectives does INPS have?

INPS devotes a great deal of attention to user satisfaction. There is a specific customer care area, as well as an increasingly systematized approach to handling claims presented by users, also via the area that manages the Contact Centre. The aims of INPS in recent years regard the simplification of contacts and the multichannel approach. The intensification of relations and the exchange of data between procedures tend to create a centralised vision of users’ contacts through the various channels selected; this allows us to evaluate the quality of the contact and to make it easier for citizens to manage their social welfare and insurance position.


How does the Contact Centre verify the quality of the services provided?

The service provided by the Contact Centre operators is subjected to high levels of monitoring, implemented by the ATI Temporary Association of Companies headed by Transcom and agreed upon with the Institute. A range of methods are adopted and are all implemented monthly or weekly: 

  • mystery calls
  • sample analysis of cases
  • sample analysis of appointments made in the local offices by the Contact Centre
  • analysis of the back-office queries sent to the offices
  • real-time monitoring of operators’ calls
  • sample relistening of calls recorded
  • recording of calls regarding a number of highly specific areas


How are Contact Centre agents trained? 

Operator training is an activity the Institute devotes a great deal of attention to, given the difficulty of the issues dealt with and the frequent, radical changes to regulations, which require swift, sudden adjustments to the provision of information and account management services.

Once a month, or even more frequently if necessary, quality specialists and tutors in charge of training are called into head office to take part in on-going training sessions on regulatory and procedural issues, held by experts in the subject. Each specialist in turn transmits the training received to the agents at his/her site. At the same time, the Institute makes available the material used during the sessions, distributed to agents through their knowledge portal, which also provides occasional news, information and regulations regarding the first-level consultancy and service provision activity. The training received by the operators is subjected to an analysis of the results achieved; if these occasional, impromptu tests show the results are less than excellent, a series of remedial actions are implemented to fill the gaps in the skills acquired by the group or groups of agents concerned. In addition, a skill rotation system is also used, so that individual operators cannot continue to deal solely with certain topics and are able to broaden their range of competences.

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Quality Tour and Dream Team

The second edition of the Quality Tour project, set up in 2013, consists of a packed programme of new initiatives for 2014, developed by the Transcom Training and Quality Team. These include:

  • The drafting of Contact Management Guidelines, explained and distributed to all agents, containing specific, detailed operating instructions.
  • Adoption of new instruments to verify the proper tracking of contacts on the CRM systems.
  • Supplementary training to provide operators with integrated, multi-entity expertise and to guarantee assistance even to callers who select the wrong IVR response.
  • Monthly Call Centre magazine, aimed at actively engaging the resources working on the project and spreading the culture of the Entities beyond the workstations.


Lastly, in order to make the best use of the most skilled resources, a Dream Team is nominated every month, comprising the agents who have obtained the highest quality monitoring score. The monthly magazine contains a feature on these operators, who are asked to share their professional skills and experience with their colleagues in order to provide extra coaching.