On April 1st the National Minimum Wage went up by 4% to £7.50 an hour for people over the age of 25. While this increase may only seem small, over the course of a year it could amount to an additional £477, which would make a big difference for many people in the UK.
While we approve of any changes that benefit the workforce, we understand that meeting this rise in the minimum wage can be a challenge for employers, especially those with a large number of staff.
For example this change could cost an employer with 100 staff nearly £50,000 a year which is no small sum.
Despite this many campaigners and prominent politicians wish to see the National Minimum Wage raised far beyond this.
Prior to leaving office, former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne stated he wished to see the minimum wage raised to £9 an hour by the end of Parliament. Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, has suggested he would like to see the National Minimum Wage raised as high as £10 an hour.
For the business owner in the earlier example, Corbyn’s suggestion would mean finding an additional £397,800 a year to pay staff salaries.
While business owners do not have to worry about this happening immediately, it looks likely that the National Minimum Wage will grow considerably in the next few years. If it does, it simply won’t be practical for many businesses to employ as many staff.
Large organisations should be developing a plan now for when these changes to the National Minimum Wage occur. Here are just some things employers can do to prepare.
Maximise the efficiency of customer journeys
Often a customer will contact a business several times in order to get an answer to their enquiry or to get their issue resolved. If organisations can reduce the number of call-backs a customer makes they can significantly reduce the hours needed to manage customer service lines.
The easiest way to begin this process is to review your website and ensure that customers can get as much information there as possible. Simply having a thorough FAQ page can give many customers enough information so they don’t need to phone in.
Beyond this the most important thing to do is to make sure enquiries go through to the right people rather than being passed around different departments. You can achieve this by having different email addresses and phone numbers for each department and making sure they are clearly signposted online or in your literature.
Another method would be to develop a very effective switchboard with the operators using a well thought out script to qualify the calls. This would allow them to get to the crux of the caller’s issue and direct the call correctly through the business.
This should significantly reduce the amount of time customers spend on the phone.
Provide clear information about engineers and call outs
If a company provides a service that requires engineers to visit their clients on site it will generate a lot of calls. Not only will the customer call multiple times to arrange the call out, should there be any problems on the day of the appointment such as a delay or a need to rearrange, they will call into the business several more times.
This process generates a lot of work and takes up a lot of man hours. All of this could easily be avoided by communicating more effectively with the client in the first place.
One strategy would be to develop an online app that allows your clients to book and check up on their appointments themselves. This would mean staff have to spend much less time on the phone.
Another option would be to provide a dedicated phone line solely for the function of arranging and rearranging appointments with engineers. A dedicated phone line would mean the normal customer service team wouldn’t get bogged down in basic enquires about the arrival time of a maintenance person.
Outsource call handling
An equally effective and often much easier way to reduce salary spend is to simply outsource the job of call handling to a dedicated service provider.
Call handling services specialise in taking phone calls and as such have systems in place to make this process as efficient and effective as possible.
In addition to this when you use a call handling service you only pay for the time your calls are being handled. When you employ staff you have to pay them at all times even if they are on a break or not performing a task that generates revenue.
A call handling service can also be used effectively in some of the strategies we’ve already covered such as using a virtual receptionist service to qualify and transfer calls, or outsourcing your engineer call out lines.
Whichever strategy you choose, by maximising the efficiency of your staff and customer journeys you can significantly reduce the hours required to run your business. This is an essential step for any businesses preparing for further rises in the National Minimum Wage.
To find out more about how CALLCARE can help you maximise efficiency and reduce wage costs get in touch with us today.