Crimestoppers used a simulation model to improve significantly shift patterns and staffing. This resulted in improved customer service levels, a substantial reduction in call answering time and a halving of abandoned call numbers.

Wooden desk with two Crimestoppers employees wearing headphones and working on their computers.

The Problem

Crimestoppers is a charity which helps solve crime through members of the public providing information anonymously.

Crimestoppers need to be able to provide a 24/7 service with a performance target of 90% of phone calls to be answered within 20 seconds. In 2012 they were expecting a 60% increase in business. The challenge was: 'How can we take on new business and improve performance without a big increase in staffing costs?'

The Solution

Data on customer contacts (both phone calls and online forms) was collected and analysed, summarising arrival patterns by time of day, day of week, and time of year. A simulation model of the call centre was built, using Lanner’s PRISM software, based on three separate staff groups: call handlers, online staff and shift leaders. The model allowed phone calls to be diverted from call handlers to other staff at busy times.

The model was validated using actual data on arrivals and staffing for a specific week and then used to explore the impact on Key Performance Indicators of different proposed staffing patterns in close consultation with managers at Crimestoppers.

The final agreed shift patterns indicated a 7% improvement in percentage of calls answered in target time, nearly 50% decrease in the number of abandoned calls and a 40% decrease in the average time to answer a call without any increase in staffing costs.

The Value

The new shift patterns were introduced in January 2013; the January performance was compared with the 2012 average and showed that:

  • Service levels had increased
    – From 90% to 94.3%

  • Abandoned calls had decreased
    – From 12% to 5.7%

  • The average time to answer a call had decreased
    – From 28 secs to 13 secs

The OR solution resulted in better performance without increased costs, through new shift patterns and provided the ability to continue to improve, and to adapt to changing circumstances, into the future.

Client comment:

We’ve benefited hugely from your work and support in all areas of the project, and from an organisational perspective you’ve enabled us to take a highly professional approach to increasing the efficiency of our charity (Performance Manager)

Jane Parkin and Sue Merchant