Virgin Pulse: self-service + good employee experience supports growth
Facing double-digit annual growth, Virgin Pulse needed to gain more efficiencies in serving its rapidly expanding membership base. The company’s award-winning global Member Services team turned to longtime partner Zendesk to strategize self-service options. The result has been nothing short of astonishing. Virgin Pulse is now serving millions more customers without any increase in its Member Services budget, along with a six percentage point increase in CSAT.
“If we had not implemented the self-service strategy, we would probably have had to increase our budget another 25-30 percent over what we spend today to handle the increased volumes.”
“Why have we stayed with Zendesk for so long? Mainly because of the great collaboration with the Zendesk account teams and because the platform is so user-friendly for our agents. There is an option to customize just about everything to meet the specific needs of our business.”
Number of agents
CSAT percentage point increase
Contacts per month
Cost avoidance (annual budget)
Agent to self-service ratio increase
Virgin Pulse is passionate about changing lives for good. Founded in 2004, Virgin Pulse is the world’s largest global wellbeing solution provider. The company designs technology that cultivates good lifestyle habits for employees across 4,000 companies. Virgin Pulse fuses high-tech, high-touch, predictive analytics, AI and data to support clients and members across the entire health, wellbeing, and benefits lifecycle.
Serving 14 million members across 190 countries is no small task for the company’s Member Services team, especially when the business is growing between 15-20 percent year over year. But the team is up to the challenge as evidenced by its recent recognition at the world’s largest event for customer contact professionals, Customer Contact Week (CCW). Virgin Pulse was named as a finalist for the 2021 CCW Excellence Awards in two distinct categories: Best Contact Center Culture and Best in Class Contact Center (100+ Seats).
“We believe our employees are the number one driver of members being successful in their journey and delivering our business goals,” says the Vice President of Member Services Michael Pace. “In creating an engaging, fun and rewarding culture, we have also cultivated an environment of continuous process improvement that has translated to tangible return on investment and value for our clients and company.”
Continuous improvement across channels
Zendesk plays a key role in supporting Virgin Pulse’s drive for continuous process improvements. “We pull in all of our member inquiries, concerns, and issues through the Zendesk platform. It enables us to ensure that our members are receiving accurate, timely responses, regardless of which channel they choose to contact us,” says Pace.
Currently, Virgin Pulse is providing an omnichannel support experience through phone, email, chat, and Answer Bot, as well as through social channels Facebook and Twitter, according to Ivana Suljetovic, senior frontline manager for Member Services. Suljetovic was part of the Virgin Pulse team when the company selected Zendesk as its CX platform in 2015.
“Why have we stayed with Zendesk for so long? Mainly because of the great collaboration with the Zendesk account teams and because the platform is so user-friendly for our agents. There is an option to customize just about everything to meet the specific needs of the business,” says Suljetovic.
Pace agrees. “Obviously, there’s some really great tools within Zendesk, but I think our differentiator has been working with the account team. We have a great relationship, they’re a big part of helping us develop our strategies every year, and work as a true partner with us.”
A self-service strategy that really delivers
A self-service strategy was implemented with help from the Zendesk team about two years ago to help Virgin Pulse handle its growing member service volume due to the company’s annual double digit growth.
“We decided to invest time and resources into improving our support site, which is powered by Zendesk and home to all of our external FAQs, and the results have been absolutely phenomenal,” says Pace. “We’ve built out an entire new e-services team that is focused on digital learning for both internal and external customers.” The e-services team started with about 350 FAQs for updating and now has more than 2,000 FAQs that are reviewed and updated every single month.
One support article can be leveraged by thousands of members monthly and be used by the Answer Bots on both email and chat services to help even more members. “This is going to sound astonishing, but while our business has really bloomed over the last three years, our actual human agent contact rate is significantly less than it was three years ago because the Zendesk portfolio of tools empowers us to work more efficiently,” explains Pace.
In a given month, Virgin Pulse agents handle about 80,000 human contacts. Before the support site upgrade, the company was tracking about 90,000 FAQ views monthly. Currently, members are viewing around 275,000 FAQ articles each month. Pace says the human-to-FAQ-view ratio is an important metric for Virgin Pulse. And the results are impressive with a 2.5X improvement from two years ago.
“We are investing quite a lot in our self-service options and mainly focusing on writing articles appropriately for Answer Bot to machine learn and recognize the context and content to better serve our members. Now that we have been using Answer Bot for a while, it has gotten smarter at delivering just the right content for a specific query,” explains Suljetovic. But members are not the only ones who benefit. Agents can use the contextual data of member requests to pull in FAQs in real time to quickly answer questions.
Pace says he is extremely proud of his team and all the work they put into building out a robust support site and delivering such hugely impactful cost efficiencies while also improving the member experience. “If we had not implemented the self-service strategy, we would probably have had to increase our budget another 25-30 percent over what we spend today to handle the increased volumes.”
Motivating agents and delivering career growth
Sir Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group of companies once wisely advised, “Take care of your employees. They’ll take care of your business.”
The Virgin Pulse team lives and breathes that philosophy every day. “Obviously, we want to help our members become successful in whatever their wellness journey is, but at the same time, we want to be successful at helping our own associates achieve personal and career growth,” says Pace.
Pace offers his team opportunities for career growth through special projects and providing development and learning opportunities for motivation.
“We promoted 70 agents last year, and most of them went into other areas of the company, whether it be HR, client success, engineering. We’re incredibly proud of that. We put as much focus on our own people as we do with creating great customer experiences and doing it at scale,” shares Pace.
More on the horizon
Despite great success, the Virgin Pulse team is not resting on its laurels. The company intends to roll out Zendesk’s cloud-based call center software. Built right into the Zendesk omnichannel support ticketing solution, the new software will allow Virgin Pulse agents to deliver phone support from the same platform they use to manage all other customer conversations.
Additionally, the team plans to implement Zendesk messaging so agents never lose the conversation history, and can continue where they left off, whether engaging with a member over web, mobile app, or social channels. By having the context of previous conversations, agents will be able to provide a more conversational, convenient, and contextual experience to Virgin Pulse members. With those upgrades, it appears there may be more awards in the team’s future.