Business challenge

When a customer’s car breaks down, they expect their roadside assistance provider to answer the phone fast. If the call center is too busy and a driver is left on hold, satisfaction scores drop rapidly—creating a risk of customer churn.

Transformation

By integrating data from The Weather Company into personnel planning, Agero can optimize call center staffing levels—enabling a faster response when bad weather hits and breakdowns become more frequent.

Results

Accelerates

call center response, helping to get drivers back on the road faster

Boosts

customer satisfaction ratings

Improves

working conditions and work-life balance for call-center employees while streamlining costs

Business challenge story

Aiding drivers in distress

When you’re stranded by an auto breakdown, the last thing you need is to spend time waiting on hold before you can speak to someone and request assistance. Thankfully, many American drivers have Agero on their side. The company protects 115 million drivers in partnership with leading automobile manufacturers, insurance carriers and other diversified clients.

Scott Aefsky, Data Scientist at Agero, explains: “We are the leading B2B provider of white-label roadside assistance in North America. The majority of auto manufacturers and seven of the top ten insurance carriers rely on us to protect their customers. To keep stranded drivers safe and meet our service quality goals for our clients, we need to deliver a highly responsive service.”

To achieve this, Agero has six award-winning contact centers located across North America, along with a network of thousands of independent breakdown and recovery providers ready for dispatch as soon as they receive the call. In recent years, Agero has also pioneered the use of telematics and data science to optimize the customer experience and develop new ways to interact with drivers.

Scott Aefsky continues: “One of the major factors in call volumes to our contact center is weather. For example, sharp winter cold snaps can create significant increases in the demand for jumpstarts. Forecasts of bad weather also lead drivers to start their journeys earlier, or set out the day before they would normally have traveled—so we see heavier traffic and more breakdowns when people know there’s trouble on the horizon.”

To ensure high-quality service, Agero must factor these fluctuating call volumes into its staffing plans. If the company has too few operators available, it can create a stressful environment for employees and an unsatisfactory experience for drivers waiting on hold. To ensure it has the right number of staff, the company wanted to build a more sophisticated predictive model.

“Previously, we didn’t have a data-driven process for managing the impact of weather—we would look at forecasts on the day to decide whether we needed to scale up staff numbers. We knew, for example, that we would need more operators during the winter, but we lacked the precision to really support our human resource planning. To solve this, we wanted to find a provider who could deliver accurate long-term weather insights.”

Transformation story

Developing smarter staffing predictions

After assessing solutions from many vendors, Agero decided to use a data package from The Weather Company, an IBM Business. Following a proof of concept, the company is now moving ahead with the implementation.

Scott Aefsky explains the selection: “We investigated ten different providers, and The Weather Company was without doubt the standout option. We were impressed with the ease-of-use of the solution: we can consume the data via an API whenever we need it. This makes life much simpler than receiving a mass of information periodically and having to drill into it to find what you want.

“The other big differentiator was the breadth and scale of the data available. We specifically requested historical forecast data—a service that very few vendors can provide. The Weather Company was able to give us a sample dataset of historical forecasts that will accelerate the development of our predictive models by a year. Without it, we would have to slowly build up our own data repository before we could really get up and running with in-depth analysis of our staffing needs.”

The Weather Company data provides Agero with access to a 15-day outlook at a 500-meter resolution. The forecast updates every 15 minutes, ensuring the company can factor fast-changing conditions into its latest staffing plans.

Scott Aefsky adds: “Cold weather means lots of drivers waking up to discover a dead battery, so we always see a spike in calls—this year, we’ll be able to predict how many, and where.”

He continues: “Working with The Weather Company has been fantastic. The team has been very responsive and generous with their expertise, helping us find new ways to turn forecast data into business advantage. One of the most impressive aspects was that they continued to deliver great service after we had signed the deal.”

Working with The Weather Company has been fantastic. The team has been very responsive and generous with their expertise, helping us find new ways to turn forecast data into business advantage.

—Scott Aefsky, Data Scientist, Agero

Results story

Helping employees deliver responsive service

Driving forward with The Weather Company, Agero expects to be able to develop significantly more effective staffing plans, to ensure that drivers in distress can always reach an operator and request assistance without delay.

Rather than trying to estimate the number of contact center agents required on the day itself, Agero can now create a comprehensive plan for the next two weeks, factoring in the potential for spikes in call volumes. This should greatly reduce the need for employees to work overtime, enabling the company to reduce its staffing expenses and operate much more cost-efficiently, as well as providing its contact center associates more predictability in their own personal schedules.

Scott Aefsky continues: “With more accurate weather-based staffing predictions, we can ensure the right amount of contact center agents are available, so that drivers don’t have to wait on hold. This contributes to greater satisfaction levels for our clients, and it will be a key differentiator for our business.”

More accurate weather data will also help to boost employee satisfaction at Agero’s contact centers, contributing to a better working environment and higher talent retention. With better staff planning procedures, Agero can avoid overloading its call center agents, reducing stressful workloads.

The company also has identified many other areas in which it can use the weather data to optimize its operations. By monitoring local conditions at its six contact centers, the company aims to be able to predict when hazardous conditions will prevent staff from getting to work and take steps to scale up operations at its other locations to protect service quality.

Beyond the contact centers, Agero can use the hyperlocal forecast data to help its network of independent service providers plan their staffing too—adding extra personnel to be ready for a sudden cold snap, for example. The company also hopes to integrate weather data with its telematics platform, combining insights into conditions with data about accidents and breakdowns to identify potential danger areas for drivers.

Scott Aefsky concludes: “The Weather Company is helping us build a virtuous circle—the faster we can respond to stranded drivers, the happier they will be with their roadside assistance providers, and the more satisfied our clients will be with Agero’s service. As clients recognize how these intelligent weather-based services differentiate Agero from our competitors, we will be able to continue investing in innovation, and deliver even better services in the future.”

The Weather Company is helping us build a virtuous circle—the faster we can respond to stranded drivers, the happier they will be with their roadside assistance providers, and the more satisfied our clients will be with Agero’s service.

—Scott Aefsky, Data Scientist, Agero

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About Agero

For 46 years, Agero has provided roadside assistance solutions for the leading automotive manufacturers and insurance companies in North America. In total, Agero’s services protect 115 million drivers with traditional breakdown recovery, high-tech telematics and mobile platforms to create better driver experiences.

Solution components

Take the next step

The Weather Company, an IBM Business, helps people make informed decisions and take action in the face of weather. The company offers the most accurate  forecasts globally with personalized and actionable weather data and insights to millions of consumers, as well as thousands of marketers and businesses via Weather’s API, its business solutions division, and its own digital products from The Weather Channel (weather.com) and Weather Underground® (wunderground.com).

The company delivers around 25 billion forecasts daily. Its products include the world’s most downloaded weather app, a network of 250,000 personal weather stations, a top-20 U.S. website, one of the world’s largest IoT data platforms, and industry-leading business solutions.

Weather Means Business™. The world’s biggest brands in aviation, energy, insurance, media, and government rely on The Weather Company for data, technology platforms and services to help improve decision-making and respond to weather’s impact on business.

For more, visit ibm.com/weather.