David CousinsDavid CousinsApril 21, 2017


Contact centre managers often feel they’re caught in a struggle between keeping employees happy and delivering operational excellence.

But the two shouldn’t be mutually exclusive: happy and engaged staff are more productive, deliver better customer experiences, have fewer absences and stay in their jobs longer. Striking a perfect work-life balance can have clear benefits for both employees and organisations. And making engaged employees the superheroes of the contact centre can have an immense impact on revenues and profitability.

We all know that difficult decisions need to be made and that calls need to be answered no matter how unsocial the hour. But most employees understand that pressure too. What they don’t get is when their job dominates their lives at the expense of other interests.

The statistics speak for themselves: 87% of global employees are disengaged, while staff turnover costs UK call centres £1bn per year. But 70% of employees think technology can improve work-life balance, and 81% of contact centre employers want to improve agent performance – the means and the motivation to strike the right balance are there.

So how can workforce management tools help?

We often find even the best intentioned of managers falling into the trap of treating their colleagues as just another resource. It’s an easy trap to fall into: some tools dehumanise the planning process to such an extent that it’s easy to focus too much on the plan and not enough on the person.

The effect is a disillusioned staff which is likely to suffer from very high turnover and will struggle to retain – or attract – the best and brightest. At Capita we’ve seen time and again how employees who are involved in managing their own schedules take a greater interest in their work and stay in their jobs longer.

Gartner has addressed an important new market segment – workforce engagement management. Gartner speaks of a “growing market awareness of the importance of the employees in customer engagement centres” and that this “is triggering an adjustment in the technologies needed to manage their day-to-day roles”.

It’s clearly an important development for contact centres, yet the steps that you should take to gain advantage from it are relatively simple. So how do you drive engagement with contact centre and back-office staff? In our experience, that comes down to a sprinkling of good old-fashioned human interaction, supported by technology that enables a degree of flexibility.

The best tools now allow you to ensure you’ve got the right people allocated to the right tasks at the right time – itself a good first step in keeping employees engaged. These tools track preferences, allocating, where possible, employees to their preferred shift patterns.

They also provide employees direct visibility over their schedules, and allow them to trade hours with colleagues or update their availability. Employees can do all this from their smartphones so whether they are in the office or on the move, they can be assured that they have a degree of control over their schedules and have flexibility when they need it.

That may seem like small change, but to many employees, it makes the world of difference, balancing family life, college and other outside interests with a job that by its nature can be unpredictable.

The obvious benefit of this is of course that customer experience follows suit. When your employees are engaged, your customers will experience the difference within seconds of their call being taken.

If you’re looking to make a change to the dynamic between your agents’ engagement and your contact centre’s performance, join Capita’s next webinar, “Engaged Employees – the Superheroes of the Contact Centre”.

Interesting Links:

David CousinsDavid CousinsNovember 28, 2016


The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the most significant development in data protection that Europe has seen over the past twenty years, and it’s now just two years away. The impending change in legislation will have a significant impact on the operations of any firm which collects personally identifiable information and wants to operate in the EU. A failure to comply will carry weighty penalties.

Despite the UK’s decision to leave the EU, businesses will still need to adhere to the same stringent set of laws if they want to trade with other European countries; there is no opportunity here to breathe a sigh of relief and assume that the regulations will no longer matter. In the words of the UK Information Commissioner’s Office, “for many organisations nothing will change. The GDPR will apply even when we leave”.

To do business with the EU, the UK will need data protection standards that are equivalent to the GDPR, and EU rules apply at least until Brexit happens and could remain in place afterwards. So what will the legislation involve, what are the risks, and what can companies do now to lay the groundwork to make sure they are ready?

Any company that takes sensitive data over the telephone needs to make sure it knows all the facts about the new regulation and how it could affect their organisation. Businesses that handle ‘significant volumes’ of data will have to appoint a Data Protection Officer to oversee data handling and security, and report to a government body.

The new regulation will also place third party data processors under scrutiny and hold them financially responsible for any breaches. This is an enormous incentive for security companies to gain all the necessary industry certifications.

Failure to comply could result in fines of up to 4% of global turnover or €20 million (whichever is the greater) depending on the severity of the breach and whether the offending business can prove there were initial measures in place to protect customer data.

On top of the official fines, firms might be ordered to pay customers damages in the event of data loss or theft. While the financial penalties alone could obviously prove devastating for companies, a data breach will come with additional consequences, including the loss of trust, falling stock prices and impact on staff.

Secure payments specialist Semafone conducted research which has shown that 86% of people would be hesitant to do business with a company that had suffered a security breach.

Tim Critchley, CEO of Semafone, said: “Clearly, the risks associated with GDPR go far beyond the financial penalties. The reputational damage from a data breach can be huge and incredibly harmful for brands; this issue is a touchstone for consumers who want to know that their information is safe.Despite this, there is a significant lack of awareness among many of those businesses that will have to comply with the GDPR. Worryingly, a large number appear not to know what they will have to do to avoid fines.”

“With that in mind, companies should be preparing now to make sure they have systems in place to meet this stringent new legislation. In our view, the absolute simplest way to do this is to explore secure payment solutions.”

Many firms are already taking advantage of technology such as the patented payment method offered by Semafone.  The Semafone solution prevents personal data from entering a company’s internal contact centre systems, which means that, in the event of a data breach, the data is not held and, therefore, cannot be exploited.

Not only does this protect against fraud and the associated reputational damage, it also ensures compliance with industry regulations such as the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).The software uses masking technology which allows customers to type their sensitive details, including payment card numbers, bank details or other personal information, directly into the keypad without having to worry about them being overheard or stolen.

It also means customers can stay in constant contact with customer service agents during the entire transaction, which can help deliver the level of personalised service that today’s customers expect and improve satisfaction rates.

Secure payment technologies can create highly effective and efficient ways of taking away the significant risks associated with the collection of customer information. Its introduction can help bring businesses up to code when it comes to the new GDPR. Now is the time to get these systems in place if companies are to be confident of their data protection systems when the legislation comes into force in May 2018.

Interesting links:


David CousinsDavid CousinsSeptember 5, 2016


Digital transformation has opened up opportunities for exchanges of information in new ways. Consumers are not just embracing this, they are demanding it and as a result it has radically changed their behaviours.

A recent ONS report shows that the internet was accessed every day by 78 per cent of adults in Great Britain in 2015 and that 96 per cent of adults aged 16 to 24 accessed the internet from mobile devices. Market leaders know it too and are harnessing communication and collaboration technologies to enable new ways to interact, exchange information and better serve the customer.

If an organisation is to exist in the digital era it needs to have clarity in its digital vision and a strategy on how to achieve this vision. At least four significant elements must be encompassed in any successful strategy to best serve today’s digital customer:

Profiling digital customers

Everything starts with the customer.

The march towards digital transformation has social, technological and commercial drivers. The most significant driver of them all is the fact that the customer has already made the change and is dictating how we must serve their needs. While there is a clear and growing recognition of the strategic significance of digital transformation, there is less clarity on where we should start and how best to proceed. So start with the customer.

Profiling digital customers can explain everything about who they are. Whether they are young or old, at work or home, or on the road. It can tell us exactly what they want – for example if they need help or advice, or if they are just hoping to give some feedback or ask a question out of curiosity.

Whatever the customer wants when they begin to engage on a digital platform, we know that they want it now, whether it’s morning, noon or night. And they want it in a way that suits them.

Customer service practices may in the past have tried to force customers to join one queue or another, and it may have used scripts and application forms to control what the customer could ask for. Today, the digital customer insists that they will connect with us, communicate, and exchange information, in the manner that happens to be most convenient to them at that particular moment in time.

Mapping customer journeys

Serving digital customers properly means we have to be able to handle all the channels that they choose to use. The growth of these channels and different formats for communication, and the ease with which customers can switch from one to another, means it is becoming increasingly difficult to map customer journeys.

But it can be done if certain key principles are kept in mind: Firstly, walk in the customers’ shoes. Map journeys from the customer perspective and not from the constrained perspective of current capabilities, processes or structures.

Bear in mind that customer experience is not just a rational thing, but has an emotional dimension as service has an impact on how the customer feels.

In addition, not everything is controllable. With social channels, customer journey maps now include things that may be influenced, but not controlled. And lastly, know what matters. Digital transformation is a process rather than an event. Everything cannot be fixed at once, so focus on things that have the greatest impact.

Delivering consistent experiences

With the rapid growth of digital engagement, most organisations will already have adopted and adapted to help serve this new type of customer. However, the developments and systems put in place have often been piecemeal and siloed, and are now creating operational governance issues.

Often we can see duplication, whereby customers initiate contact via two or more channels simultaneously, or skills and expertise within an organisation are strong for one channel but fall short in another. Furthermore, measurements of customer satisfaction will not always be consistent across channels.

If organisations are to avoid these issues, we must manage engagement, their supporting systems, and reporting measurements, within one single framework. Single views of every customer journey will deliver consistent experiences across the omni-channel landscape.

Managing value exchange

In the omni-channel world of the digital customer, information takes many forms – voice, video, data. It is shared over a variety of devices from PCs, to tablets, smartphones and kiosks, and over a number of networks including social, mobile, corporate and cloud.

Sharing this information with customers is how we create value. Information management – in particular data analytics which can mine data to fully understand the entire customer action – combined with effective engagement management allow us to deliver better experiences, make smarter decisions, and remain competitive.

If an organisation is to exist in the digital era, it needs to have clarity in its digital vision and a strategy on how to achieve this vision. The digital vision must acknowledge the reality that the customer now sets the rules regarding how they interact with us. A failure to keep up with this fundamental change in dynamics will cause customer defections.

Interesting links:

Inform. Inspire. Include.
A free way to improve your business.

Customer Experience Magazine is the online magazine packed full of industry news, blogs, features, reports, case studies, video bites and international stories all focusing on customer experience.



UK Trademark UK00002648900

EUIPO Trademark 018131832

Contact Information

For article submissions:
Paul Ainsworth

For general inquiries, advertising and partnership information:
Tel: 0207 1932 428

For Masterclass enquiries:
Tel: +44 20 86385584

Customer Experience Magazine Limited
Company number: 12450532
International House, 24 Holborn Viaduct,
United Kingdom, London, England, EC1A 2BN


Find a job in customer support with Jobsora