Sundara SukavanamSundara SukavanamSeptember 2, 2020


Human interaction is critical to our wellbeing, which is why many of us struggled with the COVID-19 lockdown. As Nicholas Christakis at Yale put it “The world called on us to suppress our profoundly human and evolutionarily hard-wired impulses for connection: seeing our friends and getting together in groups.” This is why we saw a dramatic rise in the use of apps like Zoom and HouseParty as we found different ways to interact with our friends, family and colleagues.

This yearning for human engagement is driving an important shift for customer service teams. Customer experience can no longer be formulaic: it must be driven by empathy, connection and the desire to resolve problems actively. And these changes need to be implemented whilst large parts of the workforce are still working remotely. So how will businesses navigate this change?

Balancing empathy and efficiency

Even before lockdown, positive human interaction sat at the heart of good customer service. Consumers were seeking a personalised experience. In fact, research from Microsoft found 72 percent of customers wanted customer services teams to know who they are and what they had previously purchased. However, personalisation alone is not enough; nearly a third (30 percent) of consumers expected customer services agents to be knowledgeable and friendly. Failure to deliver this positive experience can negatively impact Net Promoter Score (NPS) and see customers turning to the competition.

This need for personalised, human engagement has increased as we ease out of lockdown. For businesses, this means a delicate balancing act between empathy and efficiency. Every organisation is looking to streamline operations; ultimately, the goal is to have agents deal with more enquiries whilst delivering a higher ratio of positive outcomes. However, an efficient customer service capability that also provides a sensitive, empathetic experience is not as counterintuitive as you may think. Enter technology and upskilling.

Human plus digital

To deliver a customer experience that is fit for these unsettling times, agents will need to be driven by empathy and the resolve to solve customers problems proactively. This is where technology has a critical role to play as an enabler to your team. By taking away administrative tasks and equipping customer service teams with data-driven insight, it will be easier for agents to have positive, empathetic conversations whilst speedily resolving issues.

Just as important as elevating human interactions is identifying the areas that are ripe for automation. There are many low-lift, non-strategic engagements where a digital solution can deliver better results. Enterprises should review the customer journey and identify where there is a role for automated systems such as chatbots, which consumers are increasingly willing to engage with. Research has found 30 percent of consumers rate chatbot interactions as “very effective” when dealing with their queries. Implemented in the right way, these systems can quickly resolve simple issues while freeing up agents to focus on more complex issues where human interaction is essential.

Finally, customer service staff have also been impacted by lockdown. Many are working remotely and need support and upskilling to help them reshape customer experience for the current climate. One UK media company provides a great best practice example here. Remote teams were supported with digital training around products, processes and compliance. This was supplemented with in-depth training assessments, train-the-trainer initiatives. The result was more positive customer interactions across the board; NPS rose by 4.5 while productivity grew by 10 percent.

Get the right guide

Given the unprecedented disruption that businesses have faced over recent months, the task of revamping customer experience may seem daunting. Taking a digital-first approach that supports staff and customers alike makes it possible to drive change fast, effectively and affordably.  Service providers and technology partners can act here as experienced guides for businesses embarking on this journey.

No one can be certain about what will happen next. However, making the right decisions now, organisations can ensure they are ready to surprise and delight customers in the next normal.

Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiAugust 6, 2020


Entries are now open for the 2021 UK Complaint Handling Awards, Britain’s biggest celebration of CX-inspired initiatives to resolve consumer problems.

2021 will be the fifth year of the UK Complaint Handling Awards, this time held fully online, from start to finish, using the latest videoconferencing software.

On March 4, 2021, the finalists will present online before an expert panel of judges from across various sectors.

Some of the most recognisable brands in utilities, finance, and more were represented at the 2020 finals earlier this year, and now organisations have the chance to join the winners in the Hall of Fame by entering before the deadline of December 10.

Those who enter before October 22 can take advantage of a special Early Bird discount, that can save up to £100 off the standard entry price.

There are 13 categories to choose from for 2021, encompassing both industry and discipline-specific areas. They incorporate both B2B and B2C initiatives, and include categories for organisations of all sizes so that everyone has the chance to earn recognition.

New categories include Zero 2 Hero – Transforming Customer Relations, and Vulnerable Situations while as always, the day will see one Overall Winner crowned from the category champions.

Running in parallel with the Awards Finals, a series of talks called #ComplainNow will gather specialists in complain handling who will be presenting the latest research and sharing opinions on what is happening in the industry.

Event host Awards International has been accredited with the Gold Standard in the Awards Trust Mark Scheme from the Independent Awards Standards Council, meeting all 18 criteria to qualify for the highest trust mark possible.

Following the success of 3 Awards events held LIVE online and to comply with health and safety regulations, the 2021 UK Complaint Handling Awards will be held in a new format, allowing participants to enjoy the Awards experience without the need to leave their office or home.

Click here to enter now.

Click here for further details on the LIVE online Awards Experience.



Group VP of Marketing & Alliances at Enghouse Interactive Jeremy Payne took the time to discuss with Customer Experience Magazine why organisations should consider moving their contact centre to the cloud and what the common misconceptions are that people often have towards cloud contact centres.

Jeremy, tell us a bit more about yourself and the company you work for.

I have spent over 20 years in the software and services industry, working as a marketing leader within several blue-chip corporates across the globe. I am currently VP International Marketing at Enghouse Interactive – we are one of the biggest providers of customer contact solutions in the world, with our systems supporting over 1 million agents handling more than 1 billion interactions daily. I am responsible for the commercialisation of the company’s four key solutions of multi-channel contact centres, self-service, attendant operator consoles and workforce optimisation systems, across Europe Middle East and Africa. I am passionate about the need to continually improve the customer experience, and have presented about key market trends in this area around the globe.

Which communication channels do you consider as the most important?

There is no one size fits all answer here. The importance really depends on the market you are in and what your brand promise or positioning is – what do your customers expect from you? How can you make their lives easier, meet their needs and ensure a positive customer journey for each and every scenario?

For example, if you are a low-cost airline you will have automated as much as you can and probably pursued a digital by default strategy, creating digital services that are so simple to use that customers choose them every time. That means web self-service and social service are your key channels, supplemented by an “Email Us” form that acts as a backstop, but is also likely to be automated.

However, at the other end of the spectrum, take a private bank working with high net worth individuals. These customers expect the personal touch, so you will use a lot more face-to-face, phone and video conferencing channels to ensure you build and strengthen the customer relationship through every interaction.

Most businesses will sit somewhere between these two poles – leveraging a balance of human and machine-based channels, depending on the needs of their customers. Within this strategy, companies will look to drive intelligent automation to make the journey seamless, embracing the idea of digital by design, so using digital channels where it makes sense. The best approach is to start with the customer and their needs – always have human escape routes from automation when things don’t follow a normal straight-through journey.

How would you define a successful customer communication process?

Many studies have explored what customers really want, and most seem to conclude that effortless customer service is at the very core of customer needs. Essentially customers only have to invest the smallest amount of their time and effort to achieve their goals. This often means using predictive analytics to anticipate what the customer is likely to want to do with you next, which in turn involves breaking down silos and connecting teams across your enterprise – using technologies like Unified Communications to make sure the right employees and service specialists are available when and where you need them.

In order to deliver this seamless service, many organisations use a collaboration environment like Microsoft Teams, alongside a Teams-friendly contact and customer interaction management centre that handles all of the inbound inquiries, irrespective of the communication channels they originally came through.

What are the benefits of implementing a cloud contact centre solution? Why should organisations consider migrating to a cloud contact centre?

The recent global pandemic has really highlighted many of the benefits of the cloud, with a particular focus on the ability to allow staff to work remotely and flexibly, which has been vital to continuing customer service operations.

However, this agility is not the only benefit. With cloud contact centre solutions, organisations are able to scale up and down quickly and for many there is an attraction around paying-as-you-go and for what you consume, as opposed to a larger upfront cost.

You free up your internal IT staff and gain best-in-class security and reliability, as well as access to the latest innovations, such as AI, from your suppliers.

However, again, cloud is not right for everyone, as mitigating factors like the need for legacy system integration for example, may make an on-premise or hybrid solution a better fit for your needs.

What are the common misconceptions people have about cloud contact centres?

In my experience, there are several major misconceptions which can hold back organisations embracing the cloud. The first and probably largest is a concern about security and compliance (such as with the PCI process). Clearly, you are moving your data off-premise, but cloud vendors invest heavily in security and meeting the latest standards. And, because they are working with a wide range of clients they have the resources to develop deep specialisms and skills in security that would be beyond what a single organisation could build on its own. You can run processes such as PCI in the cloud, achieving compliance by putting the right security and auditing measures in place.

The second worry is around reliability and uptime. Again, providers have invested heavily in redundancy solutions to ensure that your service is always-on, something that isn’t always guaranteed if there are problems with on-premise solutions. Companies also worry that it will negatively impact their IT department and add to complexity if they want to integrate different solutions in the cloud. Nothing could be further from the truth – IT can focus on more strategic innovations, rather than simply supporting business as usual, while open application programming interfaces (APIs) and connectors make integration straightforward.

Finally, there is the concern that you have to switch completely overnight from on-premise. However, it isn’t an ‘all or nothing’ scenario – using a hybrid approach means you can move at your own pace, for example implementing new solutions in the cloud, while gradually migrating legacy systems as and when you want. Overcoming these misconceptions is vital if organisations are to realise the benefits of the cloud – for themselves and for their customers.

Still unsure whether to move your contact centre to the cloud?

Read this myth-busting eBook to get an answer to questions such as whether it is really safer to keep your data on-premises than in the Cloud.

Nick WingroveNick WingroveJuly 20, 2020


During these challenging times, every industry has had to evolve and react to rapid changes in customer behaviour. Contact centres have been at the forefront of this shift and have been faced with unprecedented call volumes.

While the UK looks to be past the peak of the virus and measures to ease lockdown continue to be put in place, the large-scale shift to home-based shopping and contact-free tech support during the lockdown period has dramatically increased the demand on call centre services.

According to Contact Babel, in the UK alone, around 4 percent of the working population is employed by call centres. As the demand for accessible customer service increases, so will the demands for a more personalised experience.

Whilst it’s true that the future of customer experience lies largely in technological advancement and delivery of highly personalised services, the current situation only serves to highlight the true value that call centres can provide: the value of human interaction.

So, how can these communication hubs continue to deliver empathetic customer experiences whilst also meeting demand during such extraordinary times?

Adapting to the new norm: maximising home working to satisfy demand

As the world got used to social distancing measures and quarantines, organisations needed to make rapid changes to traditionally office-based business models to ensure business continuity. Many call centre operations are based on a fairly rigid co-located model, not because the technology isn’t there to support a large-scale shift to remote working, but because the operational models rely on physical locations and have not traditionally considered more flexible arrangements. However, the pandemic forced the hand of most operations.

Without the right support tools or infrastructure in place, contact centres would struggle to facilitate productive remote working. They would also need to uphold expectations that they can still deliver the same seamless customer experience that people are used to, even when the agents aren’t physically in the office. As the requirement to facilitate longer-term remote working becomes a priority, implementing the foundations for truly flexible working capabilities could mean the difference between staying operational and profitable once the nation embarks on the new-normal, or going under.

With this new trend for widespread remote working, it’s safe to say the need for artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud deployment is at an all-time high for call centres. Not only can these applications improve quality and compliance, resource management and employee performance, but they also work to improve productivity and simplify decision-making.

And in a newly remote-working world, keeping employees engaged in this way is a top priority. Using cloud-based, AI-infused WEM tools and gamification, businesses can help build camaraderie between colleagues who aren’t co-located; keeping competition alive and boosting skills with fun, game-style applications that inspire employees to get involved.

Taking advantage of the tools on offer

While the lockdown rules have been relaxed, the advice to people is to still work from home if they can. Therefore, many organisations are looking to enable and maintain remote working capabilities far beyond the current crisis. Many organisations are turning to the cloud to capitalise on the high velocity of innovation and flexibility it provides.

Increasingly, tools for automation and self-service, voice and email routing and employee collaboration solutions are becoming staples within the customer experience industry. Businesses are looking at launching secure cloud contact centres that are equipped with the fundamental capabilities to maintain engagement and interaction between customers and agents from anywhere in the world.

Employing a holistic solution that allows employees to support their customers, organisations can equip their people with a range of services, tech support, training, guidance and best practices to truly make the most of the new home-working norm.

By allowing them to continue offering the same personalised and streamlined experience their customers expect, whether their agents are in the office or not, businesses can continue fostering deeper levels of brand loyalty.

Evolving the industry

With the unprecedented levels of home working, social restrictions and travel bans, businesses, the economy and the global population are all going through a significant time of change. The lasting impact of this crisis is predicted to have effects for decades to come, and as such maintaining customer engagement is essential for companies to remain competitive and successful. As demand for connectivity increases, as a result, call centres are fast emerging as a key player for growth in the economy.

As businesses increasingly focus on making resilience their top priority, contact centres will play an essential role in meeting demands; delivering truly personalised experiences and above all, enabling them to withstand future adverse scenarios.

Antony JaggerAntony JaggerJune 26, 2020


As businesses of all shapes, sizes and scopes find themselves trying to mitigate increasingly transient customer demographics, we’re all having to work harder on our customer retention strategies. More than ever, the emphasis for most businesses has shifted to building and nurturing sustainable, long-term customer relationships, using the available tools and information to revolutionise the Customer Experience (CX), and encourage new depths of customer loyalty.

But, in a digital world where actual physical interactions are becoming increasingly rare, it’s proving more difficult for businesses to build these vital relationships.

One of the few areas where 1-2-1 interactions do occur is in complaints management, with the entire process generating valuable, timely and comprehensive customer information and feedback, all of which have the potential to inform wider business strategy. As such, it’s crucial that executives recognise the value of complaints as a strategic business tool.

Valuable complaints

Where once ‘resolve and close’ was the overarching goal when it came to complaints, this is no longer the case. Businesses now recognise the long-term, far-reaching value that can be derived from the entire complaints function, not only in terms of resolving complaints quickly and effectively to enhance customer experience, but with regards to improving CX strategy across the organisation.

The journey no longer ends with complaint resolution, but with gathering the insight and learnings to inform future approaches and even product development.  However, the extent to which complaints can inform strategy is totally dependent on decision-makers having in-depth access to and visibility of the end-to-end complaints management process.

Thankfully, we’re all operating in a digital world, where tools are available to track and qualify all customer interactions and behaviours. This information can then be fed back into the business to drive improvements across the entire organisation. But making sure the right information gets to the right people at the right time is still a challenge, with businesses needing to create robust feedback loops if key decision-makers are to use business data to identify trends, address problems and drive organisational learning.

In this respect, contextualised and personalised follow-up customer surveys are a vital source of information, with tools such as complaint management systems enabling the resulting feedback to be analysed alongside the rest of the customer’s information, adding a new depth of actionable insight into a customer’s journey.

Data is key

The data to be gleaned from complaints can be used to realise cost and efficiency savings across the organisation, as well as helping to optimise CX. What’s needed are the right systems in place to collate this information, reporting it back to the wider business in an accessible, easy-to-understand format. Case handlers, for example, can use the information to help prioritise follow-up actions, taking on board constructive criticism or praise to inform future best practice, all of which contribute to tangible improvements in CX.

For more senior members of the business, the resulting information makes it possible to address any training issues, identifying any problems to be tackled or gaps in knowledge. Additionally, the ability to analyse and examine not only customer feedback but the hard facts surrounding customer complaints, furnishes the business as a whole with a more in-depth understanding of the root causes of complaints, be that product or service-related.

What this provides is a valuable source of information to underpin far-reaching business developments, all of which contribute to those all-important CX improvements.

With the right systems in place, businesses can turn complaints to their advantage. Making full use of the resulting information and data can drive real improvements across the business not just in terms of swift and effective complaint resolutions, but helping to improve products, services and processes, ensuring they’re tailored to meet ever-changing customer expectations.

By owning the entire end-to-end complaints process, leaving behind the ‘resolve and close’ mentality and extending its reach as a key business function, decision-makers can use it as an opportunity to take their customer experience to the next level, with complaint management becoming a crucial business differentiator in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiJune 23, 2020


Customer experience is known as the pillar of a company’s success. To ensure that the experience is at the top level each time, customer care centres are prepared for the usual surges in demand.

Customer Care Managers are the ones who have to maintain that the experience is always impeccable, since at least one-third of the customers would walk away from a brand they loved after just one bad experience. It goes without saying that the pressure is high – just one brand’s mishap is enough for customers to have their needs met by the competitors.

We are creatures of habit

Every year, the holiday season is known as the peak customer demand that lasts through January with surges in purchases, returns or exchanges and bargain hunting. To deal with the work overload, retail is typically recruiting extra staff from late summer, providing a two-month training and all systems are go until January when demand slowly decreases.

The tax submission routine is slightly different in terms of the period in the year but nonetheless – the same process is expected at the same time each year. With a predictable structure given in the previous examples, the team can easily plan and prepare for it.

Prepared for the unexpected?

Once in a while, something out of the ordinary happens. The surge in customer demand at the unexpected time calls for an urgent roadmap rewrite. No matter which sector your organization belongs to, you have to take care of each and every employee and each and every customer, otherwise, the results could be just as sudden as the cause.

The unprecedented situation that has hit the world prompted so many shifts in our day-to-day life. Employees had to work from home due to safety reasons simultaneously coping with rapid changes in consumer behaviour.

The frontline staff is under the most pressure – dealing with the unexpected in their customers’ lives as well as in their own. Technology plays a big part, especially for contact centre staff that has to process a huge amount of customer inquiries so equipping the customer care centre with the right tool can be critical for achieving customer satisfaction.

The human aspect is second to none

No matter how advanced technology is involved in the customer journey, the human aspect cannot be excluded. The experience humans provide is simply unmatched. In reality, technology is there to aid human interaction, not to replace it entirely.

Supporting customer care centre with the right tools can be of enormous benefit to the staff and can alleviate the pressure of customer demand. Adding Interactive Voice Response (IVR) recordings, chatbots, and auto-responses to your customer care centre adds vital resilience to your customer care centre. This way staff can resolve issues quickly and effectively, by prioritising interactions that require a full human approach.

Results are on the other side of the problem

Having to deal with the unprecedented surge in demand, the frontline staff suffers high levels of pressure. Besides supporting your staff with the right technology to help them solve problems faster, it is crucial to appreciate and recognize them, as their work is what keeps your organisation going.

The actions you take in situations like these are what makes or breaks your business. Your customers can remember you as a brand that went above and beyond or they can easily forget you if you didn’t put 101 percent effort when they needed it.

How do you plan for the unplanned?

Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiJune 10, 2020


The findings of the survey show that 71 percent of UK contact centres were not fully ready for remote working under the lockdown restrictions.

The recent nationwide survey conducted by the global leader in cloud customer experience and contact centre solutions Genesys in partnership with a customer experience technology specialist, IST, surveyed 150 UK contact centre executive and managers.

According to the results, only 29 percent of the businesses said that their contact centre were fully prepared for remote working.

Two-thirds (66 percent) had to invest in additional hardware such as laptops, networking devices and media servers. Twenty-eight percent of UK contact centres had to purchase additional remote-working licenses and an additional 14 percent had to incorporate new automation. Increased call volumes called for new port licences which were purchased by 9 percent of contact centres.

More than 80 percent of the surveyed managers said that 75 percent of their contact centre staff transitioned to remote work and more than 50 percent of the managers said they have all of the contact centre staff working remotely.

On the other hand, around 60 percent of UK contact centre managers say cloud contact centre solutions helped their contact centre operate even better under COVID-19 conditions than under normal circumstances, with 38 percent of the managers choosing cloud solutions over on-premises software.

Mark Armstrong, sales director for commercial and mid-market at Genesys: “The pandemic has put contact centres in an unprecedented situation. Businesses needed to either move staff remote, or ensure strict social distancing regulations in the workplace.”

“While businesses were addressing the health and safety of their workforce, they also needed to deal with an increase in demand. Leveraging technologies such as the cloud has provided businesses with the tools to handle the challenge, whilst ensuring high levels of service to consumers.”

When it comes to challenges of the unprecedented circumstances, ensuring staff wellbeing was the biggest challenge to transitioning to remote working, according to 58 percent of contact centre managers. The restraints of their current technology were the major obstacle for 35 percent of the managers, while an additional 34 percent were worried about the effectiveness of their workforce.

According to interaction data from the cloud contact centre platform Genesys Cloud, UK businesses faced an increase of 33 percent in customer service inquiries between Q4 2019 and Q1 2020. To deal with the increased demand, businesses chose a number of solutions – 34 percent opted for chatbots to provide quick answers to frequently asked questions. Almost 30 percent wanted to incorporate robotic process automation (RPA) in assisting agents, while 25 percent sought implementation of voice biometrics to identify callers and save agents time.

Simon JohnsonSimon JohnsonMay 19, 2020


Video conferencing has been established as a new communication norm since the majority of the UK population began working from home.

Whether it’s conducting work meetings or catching up with friends and family in the evenings and at weekends, major players such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype and Google Hangouts are some of the technologies fostering face-to-face interaction, albeit through a camera.

So, while this form of communication has temporarily become the go-to for many of us, will it continue to be in the future?

According to figures released in March, yes.

Pre-COVID-19, the global video conferencing market was expected to nearly double over the next seven years, growing from $6.1 billion in 2019 to $11.56 billion by 2027. The technology isn’t new and has been a trend since the early days of Webex and GoToMeeting, but continued growth is being maintained by business leaders’ desire to improve productivity and reduce international travel. Video conferencing offers real-time, face-to-face interaction anytime, anywhere around the globe.

However – when it comes to customer service – ask most people to describe their typical interaction with a brand and they’ll likely give examples of telephone calls, emails, or maybe even text-based chat. Video doesn’t even come into the equation.

But as consumers become more comfortable with video conferencing in their work and personal lives, will we see more businesses turning to video to provide customer support? All signs point towards “go”.

Here are some of the reasons why I believe a video revolution in customer service will occur. The business benefits will be too irresistible to ignore.

1. The human touch

Live video chat will represent a powerful evolution of live text chat and phone support. By providing video support, customers are more likely to feel that they are receiving undivided attention – and that they are important to the brand.

This in turn will help drive customer loyalty, provide a more ‘human’ customer support experience, and ultimately enables the business to build deeper connections with its customers.

2. Effective problem solving

Today, video tutorials are already an integral part of customer self-service. It is much easier and quicker to watch a video explaining how to solve any product issue, than it is through reading text or images. Furthermore, these guides can help build engagement and offer a personal touch across the customer life cycle.

However, while they are a great asset for solving common problems, it is not an efficient use of a business’ time to make a video guide for every single issue that could arise with a product or service.

Let’s take an internet service provider (ISP) as an example here. If your internet connection keeps cutting out and you need assistance, a tutorial video on how to reset your router or test your internet speed would be helpful.

However, if this fails to solve the problem, it is likely that you will need to call your ISP and explain the issue over the phone. If it’s a technical issue, this can present a challenge for both the (let’s assume, non-technical) customer and the (technical) agent, and could likely result in the agent sending out a technician to solve, what could have been, a fairly straightforward fix.

Had this been a video call, the agent could have combined live video chat with a screen sharing tool – simultaneously reviewing the problem in real-time and testing solutions on-the-go. Not only would this have saved the ISP both time and money, it also enables agents to build a closer relationship with the customer, and the customer to get back online much sooner, with less hassle.

3. Scale and stand out from the crowd

While many large businesses may not have the infrastructure to efficiently run live video customer service just yet, it is likely that it will become a key solution for those that provide a premium service and want to differentiate by offering a more personalised and real-time experience.

It is a cost-effective way for companies, especially those who are looking to expand their customer bases and scale-up, to provide an ‘above-and-beyond’ service.

4. Laying the foundation for future technology

Of course, video isn’t the only innovation currently being explored in the domain of customer service.

Applications of augmented reality (AR) and voice assistance (VA) are still on the horizon but could soon provide a wealth of opportunity to brands when it comes to sales and customer support.

For example, in future, businesses could use AR-enabled devices to make agents appear in a customer’s own environment – making the interaction appear more human and natural – imagine a scenario where support literally appears beside you and shows you how to overcome the ‘blue screen of death’.

We’re already seeing the huge benefits this technology can bring to customers – IKEA has had enormous success with its IKEA Place augmented reality app which helps shoppers visualise how the furniture will look inside their homes.

Investing in a video platform now will help companies keep pace with changing customer demands and enable them to use the learnings and infrastructure to deliver a superior support experience, once technology such as AR becomes more accessible for customer service.

Will it become the norm?

The business benefits of using video conferencing for customer service are clear. However, for it to really catch on, it will have to be both more effective and more efficient than traditional support channels.

Customers will always want to maintain the shortest route to an answer or solution, and they will likely sacrifice the human experience to get there. This doesn’t mean that humanising the customer support journey isn’t crucial, it is, and video conferencing has an important role to play in this.

It will, however, need to be part of a wider omnichannel strategy, and used to augment, not replace, existing self-service support channels.

Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiMay 14, 2020


The current situation has made it clear that businesses need to adapt and prepare for the contact centres of the future.

Whether this crisis leads to an economic downturn or not, you need to start preparing your contact centre for the future. Don’t wait for mandatory budget cuts to optimise your customer service operations. Learn how to enhance flexibility, spend wisely, and keep customer connections strong. Be the voice of reason in your customer service organisation.

The webinar features Ian Jacobs, Principal Analyst at Forrester and Arun Mani, President of Freshworks Europe who will be giving a helping hand and discussing how you can maintain customer loyalty while optimising you contact centre costs.

The webinar will offer insights on:

  • Balancing cost optimisation and customer experience
  • Automation-first approaches for effective cost-performance
  • Shifting customers to low-cost digital channels and improve CSAT
  • Temporary trends that will permanently impact contact centre operations

The number of attendees is limited, so make sure to register to reserve your spot for the webinar HERE.

The webinar offers three different dates and timezones, for 19th, 20th and 21st May.

Gary WilliamsGary WilliamsApril 28, 2020


Cyber fraud has seen a 55 percent year-on-year increase in the UK in recent years with criminals successfully stealing £1.2 billion through fraud and scams in 2018. The world of telecommunications is far from immune, with 170m fraudulent calls blocked globally in 2018.

Due to this, personal data has become an ever more sensitive topic as governments try to combat the rising tide of technology-based crime. This in turn has led to more regulatory legislation, such as GDPR, to try and minimise the risks posed by fraudsters.

This has been coupled with a desire for an improvement in call quality, especially following high profiled cases of like the PPI scandal.

Call centre managers want to be able to see how well their agents deal with customers and cater to their needs and ascertain the comparative value of their agents more now than ever before.

The cost of compliance

With the increases in regulation and the desire for a higher standard of service, compliance has become an increasingly hot topic in the call centre industry. Strict compliance procedures are now the norm for many call centre operations and by virtue of that fact, so are auditing procedures.

Auditing calls to maintain adherence to regulations is a costly endeavour for call centres. It is a huge drain on centres resources as they take the time and cost to transcribe recorded calls for audit.

For a start, regulation across Europe tends to require a large proportion of calls are recorded – and though this does vary by industry it is still a substantial endeavour in a call centre that can often have 200 to 250 agents. This also means that many companies using manual auditing procedures, audit at random and so not all calls are monitored which can lead to increased fines for BPO’s.

Once these calls have been transcribed, the sample texts, along with the corresponding calls go to the internal audit team, a group of highly skilled and experienced industry professionals which varies in size according to the type of business and the scale of the audit task required.

Therefore, this is not only a cost to the business but also affects operations as it reduces the call taking capacity of the company as calls are passed across. It’s a double hit to the company as costs increase and revenue is reduced putting huge pressure on the margins for the business.

A digital reprieve

Previously the analogue nature of compliance meant that the costs associated were large. However, in the digital era it is possible to automate many of the steps needed to complete these procedures.

Automated compliance monitoring allows businesses to combat the increased costs associated with call monitoring. This type of technology automatically checks call adherence to the corresponding script and flags any deviations. This means that only calls that have deviations need to be checked and within those, the software highlights the areas of concern for the auditor.

The Benefits of Automated Compliance Monitoring

Automated compliance monitoring reduces the time needed to audit calls, lowering costs and increasing the value of employees for the call centres. Reduced auditing times also benefits employees as the time that they spend on repetitive auditing tasks can be reduced too.

This means that a high level of motivation is easier to maintain as employees can focus on more cognitively rewarding tasks. Other benefits include:

  • Reducing costs, improving margin and making Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) call centres more competitive

The time spent monitoring calls is minimised due to the efficiency of automating the process.  Fewer staff are required thus substantially reducing costs and for BPO’s this means they can expand their business more easily.

  • Better use of time

AI-driven solutions are able to screen calls quicker and more effectively than humans and can also do this 24/7. This means that the process of compliance is more efficient and is able to give managers a better picture of the business in real-time.

  • Better accuracy

The improved quality of recorded calls in the digital era also means that solutions that have adapted recognition engine models to audio patterns are actually able to recognise the content of the audio easier than human ears could. This makes them not only faster than their human counterparts, but also more accurate as well.

This level of accuracy is particularly important in the BPO contact centre setting, where compliance failures can be met with penalties that threaten the overall margin levels of the business.

Greater accuracy in the compliance process can reduce the risk of such failures and can even be used as a selling point when engaging with businesses who are keen to ensure their chosen BPO is able to guarantee high levels of compliance and quality control when speaking to their customers.

Automated compliance monitoring is part of a wider range of technologies that are helping to reduce the burden on our call centre professionals, brought by such necessary but mundane tasks.  They free up employees to focus on customer-facing, more engaging work.

Employee satisfaction is raised whilst reducing costs and improving sales figures.  Managers and business owners are provided with a more detailed and up-to-date view of the company, helping to improve overall productivity and profitability.

Ross FobianRoss FobianApril 24, 2020


IVRs were invented in the 1960s as a way for businesses to automate the previously manual process of routing calls to the relevant departments. With the introduction of touch-tone dialling, the integration of IVRs into businesses ramped up in the 70s and 80s and then became prolific in the 90s.

But in truth, IVR technology has all but stagnated in its development since then and the core functionality remains notoriously awkward and manual, for both callers and call handlers. We’ve all been on the end of an IVR call, so it’s not surprising to hear that drop off rates can be as high as 50%.

How many times have we all endured an IVR only to get to the end with no option that suits our needs? By the time the generic voice, usually in received pronunciation, starts churning out Press 1 for… we’ve already had enough. The result? Phones are often slammed down in frustration. In fact, the IVR was voted the most annoying invention of all time in 2012. Customers are, at this point, switching off from a brand, meaning businesses could really be missing out.

The IVR problem

Despite the issues that callers and businesses have with IVRs, they have long been the most efficient way of routing customers to their desired location.

We are all too aware in this industry that IVRs are more of a necessary evil, rather than the pinnacle of customer experience. Callers usually want answers quickly, or they’re ready to buy. They don’t want lengthy wait times or endless options to pick from (which they may forget). And, when they finally get to speak to a human, they don’t want to repeat their enquiry all over again.

While digital marketing teams are constantly striving to optimise the online journey for customers and make this as seamless as possible, the journey is broken by an IVR process that now feels antiquated. From a customer service perspective, IVRs rarely contribute to ensuring a brand retains, or even enhances, its reputation across all channels.

Catering to expectations

As well as seamless journeys, consumers today expect personalised experiences too. We expect Netflix to recommend the next binge-worthy series we’ll want to consume based on our previous viewing habits, or for Spotify to tell us what our next favourite album will be. We want UberEats to remember our old orders so we can repeat them, and we crave the convenience of Amazon Prime.

Stretching across eCommerce, entertainment apps, social media and email, personalised digital experiences are delivered to consumers every day. Yet the act of making a phone calls has, until now, been a process untouched by the possibilities that personalisation offers.

The value of phone call personalisation

Everyone in the business of phone calls knows how valuable they can be.

They tend to have a much higher conversion rate than clicks – between 30% and 50%.

As a comparison, the average conversion rate for clicks is 2.35%. Being able to capitalise on this conversion rate and personalise the phone call experience has huge potential for those organisations who rely on inbound phone call revenue. And this goes far beyond your bank knowing your name when you call them.

If brands can use data collated from a caller’s online journey, for example, the IVR can be completely bypassed. Let’s say the caller has been looking at holidays to Florida on a travel website, their subsequent call to the contact centre can be routed to the best call handler for the job – immediately speaking to the Florida expert and not having to ‘Press 1’ for anything.


The results of removing the IVR ‘barrier’ are impressive.

For example, Virgin Holidays removed their short IVR and has seen a 48% increase in call-to-sale conversions. For a business that takes location-specific knowledge for its call handlers seriously (they even send call handlers to their specialist locations for first-hand experience) this has been a big deal.

As for that generic ‘received pronunciation’ IVR, callers can now be linked to an agent with the same accent as them, for an even greater level of personalisation based on where they are calling from.

It may seem like a small barrier, but when customers are ready to buy, the last thing you need is an unnecessary hurdle. Ensuring the customer journey is as smooth and welcoming as possible, and making the phone call feel as personal as possible, can reap big rewards.

RIP IVRs. We can’t say any of us will miss you.

Sandra RadlovackiSandra RadlovackiApril 23, 2020


The global leader in experience management leader Medallia inc has recently announced the initiation of agreement to acquire Voci Technologies, the AI real-time speech to text platform, with the finalisation date in May 2020.

The acquisition will result in joined forces of Voci’s leading real-time speech capabilities and Medallia’s robust experience management platform, promised to deliver a rich view of the customer.

As majority of companies engage with customers via phone more than any other channel, Voci’s technology analyses the signals in real time, which enables contact centres to gain insights exclusively from customer calls. The company’s platform generates complex language models based on calls transcription to provide insights such as emotion, gender, sentiment etc.

Voci’s technology provides contact centres with valuable customer insights, as well as allowing them to operate at higher levels of impact.

Leslie Stretch, president and CEO of Medallia said: “Voci transcribes 100% of live and recorded calls into text that can be analysed quickly to determine customer satisfaction, adding a powerful set of signals to the Medallia Experience Cloud.”

“At the same time, Voci enables call analysis moments after each interaction has completed, optimising every aspect of call centre operations securely. Especially important as virtual and remote contact centre operations take shape.”

“Our whole company is delighted to be joining forces with experience management leader Medallia. We are thrilled that Voci’s powerful speech to text capabilities will become part of Medallia Experience Cloud,” said Mike Coney, CEO of Voci.

“The consolidation of all contact centre signals with video, survey and other critical feedback is a game changer for the industry”, adds Coney.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMarch 9, 2020


The 2020 UK Complaint Handling Awards have taken place in London, celebrating the people, companies, and initiatives behind some of the best customer service operations in Britain.

Hosted by Awards International – holders of an Independent Awards Standards Council Gold Trust Mark – the event saw hundreds gather at the Park Plaza Riverbank hotel on March 5, when teams of finalists made presentations to an expert panel of judges throughout the day.

Finalists were competing to secure Gold and Silver titles across 16 categories, with one Overall Winner also named for their high score at the event, with the title for 2020 going to Capita Remediation Services following the firm’s Gold win in the Best Use of Customer Insight & Feedback category.

Feather in their Capita: The Capita team accept their Overall Winner award

Other big winners this year included supermarket chain Aldi, which landed Gold in two categories: Retail & E-Commerce and Best Customer Service, while Virgin Money secured Gold wins for Best Complaint Handling Team of the Year and Complaint Handling Professional of the Year in the form of Gavin Halliday.

Speaking afterwards, Awards International CEO Neil Skehel said: “A huge congratulations to all of our winners, and the finalists who came and presented before our expert judging panel.

“It’s heartening to see such that complaint handling is continuing to go from strength to strength in the UK, and we are proud to offer the premier platform to celebrate those individuals and organisations that ensure customer complaints are dealt with successfully and satisfactorily.”

Click here for a full list of winners.






Rebecca BrownRebecca BrownMarch 5, 2020


Anyone who has worked in the complaint handling industry will tell you that like any job, there are good and bad days.

What isn’t like most other jobs is the emotional weight placed on a complaint handler when they have a 40-minute call with someone who alternates between swearing and shouting, and apologising and crying because they feel bad for shouting, and then back to shouting because they feel embarrassed they cried…

Have you ever thought about how you would describe what you do, to someone who had no idea what a complaint handler was or had never even heard of it as a concept?
Picture this: You meet an alien, they have just arrived on earth but speak perfect English. In their world they don’t have business, or transactions – they simply have all they need already. They ask you what you do. On a very basic level, you might say something like “I speak to unhappy people all day, and try to make them happy again.”
They’d very likely think you were some kind of superhero, right?

If we look at the other industries that this description could also be applied to, I think we notice something quite interesting. In industries where there are a lot of intense emotional interactions, and where the relationship could be described as helper/recipient, we already know that there is a high risk of burnout.

Burnout: a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.

This is an area that has been explored extensively in relation to talking therapies, nursing and teaching – but not for complaint resolution.

I remember my very first role in complaint handling. I fell into it by accident, and tried to quit after two months – determined I’d never listen to an irate customer again.

Luckily for me, my boss at the time talked me round, listened to my concerns, and got me the support that I needed to be able to run an effective complaint handling department without becoming overwhelmed again. I owe him a huge amount, as choosing not to walk away from complaint handling led me to learn to love helping customers and the passion I feel for excellent Customer Experience today.

I once asked someone in an interview for a complaint handling role how she let off steam after a particularly complex complaint handling day with her previous team. She smiled and said “we had a box room, we just used to go and kick boxes”.

We all laughed, but she wasn’t actually joking. Stress is no joke.

Nearly half a million people in the UK have work-related stress at a level that makes them feel ill. – Bupa

Let’s examine the facts.

1. We are increasingly urged to empathise, to look at the human aspect of a complaint

Having been at the receiving end of many escalated complaints, I can confirm that it’s not uncommon for customers to bring unrelated emotional issues to the table.

Often the complaint is the straw that broke the camel’s back, and they are quite relieved to be able to get everything out to a complete stranger over the phone. A customer opening up about their particularly tough week, or their partner having recently been made redundant is often a sign we have done our jobs properly, shown empathy, and broken down the defensive barriers to enable us to get to the heart of what the complaint is really about.

At the time this helps lend context to a complaint, I can’t help wondering if we are paying the toll to help our customers deal with their own emotions?

2. The average complaint handler will be expected to speak to anywhere between 15 and 50 customers a week.

That means that even at the lower end of this scale, they will have spoken to almost a thousand individuals a year.

Most counsellors restrict the number of clients they see at any one time, and how many sessions they have in a week. Whilst it is certainly the case that complex emotions often bubble over into anger, most professional counsellors don’t have to deal with verbal abuse on a weekly basis as is often the case for a complaint handler. Yet they still have practices in place to ensure that any vicarious trauma they experience is resolved in a healthy way.

3. We are encouraged to speak professionally about customers at all times

If we are to ensure that customers get our respect, and that we continue to empathise, then we need to stop referring to them in any way that allows us to subconsciously see them as not deserving of an impartial complaint investigation and help to resolve their issue, (my recent article on learning to love complaints deals with this area in more detail) but that leave us with a new problem, which is – who do complaint handlers complain to?

We don’t want to go home and vent our frustrations at our spouses or children (something I can admit to on more than one occasion). We don’t take our frustrations out on our customers – obviously that would be highly inappropriate and negate the whole point of the customer service industry.

We don’t take our frustrations out on our colleagues, they have a tough time too and we are in the trenches together – the camaraderie won’t allow anything to bubble over, or in theory that’s the culture we encourage.

So is it time to look at how we cleanse the potentially toxic resentments inherent to complaint handling, as opposed to letting them out in an explosive, unpredictable way and potentially damaging those we care about?

So what can we do? And most importantly, what should all good employers do?

We can start by acknowledging that burnout is a real thing, and that anyone who understands complaint handling can see that if it applies to counselling, psychotherapy, and teaching, it definitely applies to complaint handling.

We have a duty to safeguard our employees, that is not debatable.

One potential approach is what we refer to at Think Wow as ‘The Tripod’.

A tripod is the ultimate stable structure. It can never wobble, even when on an uneven surface. We think it’s the perfect random item to influence a support culture.

We like to think that if we start to address the emotional needs of our staff, with a three legged approach, your team will reach a similar level of stability.

Immediate needs

Nothing feels worse than reaching out to genuinely try to help someone only to have them become aggressive, confrontational, or verbally abusive.

No matter how much we may try to increase our resilience against such attacks, our natural instinct towards fight or flight takes over. When we feel attacked, we feel unsafe. This triggers a neurological response that actually makes it harder for us to think, and even to see.

We are no longer in a good place to try and structure sentences, which can make us trip over our words and make an already stressful situation far worse. The result is that we put the phone down and feel emotional, shaken – even scared. If we are unlucky and we work in a particularly busy environment we may even have to get straight back on the phone.

Implement the ‘cup of tea rule’

The ‘cup of tea rule’ encourages two things.

Firstly, it encourages team members to take note when a colleague is clearly on one of those calls. Once they have spotted a colleague is struggling, they should go and get them a hot drink of their choice as a show of solidarity, a kind gesture and to help with the inevitable dry mouth that comes from high stress situations.

Then make it mandatory for that call handler to take at least a ten-minute tea break to calm their nerves and get back on an even keel before picking the phone up again. By making it mandatory you reduce the risk that people will consider taking a break to recover their emotional wellbeing as something that is not an accepted part of the culture.

Short-term needs

If we recognise that dealing with complaints on a daily basis may well have a cumulative effect – and result in stressors that increase rather than ebb and flow in direct correlation to work load – it becomes apparent that we need to offer our teams a way to vent.

Implement a buddy system akin to counsellor supervision sessions, but with the sole purpose to let a staff member discuss any particularly challenging customers, and speak their mind about how they felt at the time.

There are some guidelines for how these should work.

1. The buddy must never be a line manager or supervisor, but a peer who understands the challenges the staff member faces

2. Any discussion about a particular customer should be anonymised – refer to the customer as ‘the customer’ only.

3. This should be a weekly occurrence behind closed doors – it must be confidential in nature so the staff member can feel free to get anything troubling them off their chest.

Long-term needs

If your company is large enough and has the budget, consider investing in talking therapies for complaint handlers on a semi-regular basis.

Proactive management of emotions can prevent damage to mental health, and can often benefit the business in a reduction of sick days, better performance, and lower staff turnover. Ultimately, it shows you care.

Invest in hiring enough people to comfortably handle complaints. If we can stop seeing complaints as a negative, and instead look at the massive opportunity they represent for our long-term CX strategy, then it’s just common sense to ensure this part of our businesses is adequately resourced.

Taking the time pressures out of the equation for our team reduces stress and ensures a higher quality experience for any customer who has already been feeling let down (certain organisations now implement a minimum call time target as opposed to a maximum, to encourage call handlers to get to the heart of the issue and give the customer a high-quality service).

Regardless of whether you have a large budget or not, you should make it a top priority to increase learning that can help protect your team.

Have a manager look at every single call where a customer became aggressive or abusive. Were there any training tools that the call handler could have benefitted from that would have enabled a calmer discussion?

Could manager intervention sooner have turned things down a notch?

If there is anything that can be done in the wider organisation to ensure customers don’t feel so let down in the first instance, then this should be shared too and the whole business should make it a priority to protect the complaint handling team.

After all, often it’s the other way around.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthFebruary 19, 2020


Global digital solutions provider Civica has been revealed as a Gold sponsor for the upcoming 2020 UK Complaint Handling Awards.

Civica provides a wide range of solutions for the public sector and regulated private sector markets around the world. In the UK and Ireland, the company serves sectors including local and regional government, education, and social housing among others, delivering sustained growth through the development of innovative and cloud-based technology to improve customer outcomes.

Civica joins partners including Worksmart, Resolver, and Huntswood for the UK Complaint Handling Awards, which will take place in London’s park Plaza Hotel on March 5.

The Awards celebrate the very best in customer complaint handling and call centre strategies, and finalists will present in front of an expert panel of judges before the winners of the 15 categories – and the day’s Overall Winner – are announced.

Categories this year include Best Use of Customer Insight & FeedbackMost Improved Complaint Handling, and Complaint Handling Professional of the Year.

Michael Hill is Lead Consultant for Civica Digital, and Chairman of the Awards.

“We’re thrilled to be sponsoring this year’s Awards,” he said.

“It’s an informative and engaging day, and a great opportunity to learn best practice from peers and see first-hand how others are making a difference around complaints management.”

CEO of event hosts Awards International, Neil Skehel, said: “It’s an honour to welcome Civica as a partner for the UK Complaint Handling Awards. Their innovative technology solutions make them a global leader, and their influence will benefit all finalists as they compete for success in London.”

Click here for a full list of 2020 UK Complaint Handling Awards finalists.


CXM Editorial TeamCXM Editorial TeamFebruary 19, 2020


Digital CX technology and services company TTEC has announced a strategic partnership with software firm Pegasystems, Inc, to offer clients “industry-leading digital transformation solutions” to optimise Customer Experience within their contact centres. 

With the partnership, Pega’s intelligent automation and customer engagement suite, combined with TTEC’s Customer Experience as a Service platform, will provide the backbone of optimised, digitally driven employee and customer experiences managed by TTEC Digital.

As part of the strategic partnership, TTEC and Pega will go to market together, accelerating autonomous and augmented CX across the front, mid and back office to enable a one-office contact centre solution for customers.

Jonathan Lerner, President of TTEC Digital said: “We were deliberate in choosing Pega as a best-of-breed software partner to significantly strengthen the power of TTEC’s CX as a Service platform for clients. We are excited to go to market together with unparalleled solutions that empower human-centric digital transformation at the world’s leading organisations.”

Eric Musser, VP, Partner Ecosystems, Pegasystems added: “As consumers demand better customer experiences when interacting with contact centres, organisations need the technology to modernise and optimise their operations to meet these high expectations.

“This partnership with TTEC will help us better enable our clients with industry-leading, AI-based solutions that help fulfill their digital transformation goals within their contact centres.”

Rebecca BrownRebecca BrownFebruary 4, 2020


‘Complaint’ has traditionally been seen as a dirty word; whispered within organisations and one that most senior staff would have done anything to avoid admitting applied to them.

The negative connotations that came with complaints meant that for years, anyone wishing to create or grow a complaint handling team was likely to come up against misconceptions such as:

“If we need more staff to handle complaints then we clearly have big issues!”


“We can’t call the customer support team complaint handlers – it makes it look like we have unhappy customers!”

I can almost feel the collective eye roll of hundreds of Customer Experience and customer service professionals who have had to battle against just that type of mindset.

The great news is that the business world is steadily waking up to the power of harnessing complaints to drive continuous improvement. No longer is it frowned upon to admit you get complaints, or that you require a dedicated team to deal with them.

In fact, companies such as Octopus Energy are leading the way by being totally transparent about their complaint statistics. They have nothing to hide, and they want to let their customer base know just how important improving the customer experience is to their whole team.

Interestingly, Octopus Energy have also reported a huge surge in their customer base – in just nine months they managed to go from 600,000 customers to 1.35 million. During this period of intense growth, their complaint statistics remained steady with only a minor increase in issues reported per 100,000 customers.

Despite the increase in forward-thinking companies like Octopus rising to the top, Salesforce recently reported that 91 percent of customers who are unhappy with a brand will simply leave without complaining. They also listed that only one in 26 unhappy customers are likely to raise a complaint.

At the same time, the UK Customer Satisfaction Index dropped for the fourth consecutive year. What this amounts to is that often the first you learn of a customer being unhappy is when they switch to the competition – if you even notice at all!

No alt text provided for this image

So, accepting that complaints are a necessary evil is not enough. We need to take it one step further. The businesses who consistently wow their customers understand that complaints are fantastic, and if we can learn to fall in love with them too, we as a nationwide Customer Experience industry can reverse this trend.

There are several steps you can take today to help your team love complaints:

1. Discourage your team referring to a customer as ‘complaining’

If you search the term ‘complaining meaning’ in a popular search engine, you get the following result:


the expression of dissatisfaction or annoyance about something.

“his complaining has been a little bit annoying”

Meanwhile, a quick look at an online thesaurus returns grumbling, bellyaching, moaning, and whining as synonyms of the word complaining.

This perfectly sums up why the use of ‘complaining’ within a complaint handling team is so corrosive. As a word, it has negative connotations and anyone using it to describe a customer is subliminally giving themselves permission to see that customer as a nuisance.

Instead, let’s just refer to them as what they are – an unhappy customer.

They may have raised a complaint – a factual statement – but when you stop referring to them as complaining you have taken the first step towards respecting your customer and their right to raise a genuine grievance. This simple change in approach eventually helps a team to feel more empathy towards unhappy customers, and this leads to greater satisfaction during – and after – the complaint handling process for both customer and employee.

2. Ditch the idea that there is such a thing as an ‘unfounded complaint’

How many times have you heard a complaint handler or a colleague express their frustration over an unjustified or unfounded complaint?

It doesn’t seem fair does it? You have to spend your time investigating that complaint, even when you know the customer has just misunderstood the proposition, or had too high an expectation of what would happen, right?


In order to truly embrace complaints as a driver for change, we need to accept that we have full accountability for our Customer Experience. We are in a position where we understand our business model explicitly.

We know what our purchasing process is, what can cause delays, and what the product offering is. Most customers will never spend as much time on our websites as we do. We are the experts and it is our obligation to ensure we arm our customers with enough easily digestible, intuitive information that they never have the opportunity to misunderstand, or expect anything other than what we will deliver.

If we set out to explain ourselves clearly and we understand that our customer is not the expert in our business, then we can ensure that any negative review or expression of dissatisfaction is looked at with absolute objectivity. How can we ensure that the customer understands something better in the future, or what can we change in our process to make sure there is no room for concern or uncertainty for our customers?

3. Set yourself the highest standards

When you count your complaints, don’t be tempted to lie to yourself. Just because it didn’t contain the word complaint, or because it didn’t come through an officially recognised complaint channel, does not mean it is not a complaint.

If a customer has expressed dissatisfaction in any way then they should be counted, contacted, and learned from. Take it one step further – if your business model aims to delight customers, then consider anything less than a full five-star review an expression of dissatisfaction.

Sure, you might speak to the odd customer who confirms they actually did love their experience, they just hate to give out top marks for anything. You also might just learn the secret ingredient you have been missing all along.

4. Learn from every single complaint that comes your way

Don’t just collect stats.

So many companies are data-rich, information-poor. There are tools out there that provide the exact analytics you need to spot complaint trends, and enable proactive interactions that can inform your business and ensure that the volume of complaints you receive genuinely gets smaller over time – while your loyal customer base (and revenue) grows.

Make it policy that each person responding to a complaint should suggest two things that could have prevented the complaint arising in the first place. Some of your best insight comes from the experts in your team and you know that they will feel more empowered and engaged if they have been involved in the change process.

So, stop seeing complaints as the enemy and give this approach a try. Embrace the subtle changes with enthusiasm and see how you feel about complaints in a few months’ time.

Who knows, this could be the start of a beautiful relationship!

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJanuary 2, 2020


Banks and credit card companies in the UK faced over a million complaints in the first half of 2019, new data has revealed.

The research conducted by found that of this total, current account holders registered the highest number of complaints.

The complaints lodged with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) indicate that the number of complaints against current accounts was 590,663, while credit cards and repackaged accounts registered 354,806 and 99,600 complaints respectively. Complaints regarding arrears stood at 39,542.

Most of the complaints originated from administration and customer care services with a record 744,863 complaints, while clients who were unhappy with charges and product performance stood at 243,426. Elsewhere, some 129,838 customers had issues with advising, selling and arranging of banking and credit card products.

As per the report, UK firms must report complaints from eligible complainants in regards to activities conducted from the firm’s establishment.

The data was compiled after reviewing the total number of opened, closed and upheld complaints, the amount of redress paid, the type of firm the complaint was about, the type of product the complaint was about, and the reason why the complaint was raised.

The report states: “The complaints data is used to assess how financial institutions within the UK are relating to their customers while focusing on how their performance changes over time.”

Click here to access the data.

Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthNovember 27, 2019


The finalists for the 2020 UK Complaint Handling Awards have been revealed, with high street and household names among the brands vying for success at the upcoming gala ceremony.

The fourth year for the awards, the final of which will take place at London’s Park Plaza Hotel on March 5, is set to be the biggest yet, with finalists including The Co-op, Aldi, Npower, Yorkshire Water, Capita, and BT among firms competing across 15 categories.

Well-handled: 2020 will be the fourth year the UK Complaint Handling Awards 

This year, categories include Best Complaint Handling Team of the Year, Most Improved Complaint Handling, and Zero to Hero – Transforming Customer Relations.

The finalist with the highest score from the categories will leave with the highly coveted Overall Winner title.

Click here for a full list of 2020 finalists.

The expert judging panel for 2020 is continuing to take shape, and places are still available to join. Potential judges have until December 24 to take advantage of a special Early Bird discount on the judging package.

The event is hosted by Awards International and supported by partners Worksmart, Resolver, Huntswood, Cranfield School of Management, Professor Malcolm McDonald, and children’s charity Barnardo’s.

Awards International; CEO Neil Skehel said: “2019 saw an incredibly high standard set by UK Complaint Handling Awards finalists, yet we are confident that with the calibre of entries we will see that bar raised further in 2020.

“We cannot wait to hear what innovative complaint handling initiatives will be shown in March, and I would like to congratulate all finalists on making the shortlist, and wish them good luck.”

Laurianna FordLaurianna FordNovember 27, 2019


For many organisations, the contact or call centre is still the shopfront of the business.

At last count, there were 6,175 contact centres in the UK, employing some 772,500 agents. As the first port of call for clients and customers, the role of call agents shouldn’t be underestimated.

You might be the first person a caller has ever spoken to from a business; you might even be the first person that a caller has spoken to in weeks. Establishing a positive customer relationship from that first moment of contact is essential; impressions are often made quickly and can have a lasting impact.

With the internet now being so accessible, customers are more inclined to be vocal about a bad experience. Negative reviews can spread like wildfire on social media and the last thing a company wants is their organisation bad-mouthed in public.

Call North West is an organisation that supports contact centres in the region and each year they award stand-out people and companies for their contribution to customer service. I was proud recently to be named Sales Agent of the Year at their annual awards ceremony in Manchester. When new recruits name you as the agent they aspire to be, you know you must be doing something right!

I have worked for Freedom Finance, a fintech lending platform that matches consumers to suitable loans and mortgages, for over three years. Like other financial service providers, we strive to provide excellent customer service and have managed to excel in this area, with a top Trust Pilot rating. The business has achieved this all whilst operating on an almost fully digital model, with 872,000 amount of customer journeys currently completed online over the last rolling 12 months.

Where does that trust stem from? It starts with the people in the contact centre. Collectively, we strongly believe that customers need clarity and not just choice – sometimes the best way to accomplish this is through the help of an actual person, whether that’s on the end of the telephone line, or through an online chat facility.

Being self-motivated has allowed me to exceed targets and step-up when extra support is needed on the floor. Whilst these are personal attributes, there are some simple and achievable steps that anyone working in a contact centre can take in their pursuit of an excellent customer outcome.

Here are my top three tips for delivering excellent customer service:

Tip 1: Your attitude

You have to wake up and be ready for the day before you even start. If your mindset isn’t right or you don’t have the right attitude, you’ve already failed, and you can’t give the customer your best.

Tip 2: Be patient

We speak to customers from all walks of life and every customer is different.

Some need more support than others, which could be anything from understanding the terms and conditions, to having someone verbally navigate them through the digital application process online. It’s these customers that sometimes matter the most. They require extra assistance and the human touch to help them make a properly informed decision.

Tip 3: Remember, it costs nothing to be nice

Your interaction could impact someone’s life. Even if you can’t provide the customer with the product or answer that they want, you can always be nice and friendly, and hopefully leave them happy with the service you have provided.


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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.



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