Ruby KhaliqRuby KhaliqJuly 19, 2019
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11min2866

We’re flush with new ways to engage with customers, but businesses should be more data-driven, rather than simply throwing more manpower on the frontlines.

In the era of new contact centre touchpoints, the touchpoints themselves matter less and less because they should be managed in a unified way. That’s not to say we should disregard the touchpoints – in fact the opposite is true. We should be able to add them and monitor the data from customer interactions to create contact centres that offer better service and embrace innovation when it comes to engaging with customers.

In real terms, that means putting an end to seeing telephone, web chat, or mobile app communications as an island in their own right. Each channel will have its own considerations and technological challenges to take on board – that much is true. Yet as agent desktop interfaces better integrate the new channels that emerge, we should start to think of how we can solve new business challenges and get smarter, as well as becoming more efficient.

Hearing the voice of the customer

For many contact centres, voice has been their bread and butter for years. The difference now is that voice is used less – at least in its traditional sense. Meanwhile, phones are being used in different ways, particularly with the growing use of smartphones. Voice now has a closer relationship with other digital channels, and as a result, firms should prepare all channels to account for customers flowing between each.

Smart move: Digital channels are becoming ever closer for customers

Although customers are generally using phones less for voice calls than they used to, we’re now seeing an increase in phones being used as a digital backstop. If a customer doesn’t get the response they expect from digital channels, they will probably pick up the phone to speak to an agent. This brings to the surface the importance of managing the two types of contact centre interactions – those driven by bots and those driven by humans. Human agents will want to deal with the queries where they feel like they can add value. The simple issues such as the loss of a password can be dealt with automatically.

Agent time is both precious and costly and so should be used for issues where it is necessary. It’s important then, for businesses to find the right match between interactions handled by chat bot, and interactions that require a human touch. The best approach is to use a mix of both, where bots escalate to an agent when needed, without customers feeling like they are being passed between non-connected entities. 

We also have to prepare for a new era of voice interaction. There were 9.5 million active smart speaker users in the UK last year, which is an increase of 98.6 percent against 2017, according to eMarketer. Consumers are getting more comfortable in asking these devices to perform basic tasks and provide them with information. The next step is for them to be the conduit to getting in touch with the outside world. That doesn’t just mean communicating with close friends and family as is the case now but increasingly, with brands. In fact, voice assistants are just one part of a larger move towards a more integrated IoT service, which also includes connected cars.

We’re using bots to answer more customer questions with speed and accuracy. Doing the same thing with voice-activated devices will cut out the middle-man where needed, while still basing the approach on the voice model that has operated in contact centres for years. But as with any channel, it’s vital that voice plugs into a bigger picture view of customer interaction. Omnichannel rules the roost and provides a great deal of insights that are valuable for businesses.

Data insights enhancing Customer Experience

On the whole, companies have to get better at proactively engaging with customers and artificial intelligence (AI) will help to do this. For example, with the right data coming from previous customer interactions and insights it is able to obtain from initial contact, AI can be used to provide a more targeted response, and through a combination of virtual assistants, machine learning and customer data analytics, businesses are able to predict customer needs.

Insight: Data can provide a more targeted response for customers

Not only that, they can proactively address these needs to prevent repeat contacts for similar issues, deliver superior experiences to retain existing customers and improve offers or interactions in a way that attracts new customers. 

There’s also the intelligence that businesses can uncover to shape their products better – all from the way they monitor customer interaction. When firms automatically capture and analyse interactions, they can make sure they never miss the vital signs that should be spotted immediately. They are able to identify gaps in products, processes, and interactions – and make sure agents meet the needs of demanding customers.

One of our customers is a coffee company who was looking to carry out a strategic launch of a premium product. They automatically analysed all their calls and as a result, they were able to better train underperforming agents with targeted coaching. By analysing interactions at the contact centre, it enabled them to better understand how agents were pitching the product and it also helped them to see how well the new product was being perceived. Using these measures, the company increased sales penetration using best practice, and increased basket size by pushing promotions at the right time.

Finding focus

I’m excited by the prospect of new touchpoints and technologies coming together to offer a better service to customers, better performance for agents and better efficiency for businesses. And with voice assistants, IoT and other connected ways for businesses to interact with people, the whole area of customer services has been blown wide open. There’s so much potential for innovation.

World of possibility: A connected planet is changing how we look at customer service

But with all these touchpoints, it’s vital that businesses can connect the dots across the different channels they use. It’s an approach that includes not just the communications channels but the knowledge captured from CRM systems and contact centre insights. We know that the channels will probably change in the future as consumers find new ways to interact with brands but in the grand scheme of things, that shouldn’t matter. What is important is a technology agnostic approach through providers that incorporates the channels, and provides a single dashboard that enables businesses decisions to be made based on insights, rather than just intuition.

The thing with data is that the findings are hard to dispute, so long as you are confident in the original sources, sensors and algorithms. The future won’t necessarily be dictated by the latest flashy communications channel. Instead it will be led by smart approaches, and increasingly, that means taking steps to focus on automation, analytics and innovation of Customer Experience in a meaningful way. 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 15, 2019
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4min2305

UK financial services and utilities businesses are underperforming when it comes to complaint handling, despite their growing belief that customers are satisfied with their performance.

That is according to Huntswood’s Complaints Outlook 2019 report, which combines research from financial services and utilities firms with survey responses from over 5,500 consumers. The nationally representative survey was carried out by Huntswood’s research partners, YouGov, and has revealed a perception gap between businesses and customers – 69 percent of firms believe that their customers are satisfied with their complaints are handled, while the reality is that only 26 percent of customers actually report being satisfied.

When asked, 87 percent of firms interviewed also said that their complaint handling staff are well equipped to do the job, however 61 percent of customers are currently dissatisfied with the empathy of the staff member they interacted with and 59 percent are dissatisfied with the knowledge of the staff member they interacted with.

Resolution times also remain an issue – 49 percent of firms believe they are resolving complaints at the first point of contact, yet only 18 percent of customers claim that their complaint was resolved immediately.

Complaints Outlook 2019 also reveals a disconnect between the perceived importance of complaints handling by businesses and a lack of focus on building required professional skills. This is evident in the fact that, despite 96 percent of businesses agreeing that the impact of the complaint handler on customer satisfaction is high or extremely high, 52 percent admitted that their employees do not complete professional complaint handling training programmes or qualifications.

With increased regulatory scrutiny around the treatment of vulnerable customers, 75 percent of the firms interviewed believe that their staff are equipped and empowered to deal with customers in vulnerable circumstances, with the remaining quarter feeling they are only part of the way to achieving this.

Furthermore, 57 percent of firms believe they are creating advocates in at least half of all cases, however only eight percent of customers surveyed had a positive complaints experience and shared it with friends and family.

This perception gap should be treated as a warning to firms, with 60 percent of customers adding that they would change provider as a result of a poor complaints experience.

Paul Scott, Chief Commercial Officer at Huntswood, said: “Firms are increasingly recognising the value that can be derived from the complaints journey.  However, despite this, our research shows that there are discrepancies between how financial services companies believe they are dealing with complaints and the reality for customers. Complaints are an unavoidable part of business, so it’s critical that they are handled well and that customers feel valued throughout.

“Firms should therefore be looking to create an effective complaints handling operation, underpinned by a robust strategy which focuses on providing the best possible outcomes for customers. Doing so can deliver enormous benefits, such as deeper relationships with existing customers and an increase in new relationships from customer advocacy.”


Sharon WilliamsSharon WilliamsJuly 10, 2019
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7min2279

Recruitment has never been an easy task, regardless of which industry is facing the challenge.

Difficulties in finding the right people, at the right time, with the right skills, is something all organisations encounter. One such industry is contact centres. Outsourced contact centres are extremely people-focused, meaning that it’s imperative to get the recruitment process right from the offset and meet the challenges faced head-on.

In a contact centre environment, there is a need for recruiters to not only meet seasonal demand, but to be able to find the right person for each position, focusing on retaining employees that are skilled, motivated and committed to the role. A successful contact centre will find, train and retain staff that can meet customer expectations and work to make sure teams have the right attributes to properly represent the organisation they work for.

However, there are numerous outsourced contact centres getting recruitment right, and by following a few simple steps, recruiters can build a successful recruitment strategy that gets it right every time.

Staff on demand

Numerous industries are known to face issues with peaks and troughs of demand, but one that certainly suffers the most is retail. With huge seasonal spikes throughout the year – Black FridayChristmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter – this industry understands what it’s like to see a huge rush of customers that can vanish as quickly as they appear.

Seasonal spikes: Retail knows all-too well the pressures of fluctuating demand

To cope with these hectic periods, it’s essential for organisations to be confident that the recruitment channels being used will reach the right people, quickly and effectively. Advertising locally on buses and billboards, for example, can be more targeted and help to enhance brand recognition for an organisation looking to seek local Customer Service Advisors, as an addition to online.

Additionally, contact centre organisations need to prepare for these peaks by working closely with their customers to understand when the demand might rise and fall, and what levels of staff will be needed accordingly. By reflecting on busy periods of the past, recruitment teams can work in harmony with marketing teams to figure out what works, what could change and then put a plan in place for the next peak time.

Talking the talk

Contact centres have undoubtedly evolved. Just look at the name; what was once referred to as a call centre has grown to become much more. The omnichannel world that consumers now live in means they expect to receive the same customer experience, regardless of which channel they use – whether it’s social media, a phone call, email, online chat, or through instant messaging. They expect answers instantly, and they want their queries answered or issues resolved in as few steps as possible.

Digital demand: Customers need queries answered – quickly – across all channels

Because of this, the skill sets required of Customer Service Advisors has also changed. Advisors now need to be proficient in communicating across a variety of channels, utilising strong written and verbal communication skills to make the experience as seamless as possible for the customer. This eclectic way of working means that Advisors need to be flexible, adaptable, and able to multi-task, providing the same, exceptional experience with each customer interaction. A coherent selection process will ensure that recruitment teams are finding the right people for the job.

Capturing brand personality

When it comes to the selection process, this not only needs to be tailored for each job role, but also for each brand – this is the very nature of an outsourced contact centre. Each organisation that is represented by the contact centre will require something different, and this shouldn’t just come through when the Customer Service Advisors are answering queries; it should start at the beginning of the recruitment journey.

CV savvy: Recruitment strategies should must help brands find the best people

Recruitment teams should actively work with the client to build the job description, which should then underpin the selection process. Recruitment strategies should also be tailored for each brand to find the most suitable people; who are the organisation’s target market? How do they communicate? Can brand advocates be chosen to ensure the Customer Service Advisor has a genuine interest in the brand? This ensures the brand’s personality can be captured in each customer interaction, through style, tone of voice and language used.

The recruitment journey

Developing a CX strategy starts with recruitment. With the end customer in mind, a recruitment strategy can be developed that ensures the right team is sourced and trained in line with the organisation’s requirements. Recruitment doesn’t have to be a challenge; a clear understanding of the organisation’s values from the outset is a simple way to get the journey heading in the right direction and, coupled with the right approach to customer service, means that contact centres can commit to delivering an exceptional CX, every time.


Bradlee AllenBradlee AllenJuly 9, 2019
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6min2259

As any reader of CXM knows, Customer Experience is a key business differentiator.

Businesses working in every sector, from IT to healthcare to retail, needs to deliver fast, effective, and memorable customer service to stand out from the crowd.

Consumers are fickle, and with positive, memorable experiences now driving their choices over which brands to engage with, they won’t be afraid to shop around if a business fails to meet their expectation.

Yet while CX is a top priority for business leaders, the task all too often falls elsewhere – to the customer services team. Ensuring the drive of the leadership team is mirrored by those on the front line who are interacting with customers first-hand, is critical.

The right technology will empower frontline workers to deliver the best experience possible, even when they’re spanning different geographies and time zones. Without it, the disconnect between a brand and its workers can damage relationships and make it more challenging to attract and retain the best talent to drive successful CX.

What do customers expect when communicating with brands?

Can it: Is your customer comms lacking?

Knowing that customers want fast responses and resolutions, here are five ways that cloud communications can better empower customer services teams and deliver experiences that delight customers every time:

1. Access to the right agent at the right time

In traditional on-premises systems, customers must be dealt with by whichever agent is present and available in the contact centre at that time. In contrast, a cloud-based system removes these limitations, meaning that the most experienced or relevant member of the team can be connected to customers even if they’re not in the office

2. Any device, any location

Switching to the cloud means frontline workers can log in and access the same dashboards and communication applications from any location, using any device. This not only opens up a huge opportunity to bring in remote agents, but also ensures that everyone is working with the same information, providing a more unified interaction with the customer.

3. Improved availability

The cloud enables better support of different time zones and language requirements, allowing businesses to expand their skills pool to attract specialists. This support can also make the business more accessible and attractive to international customers.

4. Managing workflows

By switching to a cloud-based system, businesses have the flexibility to bring in remote agents as soon as a queue starts to build. At the same time, analytics dashboards can allow businesses to pre-empt such queues before they even happen, ‘switching on’ additional agents when needed. This feature is ideal for companies with seasonal peaks and troughs where the business requires ‘all hands on deck’ one week then a skeleton staff the next.

5. Consumer-like experiences

Lastly, switching to the cloud ensures companies can provide a consumer-grade experience with ongoing upgrades to keep technology fresh and relevant. This makes it easier for agents to interact with colleagues and customers in a way that feels familiar and easy.

Digital workplace transformation is happening across the business world to support the increasingly fluid nature of modern workforces and an ever-demanding customer base.

In these highly collaborative environments where workers are logging in from outside the office, the seamlessness of cloud-based communication platforms will enable businesses to keep up with this pace of change, ensuring customers always receive the experiences they want and deserve.


Sion LewisSion LewisJuly 5, 2019
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8min3065

Working in a call centre has been seen as the very epitome of the “McJob” – a low-paid, unrewarding role that’s usually viewed as a stepping stone to more responsible, better-paid and more meaningful employment.

It shouldn’t be this way.

Customer service representatives (CSRs) play perhaps the most important role in any organisation. They are a business’ window on the world; the face of the corporation. Great CSRs are worth their weight in gold- they solve problems, mollify irate customers, and turn anger and frustration into loyalty and respect.

Businesses need to treasure their CSRs and give them the support to solve customer complaints. If businesses are serious about delivering quality customer service, two things need to change. First, there needs to be a revolution in the way that we view contact centre work. Secondly, we need to give these workers the tools they need to conduct efficient conversations and to resolve customer questions quickly.

It’s time to value CSR

Businesses have little hope of delivering first-class customer service if they don’t value their CSRs, and a look at the hospitality industry is instructive here. In the UK, being a waiter is seen as a low-skilled ‘starter’ job.

But across the Channel, the French take waitering incredibly seriously. Waiters and sommeliers are typically highly trained and very knowledgeable about food and wine, and anyone who has eaten at a decent French restaurant will be familiar with the waiting staff’s air of authority and gravitas – all of which adds to the dining experience.

It’s the same for any sort of customer service. You can have the best product in the world, but if you don’t provide a great customer contact experience you will likely lose much of the goodwill that customers feel towards your brand. Unfortunately, many CSRs today lack the tools and the insight they need to provide fantastic Customer Experience.

Change is on the horizon

When a call comes in, it’s common for customer service staff to spend a significant amount of time authenticating the customer; once they’ve passed security, the CSR can then find themselves without a full picture of the customer and their history, and often lack the information they need to resolve the complaint quickly and efficiently.

There are signs that this view of customer service is about to change, however. AI-powered chatbots, for example, are increasingly taking responsibility for more routine enquiries, removing much of the drudgery of customer service roles and enabling operatives to focus on higher-value tasks.

But chatbots alone won’t transform the role of the CSR. If we are to change perceptions about customer service and make it a fulfilling line of work, we need to get rid of the irritations and inefficiencies that continue to bedevil the role. For example, CSRs typically spend only a quarter of their time actually helping customers. And here, AI can again come to the rescue.

The bigger picture: Businesses can now provide every CSR with all the information from an entire customer journey

Equipping CSRs for success

Smart companies that put a premium on customer service are deploying AI-powered contact centre software that enables them to provide a more in-person experience for online customers by anticipating questions and needs based on their history and where they are in the current journey.

Unfortunately, CSRs often do not have access to vital information such as purchase history or previous complaints. As a result, they go into conversations blind and spend significant amounts of time establishing basic facts before they can resolve the customer query.

Anyone who’s spent time on the phone to customer services will be familiar with the frustration of having to explain their situation multiple times to different customer service employees. By harnessing the latest generation of customer contact tools, businesses can provide every CSR with all the information from entire customer journey, from acquisition, through conversion and into post-sale support, providing companies with everything they need to create an exceptional CX.

Artificial intelligence can deliver meaningful and immediate benefits that put CSRs in the driving seat in every conversation. The benefits are legion: AI can filter out routine customer interactions that can be resolved by a chatbot or self-service, enabling agents to focus on more complex or high-value work. It can ensure seamless transition from bot to agent within the same chat window, meaning the customer doesn’t have to repeat themselves.

Meanwhile, the latest generation of contact centre tools consolidate data from every customer interaction and manages data from disparate systems to deliver real-time actionable insights for faster issue resolution – all of which means that customers spend less time explaining and complaining.

Small wonder that Forrester found that businesses with mature deployments of AI-powered contact centre software saw a 63 percent increase in net promoter score (NPS) and reported an average of eight points higher than their lesser mature counterparts. Furthermore, half of these organisations saw an increase in conversation rates, 56 percent reported an increase in revenue, and 40 percent saw an increase in order size. Even agent satisfaction increased under the more mature organisations with nearly 50 percent reporting an increase in overall job happiness.

If businesses are serious about putting the customer first, the place to start is in the contact centre. They must value these problem solvers and provide them with the tools they need to turn angry, frustrated patrons into loyal customers.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJuly 1, 2019
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4min2067

Entries are now open for the 2020 UK Complaint Handling Awards, Britain’s biggest celebration of CX-inspired initiatives to resolve consumer problems.

2020 will be he fourth year the awards ceremony will be held in the heart of London, and March 5 will see finalists descend on the Park Plaza Riverbank venue to present 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 2019 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 November 14. Those who enter before October 8, meanwhile, can take advantage of a special Early Bird discount, that can save up to £100 off the standard entry price.

There are 15 categories to choose from for 2020, encompassing both industry and discipline-specific areas. They incorporate both B2B and B2C initiatives, and include categories specifically for SMEs, so that all types of organisation have the chance to earn recognition.

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

Celebrating success: Firstsource Solutions was named Overall Winner at the 2019 UKCHA finals in March

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.

Awards International CEO, Neil Skehel, said: “We are thrilled to launch the 2020 UK Complaint Handling Awards, and are excited to see the initiatives put forward by organisations, big and small, from right across the UK.

“This annual event has become one of the most relevant dates in the business calendar for companies that are revolutionising how they interact with customers and implement resolution strategies.

“The best companies don’t shy away from complaints – they use them to strengthen their reputation and retain a loyal customer. Joining the awards this year means you can showcase your amazing initiatives whilst rewarding your team’s dedication.

“As with events such as the upcoming UK Customer Experience Awards and UK Digital Experience Awards, the UKCHAs will also be a prime networking opportunity, promoting excellence and best practice sharing, by gathering hundreds of leading business professionals together under one roof.”

Click here for further details on how to enter for 2020.

Meanwhile, for those keen to glean insights from previous winners, the Winning With Complaint Handling conference is taking place in London on September 25. This unique one-day event will offer practical techniques on transforming complaints into improved products and services, and provide guidance on creating customer loyalty through outstanding complaint handling strategies.

Click here for details on applying to attend, and for a special discount offer.


Martin EllinghamMartin EllinghamJune 28, 2019
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10min3022

金継ぎ

This might sound like a strange question in the context of financial services, but have you ever heard of Kintsugi?

No matter if not because I’m about to explain exactly what it is – and why it matters to your complaints handling team. For those who haven’t come across it before, Kintsugi is the art of repairing broken pottery. Fixing broken pots and dishes might not sound that impressive (or seem to have much bearing on complaints and Customer Experience) but the philosophy behind it is both fascinating and highly useful.

In Kintsugi (which translates as ‘golden joinery’), the broken pottery is repaired in a specific way. The pieces are held together with a special mix of lacquer and gold powder – creating a golden seam that serves not to hide the break but highlight it. The piece of pottery is not as good as new; it wears its golden scars with pride.

New beauty: The art of Japanese Kintsugi can be applied to complaint handling

They are now part of its history and something to be cherished. Whatever caused the item to break has, instead of rendering it useless, helped it become more beautiful. For people used to seeing broken things as being at the end of their journey, it’s an interesting concept to get used to.

However, it’s a philosophy that I think can have a profound effect on how you approach complaint handling – and the entire Customer Experience.

The problem with product-driven CX

Delivering great CX is a challenging task for any company – especially in the complex world of financial services. There are so many different elements that need to come together to keep each customer happy. Some of them you won’t even have control over. After all, how can you account for the things going on in a person’s day that will influence how they interact with you?

Thankfully, overall, customers are incredibly happy with the products and services they receive from companies. The UK banking sector is above the all-sector average for customer satisfaction, so it must be getting something right.

The problem arrives when customers aren’t happy with the products and services they receive. Too many businesses build their CX around the core product. So, when this doesn’t suit the customer’s needs or doesn’t work out as planned, the company isn’t sure how to handle the situation. Sure, it has a complaints handling team, but when the sole focus of CX is on delivering a great product, there’s little any agent can do to add value or retain the customer.

The importance of repairing relationships and building customer trust

When businesses lose a customer, there’s a tendency to label each case as a ‘lost cause’. This is especially the case when a product or service hasn’t lived up to expectations because companies don’t want to be faced with their failures. I don’t mean this as a harsh criticism; it makes sense when an organisation’s outward-facing reputation is built on the success of its offering.

Customers want to purchase from a company they can trust to deliver the goods. However, businesses have less and less control over how their brand is perceived. When a customer has a poor experience, they’re easily able to post reviews online detailing exactly went wrong. There’s no way for companies to prevent this – other than to deliver the best possible CX.

Review regret: Only the best possible CX will prevent online reviews from negatively impacting your brand

In situations where customers are already unhappy, aftercare and complaint handling become vital. Too many customer relationships break down because there’s no effective way to resolve issues and mend the trust between consumer and company. This is where the following philosophy of Kintsugi could make all the difference – both to the retention and acquisition of your customers.

How to apply Kintsugi to complaints handling

As I’ve mentioned already, there are so many elements that go into creating great CX. You can’t deliver the perfect experience 100 percent of the time – it’s simply impossible. However, when things don’t go completely according to plan, you can pick up the pieces and mould them into something new; something stronger.

If you apply the idea of Kintsugi to your CX, you can change the way you look at the customer journey. Instead of hiding the issues customers have had with your products and services (again, you can’t), focus on mending these relationships through complaint resolution to make sure people come away with a positive experience of your overall business.

Resolve to evolve: Mending customer relationships is essential to positive experiences 

By accepting that the customer journey doesn’t always go smoothly, you can transform the perception of your CX and your brand. When people look at a Kintsugi bowl, they don’t focus on how it broke – they see a new, more beautiful object that has taken the place of the original. The same will be true of your CX if you have an effective complaints-handling operation in place to rebuild trust with customers who have had a less than positive experience up until the point they complain.

Creating an opportunity with complaints

If you can make golden repairs on your customer relationships, you can turn negative experiences into positive ones. As well as making those consumers more loyal to you, the approach means people are far more likely to become brand ambassadors – helping you attract new business. This is why complaints are an opportunity for financial services companies, rather than a source of shame.

To make the most of this opportunity, however, companies need to know that their complaints handling teams are operating as effectively and efficiently as possible. For an unhappy customer trying to resolve a complaint, the frustration of having to do something as simple as repeating their details and queries to several different agents is magnified hugely. It’s just one example of how poor complaints handling can exacerbate a negative CX and highlights the need for companies to get the basics right.

When a customer gets in touch to talk about their complaint (whether over the phone or online), they have to be given the confidence that their issue will be resolved as best as possible – regardless of who they talk to. This means making sure that every agent has access to up-to-date information on each case, allowing them to make progress, support the customer and take important steps towards improving the overall CX received.

The way you approach complaints in your company will make a huge difference to how successful you are. If you apply the ideals of Kintsugi to complaint handling, you’ll shift the whole focus of your CX – and your business will be better for it. However, having the right mindset is just one piece of the puzzle.

金継ぎ

 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJune 26, 2019
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12min2364

The UK Complaint Handling Awards has established itself as Britain’s premier showcase for customer service talent, and this year saw one of the event’s most sought-after Gold gongs go to one of the world’s most recognisable names in outsourcing and professional services – Capita.

Well-deserved: Becky Horsey accepts Capita’s Gold Complaint Handling Award

With entries now open for the 2020 awards – and an Early Bird Discount available until October 18 – Customer Experience Magazine spoke with Capita’s Business Development Director, Tracey Roberts, and Capita Business Management Director of Operations & Change, Becky Horsey, about their winning initiatives and future awards goals.

Capita was one of the day’s big winners at the UKCHAs 2019. Can you tell us a bit about the initiatives you put forward?

Tracey: This was our first time entering the UKCHAs, and we entered with three separate initiatives in different categories.

The first was entered in the Customer Relations & Remediation category. It detailed our end-to-end approach to remediation, which encompasses the way in which we assess the size of the problem, design the treatment strategy, and build and deliver the solution, which can include tracing, customer communication, investigations, and payments. The reason we chose this initiative was because our approach has generated significant benefits for our clients and, most importantly, their end customers.

Our second initiative was entered in the Innovation in Complaint Management category and it centred around the introduction of groundbreaking technology that had not previously been used for the type of project our client wanted us to engage with. Our innovative solution mitigated the potential for a high-risk manual solution and enabled the client to save over £1m, meet their regulatory commitments, and ensure customers were remediated quickly.

Lastly, our third entry in the Best Complaint Handling Training category focussed on our fit-for-purpose PPI Training Academy, which was set up to respond to the demand for large volumes of resource from one of our key financial services clients. Our Academy is a best-in-class method of training delivery for staff which has now expanded to include the client’s own permanent staff, as well as other supplier resources and it has generated a saving of over £8m for our client.

We were delighted to win an award in all three categories entered – Gold for Customer Relations & Remediation, Silver for Innovation in Complaint Managementand Bronze for Best Complaint Handling Training –   acknowledging Capita’s drive to constantly deliver better outcomes for our clients and their customers through delivery of effective, innovative complaint solutions. We hope to emulate the same success this year with some of the new initiatives that are taking place across our business.

Analytics were a key part of Capita’s initiative. How crucial is such technology in delivering first-class complaint handling and Customer Experience for firms today?

Becky: Technology is fundamental to ensuring we deliver a first class complaint handling service and Customer Experience for our clients’ customers.

To give you just one example, we have used our 20 years’ experience in delivering successful complaint handling projects to tailor one of the UK’s leading case management systems in order to support the end-to-end complaints customer journey and provide a complaint-focused analytics capability to drive continuous improvement.​

The system has integrated CRM, workflow, and task management functionality as well as robust data controls and flexibility which allows us to work with each client to re-configure the system quickly and create a bespoke purpose-built solution to meet their specific needs.​

All customer interactions are stored to provide a holistic view of the customer journey. This provides us with a rich source of data which we can analyse to understand customer behaviours and identify the root cause of complaints to ensure we continually improve our operations, with the ultimate goal of helping our clients to reduce their future complaint levels.

How has the awards success inspired the Capita team?

Becky: Our success was only possible due to the hard work, ingenuity, and dedication of the teams who designed, built, and delivered all three of our initiatives. Not only did these teams inspire our entries and give us initiatives which were worthy of a place at the awards, but they had a direct impact on our success.

Those behind each of the initiatives were directly involved in the production of our award entries to ensure that we included as much detail as possible and were able to tell the story from the perspective of all stakeholders – the client, our operational management team and front-line colleagues, as well as the end customers. It was key members from our delivery teams who presented our initiatives in front of the judging panel during the UKCHA finals.

Not only did this ensure the panel was hearing about the initiative first-hand from those on the front line, but it also allowed our key team members to reap the rewards of their hard work.

Inspired by this success, our teams are already considering what initiatives they want to submit for the 2020 awards!

Would you encourage other companies involved in first-class customer service and complaint handling to enter awards? 

Tracey: Yes we would highly recommend that any company truly invested in delivering first-class customer service and complaint handling should enter these awards. We won’t deny it requires hard work and a lot of extra effort from people who are already focussed on delivering service to our clients, but taking part and being rewarded for our efforts greatly outweighed this.

Not only is it a chance to showcase your company’s successes and gain external recognition, we have also found that it has been a great motivator for our teams, due to the internal recognition they received as a result. From their management teams who felt their work was worthy of entering in the awards, through to the internal communications which have been spread across the wider Capita group, we are seeing more and more of our staff keen to get involved in the awards process. As a result we are hoping to have even more entries to submit in 2020.

Enter now: The 2020 UK Complaint Handling Awards finals will be held on March 5 at London’s Park Plaza Riverbank

Where, in your opinion, does the future of quality complaint handling lie? Is it solely in technology, or is it important to maintain a ‘human’ element throughout?

Becky: As mentioned previously, technology plays a major part in the future of complaint handling. Not only can it help improve the quality of operations to ensure that our clients’ customers are benefiting from fair and consistent outcomes, but recent advancements in technology such as speech analytics are also helping us to support our clients to reduce – and ultimately prevent – their complaints.

That being said, due to the emotive nature of complaints and the importance we place on the effective management of customers with vulnerability – particularly in financial services – we believe it is of the upmost importance to maintain the ‘human’ element within complaint handling operations.

At Capita we pride ourselves on having a team of experienced, skilled, and dedicated colleagues who understand the importance of using technology as an enabler to improve the experience they provide for our customers day-in, day-out.

For the full list of categories to enter in the 2020 UK Complaint Handling Awards, click here.


Stewart KitsonStewart KitsonJune 26, 2019
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6min1991

There is ever increasing interest in the role emotions play when managing Customer Experience in the contact centre.

At the same time, there is a drive to introduce technology such as chatbots to make customer service teams more efficient; removing repetitive tasks and providing ‘always on’ customer service. These potentially conflicting trends are happening at a time when the demand for customer service is growing, and organisations are fighting to differentiate themselves through their customer service offering. 

A recently commissioned study by Forrester Consulting suggested that 90 percent of customer service leaders agree personalisation is core to the future of automation, and existing chatbot technology is stalling their efforts. The key challenge is to build simple yet personalised experiences for customers.

As Maya Angelou famously said: “People don’t always remember what you say or even what you do, but they always remember how you made them feel.” If your chatbot or AI solution leaves the customer feeling frustrated or angry because they have to put in more effort to get the answer to what they perceive is a routine query or task, all that is being achieved is an increased chance that the customer will look for an alternative supplier who can make this task easier.

In addition, quite often humans want to talk to humans. A study by PwC found that an average 74 percent of non-US consumers want more human interaction in the future and that 59 percent of all consumers feel companies have lost touch with the human element of Customer Experience.

Certainly, there have been strategies employed whereby chatbots are being disguised as humans which can only lead to frustration on behalf of the customer when they find they are being deceived and the bot cannot fulfil their needs for a more emotional or complex issue response. While customer views are constantly evolving, I still think Userlike got it right with their view on avoiding the ‘uncanny valley’.

Organisations need to be up front when a customer engages with them by disclosing that they are talking with a bot, and take advantage of the benefits that can be gained when effectively deploying it for more routine and simple tasks. In addition, they need to give the customer the opportunity to seamlessly switch to a human agent, without the need for the customer to repeat themselves. In short, make it easy, make it simple and, when the customer is speaking to an agent, make it personal.

No one can deny that AI is getting better and better, and chatbots will certainly have their place in our future. A well-designed customer-centric journey will allow the bots to tackle low level tasks, but companies also have to be cautious in blindly launching bots into the contact centre eco-system. When poorly executed the effect upon customers can be detrimental to their overall experience. It’s all too easy to deploy a chatbot that can get stuck in a loop, resulting not only in an increased cost to serve but also a decrease in overall customer satisfaction. 

Hockenbury & Hockenbury in Describing Psychology (1997) described emotion as “a complex psychological state that involves three distinct components: a subjective experience, a physiological response, and a behavioural and expressive response”. Delivering customer service for an organisation dealing with often highly emotive subject of money, we have yet to find an AI solution that can effectively replicate the human touch our industry-leading customer service team can deliver. They can handle the simple routine tasks well, but then so can a well-designed FAQ or Help Centre. Until such a time as when chatbots can manage all three psychological states, there will always be a need for humans.

Human agents have a big advantage. They understand compassion, they can demonstrate empathy and they have their own shared experiences of everyday life which continues to become busier and more stressful for us all. In having this unique skill set, the human agent is here to stay and will own the complex matters where a human touch is needed.


Jonathan SharpJonathan SharpJune 19, 2019
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12min2121

The future is upon us, with companies digitalising their contact centres with disruptive technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotic Processing Automation (RPA), that are improving the Customer Experience beyond recognition.

In the age of Brexit and political and economic uncertainty, more companies are tasked with the hard remit to cut costs and improve services at the same time. Mission Impossible? Surprisingly, it’s not!

By using AI and RPA solutions in your contact centre you can reduce the cost to serve by as much as 95 percent compared to other communication methods such as telephone call, email, or live web chat – and at the same time improve the experience for both agents and customers.

The aim is to make the customers’ journey seamless at every touch point helping you improve customer experience and reduce cost to serve. In turn this helps to reduce customer churn (retain existing customers) and increases their willingness to buy again from you and buy more.   As we know consumers are more vocal than ever before, especially within the social sphere and review sites.  Great customer experience increases advocacy, helping you to attract new ones – becoming your best marketing channel.

By removing wasted effort and the repetitive and mundane, your people will have the time to not only do their job more efficiently but importantly support the shift towards an innovation and value driven culture. This in turn presents new opportunities to transform, differentiate and develop new target operating models, helping to drive accelerated revenue growth.

The future is now

Customers expect to be able contact you 24/7, using whatever communications method they choose whether that’s text, phone, email, video call, or web chat. More than 60 percent of customers interact through multiple channels and they expect a consistent service (Deloitte research). We often see IT managers responding to a CEO requesting a webchat solution and then rushing into buying an off the shelf product that it is not suited to their needs and not part of an overall strategy. We must emphasise that it is vital from the start to set objectives and have a strategy in place before you embark on any AI or RPA project.

A digital transformation strategy does not need to be a huge and overwhelming project with endless budgets and deadlines. By working with a Solutions Provider, you’ll be able to deconstruct it into manageable projects which will aid you in getting approval and devising a strategy.

Mapping out the customer’s journey

It is crucial to know which business goals you want an AI and RPA project to achieve. If your objective is to improve tCX with a view to increasing sales and revenue then it is advisable to study the existing journey that your customers take and question what works and what doesn’t.

With the guidance from a Solution Provider you can then look at how it should be improved by asking agents and customers how they want to communicate and what improvements they think would benefit them. By involving all stakeholders, you are not only helping with the buy-in for the new technology but also enabling them to envision how they will collaborate with the AI and RPA solution. It is crucial that companies understand how humans can augment technology and how technology can enhance the roles of humans. This is an imperative step in the process of redesigning business processes to support your objectives.

Integration is everything

A Solutions Provider will ensure that AI and RPA is integrated into the front and back office so you can utilise what you have and maximise your new solution.

A survey from Forrester revealed that 64 percent of respondents commented that a lack of single view of information was one of their biggest challenges in CRM. Often companies deploy an ad hoc AI solution that doesn’t integrate with their existing technology and the contact centre agents then have multiple screens at a time to view all of the communications. We have more technology and communications methods available to us than ever before but if we do not plan how and where to use them, then it can be counterproductive.

The aim is to create a single view of all communications and essentially to have one ‘smart in box’ so the agents can view everything on one screen. All interactions are integrated over an orchestration layer connecting the front and back office together. Then you can truly revolutionise your contact centre, CX, and your business processes.

Segmenting and prioritising customers

Customers want easy to use communications, they don’t want to be left on hold, stuck in a queue, and transferred from one department to another. They expect to move seamlessly between communication channels and not to be asked who they are and what the purpose of their call is again and again.

With AI and RPA, you can segment customers on value and expectations, for example you can prioritise high value customers so they can jump the queue to talk to an agent or provide a call back option when is convenient with them. As the customers are high value you may want to provide them with real time communications, such as a phone or video call, offering a more personalised service.

Agents can also see on their screen that they are your top tier customers and have visibility of their details and history so they can personalise the service and making them feel valued.

Data used to segment customers can be managed, used to upsell and utilised for sales and marketing. The key is that people are required to analyse the data  to encourage departments to knock down the silos and share what they are working on.

Re-thinking business processes

The beauty of AI and RPA is that it forces companies to re-think business processes and how technology can be utilised to increase revenues and return on investment. Particularly around one of the biggest investments in your business – human capital. You can realign agents to focus on high value customers or queries that require more empathy and detail whilst offloading the daily mundane administrative duties to a Conversational AI. Enabling you to save cost and reinvest in training your agents to be more specialised to get more return from your investment.

Workforce optimisation

These disruptive technologies provide endless possibilities; redesigning CX and business processes.

Conversational AI solutions can learn content from your website and their customer conversations, so they can pre-empt needs. Relieve your agents and set up a self-serve option where customers can access answers to basic questions on your website. If the enquiry becomes too complex, then the digital agent hands the query over to a human agent.

Employees fears of being replaced

Digital transformation creates an intelligent blended workforce of humans and technology.

Employees must be reassured that with they will not be replaced with an AI and RPA solution, in fact it will complement them. Digital transformation is an opportunity for them to upgrade their skills and specialist areas. They will be able to focus on more valuable interactions as the AI solution frees them from mundane tasks. They will receive more job satisfaction from the new intelligent blended workforce. When rolling out AI and RPA, it’s crucial to ensure your culture is right first, otherwise your employees will reject it. Work on an open culture that empowers employees to share their opinions, digital transformation is a never ending process of continual improvement.

Mindset of a start-up

Digital transformation brings new everything – new technology, new ways of working, new business processes. Companies need to embrace the new culture and change existing ways of thinking, and adopt the same mindset of a start-up. By working with a Solution Provider they will reduce the risk through piloting any technology finding our what works and what doesn’t. They will also hold ‘discovery workshops’ to work closely with all of your teams conducting in-depth discussions on what technology they would like in place.

So, rather than ‘mission impossible’, it is very much ‘mission possible’; especially when you select the right partner.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJune 17, 2019
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4min2049

The most exciting gathering of award winners and experts in the field of complaint handling will take place London this autumn at a brand new conference, and now is your chance to join them for a special  discount price.

The Winning With Complaint Handling conference is hosted by Awards International, and will feature six insightful panel discussions from UK firms which have wowed judges at the annual UK Complaint Handling Awards.

Taking place on September 25 at the Park Plaza Riverbank in the heart of London, this unique one-day event will offer practical techniques on transforming complaints into improved products and services, and provide guidance on creating customer loyalty through outstanding complaint handling strategies.

Industry insight: Winners of the UK Complaint Handling Awards will discuss strategies for success
Attendees will be able to interact in real time with each panel using the Slido app, to put questions to panelists and vote on issues as speakers discuss the need to adopt dynamic, technological solutions instead of traditional approaches.
As with all Awards International events, the conference will be an excellent networking opportunity, as guests will include representatives from a wide range of sectors. A full line-up for the conference will be revealed in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, joining Awards International CEO Neil Skehel as Co-Chair of the conference will be Daniel Ord, Founder and Director of OmniTouch International, and one of the world’s leading authorities on contact centre excellence. Daniel also leads CXM’s Contact Centres Masterclass.
Co-Chair: Contact centre expert Daniel Ord will welcome guests to Winning With Complaint Handling
“I’m thrilled to be welcoming attendees to London later this year for what will be one of the best opportunities to learn the skills and strategies of award-winning firms,” Daniel said.
“Our panel discussions will feature valuable insight into what the very best brands are providing customers when it comes to complaint handling.”
Neil Skehel added: “This isn’t just another conference; you will be an integral part of this event and your priorities will shape what we discuss. It promises to be an educational and inspirational experience for everyone involved.”
Tickets for Winning With Complaint Handling are now available, while those who book before midnight on July 19 can enjoy a special Early Bird Discount, saving them £100 on the full price. Click here for further details.

Dean HarropDean HarropJune 6, 2019
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4min1569

In theory, it has never been easier for consumers to communicate with your business…but are the choices suitable and easy to access?

Today’s consumers demand instant, fast, on-the-go interaction with companies, which is why web chats, texts, and social media have fast become many people’s preferred way of ‘talking’ with a brand. We live in a multi-channel landscape where real time responses are the norm and public conversations on social media can make or break a brand and its reputation.

Multi-channel contact centre solutions enable companies to manage different forms of communication by routing them via a single engine and delivering them to a correctly skilled customer service agent in the shortest possible time. Such advances in communication technology are to be welcomed as they enable contact centres to manage the flow of information and prioritise those interactions that require an urgent response.

The very nature of multimedia contact centres means employees are required to deal with a number of forms of communication, enabling a smooth and consistent customer experience to be delivered.

As the ‘face’ of the business, agents can make or break a customer relationship. Adaptability has become a key quality so they can demonstrate the values of their business regardless of the channel being used. The ability to write appropriately and clearly for different channels is vital.

Modern agents are multitaskers who can handle more than one customer interaction at a time – without causing delays to responses. Historically they have been hindered by multiple applications running on separate systems. Today it is possible to use one user interface to manage multiple mediums of communication.

New era: Customer communication is evolving…and so must contact centres

A modern, reliable solution coupled with thorough training means consumers are now able to interact with an agent who is not flustered and can stay in control of multiple interactions. Regular monitoring of the interaction volumes and quality of consumer experience for each channel should ensure that the training requirements are identified and provided.

This measurement – including recording and reporting across all interactions – enables businesses to develop and improve their Customer Experience. In addition, multichannel contact centres can deliver cost benefits such as dealing with social media alongside voice, emails, web chats and text.

Standing still is not an option. The emergence of robots and automated messaging is reducing the burden on contact centres by responding to routine enquiries. Research shows there is growing interest among organisations in Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tools which can help businesses improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations.

Deloitte says that multiple robots can be seen as a “virtual workforce – a back office processing centre but without the human resources”.

Other researchers argue that RPA actually frees up employees to deliver skilled and creative work, suggesting that robots and humans are most effective when working together.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthJune 5, 2019
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3min1698

Slow service is enough for more than half of British customers to ditch a brand, according to a new survey.

A poll of 2,000 UK consumers revealed that 56 percent would stop shopping with a brand that forced them to endure slow customer service. The survey by contact centre cloud solutions provider 8×8 also found that almost two-thirds (64 percent) of people have been frustrated at the length of time it has taken a customer service team at a company to solve a problem.

The time it took to get through to someone is the most common reason people lose patience with a customer service team (36 percent), followed by having to wait to get their query resolved (30 percent). Quick and easy access to contact information is also a key factor, as a quarter (25 percent) have lost patience by having to wade through too many screening questions in order to access contact information.

When asked about the types of businesses they are most likely to lose patience with, customers named utilities and telecom firms in the top spot (33 percent), followed by retail (24 percent), and local government (21 percent). This suggests that organisations in these sectors are at the greatest risk of losing customers to slow service.

To help them get an answer in the quickest and easiest way possible, 78 percent of Brits expect companies to provide multiple channels to contact their customer service team on, such as phone, email, web chat, and social media. Despite this, over half (58 percent) of businesses still only offer one communication channel to contact customer service teams – an experience 52 percent of Brits find frustrating.

Mary Ellen Genovese, MD of European Operations, 8×8, said: “We all expect companies to deliver a fast and joined-up response to our queries regardless of their nature. Our research reveals speed is everything – consumers have little patience for slow service and, when frustrated, won’t hesitate to take their business elsewhere.

“Businesses that don’t meet customer expectations risk losing out to faster competitors, not just over established channels such as phone and email, but across web chat and social media too.”

The research also reveals that customers expect traditional channels to deliver a faster response rate. When asked which customer service platforms they lose patience with the most, 37 percent said phone, compared to just 12 percent for email and 10 percent for live chat.


Colin HayColin HayJune 4, 2019
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6min1723

We often hear about customer service being increasingly used as a business differentiator, but what does this really mean?

After all, customer service comes in many guises and means different things to different people. Some people simply want fast service at the right price while eBay devotees revel in the thrill of the auction without speaking to another human being. In general, speed and efficiency are all that matters, together with regular text or email updates of delivery dates and guarantees that credit card details are secure at all times.

On the other hand, consumers looking for support with complex, confidential, or emotionally sensitive matters would soon lose faith or be truly offended if they were treated as just another transaction on an endless conveyor belt of products. Adding agility to improve service levels is nothing new, but how often do we hear about businesses creating a kinder Customer Experience to stand out from the crowd?

Ombudsman: Bringing kindness to customer interactions in the real world

A kinder Customer Experience is a concept that Puzzel customer Ombudsman Services, the leading private dispute and resolution service, understands intuitively and shared at our Get Connected conference last year. Since the beginning of 2018, Ombudsman has practically re-invented its QA framework by deploying speech analytics in the contact centre to record 252,000 calls across all sectors. The organisation has successfully used voice recognition technology to capture 80 different phrases sorted into 12 categories. This established that nearly 30 percent of calls relate to dealing with someone in a vulnerable position, for example coping with mental health issues, losing their health or jobs, or just trying to stay warm.

The technology provides valuable insight into each call and caller, and strategically spots trends that identify the top issues facing all UK customers today. These powerful insights are essential to helping agents truly understand real-life consumer situations and as a result, respond with empathy and kindness as well as offer practical advice.

3 ways to create a kind Customer Experience

With a few simple strategies, every organisation is capable of winning customers over through efficient, yet kind, conversations. Here are three ways to get you started:

1. Have the right team on your side

Kindness starts from within and it starts from the top. Hire leaders who show dedication to building positive contact centres where agents care for each other as well as for their customers. Look for agents who combine passion with compassion. These are the ones who intuitively understand a customer’s emotional state then use this knowledge to solve customer problems in a highly personalised and meaningful way.

2. Overcome the fear of new technology

Introducing new technology can be an exercise of winning over hearts and minds, especially when people have faith in their traditional ways of working. What’s more, by its very nature speech analytics has a strong element of ‘big brother’ and can strike fear into the most confident employees. Overcome resistance to change by highlighting the undoubted benefits of automation. For example, accurate recording of calls that liberates language and empowers agents to engage more effectively with customers while providing high levels of transparency to build trust with each other and with customers.

3. Use knowledge to build a circle of continuous kindness

Understanding your customers’ requirements now and in the past is the first step towards treating them with kindness. Combine traditional resources of FAQs on websites with the use of chatbots to grow knowledge bases by feeding back useful information based on customer enquiry patterns. Add predictive analytics to tap into past resolutions, to  support similar scenarios in the future and pre-empt issues before they become real problems. Then combine with speech analytics to highlight proactive opportunities for kindness.

The latest cloud-based omnichannel contact centres integrate seamlessly with speech analytics technology to analyse and search 100 percent of recorded customer calls in real-time, helping them to glean valuable intelligence from thousands – even millions – of customer calls quickly and efficiently.

Highly sophisticated, today’s technology can even identify dialects, regional accents, and slang in addition to detecting the usual keywords and phrases over multiple time periods. Innovative ‘TellMeWhy’ features also help organisations quickly identify potential underlying root causes for specific calls. This all-important data should be added to the knowledge base as part of a vital circle of continuous improvement and shared learning.


Alex BlackAlex BlackMay 17, 2019
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8min1266

Organisations of all shapes and sizes are looking to migrate from traditional PBX telecoms platforms to unified communications (UC) environments, integrating their contact centre for greater collaboration. The market is growing robustly. A recent report by Global Market Insights estimated the Unified Communications and Collaboration (UCC) market size at over US$32 billion in 2018, with a CAGR of 8% from 2019 to 2025.

The rationale for businesses to move to UC environments is certainly clear.  Businesses increasingly understand the limitations of the traditional PBX model around scalability, complexity and having a single point of failure. They increasingly appreciate the benefits of moving to UC around faster return on investment, greater collaboration, lower total cost of ownership; streamlined operational processes and enhanced productivity. And they see all this as key to their digital transformation.

They know too that in the context of the contact centre, the enhanced collaborative functionality that migration can deliver will allow them to provide a consistently outstanding customer experience around the clock, make life easier for hard-working agents and employees and sweat their investments and save money on management.

Yet while many customer-facing businesses have undertaken the journey to unified communications and collaboration, many still hold back. Some have installed solutions like Microsoft Skype for Business or even Microsoft Teams but are running them in the background and are still using traditional PBXs as their primary telecoms switch.

So what is deterring these organisations?  Some pause on their journey waiting for new solutions or upgrades to be introduced by the leading platform vendors. Many others are concerned about the risk involved in migrating systems and moving from old infrastructure to new. And that is making it difficult to set out on the migration path at all. They have ruled out a big bang approach due to sweating down existing assets and they want flexibility and choice across the whole journey.

That’s why they need the peace of mind and reassurance that comes from working with solutions providers and implementation and support partners that are vendor and platform-agnostic; can integrate with all leading UC platforms –  from Microsoft to Avaya to Cisco –  and have migration at the heart of their strategy. Working alongside its partners, Enghouse Interactive is well-suited to achieve all this.

Driven by the need to achieve digital transformation and the desire to use it to deliver enhanced customer engagement, more and more businesses are looking to work closely with customer communications experts to help them assess their possible migration paths, choose the best option, then transition them smoothly and with minimal disruption to their existing operations. The approach needs to be open and flexible.  Whether organisations are looking to move from premise to premise, or premise to cloud, or thinking about migrating from one vendor to another, or one UC product to another within a single vendor environment, solutions providers and their channel partners need to be able to take customers on their digital transformation-driven  journey and ensure they reach their desired end destination.

That removes some serious headaches for customer-facing organisations, of course. Instead of fretting and worrying about their communications journey, they can let their solutions and implementation provider partners concern themselves with building a UC environment and connecting the contact centre. That in turn leaves the business itself free to concentrate on its overall network environment strategy, content in the knowledge that its migration journey to digital is being managed and de-risked.

Enghouse recommends and implements a phased migration for its customers. In any migration to a new telecoms infrastructure it is important to have the old and the new platforms running simultaneously (and both connected) so that if a technical problem occurs with the new system, or if there is a mis-configuration, for example,  agents can be quickly, although temporarily, moved back to the old infrastructure desktop.

Rather than moving the whole operation over to the new system straightaway ,  the organisation concerned could move a single department over initially: the IT helpdesk, for example, and then if all goes well, move another  shortly thereafter. If something goes wrong they can simply move that individual department back, effectively de-risking and removing the friction from the whole process.

It is important to remember, though, that the migration journey is not just about infrastructure, essential though that is. Scalability is key in supporting the overall approach and ensuring that the business always has the right level of capability to support its needs at any given time. A fully scalable migration strategy can support a modular by design approach. As the organisation grows, new channels, apps and bots, for example, can be added as and when required. It is also crucial, however, that the journey can go forward and back – and with this kind of methodology, businesses can scale back their capability when strategic drivers or external circumstances dictate.

Partnering for Success

Any organisation looking to migrate its contact centre and communications infrastructure to a new platform is in a sense stepping into the unknown.  It is likely to be a completely new experience for them. They know that by making the migration they want to tap into the benefits around enhanced flexibility and productivity, increased efficiency and customer satisfaction and explore new market sectors but they are apprehensive about the journey that needs to be undertaken to help them to achieve these goals.

That’s where Enghouse and its partners can really help in reducing the risk and friction for them and guiding them on that journey to unified communications that will in turn enable them to build a more collaborative interactive and efficient contact centre and communications environment to the benefit both of their customers and themselves.

Download our latest ebook to learn more

https://enghouseresources.com/contact-centre-migration-the-collaborative-journey/?URLQueryString=CXM

 

 


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthMay 15, 2019
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3min2104

A majority of European mid-sized call centres understand the advantage in a connected customer journey, but only 14 percent are confident in meeting current and future needs.

That is one of the findings published in a new independent research study conducted by global business consulting firm, Frost & Sullivan, which found that revealed that 77 percent of call centres surveyed recognise the connected customer journey as elevating their competitive advantage and having an immediate impact on their business.

The report, Midsized Call Centres Take a Digital-first Approach; Cloud Solutions to Power Customer Service in 2019, explores what CX means to mid-sized organisations in terms of business impact, priorities, and technological maturity.

The report is based on a survey of 600 business and IT leaders across 26 countries involved in defining and implementing customer service strategies. One-third of respondents were based in Europe, with the research conducted in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Sweden and The Netherlands.

More than 40 percent of survey respondents believe anticipating and catering to consumer needs are by far the most important capabilities in providing good Customer Experience. In Europe, 76 percent of mid-sized call centres surveyed indicate the ongoing digital disruptions across industries will significantly impact them. As a result, such call centres are accelerating investments in digital channels and emerging technologies.

Executive Vice-President of report sponsors PureCloud at Genesys, Olivier Jouve, said: “It’s no surprise that the majority of organisations are looking to cloud, AI, and big data to deliver the kind of experiences consumers expect today. For smaller organisations, a cloud-based, omnichannel contact centre is the best way to deliver predictive and personalised service across every channel.”

 


Jeremy PayneJeremy PayneApril 29, 2019
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8min1434

Historically, businesses have primarily perceived call recording as a regulatory insurance policy.

The typical process was that calls were recorded, archived, and then accessed whenever a complaint was made. Some organisations still see call recording primarily in this way today.

Other businesses have moved on a step and carried out batch sampling on call records. Often, they might listen in to every 100th phone call for compliance purposes. They might also focus on monitoring new employees to help embed best practice. Alternatively, they might use the batch recordings for training purposes, picking out examples of angry customers, or high-performing agents dealing with customer queries.

Today, thanks to the latest AI and analytics, organisations can do much more with call recordings. With solutions like coacher and helper bots emerging, together with technologies like real time speech analytics (RTSA), we are seeing the advent of a new world of call recording.

Instead of simply being used reactively for compliance or training, the potential for organisations to use technology working in real-time in conjunction with the customer service representative has raised the bar, making it possible to use these kinds of solutions to drive up customer satisfaction and increase sales.

In particular, this is giving businesses greater insight into their contact centre and customer service operations. They can now listen in to every phone call. They can measure the sentiment of a customer interaction more precisely in real-time. Is the customer getting stressed? Is the agent becoming aggressive? Has the agent failed to make proactive use of the available helper bot to answer the customer’s query?

Answering these questions positively can be key to the success of a business, but it is also important to highlight that call recording today has evolved into much more than just recording a phone call. When listening to call recordings, business managers today also need to know what the agent was looking at on the screen at the time they provided information to the customer for example. Incorrect data on the company’s website could help to exonerate an agent who has made a mistake, and pinpoint a problem that needs to be addressed.

That’s why the ability to capture screen information, helping to put the call in context starts to give supervisors a clearer picture of what is happening within their customer service operation – and that drives better customer satisfaction, and improves the level of first interaction resolution. All this contextual information can then feed into a continuous improvement loop. Where one interaction is resolved successfully that can then feed the knowledge management and information systems making the whole process more accurate.

Barriers to roll-out

If you consider what is possible now and the way many organisations are starting to embrace and use these types of technologies, hand-in-hand with a human agent, the potential to also improve customer service and drive up sales has also increased enormously.

So, given all the benefits that they could achieve from this new approach, why isn’t every business moving over to it? One of the main barriers we are seeing today is cultural. Many organisations follow the ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it?’ philosophy. This conservative culture is often reinforced by agents who are uncomfortable with more technology listening in to everything they do; monitoring every action they take, and flagging it up to their managers if they are ‘out of line’.

Unfortunately, whenever new technology is introduced into an organisation, it comes with an associated fear factor. Agents are understandably concerned about what the change might mean to them.

Businesses need to do more to listen to these concerns but also educate agents about the potential benefits of the new technology in helping them perform their role. Indeed, smart organisations will work transparently and openly with agents to look at how the technology can be used to make their job better.

Humans can, for example, be especially good at empathy and working with customers who might be in a moment of crisis or an emotionally charged situation. So it makes sense for businesses to free up agents to engage with customers in this way, while deploying bot technology in the background to give them the practical information they need to answer the customer queries and follow the best available next step.

Ultimately, it has to be about empowering the agent, rather than focusing on the mechanics of finding the information the customer is looking for. With the latest call recording technology, the agent can concentrate on the interaction itself, safe in the knowledge that bots are working in the background to provide the information they need to resolve each individual query.

Agents can also can gain from the enhanced training capability on offer. Businesses can use the approach to capture the kinds of phrases or behaviours used by best performing agents or sales staff and build that into the coaching and helping engines to benefit contact centre and customer service staff as a whole.

This kind of ‘hand-in-glove’ harmony between man and machine is critical in this context. When businesses get it right, it can enhance the agent’s life enormously as well as benefitting the business and the end customer. In summary, the latest call recording technology can bring significant benefits to organisations but it needs to be introduced in a way that overcomes the cultural fear that some organisations and their staff have about bringing in the latest advanced technologies. Get all that right and businesses stand to improve their compliance position, enhance employee engagement – and drive up customer satisfaction into the bargain.


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 26, 2019
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4min1557

UK Employee Experience Award winner Let’s Get Healthy is behind a new campaign to help the Co-op support customers and colleagues who have suffered a bereavement.

Let’s Get Healthy, which won Gold in the Health & Wellbeing category at the 2018 UK Employee Experience Awards in London, is delivering training to Co-op customer service centre staff that will equip them with techniques to offer support including arranging funerals and other post-bereavement plans.

Co-op – winner of the Best Contact Centre and Product Service Improvement: Transforming Customer Care categories in the 2018 UK Complaint Handling Awards –  is one of many thought leader firms providing training for colleagues to help them be resilient in what can be very stressful times.

Following a successful pilot of the campaign in November 2018, the programme will now be delivered across the customer service centre. The campaign includes a briefing session with senior managers, a one-day face to face course, and a seven-week plan of activity led by team leaders and operations managers to embed the learnings.

The dedicated training is designed to empower more colleagues to be brave-hearted and resilient, supporting adults through the stages of bereavement while being mindful that employees will have lost loved ones too.

Leeds-based Let’s Get Healthy has previously  provided corporate wellbeing services to firms including William Hill, G’s Fresh, Travis Perkins, and Northern.

Claire Carroll, Head of Member and Customer Services at Co-op, said: “We held sessions with our colleagues, and they shared with me their personal experiences of losing a loved one and supporting customers who have experienced a similar loss.

“Let’s Get Healthy designed a programme called Heart that helped my team be brave hearted when dealing with customers who may be broken hearted. The language itself has made it easier for us all to talk about death and how we deal with it. Providing tools and techniques to be resilient is essential in the type of work handled in service centres and this is the third year we have worked with the team at Let’s Get Healthy and we see huge benefits each year.”

Maria Bourke, Managing Director of Let’s Get Healthy, said: “Co-op identified the need to embed health and wellbeing as part of its wider business strategy to invest in its colleagues. This may be a unique topic to cover but bereavement affects every single employee in every single employer across the UK.  It’s always great to support thought leading organisations and I am thrilled that the roll out has started across Co-op.”


Paul AinsworthPaul AinsworthApril 24, 2019
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2min1722

“Calm down” has been voted the worst thing to say to customers over the phone, according to a new poll of more than 100 call centre and customer service professionals.

In a survey carried out by enterprise communications company Fuze at the recent Call and Contact Centre Expo in London, 22 percent said “calm down” is the most frustrating response to give to customers, followed by “you’re wrong” (20 percent), and “let me put you on hold” (15 percent).

The full list of the top ten most frustrating responses of 2019 are:

  1. Calm down
  2. You’re wrong
  3. Let me put you on hold
  4. Let me speak
  5. That’s not my job/responsibility
  6. That’s against policy
  7. I don’t know
  8. There’s nothing I can do
  9. It’s no big deal
  10. I’m new here

Bradlee Allen, Product Evangelist at Fuze, said: “Call centres are key points of interaction between a brand and its customers, but the experience can be frustrating for both parties. Appeasing the customer is a priority, but responses like ‘calm down’ and ‘let me put you on hold’ only add to frustration and usually mean resolution takes longer to achieve.

“The key is making it easy for customers to connect with a brand and choosing the right communication technology to create a seamless, simple experience that delivers fast resolution and optimum customer satisfaction.”


Brendan DykesBrendan DykesApril 24, 2019
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7min1155

Everyone is someone’s customer, and every single one of us knows how we want to be treated.

Yet we’ve all had experiences that have influenced our opinion of a brand, but actually little or nothing to do with the product or service itself. It is why the quality of service and experience provided by contact centres is critical to the well-being of any organisation that prides itself on the quality of its CX.

As the late Maya Angelou said: “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Intensifying competition and the growing power of consumers have together made customer experience the only means by which you can achieve truly durable competitive advantage in retail today. 

It is not possible, however, to provide a joined-up customer journey if the tools you have to manage it are incomplete. Simply throwing cash at CX technology will not lead to success. Here then is a seven-step plan to guide your contact centre transformation.   

1. You must acknowledge the need for change.

The first step towards the recovery of your CX is admitting you have a problem and having a genuine and consistent commitment to solving it. Don’t focus your energies entirely on customer complaints as a guide to your transformation. These are negative emotions. Look at positive feedback as well, to identify what your organisation is getting right so you can start replicating it. 

2. Be clear about the Customer Experience you are trying to deliver

Unfortunately, many organisations still have an incomplete definition of CX. Either that or their division into functional silos means that CX has become the proverbial elephant being examined by three blind men. In other words, everyone comes up with their own idea based purely on knowledge of their own silo, mistaking or misconceiving the true nature of CX and what it should deliver for the organisation.

3. Ensure you have executive buy-in

It is vital your CEO or CFO is on board to sponsor any contact centre transformation initiative and lead from the top down. But also consider whether you need a dedicated position such as a Chief Customer Officer. Whoever fulfils this role owns the Customer Experience and has the authority to ensure the requisite focus.

4. Work hard to ensure your organisation is fully on-board and aligned

Remember that people are capable of being very parochial, which is often caused by anxiety  about what change will mean to their own work and targets. To counter that, consider establishing a ‘CX Council’ to bring together all departments that have any role in the Customer Experience and empower them to work as a team with a unified vision of putting the customer first, no matter what.   

5. Get on your benchmarks

After mapping the customer journey, your next step should be to assess the current state of your strategy, people, processes, and tech. Come to a decision about how you are going to measure the delta of change in terms of positive customer emotion, not just reduced holding times or other operational metrics.

6. Collaborate to differentiate

This is an important one, because by working with a true solution partner, rather than simply a software vendor, you can set yourself on the right path to true omnichannel engagement and avoid the all-too-common operational pitfalls. Use the expertise of your partner to identify opportunities for business alignment along with ways of applying technology to speed up your transformation journey.

7. Build your business case

Providing good Customer Experience will have a positive impact on your organisation’s bottom line, which is certainly a legitimate justification for any CX initiative, but you still need a solid business case based on logic and metrics rather than intuition. If you have the right partner, they should be able to direct and inform this process.

These are seven great steps to set any organisation on the path towards recovering its CX and providing great customer service again. We cannot pretend it is always easy. Such a journey does inevitably involve a substantial measure of cultural upheaval. Customer experience needs to become a collective obsession within the enterprise.

CX culture and practices have to evolve every day and encompass what is always a changing technology landscape. But once this mindset is firmly embedded right across the organisation and all those internal barriers and silos are banished, at least as far as CX is concerned, the tangible bottom line benefits will flow in. You will also have a much happier and more fulfilled workforce.




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