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Ringing Up The Changes

Fit For The Future

When mobile phone operator Three wanted to improve its struggling customer perception scores its contact centre team dialled up the solution

Traditional ways of shopping from the high street to catalogues are being challenged by the rise of E-commerce



From the boardroom to the Contact Centre: growing with your customers Tech giant Microsoft explains how it has transferred a ‘growth mindset’ from the boardroom to the contact centre and gained a whole new set of customer ‘fans’






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The Customer Philosophy Belron studied Chinese wisdom to help it build a new omnichannel engagement framework to the joyful benefit of both customers and employees

VIEW FROM THE SUMMIT CHAIRS 7 & 9 2019 Contact Centre Conference chairs report from their respective halls. Conference proclaimed that contact centres are at a crossroads

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CONTACT CENTRE EDITORIAL David Craik Editor 01932 506 300 Steve Hurst Editorial Director 01932 506 304

MARKETING Katie Donaldson Marketing Manager 01932 506 302 Hannah Mulea Marketing Executive 01932 302 112

SPONSORSHIP James Cottee Sponsorship Sales Manager 01932 506 309 Dominic Stone Sponsorship Sales 01932 506 303 Dale Ayliffe Sponsorship Sales 01932 302 110

Dan Moran Sponsorship Sales 01932 506 303 Pascal Van Huffel Sponsorship Sales 01932 506 308

MEMBERSHIP Dan Skinner Delegate Sales 01932 506 307 Jamie Ross Delegate Sales 01932 506 306

FINANCE Sabrina Clarke Finance Manager 01932 500 103 Jenna Pollard Accounts Executive 01932 428 542

Welcome This year’s Future of the Contact Centre conference had its primary theme as ‘Contact Centres at the Crossroads’ ome of the UK’s biggest and most innovative companies and organisations joined paths to consider how new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, a more diverse range of customer communications channels and the need for greater customer insight and analysis was shaping the contact centre of both today and tomorrow.


The conference looked at what this meant in practice for areas including omnichannel customer engagement, big data, customer experience innovation, the customer journey, voice of the customer, employee engagement and service design in the contact centre. To bring the themes to life the conference heard case studies detailing how best practice was being implemented with transformative results both within the contact centre and wider business. This included Autoglass owner Belron which has devised a new omnichannel engagement framework built on deep pools of customer data to better understand their journeys and boost customer experience. In addition, it has discovered that giving contact centre agents full customer insight has left them empowered, engaged and enthusiastic in their work. Also driving change is insurance group Direct Line which described its development of Virtual Assistants and Chatbots to improve the customer experience. It was a journey which included finding the right technology partners, replicating the quality of customer conversations and helping users find it easier to self-serve online. Tech giant Microsoft explained how it was also responding to customers’ needs much more clearly by encouraging its front-line staff to adopt a growth

Traditional catalogue retailers Shop Direct and N Brown also described how the contact centre has responded to the shift to e-commerce and helped with keeping the challenges of the sector at bay. We also heard from the Co-op and Three which has utilised feedback and analysis from everyday customer conversations in their contact centres to position it as a strategic asset and drive wider business change. At the Co-op it has helped build a new food stores strategy and at Three it has helped retain customers and boosted brand appeal. The major themes to emerge from these studies were the need for contact centres to understand the evolving customer, their behaviours and stay up to date with emerging technology to remain relevant. Finding a way to capture, store and analyse customer data is also increasingly important in this ever-digital world. If a contact centre can do this then business boards and management are increasingly seeing them as vital strategic assets both in customer engagement and operational innovation. Being seen as a more vital cog in the business wheel is also leading to greater employee engagement and upskilling in the contact centre. We hope you enjoy this conference report and that some of the learnings can be rolled out in our nation’s contact centres to help reinforce their position as an organisation’s customer facing heart. David Craik, Editor

MANAGING DIRECTOR Nick Rust 01932 506 301

mindset. This led them to listen more closely to their customers and no longer make easy assumptions of their needs.

Engage Business Media Ltd, Nicholson House, 41 Thames Street, Weybridge, Surrey, KT13 8JG. Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy in the compilation of this publication, the Publishers cannot be held liable for errors and omissions. ©COPYRIGHT: Engage Business Media Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior consent in writing to the publisher.

Attending Europe's Largest Customer Experience Event Provides a Unique Experience 11-12 NOV I WESTMINSTER PARK PLAZA I LONDON

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Three in four consumers switch to a competitor after just one bad brand experience In an age where customer loyalty is key to repeat revenue and profits, three in four consumers (76%) admit they switch to a competitor if they have just one bad experience with a brand they like. That’s despite the fact that most consumers (52%) say that, once they’re loyal to a brand, they’re loyal for life - highlighting a huge difference between what consumers say and how they behave. These conclusions are part of Acquia’s inaugural annual global report entitled Closing the CX Gap: Customer Experience Trends Report 2019, which assesses the state of customer experience. Part of the problem lies with brands’ inability to predict what loyal consumers want, argues the report. 66% of consumers say brands don’t do a good job of using their personal preferences to predict their needs - damning marketers’ claims that they’re improving personalisation. And in a double blow, 77% of marketers are arguing that tech has made it harder, not easier, to offer customers personalised experiences. Sylvia Jensen, VP of EMEA marketing at Acquia

said: “This research uncovers that what consumers say they want is completely different to what they actually want - but that’s the fault of the marketer, not the consumer. “Without being able to track customer journeys and build up a digital picture of customer behaviour, it’s difficult to really understand customers effectively - and therefore personalisation becomes extremely challenging. “The result is a poor experience - just one of which can be enough to send a loyal customer into a competitor’s open arms.” Addressing the issue of loyalty, the report finds that 78% of consumers are more likely to be loyal to a brand if the brand demonstrates an understanding of them as the customer - yet 64% of consumers feel that brands who should know them well don’t know them well at all. More than 5,000 consumers and 500 marketers across the UK, France, Germany, North America and Australia contributed to Acquia’s report.

B2B ecommerce lagging behind B2C for the CX Poor product visualisation is preventing almost a quarter of B2B customers from making purchases online, according to a new report by leading fullservice e-commerce agency PushON. PushON surveyed 500 key business decision makers from up and down the country and found that, although the majority of B2B customers (78%) actually prefer to shop online, 22% have to travel to purchase goods in-store because online retailers do not offer clear product imagery or effective customer service. When asked why they shop for business products in-store rather than online, product visualisation came out on top, with 81% of B2B customers stating they are able to clearly see what products look like in real life. Over half (55%) also prefer instore customer service and the ability to speak to a member of staff for advice. Over half (55%) of those surveyed expressed a strong desire for B2B e-retailers to invest in the same innovative technologies B2C ecommerce

businesses are currently investing in. This includes the implementation of Augmented Reality (AR) to help them better visualise products online (29%), and an increase in Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools such as chatbots to give them the option to speak to someone in real-time, should they need to (26%). Sam Rutley, managing director at PushON, commented: “Although B2B retail is suffering a similar fate to B2C, in that customers are increasingly preferring to shop online, B2B ecommerce undoubtbly has a long way to go if it’s ever going to achieve the same results and levels of customer experience as B2C ecommerce. “Many B2B customers prefer the in-store experience over online simply because they can see products in real life and interact with an expert, which clearly demonstrates that B2B ecommerce isn’t providing these services well enough yet, if at all. “This, coupled with the specific desires of customers for investment in AR and AI technologies proves just how far behind B2C ecommerce B2B is.”

Oracle research finds enterprises ready for benefits of 5G While much of the discussion around 5G has centered on consumer devices, enterprises are looking towards the tremendous impact the technology can have on their ability to serve customers and the bottom line. Not only are most companies (97 percent) aware of the benefits of 5G, but 95 percent are already strategically planning how they will take advantage of this next generation of wireless connectivity to power core business initiatives from new services, to IoT and smart ecosystems. The Oracle Communications study, “5G Smart Ecosystems Are Transforming the Enterprise – Are You Ready?,” surveyed 265 enterprise IT and business decision makers at medium and large enterprises globally in December, 2018 to find out how businesses are thinking about 5G today and its potential significance moving forward. “Enterprises clearly want to capitalise on the promise of 5G, however, to be successful, IT and business leaders must avoid thinking of 5G as just another ‘G,’ and should instead consider it as an enabler to the smart ecosystem we have long talked about,” said Doug Suriano, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Communications.


“This means asking the right questions at the outset, and considering how 5G can help enable upcoming solutions, what timeframe should be considered and how will they will procure and use 5G capabilities as part of their business evolution.” Born in the cloud, 5G will have the ability to enable enterprises to provision or “slice” core pieces of their networks to power mission-critical new offerings and smart ecosystems. This can range from anything to providing the highest speed connections for life-saving 911 services, to enabling autonomous vehicles to communicate with each other quickly; to ensuring IoT devices in smart factories are providing real-time information on the health of machines and assets. Outside specific initiatives, respondents believe 5G will have a wide-spread impact across their business, including increasing employee productivity (86 percent), reducing costs (84 percent), enhancing customer experience (83 percent), and improving agility (83 percent). Business decision makers are most focused on quality of experience the technology will bring, while IT is concerned with network speed and resiliency.

M&S and Ocado to start home delivery service next year Marks & Spencer and Ocado have confirmed a deal which will give the High Street retailer a home delivery service for the first time. M&S will buy a 50% share of Ocado's retail business for £750m. The joint venture will be called Ocado and will deliver M&S products from September 2020 at the latest, when Ocado's deal with Waitrose expires. Under the deal Ocado will also continue to supply its own-label products and big name branded goods. M&S will fund the deal by selling £600m of shares and by cutting its dividend payout to shareholders by 40%. "We think we've paid a fair price," said Steve Rowe, M&S chief executive. "It's the only way we could have gone online within an immediately scalable, profitable and sustainable business," he said. He added that one third of M&S business would be online in the future. M&S shareholders were sceptical shares fell 8% following the announcement, while Ocado rose by 8%. Neil Wilson, chief markets analyst at, questioned whether the value of a shop with M&S was big enough for online shopping. "Basket sizes at M&S are extremely small relative to other larger supermarkets and significantly below the current Ocado minimum for delivery. "I would also query whether M&S can retain the current Ocado customer base who are used to getting Waitrose products. There is a high risk of customer leakage as consumers rotate to Waitrose's in-house delivery service." Ocado founder and chief executive Tim Steiner told the BBC of the 50,000 products it currently sold, about 4,500 were Waitrose branded. When the new joint venture is up and running these would be replaced by more than 4,500 M&S products, he added. Commenting on the deal, Waitrose managing director Rob Collins said the supermarket chain had strengthened its own online business "significantly" and that it planned to double within five years.

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Trends in live chat and CX strategies revealed in new benchmarking report BBC and ITV to launch Netflix rival The BBC, home to crime drama Luther, and ITV, maker of Love Island and I'm A Celebrity, are in the "concluding phase of talks" to create a rival to Netflix. The BBC's director general Tony Hall said the aim was to launch the "BritBox" rival to Netflix in the UK the second half of 2019. The announcement came as ITV reported 2018 profits of £567m, up 13%. ITV's chief executive Dame Carolyn McCall said it was an "uncertain economic and political environment". She said the "BritBox" rival to Netflix will be the home for the "best of British creativity". Neither organisation would say how the services would be priced, but Lord Hall said it would be "competitive". There are reports it could cost £5 a month. The two organisations already have a BritBox streaming service in North America which Lord Hall said was "ahead of expectations". It has 500,000 subscribers. "Research with the British public shows that there is a real appetite for a new British streaming service - in addition to their current subscriptions," he said.

Dame Carolyn told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that 43% of all homes which use the Internet are interested in a subscription. For homes which already subscribe to Netflix, she said that increased to half of all homes. "There is a window of opportunity here," she said. ITV will spend £25m on the venture this year and £40m in 2020. The new venture is not intended to replace the BBC's iPlayer or the ITV Hub and is expected to have box sets from the BBC and ITV archives with some new commissions. There will be "one permanent, comprehensive home where anyone in Britain can get all of our library content - both the ITV and BBC library - in one place and they can watch it anytime, anywhere," she told Today. Dame Carolyn said that existing licensing agreements with Netflix will be honoured. For instance, last year, Netflix acquired the rights to the BBC show Bodyguard - from ITV Studios which owns the production company which made the drama.

‘Everything awesome’ at Lego as it returns to growth Just like the Lego film, everything appears to be "awesome" at the plastic brick maker as it returned to growth again last year. Profits increased by 4% to 10.8bn Danish kroner (£1.2bn) and sales were up 4% to 36.4bn Danish kroner. That was a rebound from 2017, when Lego reported its first fall in sales and profits for 13 years. It blamed too much stock in stores and warehouses. Star Wars, Harry Potter, Ninjago and Jurassic World were its best sellers. "We set out with one aim in 2018, to stabilise the business," said chief executive Niels Christiansen. "Our underlying mission - what the family [which owns the business] wants - is to get Lego out to as many kids as possible," he said. Its growth in market share in all major markets comes at time when toy retailers have been struggling, illustrated by the collapse of Toys R US. This reduces outlets for sales of Lego, which is the world's biggest toymaker when measured by sales. Mr Christiansen, chief executive of the Danish brick-maker for 18 months, said he would not be seeking "supra-natural" growth rates of the past. The company is still owned by the family of Kirk Kristiansen, who founded Lego in 1932. It takes its name from an abbreviation of the two Danish words "leg godt", meaning "play well". It had achieved double-digit growth for five years until 2017, when the company said it needed a

"reset" and cut 1,400 jobs worldwide. Sales in 2017 had been hit because it had "too much" stock in warehouses and shops. Mr Christiansen said Lego was combining physical and digital play. "Kids can jump between playing physically and digitally," he told the BBC. The company is expanding in China, adding 80 stores this year to the existing 60. A new flagship store was opened in Beijing earlier this month and China, with 270 million children, was an ideal place to expand, he said. "A lot of the focus in China is education," Mr Christiansen said, and families willing to spend on toys like Lego which "build skills like collaboration". In 2018, sales in the US and Western Europe grew in low-single digits, while in China they showed double-digit growth. Mr Christiansen said there was still scope for growth in developed markets, as there were "lots of kids who haven't played with Lego". The company has pledged to use sustainable materials in its products and packaging by 2030 and Mr Christiansen said the company's issue was not about plastic disposal. "No one throws their bricks in the ocean," he said. The bricks - it sells 75 billion annually in over 140 countries - and kits are manufactured in five countries - Mexico, China, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Denmark.

Comm100, a global provider of omnichannel customer experience solutions, released its fourth annual benchmark report highlighting the current state of live chat and its impact on customer experience. As live chat has grown into a mature customer communication channel, organisations have found that it is not enough to simply implement live chat: they must also support it with a strategy that enables the best possible customer experience through optimal resource allocation. Customer experience will overtake price as a key differentiator for consumers by 2020. To meet these growing expectations, organisations must be mindful of the balance between servicing customers and managing their agents’ time. Based on an analysis of more than 45 million chats through Comm100’s platform, companies are using the following tools to achieve balance: • Artificial intelligence: Since adding Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine learning capabilities to its chatbot in early 2018, Comm100 has seen its bots handle nearly 60 percent of all chat interactions—and they’re getting smarter. Nearly 27 percent of those interactions don’t need an agent to intervene, a nearly 7 percent increase from 2017. • Co-browsing: Comm100 customers average 93 co-browsing sessions per month at an average satisfaction rating of 89 percent—six percent higher than the overall 2018 customer satisfaction rating. • Canned messages: Adoption has increased to nearly 70 percent. While canned messages can come off as robotic or impersonal if not properly written, when used correctly they can be a significant time-saver for agents. But organisations looking to use live chat features to make interactions shorter should not necessarily equate saving time with success: as the data shows, efficiency and customer satisfaction are not always directly correlated. Organisations that scored 90 percent or higher for customer satisfaction had an average wait time of 46 seconds, while customers that reported the lowest satisfaction ratings had an average wait time of 25 seconds—and companies that achieved a 90 percent or higher customer satisfaction rating chatted with customers for 13 percent longer than organisations with lower scores. Customers are also reaching out to companies in increasingly diverse ways. In 2018, the number of chats sent from a mobile device increased to nearly 52 percent, representing an almost eight percent increase from 2017. As customers seek help via the channel most convenient for them at any given moment, organisations must strive to create seamless, consistent, omnichannel experiences regardless of where their customers are and what device they are using.


Understand How You Can Help to Shape and Evolve Your Business in the Growing Digital World

11 JULY 2019




How collecting feedback about your contact centre can help you optimize internal processes upstream At Hello Customer we’ve learned from real life customer cases that the contact centre proves to be an interesting point of evaluation for your overall customer satisfaction. And not just because your employees have direct contact with your customer base. It can actually help you optimize internal processes upstream. In this use case we will explain how a customer service touchpoint can deliver actionable insights to improve customer experience throughout your entire organisation.


eedback gold mine

Customer centricity has long passed the time when it was considered a buzz word or a trend. Companies that want to remain successful in the future have no other choice than to be extremely customer-focused. As an organisation you implement different processes in different departments to offer the smoothest customer experience possible. Some are directly related to your customer base, some are less so. You have your legal department, logistics, human resources… and the focus of our use case: the contact centre.



Sometimes contact centres turn out to be Pandora’s box. First things first, we don’t mean this in a negative way whatsoever. The metaphor doesn’t apply to the functioning of your customer service or your agents as such. What we mean is that evaluating the feedback you collect from your customers after an interaction with your contact centre can open a gold mine of valuable insights about other customer-related processes you have in place.




1585 25.05% 12.68% 62.27%


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Repeat Bills


24.9% 12.4%


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24.9% 100%





1002 40.72% 8.88% 50.4%

Your customers will contact customer service for a variety of things. Renewing a subscription, filing a complaint, questions about returning or delivery of a product and so on. As a company you have designed a process for each of these things that your customer will go through, hopefully as frictionless as possible. Afterwards you should ask your customer a question: ‘How did everything go?’ General

A question with many answers One of our customers, a big fashion retailer in Belgium, recently set up Hello Customer technology for this exact purpose. After a closed ticket they collect feedback from their customers with our platform. They want to evaluate the service provided via customer service. Soon they discovered that a lot of the feedback they received didn’t only cover their interaction with the customer service agents. This created “feedback pollution”.



Policy & Trans.. 32 Quality








91.67% 50%


Fig. 1: Analysis from a contact centre agent dashboard in the Hello Customer platform: a lot of mentions aren’t about agent interaction but about other topics such as billing or pricing.

Another customer of ours, a Belgian electricity provider was confronted with this as well. Their contact centre feedback was flooded with feedback about various processes. Still the feedback was useful, because these issues only surfaced when they asked their customers about their experience with the contact centre.

How can Hello Customer help you to unravel polluted feedback? The contact centre can help you measure overall customer satisfaction even if that wasn’t the purpose of that specific survey. Especially with dissatisfied customers (e.g. a ticket that wasn’t closed properly) there could be a higher risk they will give feedback on other aspects of your organisation’s service. If you collect feedback via Hello Customer our AI-driven text analytics will process every individual feedback item in realtime and automatically. As shown in the visual, feedback gets categorized into different topics that are important for your company or specific industry. Since every story is analysed individually the results are very detailed. Behind each category all pieces of feedback relating to it can be found as well, making it easy to determine what went wrong exactly. This helps you pinpoint issues that occurred earlier on in the customer journey. Next the Hello Customer platform will send the right feedback to the right department. They will receive all feedback relating to their activities, so they can optimize internal processes that occur earlier on in the journey before a customer reaches out to the contact centre.

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important that they were treated quickly or friendly or to-the-point, which are then better KPIs for your agents. Feedback pollution

Cooperation is key

Online order

Ultimately, you ask your customers for feedback about their interaction because you want to assess a specific department and the performance of people who work there. You want to evaluate whether the service is as good as you imagined or if extra training is needed.

Payment Delivery Return

An important pitfall to avoid is that’s the importance of encouraging cooperation between different departments of your contact centre. The electricity company we mentioned previously faced this problem. Employees within a specific department of the contact centre were contacted about issues they couldn’t solve immediately, so they had to refer customers to other departments. However, there was no way to follow up if the customer ticket got closed properly. If not, the same problems keep resurfacing, resulting anew in feedback pollution and possibly declining employee satisfaction.

-CONTACT CENTRE SURVEYFig. 2: Feedback pollution in your contact centre survey

However, keep in mind we don’t recommended to only ask feedback at this certain touchpoint. If you want to optimize your customer service, it’s highly unlikely you will be able to do so if you keep receiving polluted feedback. Rather so, customer service makes for a good starting point if you’re doubting at which touchpoint you should gather feedback first. You’ll discover which processes need improvement. Once you’ve done this, it’s important to ask customers for feedback at these points in the customer journey as well to keep the feedback in your customer service touchpoint as ‘clean’ as possible.

The right question at the right time This offers benefits for your employees, your customers and your organisation as a whole: • From a customer perspective there’s a bigger chance they will be less upset when they end up contacting your customer service. When you proactively ask for feedback right after a process, let’s say the renewal of a subscription, they’ll immediately have the chance to tell you if something went wrong. With Hello Customer it’s easy to set up various touchpoints for each meaningful customer interaction. We make sure you’re asking for feedback about the right action at the right time. • From a company perspective you’ll have a better 360° view of all your processes and you’ll be able to intervene in critical situations. • From an employee perspective they will receive more useful

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feedback and insights about how they helped their customer. Instead of having to deal with feedback about a ton of other things that went wrong at a previous point, which are not their fault. This will have a positive effect on employee satisfaction. Hello Customer offers the possibility to create custom dashboards for teams or employees, so they can have access to their own personal part of the platform and track their own performance.


Set the right KPIs To finish, this is important for your KPI (Key Performance Indicator) system too. What we see happening most of the time is that organisations create KPIs for each department from an inside-out perspective. For customer service employees frequent KPIs are the number of resolved tickets, the number of returned products per day or the number of customer complaints. But as we told earlier, a lot of the time the feedback has no relation to the performance of the contact centre. As a result, your employees won’t be able to reach their target since they can’t impact these issues themselves. Even more so these aren’t even the KPIs that matter from an outside-in, true customercentric perspective. When you manage to keep the feedback in your customer service touchpoint clean, you’ll be able to extract what your customers expect when they contact customer service. This often differs from the company’s priorities. Your customer might find it more





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Fig. 3: A custom dashboard in the Hello Customer platform for Agent Interaction

When you ask customers for feedback after interaction with your contact centre it’s likely they will provide comments about a variety of services you offer as a company. This can be useful to optimize internal processes that occur upstream. It enables you to detect issues you weren’t aware of, simply because you didn’t ask for feedback at that point in the customer journey. It’s a good starting point. But ultimately, it’s not the most effective way of measuring overall customer satisfaction. If you want the complete overview of the performance of all your departments, you need to ask for the right feedback at the right time proactively. This will reduce the risk of polluted feedback and will help you optimize your entire feedback flow. Hello Customer can help you achieve this.

Hello Customer is the intelligent CX solution that helps companies become truly customer-focused thanks to artificial intelligence that analyses customer feedback and distributes insights in a targeted way throughout your entire organisation.



A Platform Where Like-Minded Professionals Come Together Our exclusive Engage Focus groups allow senior individuals working in customer and employee engagement to come together and voice their thoughts and share experiences across a wide range of topics in a structured professional environment. The Engage Focus Groups are designed to offer a platform for like-minded professionals to engage in detailed discussion and find solutions to some of the most pressing issues and challenges facing the industry.

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Future of the Contact Centre – in rude health I would say The teaser for this conference proclaimed that contact centres are at a crossroads. Either ascending in value to become the beating heart of the organisation. Or presumably absorbed into some form of Borg like automation, courtesy of RPA and AI fuelled self-service


eflecting on what was presented, the jury’s still out. Although on balance there was more mojo on ‘humans being amazing’ theme. That said, the intense conversations with vendors in the break out room suggest we may hear much more about the impact of AI technologies on customer engagement in future conferences once the POCs have been landed. Meanwhile it was a great mix of speakers and topics. The first segment of the day comprised two sources of research into customer behaviour and contact centre performance interspersed with a fascinating insight into how customer service is evolving at Microsoft during Satya Nadella’s watch. Nicola Millard started with a round up on customer behaviour and what matters in terms of satisfying expectations. It confirms what I certainly spend time emphasising in my omni-channel masterclasses. Low effort trumps all. Live assistance is best for when situations are complex and emotional. Self service and proactive for everything else. In terms of modalities, the favoured text channel is chat (although I’m sure BT’s next research report due Q4 this year, will point to the rise in messaging over the intervening 24 months). Nonetheless, voice remains a firm favourite and not just for older cohorts. Especially as a means of escalation when so called digital options (app or web) fail to deliver. Thank you Nicola, a great scene setter. Steve Morrell has an unrivalled track record in contact centres. Do you know of anyone else who has contributed 25,000 pages of commentary on the industry? As a result, Steve was able to provide a unique perspective. Debunking myths on what has and has not changed over a 25-year period. Here are some of the nuggets: • In real terms salaries are down. If so, then I wonder what price is worth paying going forward to become the beating heart of the organisation? • Speed to answer has declined from 17 seconds to 41 seconds. My hunch is this still competes well against any other live assistance option.

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Martin Hill-Wilson, Barinfood Consulting

The first segment of the day comprised two sources of research into customer behaviour and contact centre performance interspersed with a fascinating insight into how customer service is evolving at Microsoft during Satya Nadella’s watch

• Calls have got longer (33%) which hopefully reflects the impact that automation and self service is having on removing more simple needs from inbound queues. Steve predicts that voice remains the dominant channel (~65% of demand) by 2022 • First time resolution continues to hover in the mid-70s. Although Eptica research which I also rate shows this bombs to under 50% as an omnichannel challenge • Attrition has been stable around 20% since the last recession And on a final note Steve’s consumer research reaffirms current views that AI augments rather than replaces live assistance. Great stuff.

Then a rare treat in terms of brand appearances, Andrew McGuigan, Director of World-Wide Customer Service Strategy for Microsoft took to the stage. His whole talk was epitomised by this quote from Microsoft’s current boss. “As a culture, we are moving from a group of people who know it all to a group of people who want to learn it all”. As a company that has re-peaked as the world’s most valuable brand, such humility is refreshing and a catalyst for re-invention. Andrew’s focuses this new growth mindset using a simple framework. Empower Me. Help Me. Advise Me. This provides a point of reference for all global service initiatives. These are surfaced through the value irritant model



pioneered by Dr David Naylor over a decade ago with Amazon. Andrew’s team are clearly on the right path. The ratio of self service to live assistance looks increasingly healthy. It’s always a balance though. “We will always have a need for assisted support and the support will require a deeper level of expertise“ That completed the plenary session. After splitting into two tracks for the rest of the day, the story continued as follows. To my mind, Sean McMahon, Customer Contact Innovations Manager from Belron is top drawer. He knows his tech. Understands the strategic direction of travel. And is a shrewd innovator, able to develop his own ecosystem. Net result is a customer engagement capability that is as advanced as anything I’ve come across. Plus some. In fact, if you want to benchmark, I’d look him up. Sean has a great ambition. Customer information will magically appear on user’s desktops. The rest of his presentation explained his cunning plan for orchestrating that experience via the jumble of systems, workflows and data most organisations contend with. His roadmap is just as interesting. Voice analytics to enrich contextual routing. Real time AI to engage no show appointments and a bit of blockchain to craft customer engagement portals. One to watch for what the future looks like. One the contenders knocking on the door of the omni-channel club is messaging. It has a strong argument for being admitted. Consumers live and breathe it. Some contact centres have embraced it while others are concerned with a potential flood of demand, a growing range of messaging platforms to chose from. Over stated claims reagrding bot effectiveness. And the obvious challenge of generating yet more silos. Matt Hooper, SVP from IMIMobile set out to reassure us that with the right functionality and inbuilt integration it was possible to squish the negatives and roll out the customer pleasing positives. He delivered a messaging centric argument for doing omnichannel properly. I’m on board. David Rowley from Direct Line reassured us that with enough test and learn, optimisation and expectation management, self service delivered by conversational AI can be made to work. Peter Finding, Partner, Taylor Vinters then offered an insight into a programme called The Zebra Project. This attracts debates on the key topics of the day. From the ethics of AI to blended workforces and the future of work. These are captured as video interviews after the debates they have hosted. A worthwhile resource worth checking out. E-gain are long term experts in the nitty gritty of making knowledge management work. For large complex organisations this


3UK told their story of using customer insight to target customer grievances - network experience, complicated bills and allowances

can result in massive libraries to hunt through. Getting advisors rapidly up to speed, keeping that library up to date and complete yet still allowing the advisor to focus on the customer experience and so be rewarded with positive feedback takes some.

Relations, Kent College Pembury then provided a wonderful example of what can happen when improvisational theatre meets independent school open days. The whole approach has tons to offer CX professionals. Find her on LinkedIn and invite her in. Genuine talent.

Their EE story showed this was part UX design of the desktop, restructuring the library, enabling an efficient feedback and curation process and presumably using the pattern and prediction capabilities of ML to surface relevant answers as Google does so well. The improvements to FCR and NPS suggest things are working at EE customer service.

Adrian Morley, Change Consultant at The Co-Op told their version of transformation which started with a contact centre without purpose and low levels of engagement. The team first improved their internal reputation by focusing on a few key outcomes that evidenced they could deliver the basics meanwhile aligning the contact centre strategy to the needs of the business. Operations were then consolidated into single Business Services team to give scale. This three year journey has positioned the team to serve Co-op’s new growth strategy.

By contrast Freshworks is a new name to many. They are a fast paced San Francisco based brand that has decided to shake up the market. Andrew Johnson their local general manager did a great job picking out the classic use cases for AI in contact centres – predictive service, advisor assist, smarter routing, filtering signal:noise in social media service and of course automated responses, and virtual assistance. 3UK told their story of using customer insight to target customer grievances network experience, complicated bills and allowances. They multiskilled, added chat for online customers and empowered front line teams to reduce complexity. All the metrics confirm a successful transformation. Tony Smith from PCIpal knows his numbers around fraud, data breaches and the transatlantic comparison between US and UK consumer reaction. It’s not a pretty picture. I keep track on the same statistics and there is no undue exaggeration. Consumer trust is the price to be paid when their data is stolen or is anyway compromised through a lack of security competence from brands. Tony paints a much broader picture of the issue we face as a connected digital economy and brands are still behind the curve far too often. Investing in PCI DSS technology is a start.

Nick King from AutoTrader provides much entertainment in his style of delivery. The gist of his tale is that consumers suffer massive cognitive overload in a digital world and so grabbing their attention makes a marketer’s job a tough one that needs a full array of insight from behavioural economics. Suffice to say if you want to increase margins always present your chocolate brownies on bone china plates! He did of course have much more method. In fact based on extensive research and industry benchmarking he nailed the top consumer drivers and online exemplars around Choice, Experience, Confidence, Enrichment and Fairness. A masterclass. Finally the day was completed for us by Zane Rudovska, Group Head Of Customer Care & Sales at Sun Finance based in Latvia. This is a fast-paced consumer loans brand that has real dynamism as shown by Zane. Her key messages were not to follow the crowd, deliver your own mix of automation blended with the human touch and make the contact centre a place to be reckoned with. A great sentiment to end a great day. Till the next one.

Sascha Evans, Director of External

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Future of the Contact Centre, Chair’s Report from Hall 2 The 2019 Future of the Contact Centre Conference, where I chaired Hall 2, provided a fascinating and absorbing insight into the changing world of the contact centre and the elements shaping its future. which was perhaps echoed by the sub-title of the conference Contact Centres at the Crossroads. Many pundits have been predicting the demise of the contact centre for some time. But, as with Mark Twain, I believe that the reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated


he plenary sessions kicked off with the always entertaining Nicola Millard from BT whose presentation, Chat, tap, talk; trends to transform your digital customer experience, really connected the bots. She showed us that while Chatbots have appeal, and “chat is where it’s at”, there needs to be ‘checks and balances’ from human agents and that phone is still popular and a key part of digital strategy.

media. He evangelised the need for brands to develop meaningful relationships with their customers, at scale. And the disruptive opportunity to build real 1:1 relationship with consumers by tapping into the unique nature of messaging with human agents and selfservice through adaptive automation. He left us in no doubt about how to deliver a conversational customer experience for friction-free interactions with consumers.

This really set the stage for the balance of the day as we traversed the full spectrum of omni-channel and digital capabilities which was respectfully, intelligently and creatively blended with the role that humans play to show why people, customers and colleagues, still come play a major and important role in successful customer interactions.

Happiness still counts

The Contact Centre and The Customer Journey Following the break, we left the starting grid in Hall 2 at full throttle with Mercedes Barbuti from Diabolocom, who demonstrated the importance of lowering the Customer Effort Score, hence improving customer retention, by leveraging all data available. Especially by agents really knowing their customers and how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can augment that knowledge to deliver a seamless customer experience. She shared customer examples and showed how with Diabolocom they could analyse flows, identify skills and improve routing for the benefit of both customers and colleagues.

Can we talk? Next in line was Ido Bornstein-HaCohen from Conversocial who clearly showed that the company name aptly described the juxtaposition and importance of conversation within the world of social

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Scarlett Bayes from the Service Desk Institute introduced us to some compelling statistics on feedback and surveys that articulated how important it is to deliver happiness and a great customer experience, even if your customers are internal rather than external with some very telling statistics on the value of the overall metrics of CX over CSAT. She went on to say that while CSAT can provide some insight into the customer experience, but it may not show the full picture. She finished with a flourish by showing that customers are interested in the experience of the service more than Service Level targets being met and that excellent CX can lead to a community of customer advocates and promote customer centricity The other Gerry Brown from IDC introduced us to some ‘Role models and Villains’ as a way of demonstrating how not to be customer centric, many of whom were the usual suspects. But bookended that smoothly by also introducing companies that did get it right including Metro Bank, Amazon and Salesforce. He divulged his three critical success factors for CX success, Kick start, Orchestrate and Innovate that focused on creating an ‘IT Intelligent Core’ that aligned with a future CX roadmap for digital investments that delivers both competitive differentiation and customer value through CX.

Gerry Brown, Customer Lifeguard

Metro Bank still creating FANS David Craggs from Metro Bank told us of the integrated service proposition offering the best of every channel, and had the audience applauding the fact that they continue to create FANs through their contact centres. He went on to say that while the customer shift towards digital and self- service banking continues to develop at pace; their customers still want them there to help them when needed. He concluded the morning session by saying that supporting these digital users is a major role for the Metro Bank Contact Centre, and analysis of usage patterns and root cause problems is a key driver of ongoing service improvements.



Chatbots, Webchat and Virtual Assistants Llaura Hughes from Motability got us motoring into the afternoon session with her eloquent and down to earth presentation entitled, Customer Interaction Through Technology. She shared their journey taken to remove the day-to-day monotony within customer interactions by utilising emotional intelligence with the use of an up-to-date knowledge management base and an awardwinning employee facing virtual agent. She told us of the changes that had taken place within their virtual assistant and the overall operation to make the process smoother, faster and less cumbersome for both customer and colleagues, and left us with this gem. ‘Confidence doesn’t come when you have all of the answers. But it comes when you’re ready to face all the questions’ Jon Meredith from IFS Customer Engagement continued the theme of bots and people playing nicely together. He noted that agents provide the empathy and listening skills plus the problem solving and creativity around additional services: essential for long term loyalty. And agreed that as the number of bot and virtual agent deployments grow, so does the frustration and the number of failed deployments. However, he quickly showed us how IFS outline the four cornerstones of a successful implementation and uses real-work examples to illustrate how human agents can seamlessly combine with AI to ensure chatbots can really deliver CX and provide a staged approach to chatbot implementation. Mark Billingham, from Shop Direct then took us on a journey from a dusty catalogue business to a fully functional, modern on-line retail giant. He showed that it was not only possible, but preferable for many customers that used mostly phone to contact them in the past, to shift relatively painlessly to a variety of digital channels. This resulted in Shop Direct improving their NPS score by 70 points, first contact resolution by 22% and overall contact by 30%.

The Voice of the Customer (VOC) and the Employee (VOE) is heard loud and clear Chris Angus from 8x8 took us on a journey through the evolution of VOC and VOE in the contact centre and injected a strong dose of reality to the discussion when he said that it is becoming increasingly obvious that business is falling short when it comes to engaging both their customer and employee in the same environment. He identified that while there was a separation between VoE and VoC and combining the two for the VoCE is a trend that is taking over. He concluded that the employee is the true link to customer satisfaction how 8x8 can support business processes that can implemented to enhance both the customer and the employees experience within your organisation.


Llaura Hughes from Motability got us motoring into the afternoon session with her eloquent and down to earth presentation entitled, Customer Interaction Through Technology

Richard Atkins, & Trish Roberts from Fidelity International performed a very creditable double act to introduce the three critical success factors within their VOC programme and the positive impact on client experience. These consist of the Health of the programme – having a robust view of the customer journey across different customer segments and countries, ensuring that their customers are able to provide a detailed view of their experience. Then their focus on the Communication and Engagement that is being fostered to celebrate best practice, getting those customer stories and winning the hearts and minds of their customers and colleagues. And lastly, and very importantly, the ‘Close the Loop’ programme, that was relaunched this year and designed to change the minds of their stakeholders through storytelling and the training module they set up to encourage best practice and create a common understanding and goal. This has had a profound effect on colleagues at all levels of the business that has contributed to the benefits in their continuous improvement programme that has been equally beneficial for customers.

Service Design in the Contact Centre James Sandberg from Customer Devoted acknowledged that many business struggles to implement successful automation programmes and his powerful presentation entitled Empowering contact centres with automation and action orientated dashboards, provided many valuable tips. James showed how contact centres can

optimise NPS with the use of automation and how data driven dashboards can deliver actionable insights about what needs to be improved within the customer service experience. These included Customer process mapping, Tooling strategies, Conversation design and the clincher, Action orientated dashboards. The end result being dashboards that go beyond vanity metrics, better collaboration across channels that can surprise customers with unexpected rewards and value. The day’s presentation was brought to a fitting end by Ian Webber-Rostron from the N Brown Group with his aptly named presentation The Changing Role of Contact Centres Within Our Organisations. He asked the probing questions; What role does our contact centre really play in the turbulent and changing world of online retail? And how far should we really go to delight our customers with their contact centre experiences? He answered these questions by demonstrating that by restating and redefining their purpose, really listening to customers and colleagues, reliving the customer’s journey and focusing on relationships, they developed a new and sustainable customer strategy which resulted in their Engage award for ‘Best use of Innovation in Customer Engagement.’ We couldn’t have asked for a better closing presentation as he enthusiastically defined and celebrated the continuing value of the contact centre and that by continual and consistent innovation it is in rude health and will live to a ripe old age.

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Unique Blend of AI and HI


5% How useful to your company was the information presented at the event?

Slightly Useful



Extremely Useful

Moderately Useful

39% Very Useful

Would you attend the conference again next year?

Can you summarise the event in one sentence?

Interesting and thought provoking

78% Yes

22% Maybe

The event was really insightful for someone who has not been in the industry long, it was really inspiring to be able to meet with other organisations and hear what leading companies are doing to meet the needs of customers now and in the future

For someone who is looking to evolve her business I found my attendance to be a real benefit to my company

How would you rate the organisation of the day?

The event was really useful to learn more about the contact centre evolution using technology. A brilliant event packed full of engaging, useful presentations and excellent networking opportunities.

39% Good

Very insightful and helped us to validate our direction of travel.


It would have been good if it was a 2 day event.



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How did the event compare to what you expected? BT Microsoft ContactBabel Kent College Pembury Belron IMImobile Autotrader Three UK IFS World eGain Customer Devoted Service Desk Institute Metro Bank

50% 45% 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% Much Better

Somewhat Better

About What is Expected

Not as Good as Expected

How would you rate the Event Networking App?



Above Average

Very Useful







How would you rate the live polling function used during some of our presentations?

Excellent Above Average Average Below Average Poor I did not use the Live Polling Function

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12% 12%

19% 26% 25% 13


From the boardroom to the Contact Centre: growing with your customers Tech giant Microsoft explains how it has transferred a ‘growth mindset’ from the boardroom to the contact centre and gained a whole new set of customer ‘fans’


hildhood dreams of becoming a super-hero soon fade as you enter adult life and face the world of work. No space for ideas of daring valour when you have breakfast meetings and endless emails to answer. But it’s different if you happen to work in Microsoft’s customer services team. For there, if you provide an exemplary customer experience and become in Microsoft language a ‘fan creator’ you will be rewarded with a super-hero cape and a congratulatory letter from management. “It is part of our ethos,” explains Andrew McGuigan, Worldwide Customer Service Strategy Leader at Microsoft. “If I as a colleague can make our customers successful then we can make our business successful. Who doesn’t want to have a relationship with a business which is focused on you and giving you the things that you want? It’s mutually assured success.” It is part of an overall cultural change at the group centred on growth mindset and led by chief executive Satya Nadella. “We are moving from a group of people who know everything to a


group that wants to learn everything as the world changes rapidly around us. So, it’s moving from a fixed mindset to growth mindset and embracing new ideas. You don’t have to have an answer for every single question somebody poses you. It’s about life-long learning and being curious and thinking about how you are going to find that answer. It is a very liberating place to be,” McGuigan states. “It’s about how we interact with our customers and how we make things better for them, our colleagues and our business. It’s moving from focusing on our own success to valuing the success of others. It changes a culture from internal competition to internal collaboration.” He admits that such cultural change can be hard especially in filtering these ideals down from Nadella to the team and the customer front line experience. So how does it apply to customer service and support at Microsoft and its 15,000 people, 52 different centres and 48 different languages? The customer service and support team ran workshops on the subject and developed a customer experience framework. Feedback on this was sought from staff who also received one to one training in growth mindset principles.

“If we approach customers from a fixed mindset, we might make assumptions about what the customer is trying to do without listening intently to them. A growth mindset is about being more customer success focused and finding the solutions and responses to their individual needs,” McGuigan explains. “We use three pillars when we talk and interact with our customers which are empower me, help me and advise me. We want to turn our customers into fans, and you need advocates on your front line who buy into the brands and are passionate about them. These are not false conversations with our customers, they are genuinely heartfelt.” He breaks down those pillars. Empower me is how Microsoft’s customer support team can help customers help themselves. “We want to help them prevent issues happening and empower them to solve the problem themselves. It’s about self-help and online journeys,” he explains. Help me is for customers in crisis where the driver is to “help them fast and get them back up and running”. Advise me is to “help customers understand our products

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Microsoft is focused on future innovation setting up a test and learn centre in Bucharest, Romania tasked with “doing things differently”

in a deeper way. How can we encourage more frequent usage and greater attachment to the products? There is a sales element to it in that we aim to understand what they are trying to achieve and then finding the products to match. But only when we believe it is relevant to do so”. McGuigan adds that there is also a strong focus on ‘eliminating’ bothersome issues for customers. “We want to kill these embarrassing issues and so we introduced a simple account health check where we look for the top three customer concerns and then heal those problems. It’s about caring for them and preventing issues which would otherwise irritate,” he states. “We also focused on creating simple and intuitive digital journeys to solve issues and on educating our customers telling them how to get into their account online and fix problems themselves. These two strategies helped give us time and capacity to focus on what we call Person to Person High Value Moment of Truth. This is where we want to lean in and actively engage with the customer, one to one, and solve a problem which is important to them. We can have a strong conversation when it counts without the fear of crossing over a budget level or taking too long on the phone and driving down service levels.” Microsoft has also reduced customer

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frustrations such as transfers and cut Interactive Voice Responses or IVRs down from 13 to just 1. In addition, it has taken out 300 “useless” telephone numbers. “We found that we had 30 second messages which were only relevant to 1% of customers. This also helps our colleagues. None of our talented team wants to operate as a switchboard or say ‘sorry, I can’t help you with that’,” says McGuigan. “We’ve started voice and text analytics and realise that with ever increasing amounts of data we need to create data scientist roles. We need guys with big brains to approach this without an agenda. What is the customer telling us?” Sometimes change can come from an unexpected place. “This was my best day at work ever helping solve the problems of 47million people in just one 30-minute meeting,” says McGuigan. “We were discussing the GDPR process and how it would be a big overhead for us requiring customers to scan photos over a secure network we had set up for verification. It occurred to us that sending through scan of ID cards and passports could add to the proof matrix when customers were locked out of their accounts. This removed the desperation people face when they can’t access important documents or family photos.” Microsoft is focused on future innovation setting up a test and learn centre in Bucharest, Romania tasked with “doing

things differently”. McGuigan explains: “We recruited people who are hungry to make things better for the customer and drive change. Tear processes apart and find a smarter way. Tell us what it is and then we will industrialise those processes across our front lines.”

Andrew McGuigan, Worldwide Customer Service Strategy Leader Microsoft

Colleagues and customers have reacted well to the cultural and operational changes. “Customer satisfaction and resolution scores are climbing and heading in the right direction as is colleague engagement. It is also flowing through to the bottom line, but we never start with that goal. It always starts with the customer view,” McGuigan says. As such he returns to those superhero capes, the letters and the creation of a culture which celebrates colleagues success. “The letter reads – ‘Wow! Welcome to the Fan Creator Club. This isn’t a jacket, it’s a cape. You’re a super-hero – wear it with pride and go and tell people why you have got it!” he says. “You have to earn it and go and do something amazing for a customer. It is an empowering, engaging and positive message to give to our staff. They are helping keep our customer focused principles alive. They are the advocates of our product, service and brand.”



Ringing Up The Changes When mobile phone operator Three wanted to improve its struggling customer perception scores its contact centre team dialled up the solution


atching commuters hunched over their smartphones giggling at a new picture on social media, eagerly typing a response to a post or keeping up to date with the football scores you would think that there was no greater love than mobiles. That may well be the case for some but according to Barry Shields, partner manager at Three UK, that love and loyalty isn’t always extended to mobile phone operators. “People love their phones but hate phone companies,” he says succinctly. “In some recent research it was shown that phone firms were trusted less than banks. That really hurts because they are providing ISAs and balance checks and we are providing access to Instagram and free roaming!” This situation was compounded by Three being the lowest ranked mobile phone network operator in terms of brand consideration. “How did we get here?” asks Shields. “We began in 2003 as a challenger brand, disrupting the norm and being an alternative to the Big Four providers. We were the first to launch video calling and all you can eat data plans.


Our goal was and is to be the best loved brand and free the fun, but we were somehow the lowest ranked.” Shields explains that Three’s marketing department was at the fore of trying to turnaround this position, but he believed strongly that the contact centre – particularly its commercial operations - could also support the transformation primarily in the retention of customers and new sales. “We wanted to use insight to understand why our attraction as a network was so low. As part of this we looked at industry research and commissioned a leavers report which surveys 3000 people every month. We asked them why they had left and their experience of that leaving journey,” he explains. “As part of our expansion of our Voice of the Customer programme last year we, within the contact centre, also contacted all of our detractors to understand their pain points and how we can change their experience. We also wanted to look at our policies and process gaps in the business and help fix them as well.” An important finding from the VOC work was that Three’s upgrade and leave journey was the second highest detractor. “Our customers said the

process was complex and lengthy and that was by design almost,” says Shields. “We had a second line, two-tier structure. You could only leave us by going through to that second line team, not in retail or email or chat. Talk about channel of choice, well this was our choice of where we wanted you to transact and when! We discovered that customers just wanted to speak to one person when they wanted to leave. They don’t want to be passed around pillar to post. They want the first person they contact to take care of everything they need.” It also discovered that 65% of their customers started their upgrade or leave journey online. A problem as it had “zero channel in that space”. “Customers were getting easy access to competitors’ websites and may have already made up their mind on their buying journey before even interacting with us in the contact centre,” Shields says. Three had to act which began with “focusing on its people” and cutting transfers. “With any great change comes uncertainty and so we wanted to invest and equip our people to deal

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with it,” he says. “Capita and Tech Mahindra provide all our commercial contact centre operations resulting in multiple hand offs between departments. As of last January, we were generating 15,000 transfers a month by ourselves with multiple touchpoints and voice only. So, we multi-skilled our sales agents to handle retention transactions so wherever the customer landed they could get resolution from one person. They would deal with all their needs and resulted in being able to deploy more flexibly in periods where we have major phone launches. How we meet those demands is a challenge we have always faced but this helped us become more efficient in that area.” He said Three worked with its partners from day one on the transformation and the vision of being ‘Best Loved Brand’. “We had a pioneering mindset and wanted our partners to help us and collaborate on the plan,” he states. “When moving from single to multi-skill advisor we began with a three-month trial involving 6 teams. It was tricky but we tracked their speed of competency and performance levels until they were ready for a blended queue at any point of the day. This meant that it could have been a sales, upgrade or retention call. Our advisers really enjoyed the variety and the empowerment.”

Three also launched a retention web chat digital channel for the commercial operation. “Allowing people to leave us with a click of a button had been seen as being too risky before. It was a brave step to take for our industry, but we wanted to provide easy access and low effort for our customers,” Shields says. “We also introduced one stop shop removing our second line function of the retention journey. We had a pot of people on that line who could offer discounts at this stage to tempt people to stay but there was only 90 of them allowed to do it because of the dilution risk. We opened that up to 550 advisors on our front line. It removed the hurdle, took away the effort for the customers and made our employees feel more trusted because they had autonomy.” So, what have been the results? Overall transfer numbers have reduced by 23,000 per month, Voice NPS is up 10 points and journey times have decreased by 5 minutes. In addition, on web chat, even when customers leave, they still rate Three at +50 NPS. “This will be huge for our brand consideration. We have made the leaving experience positive which means that people will come back to us because they know how easy it is to come and go. It is

just like the Netflix model,” Shields says. He urges other firms and contact centres to put aside commercial concerns and put customer experience first. “We knew it was the right thing to do for the contact centre and the business but could we afford to do the right thing with web chat retention and wider discount offerings? I believed that we couldn’t afford not to. It was evolve or die,” Shields states. “We have shown that improving the customer experience does not come at the expense of commercial performance. If you take the risks, you will see the return.”

Following on from the success of Engage Business Media’s 2018 Engage Awards programme, which broke records across the board, we are delighted to announce the renaming of our programme for 2019 to the International Engage Awards. The new moniker is an acknowledgement of the increasingly global spread of organisations wanting to enter what is now firmly recognised as the only customer and employee engagement Awards programme.


Welcome to the International Engage Awards - Now Open for Entries

The 2019 International Engage Awards will include a record number of 20 categories, nine of them brand new to the programme, and will cover every conceivable aspect of customer and employee engagement, and including for the first time a coveted Lifetime Achievement Award. So, if you’ve achieved great things with your engagement initiatives, the Engage Awards are perfect for you. We’re open for entries until the 15th July, so don’t miss out on recognising your efforts. We wish you the best of luck with your entries.

Find out more and start your entries at APRIL 2019



Fit For The Future Traditional ways of shopping from the high street to catalogues are being challenged by the rise of E-commerce. Clothing group N Brown reveals how the contact centre and improved customer service is helping it stay in shape


ewspaper stories and campaigns centred around saving the Great British high street have come to the fore in recent years as a result of the rise of internet shopping.

Webber-Rostron, responsible for N Brown’s contact centre operations, both outsourced and in-house, says the department also had to “change its purpose” to stay in line with the group’s evolution.

phone. The whole journey is different and it requires a different contact centre.”

Consumers preferring to buy clothes and new TVs through a click of a button rather than get in their car and visit the local high street has, in part, led to the demise of retail veterans such as Woolworths and Austin Reed.

“We want our customers to look and feel amazing,” Webber-Rostron says. “So, how do we fit into that? We need to understand the business and where it is in its transformation. Change is what we are, but how quickly are we dealing with it? What is our purpose?”

“Our purpose is to listen and talk to customers and help them resolve any issues. It is not about selling them extra things or picking up the phone to market to them,” he explains. “We are the people behind the shop counter who want to help them have a positive experience. We know exactly what is going on with our customers and are best placed to understand them and help ensure that our products and service are top notch. We deal with the transactional stuff of course but we also translate the feedback and voice of the customer and purpose it into something that drives change in our business and holds weight at board level. We are the only division in the group which can do that.”

Ian Webber-Rostron, Head of Outsourcing and International at retailer N Brown, told the Future of the Contact Centre conference, that the clothing and homewares brand faced another complication. “Our history as primarily a fashion retailer focused on underserved markets such as plus size is based around catalogue shopping,” he says. “We all remember the catalogue on the coffee table which we would browse circling everything we wanted in the perfect size and colour. Back in 2015 when I joined, we were already seeing a transformation in the way customers shopped with us. Of our revenues back then 60% came from online and that’s risen over my time here currently standing at around 85%. We never pushed customers in any particular channel - they just naturally chose to buy online. The retail environment is tough and we have to implement, implement and implement and if we don’t then we are dead in the water.”

From the outside it would seem little has altered. N Brown still sends its products out using the same couriers but Webber-Rostron argues that there is a fundamental difference in how the group talks and communicates with its customers and their service expectations. “So back in the day customers would receive a catalogue through the door and on there would be our telephone number to call and place an order. When they called there was an element of upselling and marketing by our team. The customer would then wait 3 days for delivery and if something wasn’t quite right they might write a letter or pick up a phone to complain,” he explains. “Now they order online on their mobile and they want a nice, easy journey to buy our clothes and get them on time next day. They want the whole process to be seamless. If they are not happy with something then they will contact us digitally via email, Web Chat or on the

He returns to a traditional store concept for the answer.

It is a simple case of directly asking customers coming through the contact centre how they feel about their shopping experience as well as speech analytics and call monitoring. “We get a feel for what has caused the customer to contact and what they like and don’t like about the business,” he explains. Webber-Rostron adds that he has regular meetings with the board including its chief executive to share the information. “About four years ago we went to our chief executive at the time and asked for support to ensure the feedback lands properly and that action is taken off the back of it. It is the biggest challenge but if you get buy-in from the top then it will happen,” he states. “Now at all board meetings the first agenda item is all about the customer. We report on the top customer issues such as deliveries, returns, stock levels, the size or fit of our clothes. It’s our bread and butter and we discuss how to get stuff done and improve the business.”


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The customer team also set up separate forums across the business to engage with other departments such as buying and merchandising or logistics.

all over the screens in our contact centres. We celebrate the advisers who have attracted positive feedback from customers”.

“We don’t want to come across as a ‘snagger’ which is a decorating term for picking up all the errors in someone else’s work! You won’t get buy-in that way, so you have to work at building relationships,” he explains. “But we can challenge and have made changes to the business such as in dealing faster with missing deliveries.”

Customer experience, he adds, is crucial in these turbulent times for retailers. “As a retailer you are only as good as your last experience. If you have only one bad experience than you will lose that customer. You can’t afford to do that – particularly now,” he explains. “When a customer is not happy and comes to us at the contact centre and if we resolve that complaint then they have a higher propensity to spend in the future compared to one who never complains.”

It also means working closely with its outsourcing and technology providers who have “touchpoints with its customers”. “We run a mixture of inhouse and outsourced customer services as well as onshore and offshore. If we find that something isn’t working for the customer then we won’t do it,” he adds. “We work closely with our outsource providers and put a lot of effort into fostering partnerships.” Returning to the basic principle of ensuring that customers receive a positive experience when communicating with the contact centre, Webber-Rostron explains that every week it compiles a summary of the best customer feedback and “puts it

What then of the future? “I don’t know what the future will hold in terms of technology. The customer will go down whatever route they want to go down. We could put a lot of time and effort into trying to predict whether our customers are going to be ordering via Alexa in the next 12 months but if they want that then they will just tell us,” he says. “We will concentrate on the customer and making them happy and ensure that our colleagues are in good shape to cope with whatever is coming down the line.”



Understand How You Can Help to Shape and Evolve Your Business in the Growing Digital World

The Customer Engagement Transformation Conference comes as a growing number of organisations are realising the business benefits that accrue when they work to transform and evolve their customer engagement strategies to keep pace, and engage more closely, with their customers. It can seem impossible to keep up with customer trends and implement a winning strategy, but those who attend the Customer Engagement Transformation Conference leave feeling equipped, with exclusive insights from organisations that have already transformed and are reaping the rewards of customer loyalty as a result. This year’s conference will see over 40 speakers delivering exclusive content surrounding trending topics across 2 seminar halls. With world class case studies and networking opportunities with industry experts, delegates will leave armed with all the tools, techniques and insight they need to implement effective and successful long term customer engagement strategies. APRIL 2019



The Customer Philosophy Belron studied Chinese wisdom to help it build a new omnichannel engagement framework to the joyful benefit of both customers and employees


t is an iconic phrase which has been used to inspire politicians, soldiers, sports stars and anyone wanting to build a different life for themselves.

But ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu’s simple but inspiring words – ‘A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step’ has also helped Autoglass and Carglass owner Belron frame a new approach to contact centre customer engagement. “That phrase has been a valuable lesson for us,” says Sean McMahon, Customer Contact Innovation Manager at Belron. “Developing an omnichannel engagement framework is a step by step process. You can start from anywhere if you put innovation first, build for change and measure everything.” Tzu was also famous for travelling to the West on a water buffalo. CRM veteran McMahon, who joined Belron two years ago, may not have travelled to its Surrey headquarters by the same mode of transport, but he also had global geographies to consider. “We are a holding group for a number of different companies, and we operate all over the world,” he explains. “We have 16.5billion customers and 28,000 employees over 36 countries. We are big but we are federated and one of the challenges of implementing an overarching philosophy is how do you convince a selfdetermining group of people that what you intend to do is a good idea? It is part of the reason why we ended up doing this in incremental steps business unit by business unit rather than a big bang.” McMahon says he discovered a largely service based company two years ago. “We are brilliant at knowing glass, moving glass and fitting glass and lead the world in service and patent standards. But from a customer engagement perspective we had no legacy systems. We operated a traditional call centre with systems and methodology built 8 or 9 years previously,” he states. “Belron was a very ERP orientated company and customer engagement was done via job management systems.”


It also had attribution.



“Very few people buy a vehicle and then go and find out how much it will cost to replace a windscreen,” McMahon adds. “We have a funnel of people coming to us who need a solution when the unexpected happens. Once they call us, we know they are in need.” Rather than being overwhelmed McMahon saw the existing structure as a “real big bonus”. It gave him free range to invent something new. “We needed to change because of rising customer expectations and the need to improve brand loyalty, service quality improvements including smartphone platforms and social media access and the technology

available such as the development of machine learning and AI,” he says. “There were also cost benefits. The configuration options which used to be available inside an application you would purchase for a call centre are now low code and workflow. Suddenly you can do whatever you want. I put my hands in the clay and imagined the future.” In essence McMahon wanted to ensure that customer information was going to “magically appear” on customer agent’s desktops. “The traditional CRM model, which we have all seen, is not very good. It is where customer information goes to die, and we believed that the normal bulk approach was not going to work. So, we decided to change it completely and focus on identity to

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an engineer it would be good for them to know that there has been a problem on that customers journey before engaging with them.” This moves on to activity scoring and the development of an opportunity index. “This is how we value jobs and the customer. We know the customer acquisition cost and the customer life time value which will differ if you are a road warrior and travelling all the time,” McMahon explains. “We can find out what deal type a call is such as a distress, grudge because they have to pay for the repair themselves, fleet or insurance so we can better handle the query. We can see an interaction count so how easy or not the customer’s journey has been and look at cross and upsell opportunities like body work discounts.”

give our agents insights,” he says. “We aimed to collect every piece of data we could along the customer journey. Instead of CRM being something for us, we wanted a CRM system which was something for them. We ended up with a journey driven CRM where we developed atomised data and measured everything.”

events such as what devices customers are using and how often they have contacted the call centre.

It is a “visual representation” based around insight and analysis of the customers using machine learning, identity attributes based on emails and telephone, customer journey and mapping and events storage relating to contact touch points such as web page visits and emails.

“Measurement is the key. It is the essence of our approach to omnichannel,” says McMahon. “You have elemental, incremental aspects of measurement for everything that you do. So, a website visit is a conversation as much as chat and voice are. It also gives us a completely empowering atomic view of the customers journey and there are a number of places where this is valuable. As a call centre agent, you are looking to make sure that you are giving the customer the best advice at all times. In addition, if we happen to crash land an angry person onto

It includes a new customer engagement metric dashboard detailing customer feedback, average page views per caller and call through rate per visitor device as well as agents being able to see user

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Belron has also updated its job bookings system to a “timeline orientated view to allow the customer to fill the form out themselves”.

Agents can also determine the fail risk of a customer – essentially whether they are going to change or cancel appointments. “It is very expensive for us to move glass so we can find out if someone is a risk of being a no-show. If you have an old car and you’ve booked online and you’ve already changed your appointments four times then the chances are that you are not really that serious about this particular appointment,” McMahon says. “So, we could put them on a nurture programme.” Belron has also introduced technology which can analyse and tag key phrases in calls which allows it to do contextual routing. “Instead of having individual routing for each individual channel we have universal routing and a universal queue,” McMahon adds. “We have achieved that original aim but with a slight change. We are now delivering contextually related data on customers magically appearing on customer agent’s desktops.” He says that the change has had huge positive benefits for agents. “We have created a super-agent with all the information and tools they need. They have insights from first customer contact, and they feel so empowered,” he says. “Seriously there have been hankies all over the place. Real tears of joy!” McMahon says the system is constantly developing and it is vital to have a long term “thought trajectory” to make use of new technology and processes. “We’d like to go deeper in the conversation structure around a job and include dispatchers, supply chain managers and others in the business,” he says. “It’s about continuous improvement.” Or as Lao Tzu himself once point it – “A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”



Heart of The Matter The Co-op’s contact centre has proved it can play a crucial role in shaping and determining business strategy. We learn how its team turned it from forgotten to fundamental


hen you next walk down the aisle of a Co-op food store and are impressed by the lack of queues and quality of wine then raise a toast to the company’s contact centre team. Because, as Adrian Morley, change consultant at the Co-op Service Centre told the Future of the Contact Centre audience, its feedback and analysis has played a crucial role in the development of its food strategy True North. Through the everyday conversations the centre has with the group’s customers it was able to recommend changes to store layouts and product improvements. “We talk to customers about what really matters to the business. We have aligned our work more closely to business strategy and raised our profile,” Morley says. “We are now seen as a really important part of the business. We have achieved relevance.” It’s been a fascinating journey.

The first step was to improve the contact centre’s reputation and prove it could deliver basic services. “The centre was broken in 2015. We had a problem with the culture as staff didn’t consider themselves to be contact centre professionals,” Morley says. “We also had a raft of measures which weren’t relevant and didn’t relate to what customers wanted. We were performing process led functions with the focus on ‘We get calls, we take the calls. We get emails, we answer them and count them’! We stripped it all back and reduced it to a few measures such as how long it took to answer calls and emails. We had a relentless focus on this and tried to show continuous improvement. It was a matter of changing perception and creating a vision of what the contact centre was there to do.”

The team also increased resilience training when handling complaints. “Performance improved and it was the first step in showing the leadership team that we could be trusted. They saw that we knew what we were doing,” Morley explains. The focus then switched to what value the contact centre could add to the overall business. Morley says one of the first exercises was to try and get in the mind of its chief executive and leadership team. “It isn’t all about golf,” he says. “Growth is their number one concern and customer experience, cost management, sales and productivity help drive that. You need to help that level of people join the dots between what you do well in the contact centre and growth.”

Morley describes the contact centre operation back in 2015 as being “fairly overlooked and insignificant” to the wider business”. It was composed of a “number of very small-scale contact centres aligned into different business units”. Of the £10billion spend across the whole group the contact centre accounted for just £4million. “People thought our main task was to help recover lost membership cards,” he explains. Morley says one person who did see the contact centre’s potential was the Cooperative Group’s director of transformation Jane McCall. “Her main task was turning around the food business but as she had previous contact centre experience, she believed it could be a force for change,” he says. “The two centres she really saw potential in were customer care which mainly looked after food business complaints and member queries.” McCall recruited contact centre professional Claire Carroll, now head of member and customer services at the group and tasked her with making it a strategic asset.


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The contact centre structure has now changed moving from the previous federated model to a new Co-op Service Centre supporting all its businesses at the end of 2018. “It is an engine for growth At the time in 2015 the main areas of company change were True North and revitalising membership. “True North was about listening to customers and acting on their feedback to improve the store proposition and trading whilst membership is about engaging with customers to make them care more about what is going on at the Co-op,” Morley says. “We have 750,000-member contacts a year and 150,000 complaints about the food stores so it was a great chance to turn that into insight to build a better Co-op. It was also an engaging and compelling vision for our team.” On the membership engagement drive the centre focused on complaints and the damage they did to customer relationships. “Our big opportunity was to retain complaining members. Each had the

opportunity to either continue shopping with the Co-op or go elsewhere. Our role was to restore that relationship,” Morley explains. “We empowered and incentivised our colleagues to help them decide what was right for customers. We relaxed the rules and checks on giving out £10 vouchers to complainers as well as gifts. Once a member received a Frozen dress for her child because she said she liked the film. We told our staff that we would not criticize or hand out black marks for something they did that they thought would help the customer. If you take away all the rules and restrictions you resolve complaints a lot quicker. There is less internal passing around leading to massive productivity improvements.”

relationships. We needed to get evidence so in 2015 we looked at membership data to see how much money complainers spent with us. It came to £200million every year. We looked at what that amount moved to after they complained. Did their issues have a detrimental effect?” he explains. “We found that 90% of the basket spent was being retained post complaint which is a £20million drop. We did the same exercise in 2017, after we had made service improvements and the figure had risen to 96%. We had saved the business £12million worth of sales. There is nothing like putting a big pounds figure in front of an executive to get their attention! It showed we could do things that really matter for the business. Senior leaders and colleagues said ‘I get it now. I see where we fit in.’”

The team then calculated what financial benefit this was making to the business. “It wasn’t enough to just stand there and tell people we were building valued

Regarding the new food strategy Morley adds: “We looked at the 7 things the Co-op food business was trying to do better and we aligned the complaints we received to each one. Some were about easy fixes like putting a chair in a store or getting around the store better and others were products which we needed to improve. The key is to make your complaints narrative useful to the business strategy.” Another crucial outcome from the transformation was an increase in employee engagement from below the Co-op average to above it in just two years. “Executives saw that if you take a bunch of people who answer the phone and get complained at all day and make them that engaged then we were clearly doing something quite special!” Morley says. The contact centre structure has now changed moving from the previous federated model to a new Co-op Service Centre supporting all its businesses at the end of 2018. “It is an engine for growth,” Morley says. He urges other contact centres to follow its lead on becoming a strategic asset. “By being seen as relevant and able to deliver results you are going to get more resources to help you build the contact centre of the future. If you are not seen as relevant then you won’t be involved in strategic discussions and things will be done to you instead,” Morley says. “We are now a contact centre demonstrably delivering great results for the Co-op. We are at the heart of the group’s plans now and helping to drive growth. Our colleagues also go home at night knowing they have done a really important job.”

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The use of new technologies is having a profound impact on how we interact with our customers and nowhere is this change more marked than developments in the world of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The Summit is the premier event of its kind in Europe and is back and bigger than ever for 2019, being held on 10th May in Central London. With research showing that organisations are facing a radically shifting context for the workforce, the workplace, and the world of work, the employee engagement team are faced with a number of converging issues.



Our case study and high level networking driven CX Marketing Summit will examine in detail the key issues, challenges and opportunities facing the marketing community against a background of rapid advances in technologies – from Advanced Analytics and Biometrics through to Virtual and Augmented Reality, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence

With the digital revolution in full swing, it’s imperative that organisations start to consider their customers’ needs in order to meet changing expectations. Customer demands are increasing rapidly, and the technology available to improve customer experience is advancing in front of our eyes.





This Conference will take an in depth look at the fast changing world of internal communications and how it is increasingly taking on the critical employee engagement role that has too often been neglected by those in HR.

Our exclusive Engage Focus groups allow senior individuals working in customer and employee engagement to come together and voice their thoughts and share experiences across a wide range of topics in a structured professional environment.





Our flagship Customer Engagement Summit is back, and is now firmly established as a 2 day event. Delegates will hear from 90+ speakers during the course of the two days, and we’ll be covering the latest, hottest topics in the industry.

Following on from the success of Engage Business Media’s 2018 Engage Awards programme, which broke records across the board, we are delighted to announce the renaming of our programme for 2019 to the International Engage Awards.





Engaged employees are more important to organisations than ever before. Providing our people with a truly digital workplace environment enables new and more effective and efficient ways of working while improving engagement levels and at the same time relationships with our customers.

Contact centres remain well placed to become the beating heart of an organisation’s customer engagement strategy. It is the contact centre that can deliver the customer insight that is needed in a business environment where our customers are in control of how they choose to interact with organisations and where the so called ‘customer journey’ is ever more complex.

For more information please contact us at: or 01932

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Contact Centre Industry Report 2019  

This year’s Future of the Contact Centre conference had its primary theme as ‘Contact Centres at the Crossroads’. Some of the UK’s biggest...

Contact Centre Industry Report 2019  

This year’s Future of the Contact Centre conference had its primary theme as ‘Contact Centres at the Crossroads’. Some of the UK’s biggest...

Profile for cenict