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Stuart O'Brien

Ericsson in hot water over O2 data outage

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O2 is reported to be seeking millions of pounds in damages from Ericsson after the mobile operator’s extended data service downtime late last week.

The issue, which Ericsson attributed to an expired software license, resulted in a customer care whirlwind for O2, which has for the most part been praised for the way it handled customer queries and complaints during the 24-hour incident, particularly on social media.

In fact, O2 has endeavoured to be on the front foot in terms of customer care, outlining compensation for both contract and Pay As You Go customers over the weekend.

The operator is the UK’s second-biggest, with 25 million direct customers in total and also through the service it provides to 7 million more people on behalf of Sky, Tesco, Giff Gaff and Lycamobile

Business and corporate services were also impacted, including many bus timetable services.

The Daily Telegraph says O2 and its Spanish parent Telefónica have scheduled crisis talks with Ericsson to thrash out the compensation due.

Teleopti

Support Services Group deploys Teleopti Workforce Management

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Support Services Group has successfully deployed real-time, cloud-based Teleopti Workforce Management (WFM) technology to schedule over 300 agents across five locations and four time zones in the USA and Domincan Republic.

The company claims that since deployment of Telepti WFM Cloud solution Support Services Group productivity has increased by 5%. Agent idle time and over staffing issues have also been reduced, along with the number of hours required to support different customer programs and meet client service levels.

“We were looking for a strong WFM business partner to align with our rapid growth and future goals,” said Bryan Gross, President at Support services Group.

“Teleopti provides a robust yet flexible WFM solution – the perfect fit to help facilitate our fast expansion plans. From the initial product demonstration it was clear the people at Teleopti are passionate about the product plus the simplicity and intuitiveness of the software made it an easy decision, “ added Gross.

Support Services Group relies on Teleopti WFM Cloud to build 12 different schedules for over 300 agents and add new skills, agents and clients quickly and efficiently. Supervisors simply click on a button to access all the information they need to support their clients and manage their teams effectively. At the same time, agents access the MyTime app on their mobile devices to get real-time updates of their schedules, check breaks and lunches, ask for time off or trade shifts.

Teleopti’s Intraday Management and Real-Time Adherence modules have yielded the greatest benefits. Linked directly to Support Services Group’s automated call distributor (ACD) system, they provide an accurate, real-time view of agent and overall contact centre activity, enabling managers to track schedules against forecasts and make quick and meaningful adjustments to meet agreed client service levels and increase customer satisfaction.

Kimberley MacKinnon, VP Workforce Management at Support Services Group, said: “Scaling our large and complex contact centre operations quickly through efficient schedules that maximise agent skills is a critical success factor. The ease of use and advanced reporting capabilities of Teleopti’s cloud-based solution appealed to us and convinced us Teleopti was the right technology partner to support the diversity of our ever-expanding business.”

David Pahlman, President of Teleopti North America, said: “Our fully automated, flexible cloud WFM technology enables organisations such as Support Services Group to provide their customers with excellent service while quickly meeting the demands of business growth.

“This, paired with Teleopti’s consultative implementation approach, means we are able to deliver an optimised platform to best suit our clients’ needs and future goals. We look forward to our continued partnership with Support Services Group.”

Are you one of our VIP customer care professionals?

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Would you like to join 65 other senior call centre and customer service professionals next April?

You are invited to attend the Call Centre & Customer Services Summit for FREE as our VIP guest – it takes place 29 & 30 April 2019 at the Radisson Blu Hotel, London Stansted.

Register your free VIP place here.

You’ll be matched for series of pre-arranged, 1-2-1 meetings with suppliers who match your requirements and projects, plus you’ll have the opportunity to attend insightful and educational seminar sessions.

Overnight accommodation, all meals and refreshments, plus an invitation to our gala dinner with entertainment are included with your free ticket.

You will be joining your peers representing the likes of:

Allianz Insurance

BT

Bionical

BT

DAZN

Dignity plc

Ezugi

Farrow & Ball

Futures Housing Group

GT Railway

Heathrow Express

Homeserve

Igloo Energy

Leeds Teaching Hospital

Legal & General Home Finance

PWC

Slater & Gordon

Solarplicity

Tenancy Deposit Scheme

Thames Water

TNT

Virgin Media

Wiltshire Police

Register your free place here or contact Tiffany Cox on 01992 374087 / t.cox@forumevents.co.uk to find out more.

To attend as a supplier, call Gayle Buckland on 01992 374063 or email g.buckland@forumevents.co.uk.

For more information, visit www.callcentresummit.co.uk.

Impact of bad customer service on retailers revealed

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Nearly six in ten (59%) consumers have stopped shopping with a retailer due to poor customer service in store, on the phone, or online.

That’s according to new data by 8×8, which 2,018 UK adults in October, finding that when asked about the bad service they had received, the most common issue consumers cited (78%) was being ‘passed around the houses’ or having to re-explain their problem multiple times to different people in order to get an answer.

The majority have had to speak to three different people on average, with some saying they spoke to 12 different agents for just one query. Nearly half of customers (49%) also said that staff had been rude to them.

Retailers struggling to join up their internal data is also impacting service levels. Over half (51%) of consumers said they are less likely to shop with a retailer if they can’t talk to the online customer service team about in-store purchases, or go into a physical store to ask about online orders.

95% also said that they found it frustrating when agents didn’t have any information about their previous calls or emails.

When asked what they consider the most important elements of good customer service, having queries resolved quickly is the most important factor for retail customers (48%), followed by getting a human response (47%), and  having one person being able to answer their query first time (44%).

David Rowlands, Director, Customer Success, UK & EMEA, 8×8, said: “For UK retailers, every customer counts and in a tough year for the sector, this has never been more important. Yet if customer service isn’t up to scratch, customers are happy to vote with their feet and shop elsewhere.”

8×8’s  research also revealed the UK’s top eight customer service frustrations:

  1. Being put on hold for a long time (86%)
  2. Automated responses or obviously scripted answers (85%)
  3. Customer service teams not having information about their previous calls or emails (83%)
  4. Customer service teams not caring (82%)
  5. Being told to go to a help section or FAQs instead of being helped on a call (77%)
  6. When I call a company for a specific query, but get asked to visit their website instead (76%)
  7. When staff try to sell them a product while they are still trying to get their problem solved (75%)
  8. Not being given rewards for being a loyal customer (64%)

Call Centre & Customer Services Summit – Everything you need to know

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Are you free on April 29th & 30th 2019? Join us at the Call Centre & Customer Services Summit!

This is a bespoke and highly-targeted two-day event created specifically for senior customer service professionals like you.

And it’s is entirely FREE for you to attend.

When: 29 & 30 April 2019

Where: Radisson Blu Hotel, London Stansted

Format: Corporate ‘speed-dating’. As our VIP guest, you will be provided with a bespoke itinerary of pre-arranged, 1-2-1 meetings with suppliers relevant to your requirements. A series of seminars will also be hosted throughout the day, while overnight accommodation, lunch and refreshments, plus an invitation to our gala dinner with entertainment, is complimentary.

Who Attends: Senior customer service professionals, with registered delegates representing the likes of Allianz Insurance, BT, Bionical, DAZN, Dignity, Ezugi, Farrow & Ball, GT Railway, Homeserve, Leeds Teaching Hospital, Legal & General Home Finance, PWC, Slater & Gordon, Tenancy Deposit Scheme, Thames Water, Virgin Media, Wiltshire Police and many more.

To secure a complimentary delegate place, call Tiffany Cox on 01992 374087 or email j.stanford@forumevents.co.uk.

To attend as a supplier, call Gayle Buckland on 01992 374063 or email g.buckland@forumevents.co.uk.

For more information, visit www.callcentresummit.co.uk.

55% of UK contact centres expect lower live call volumes in 2019

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The majority of contact centre operations expect their live inbound call volumes to decrease in 2019, according to a new study.

The survey of over 200 contact centres undertaken by ContactBabel for its UK Contact Centre Decision-Makers’ Guide report also found that despite this expected drop, live telephony is still seen by businesses as the most effective channel for customers to use for sales, service or complaints.

The report also finds that:

  • Average cost per call is slightly higher than email and web chat (£4.27 / £3.81 / £4.24)
  • Web chat, interaction analytics & AI are expected to show the strongest growth in 2019
  • At 41 seconds, mean average speed to answer is more than 2.5 times as long as it was in 2004
  • UK average new agent salaries rise to £17,507; contact centre managers’ to £40,785.

Steve Morrell, Principal Analyst at ContactBabel, said: “The steep rise in digital channel usage (email, web chat and social media), as well as customers’ increasing familiarity with web self-service means that, for the first time in the 18 years that we have been studying the industry, the majority of contact centres expect fewer calls in the next year.

“Yet many businesses believe that customers would usually be better-off calling the contact centre, rather than using a digital channel. Although many see email as a good channel for resolving complaints, and web self-service for account-based issues, live telephony is still viewed by businesses as the gold standard for customer contact. ”

The 2018-19 UK Contact Centre Decision-Makers’ Guide is downloadable from www.contactbabel.com/reports.cfm.

Based on detailed interviews with over 200 UK organisations, the report provides hard data about every aspect of UK customer contact management, technology and strategy, including AI & machine learning, customer personalisation, digital channels, robotic process automation, agent engagement and HR/operational benchmarking statistics.

Puzzel improves position as a Challenger in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant

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Puzzel has been positioned by Gartner as a Challenger in the Magic Quadrant for Contact Center as a Service, Western Europe report, for the fourth consecutive year.

The firm’s omni-channel, cloud-based contact centre solution is designed to support smaller enterprises with contact centre operations as well as global corporations with thousands of agents.

In 2017 the company re-branded to Puzzel raising its awareness amongst contact centre professionals and expanded its operations in Finland and Bulgaria, both supporting factors in strengthening its position as a key contender in the contact centre software as a service market.

“We are encouraged by our improved position as a Challenger and feel we are getting closer to the Leader’s quadrant each year,” said Børge Astrup, Chief Executive Officer of Puzzel. “We believe this reflects our growth and is recognition of our continued efforts to improve the product year-on-year. The flexibility and efficiency of the cloud business model allows Puzzel to be commercially competitive and innovative while offering strong functional capabilities to our customers regardless of their size.”

Thomas Rødseth, Chief Technology Officer of Puzzel, added: “In a changing world channels such as webchat and social media are gaining momentum. As a company we are dedicated to solving customer interactions whatever the channel. It is especially rewarding to see this being recognized this year as our reference customers were all multi-channel deployments. Also, we are committed to self-service and organisations are benefitting from our new Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions. Customers see the value of being empowered by visual design tools to manage their omni-channel customer experience.”

Astrup, concluded: “Puzzel’s strength lies in the solution’s functionality, particularly in meeting required standards and compliance regulations. Our support operations combined with our understanding of customers’ business needs and the ability to demonstrate how Puzzel delivers value, have fuelled the growth in our customer base and we believe this in turn has strengthened our position in the Magic Quadrant of Contact Center as a Service, Western Europe.”

UK insurance contact centres ‘battle 60% rise in call duration’

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UK insurance companies expect to make significant investments in AI-enabled web chat, automated customer identification and interaction analytics technology within the next two years.

A survey of over 200 UK contact centres undertaken by ContactBabel shows that insurance operations expect their use of web chat to grow from 44% today to 94% by the beginning of 2020.

The use of interaction analytics is expected to rise to 43%, as is automated speech recognition, with much of the latter being used to reduce fraud and the time required to take phone customers through security.

In 2012, only 7% of inbound interactions with insurers were through email, but this has risen sharply to over 15% today.

Due in part to increased automation, the sector will see a drop in contact centre employment of around 5,500 jobs by 2020.

The report’s author, Steve Morrell, Principal Analyst, ContactBabel, said: “With average call lengths in UK insurance contact centres having risen by over 60% since 2010, the industry has embraced the opportunities that digital channels can bring, especially in terms of automating simpler interactions.

“AI-enabled web chat can handle a large proportion of straightforward customer requests, while automating the customer identity process will shorten call times and reduces fraud. The insurance sector has also seen very significant rises in the average time taken to answer calls, as well as the length of calls. The significant growth in digital activity, particularly email, shows that insurers are understanding how their customers wish to contact them, while managing the cost of service.”

The report is downloadable free of charge from www.contactbabel.com/reports.cfm.

INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: Advanced solution for outbound communication

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Manual dialling, reaching engaged tones and answering machines, incorrect dialled numbers, waiting for customers to pick up – is an inefficient use of your agents’ time.

The Enghouse Outbound Predictive Dialler is an outbound calling system that empowers agents through automated technology, which can quickly and easily detect busy signals, answer machines and disconnected numbers.

This easy-to-use tool combines market-leading predictive dialling capabilities with the latest generation of answer machine detection to help you:

  • Maximise agent productivity – automate dialling, boost agent talk time
  • Increase your profitability – set up new campaigns quickly and easily
  • Be 100% compliant – conform to all UK regulations, including Ofcom
  • Evaluate performance – by agent or across an entire campaign

For more information, click here.

Your free ticket to this week’s exclusive industry party!

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Don’t miss out on the party of the year! The Call Centre & Customer Services Christmas Party takes place this week (Wednesday, November 14th).

Grab your FREE ticket today!

When: Wednesday November 14th, 6pm-10pm

Where: Dirty Martini: Minories, London

Enjoy complimentary drinks and canapés, while networking with friends, colleagues and peers from across the call centre and customer services community.

Make sure you don’t miss out!