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Stuart O'Brien

GUEST BLOG: IT and marketers working together will improve CX

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For years, marketers have talked—and written—extensively about the disconnect between marketing and IT. Who should own email lists and sensitive data?

Who should have access to the website CMS? Who should decide which marketing automation platforms to install? These are just a few of the questions that have plagued the marketing/IT debate.

In 2019 however, this debate finally feels like it’s come to a close. According to new research from Episerver, 93 percent of marketers now have the ability to directly edit their company’s website, while 80 percent expect to have complete ownership over their brand’s web presence within the next two years.

Instead of seeing this as a ‘land grab’ from IT, however, 62 percent of marketers say they are simply working collaboratively with their IT departments in order to reduce silos and ensure the best customer experiences. While this is great news for customers, the problem of marketing silos has not gone away for good. Instead, a new debate has started to rage—this time between marketers and the new wave of customer experience (CX) professionals…

This article originally appeared on Digital Marketing Briefing – Click here to continue reading…

Do you provide Technology Solutions to call centres? We want to hear from you!

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Each month on Call Centres Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on a different part of the customer care market – and in March we’re focussing on new Technology.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help customer care industry buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a supplier of tech to call centres and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Gayle Buckland on g.buckland@forumevents.co.uk.

Here are the areas we’ll be covering, month by month:

Mar – Call Centre Technology
Apr – Automated Customer Satisfaction
May – Social Media
Jun – Artificial Intelligence
Jul – Virtual Call/Contact Centres
Aug – Training & Development
Sep – Knowledge Management
Oct – Web Self Service/Chat
Nov – Display Boards
Dec – CRM

For more information on any of the above, contact Gayle Buckland on g.buckland@forumevents.co.uk.

Join BT, Igloo Energy, Virgin Media & more – your free VIP ticket

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We are gathering together decision makers from today’s leading call centre and customer services operations for the Call Centre & Customer Services Summit, taking place on April 29th & 30th at the Radisson Blu Hotel, London Stansted.

In addition to two days of business networking, you will get the latest insights and advice on trends in the sector via a series of seminar session.

All hospitality – including overnight accommodation, meals and refreshments, plus an invitation to our gala dinner with entertainment – is complimentary.

Register today and join call centre leaders from:

Allianz Insurance
B T
Bionical
Booking.com
Bulk Powders
British Council
Cambridge University Press
Centrica (British Gas)
Cineworld
DAZN
D H L
Dignity
Farrow & Ball
Futures Housing Group
Guardian Financial Services
Gazprom Energy
GT Railway
Heathrow Express
House of Fraser
Igloo Energy
Imperial College London
Integral UK
Leeds Teaching Hospital
Legal & General Home Finance
MoPlay
National Express
Network Research
Nomad Foods
Parkdean Resorts
PWC
Slater & Gordon
Solarplicity
Survey Roofing Group
Tenancy Deposit Scheme
Tesco
Thames Water
TK Maxx
TNT
Toyota
Virgin Media
Vodafone
VP Plc
WWF
Wiltshire Police
Your Golf Travel

But you should register your FREE place now to avoid disappointment.

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.

First Direct tops latest UK Customer Satisfaction Index

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Banking provider First Direct has topped the UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI), with a customer satisfaction score of 86.7 (out of 100).

The UKCSI, published today by The Institute of Customer Service, is produced twice a year and rates customer satisfaction at a national, sector and organisational level across 13 sectors – incorporating the views of 10,000 consumers on 247 brands.

Retailer, John Lewis, and M&S Bank follow immediately behind first direct with scores of 86.5 and 86.3 respectively. High street brand, Next, ranks fourth.

Next recently reported overall sales growth of 1.5% for the last two months of 2018, against a backdrop of ever-growing challenging conditions on the high street. Online giant, Amazon, which became the world’s most valuable listed company last month, takes fifth position.

The Index reveals M&S Bank is the top performing brand in the UKCSI’s ‘emotional connection’ dimension, which measures the extent to which an organisation engenders feelings of trust and reassurance in customers. Three banks and building societies make up the top 10 in a year where providers have been compelled to publish their customer ratings by the Competition and Markets Authority.

The Institute’s research shows a brand achieving high ratings for customer experience (such as ease of doing business with, getting things right first time) and on measures like emotional connection, customer ethos and ethics can engender higher levels of satisfaction, particularly when paired with a customer-centric approach.

The top 10 rated organisations in January 2019 are:

1. first direct

2. John Lewis

3. M&S (Bank)

4. Next

= 5. Amazon.co.uk

= 5. Nationwide Building Society

7. Netflix

8. Argos

9. Nationwide Insurance

10. LV=

The upper part of the index is dominated by retail brands, making up almost half of the top 10 and top 20. John Lewis outperformed other historically bricks and mortar retailers as the leading non-food retail brand. Iceland is the supermarket consumers are most satisfied with for the second time in a row with a score of 83.2, followed closely by Aldi.

Retail food and retail non-food are the highest scoring sectors in this latest iteration of the UKCSI, followed by banks and building societies. Insurance is the only sector to have risen by more than one point, helped by top 10 rankings for Nationwide Insurance at number nine and LV= at 10. Overall, the UKCSI puts customer satisfaction at its lowest since July 2016 – the third consecutive half-year drop.

Twenty-five customer measures are surveyed as part of the UKCSI, including staff professionalism, the quality and efficiency of the service, trust and transparency, the actual customer experience, complaint handling and ethical dimensions. To reflect evolving customer priorities, an additional set of measures reflecting consumer emotional and relationship needs were introduced in this latest iteration of the UKSCI. These include whether consumers feel organisations keep their promises, do ‘the right thing’ in business practices and make them feel reassured.

In the food retail sector, Co-op Food is the most improved supermarket, in line with a 7% sales growth and market share increase of 0.2%. Companies whose customer satisfaction was at least one point higher than the sector average earned average sales growth of 6.9%, compared to 1.5% for those with lower than average satisfaction; showing a clear ROI on exceptional customer service.

Jo Causon, CEO of The Institute of Customer Service, said: “In today’s complex world, it is vital organisations get the basics rights first: efficiency of service, complaint handling and the actual customer experience. On top of this, consumers are placing growing importance on trust, transparency, emotional connection and ethical behaviour. Our research shows there’s a compelling argument for meeting both these types of customer priorities for a profitable business return.”

NICE unveils global ‘Robotic Automation Community’

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A new educational platform from NICE aims to provide resources and best practice sharing for customers, partners, system integrators and domain professionals across various industries.

With over 550 deployments, 500,000 robots in production and 16 years of RPA experience, NICE says its automation community members now have access to insights on RPA and NEVA (NICE Employee Virtual Attendant), as well as the latest innovations and trends in the industry.

By joining the NICE Robotic Automation Community, entry level employees as well as experts can learn how to harness the growth the industry is experiencing and cultivate their skills and careers.

Open to customers, partners, system integrators, as well as domain professionals, materials include short articles, how to videos, white papers, in-depth e-learning content for technical employees and consultants, as well as certification programs.

The community includes a forum that encourages discussions among peers and with NICE experts, enabling the sharing of best practices, guidelines and experiences that members can learn from and adopt in their own implementations.

NICE’s community is integrated with NICE Dojo, one of the largest global learning networks which enables users to easily access training assets and choose flexible learning paths to suit their individual and professional needs.

Barry Cooper, President, NICE Enterprise Group, said: “As the most established and experienced RPA vendor in the enterprise market, NICE is delighted to launch a comprehensive and engaging global community to drive collaboration and innovation among RPA professionals. The NICE Robotic Automation Community is the ideal platform to share in-depth experience and industry knowledge. Our innovative RPA technology is built to support the most complex process scenarios facing enterprises today. The RPA market is vibrant and dynamic, and we are excited to be contributing towards and shaping the industry on a global scale.”

INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: Simply Compliant

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Fusion’s simple phone payment technology captures the small and medium contact centre market.

The Threat

Contact Centres taking telephone payments are under threat as Card Not Present (CNP) transactions become the main target for card criminals, as recognised in the latest PCI Security Standards Council guidance released in November last year.

Introduction of the GDPR alongside the Data Protection Act 2018 means that the protection of your customers payment data may not be a mandatory requirement, but a legal requirement instead, which could leave a Company’s Director having personal liability.

Companies small and large, question how they secure payment card data and comply with the PCI Data Security Standard considering;

  • In 2018, every day UK businesses suffered on average 633 attempts to breach their network. [The Times]
  • 42% of UK businesses suffered a breach in the past 12 months. [Source: UK government]
  • 70% of organisations believe their security risk increased significantly last year. [Ponemon Institute]

Solutions?

Key solution providers have focussed on larger contact centres, but Fusion Telecom has broken ranks and has targeted small to medium contact centres, typically having 5 to 500 seats.

Creating a product of such simplicity that agents don’t even need training to take a card payment, and rather than relying on the fear of non-compliance they have built in an added-value feature set, such as call dispositioning, recurring payments, refund administration and call transfer.

Easy Adoption

Removing the barriers to entry, Fusion’s approach provides several options to adopt its award-winning payments technology, so you don’t have to replace your Payment Service Provider or Telephone System.

For small companies that want one provider responsible for multiple solutions, Fusion can supply the whole stack, from telephony, unified desktop, compliant payments, payment gateway and even merchant acquiring services.

Managing Director, Adam Norsworthy, was asked why Fusion has focussed on simplicity and smaller contact centres.

“We see a significant opportunity helping smaller companies be compliant, as they are targeted increasingly every year by criminals, and they often lack the dedicated resource contact centres with 500+ agents have to be secure”.

“Smaller companies can offer a more personalised service, but they are subject to the same laws and standards as their larger counter-parts, and to compete should have access to the same technology at an affordable price.”

Click here to get in touch with Adam and Fusion to take a look under the cover of their new payment technology.

GUEST BLOG: Customer Service Management – It’s time to change the metrics

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Customer experience (CX) has become a priority for the vast majority of organisations – or has it?

With the large volumes of contact centre advisors still incentivised based on speed – typically the Average Handle Time (AHT) – CX goals are quite often unachievable.

Companies have two options: speed or quality. Get the customer off the phone or web chat as quickly as possible or deliver a business transformative level of customer service. You can’t have it both ways.

As Dino Forte, CEO, Ventrica, insists, if companies truly want to release the strategic CX objective, it is time to end the outdated focus on AHT and create a new culture that embeds quality, satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy metrics within contact centre performance…

Quality versus Quantity

AHT has dominated contact centre measurement for decades. During the era of low cost, low value service delivery, measuring advisors purely based on the speed with which a customer interaction could be wrapped up, irrespective of the quality of service or value of the experience, was the priority. But that model has little place in the customer centric market of 2019. At a time when the quality of customer experience is often the only opportunity to achieve any level of customer differentiation, the way in which organisations engage with customers – via social media or email, phone or web chat – is now critical.

So why are so many companies – many of which cite a strong commitment to CX – still buying contact centre services on the basis of AHT? How can an advisor deliver the high quality experience required to meet customer expectations, to create a brand advocate or prompt recommendations via social media, when the focus is mostly on speed? The entire concept is counterintuitive and counter-productive – and yet despite top level ‘Customer Experience’ focused strategies, when it comes to assessing contact centre performance and purchasing outsourced contact centre services, too many companies are still firmly entrenched in an outdated, speed based culture.

Clearly performance has to be evaluated and assessed to ensure value for money and quality of contact centre operations – so how can organisations match contact centre deliverables to corporate CX goals?

Cultural Conflict

The dichotomy within contact centre services today is that not only is a speed focused model at odds with the stated CX focus, it is also at complete odds with the investment in a raft of metrics to measure the voice of the customer and customer experience across the business. From social media sentiment to routine customer surveys, according to Gartner, the four most common categories for CX metrics are quality, satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy and it is embedding these measures within a contact centre culture that is key to achieving an environment that provides the right type of experience.

Of course, AHT still has a role to play. It is important to track traditional performance metrics, such as the number of dropped contacts, as well as contacts handled, to ensure basic operational processes are working correctly. Additionally, it’s useful from a resource planning perspective to help ensure staffing levels are calculated accurately and productivity levels are where they need to be. A spike in AHT can even provide an indication of an emerging problem within the business – such as a billing glitch – that requires rapid escalation. But it is no measure of quality or the company’s ability to deliver highly personalised services.

Companies need to be honest: what is the business delivering via a contact centre? If there is any focus on CX, on ensuring customers receive a personalised resolution, then using AHT to incentivise contact centre advisers is massively counter-intuitive. An individual measured solely on the speed with which every interaction is concluded is never going to have the time to listen to the customer, understand the problems or issues raised, or focus on the quality of the experience. The goal will be to wrap up calls or handle multiple web chats simultaneously to ensure the AHT metrics are hit – and that fundamentally undermines the basic concept of good customer experience.

Customer Experience Metrics

If companies are to ensure the corporate CX vision is delivered at the contact centre, the culture has to change. This means embracing innovative technologies that enable customers to easily and effectively self-serve, freeing up contact centre advisors to concentrate on the more complex customer issues. But it also means reconsidering advisor metrics; ensuring they are incentivised based on the quality of experience, first time resolution and customer voice; and providing the training required to enable individuals to make the transition towards a better quality interaction.

Essentially it means changing both processes and culture to ensure advisors become customer centric and that customers have timely access to the information or service required and, where possible, one touch resolution.

In addition to leveraging technology innovation to support self-service, achieving a CX focused culture may also demand changes to the recruitment model to ensure advisors match the profile and needs of the customers. While an AHT dominated model requires a vanilla approach to advisor recruitment, as soon as the focus shifts to CX it becomes essential to allocate individuals with the right skills to the job. From the high levels of empathy and great listening skills required by those primarily dealing with elderly and/or distressed individuals, to an inherent interest in fashion for an advisor working for a clothing company, great CX requires a far more tailored recruitment model.

Conclusion

Great service cannot be delivered by individuals focused solely on processing as many customer interactions as possible – the two requirements are completely at odds. Companies need to look hard at why they are still measuring contact centre services on such an outdated model: AHT typically ties in with low cost, low valueinteractions. So, with many more companies now realising the fundamental importance of providing great service, is it not now essential to rethink the way these services are delivered by embedding customer experience within the culture?

Network your way to success at the Call Centre & Customer Services Summit

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Would you like to join 65 other senior contact centre professionals for two days of learning and networking this April?

The Call Centre & Customer Services Summit takes place 29 & 30 April 2019 at the Radisson Blu Hotel, London Stansted and will give you the opportunity to meet with peers , source cost-saving solutions and learn in educational seminar sessions.

It’s free for you to attend and lunch and refreshments are included, plus overnight accommodation and an invitation to a gala diner with entertainment are all included with your ticket.

But you should register your FREE place now to avoid disappointment.

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.

Top mistakes businesses make with AI in the Contact Centre – And how to avoid them

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By Enghouse Interactive

There is a great deal of discussion in the marketplace regarding robots and artificial intelligence (AI) and their future role in the contact centre. Much of this is hype.

A lot of people are talking hypothetically about what robots might do in a customer service context. Fewer are using a truly AI-driven approach to engage with customers today.

There is no one-size fits all answer here. Some organisations will continue to use human service as a key part of their value proposition and differentiation, but most are bringing in a growing element of AI and automation as they move to a more self-service-based approach.

As early as 2011, analyst, Gartner was predicting that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human.

But, as they implement chatbots and other types of AI, there are a range of pitfalls businesses need to watch out for. Here, we outline some of the biggest and how businesses can best avoid them.

Click here to download our resources to help you on your journey with ChatBots and AI strategy into the contact centre.

CallMiner’s speech analytics recognised at Credit Excellence Awards

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CallMiner and Cabot Credit Management won the ‘Best Use of Technology’ Award at the Credit Excellence Awards 2018.

The Credit Excellence Awards recognise organisations that work in a way that is likely to inspire others in the profession to deliver the best possible customer outcomes.

The judges were impressed by the way Cabot uses CallMiner Eureka speech analytics to deliver immediate and sustained benefits to its customers, its people and its business.

The Credit Excellence Awards judges said: “It is an excellent example of the use of technology to enhance the capabilities of individuals in real time, to the benefit of customers. The staff initiative to further utilize this technology to bring back-office and front-office capabilities together further strengthened this entry.”

Cabot uses CallMiner Eureka platform real-time speech analytics to listen to every customer and to understand what they are really saying and what it means to their lives.

This enables Cabot to guide agents on the call with alerts about what to say next to prove they have listened and are tailoring the solution to the individual’s needs.

In addition Eureka supports team leaders and agents for better identification and resolution of particularly complex situations. This means Cabot agents feel more supported knowing they can deliver the right solution to every customer because expert help is always on-hand.

Emma Bantges, Customer Operations Enhancement Manager at Cabot, said: “At a time when technology is under attack for the perceived threat it poses to jobs, we can prove that CallMiner’s platform is invaluable in improving people’s lives, particularly when they are at their most vulnerable. It also provides crucial support to our agents handling these sensitive issues.”