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5 Minutes With

5 Minutes With… Jeremy Payne, Enghouse Interactive

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As part of our ongoing executive interview series, we sat down with Jeremy Payne, International VP Marketing at Enghouse Interactive, to talk about customer interaction, market trends and the pace of change…

Q: Tell us about your company, products and services.

A:We develop customer interaction management solutions. Core technologies include contact centre, attendant console, predictive outbound dialler, knowledge management, IVR and call recording solutions that support any telephony environment, on premise, hybrid or in the cloud. Today, we have thousands of customers worldwide, supported by a global network of partners and more than 1600 dedicated staff.

Q: What have been the biggest challenges the Contact Centre/Customer Services industry has faced over the past 12 months?

A: First, customer expectations are escalating all the time, and many organisations are finding it increasingly difficult to meet them. Second, organisations struggle with integrating systems together cost-effectively to create an effortless and seamless experience.

Q: And what have been the biggest opportunities?

A: The biggest opportunities have been – and continue to be – in offering enhanced service levels without increasing business costs. There are several ways to achieve this:  through advanced automation, the use of AI, bots and through self- and social customer service. The triangulation of those elements will allow businesses to drive a better customer experience without necessarily driving up cost.

Q: What is the biggest priority for the Contact Centre/Customer Services industry in 2019?

A:The focus is on offering the best possible customer service to drive higher net promoter scores, attract new customers and increase loyalty and share of wallet from those customers. 

Underpinning this, businesses need to be aware of customers’ growing need to interact with them digitally. They therefore need the right channels, people, systems and processes available to service those channels. And, they need to do all this in a way that is regulatory-compliant.

Q: What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2019?

A:  There is a growing recognition that AI and bots add great value to an organisation’s customer service efforts. However, we are also seeing growing awareness that these technologies can never form the basis of a one-size-fits-all or plug-and-play scenario. Businesses are becoming more aware that thought and effort needs to go in, to ensure these technologies can proactively support enhanced customer engagement and drive a better customer experience for organisations today.

Q: What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

A:Across the board, momentum is building behind AI, bots and associated technologies. Within the collaboration space, we expect collaboration platforms that help solve complex queries, such as Microsoft Teams and Slack, will continue to grow rapidly. We also expect to see a renewed energy around systems integration this year.

Q: In 2021 we’ll all be talking about…?

A: People will become more familiar with talking to natural language understanding (NLU) engines and interacting with them in a human-to-machine way. We will also be talking about increased machine-to-machine communications and people using their phones as a virtual assistant. They may even be driving to work and dictating to their phone about the jobs they need to get done that day. That device will then interact on a machine-to-machine level with service providers who can help to fix specific problems or challenges. 

Q: Which person in, or associated with, the Contact Centre/Customer Services industry would you most like to meet?

A: Anyone who is involved in developing and deploying social and crowdsourced customer service strategies and approaches. It is a big focus area for the customer service industry today.

Q: What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Contact Centre/Customer Services sector?

A: It’s around the pace of change. If you listen to the hype, you’d think that robots have replaced most agents and AI is dominating the space. When you look at the reality, however, most interactions are still passing through voice and email. So while we are seeing exciting technological advances and a definite shift to digital, the move away from legacy communications channels is not as rapid as you might expect.  

Q: You go to the bar at the Call Centre Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

A: A gin and tonic from one of the latest micro-distilleries that are springing up everywhere today. 

Q: What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

A: Working with innovative organisations that are looking to embrace new technologies but doing it in a way that drives real value towards their end customers. 

Q: And what’s the most challenging?

A:The market we are in is constantly changing. Indeed, the pace of technological change is such, that, in the world of customer service, staying ahead of what is possible is constantly challenging. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

A: Be true to yourself.

Q: Peaky Blinders or The Crown?

A: Peaky Blinders.

5 Minutes With… Frank Sherlock, VP International, CallMiner

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As part of our ongoing customer care executive interview series, we sat down with Frank Sherlock, VP International at CallMiner, to talk about its latest solutions, Brexit, AI, industry trends and what we can expect from 2019 and beyond…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

CallMiner empowers organisations of any size to extract and act on intelligence from customer interactions for improving customer experience, sales, marketing, and compliance, as well as agent and customer engagement centre performance. We have been honoured with multiple customer achievement awards, including Call Centre Helper’s Top 10 Contact Centre Technology and Credit Collection and Risk Best Use of Technology. CallMiner was also recently named a leader in the industry analyst report Forrester New Wave: AI-Fueled Speech Analytics Solutions, Q2 2018.

What have been the biggest challenges the Contact Centre/Customer Services industry has faced over the past 12 months?

Uncertainty of investments as Brexit rolled on (and on), confusion on AI, machine learning and the new tech jargon and hype, and explaining that data is needed to do any analysis with AI.  The challenge from the Exec level to both CX and Call Centre to deliver aligned reporting on the true engagement experience. The hunger for ‘The Business’ to understand the complete Customer Journey whilst feedback apathy continues to increase

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

WFM, WFO, knowledge management and speech analytics systems to improve and focus coaching and performance to the people who really make a CX difference – the contact centre supervisors and agents. Those that can effectively capture and use data in a quick and efficient manner will win – others will get left behind.

What is the biggest priority for the Contact Centre/Customer Services industry in 2019?

Meeting the omni-channel challenge and the shift in consumer contact points and managing and improving the CX.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2019?

More adoption of analytics, data is a key battleground and source of knowledge on CX, analysing data at scale on all touchpoints will be needed. AI will become more commonplace – it’s already happening with Speech Analytics, Knowledge Management, Biometrics and chatbots, so I expect we will see some integration or at least AI collaboration, analytics helping inform KM systems, Biometrics managing intelligent call steering and speech analytics training chatbots!

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

Omni-channel analytics – speech, web, email, social – and more adoption of real-time conversational analytics. The other area that I think will really take off is Robotic Process Automation (RPA) as the transformation of the front office extends to the back office of contact centres.

In 2021 we’ll all be talking about…?

When is AI arriving?! Seriously though, we will be talking about the volume of transactions with organisations continuing to grow, the successful automation of transactional touch points and the demands placed on our human agents with ever more complex interactions.

Which person in, or associated with, the Contact Centre/Customer Services industry would you most like to meet?

Probably any of the leaders of organisations that supply me with services from broadband, to financial services, to energy – we have so much to improve and I am not sure the leaders always relate to the actual experience a user has when there is a problem or a complaint. I recently had issues with broadband, train and energy and I found the experiences so depressing and frustrating.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Contact Centre/Customer Services sector?

The constant changes of people, processes, regulations, products and technology that the industry faces. It is probably the most dynamic sector of any in the economy.

You go to the bar at the Call Centre Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?

Good day, vodka and Coke. Bad day, several beers!

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Change – every day is different.

And what’s the most challenging?

Also change!

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

You can only ever give your best, it is the maximum you can give. It may not be enough, but if you look in the mirror and say you gave it your best, win, lose or draw, you could not have given more.

Peaky Blinders or The Crown?

Peaky Blinders, of course.