UK National Contact Centre Conference 2017 roundup

16/11/17

by Julie Mordue

Last week, on behalf of NRG, I attended the UK National Contact Centre Conference organised by the CCMA at the spectacular venue of the British Library, London. The theme this year was: ‘The Connected Customer Revolution: How to stay engaged with (and meet) the needs of the connected customer.

The event, free to members was fully booked with 250 contact centre leaders from all over the UK.

Ann-Marie Stagg, Chief Executive of the CCMA opened the event and was followed by the first guest speaker of the day Ben Page, Chief Executive of Ipsos Mori, the Global market and opinion research specialists. Ben set the scene for the day with his presentation ‘The state of Britain in 2017 – consumers, citizens and crazy people’ which was packed full of interesting information and statistics regarding the game changers we need to consider and future mega trends.

Some of the key messages I personally took from Ben’s presentation were that people are overwhelmed by choices in their lives; 66% of those surveyed said they wished their life was simpler. Expectations are rising and a direct impact of this is that people favour brands that can make their experience quick and easy reducing their need to make choices.

In a world where uncertainty is the new normal, people want to feel good about Britain and good about themselves. If we take the time to understand people’s expectations and build on these, we can be successful in both our consumer and employer branding.

Next to present was Rachel Clacher, Co-founder and Director of Moneypenny, a leading omni-channel answering service provider. Rachel shared her journey of how she and her brother set up, grew and developed the business from an initial £10k investment and now employees over 500 FTE in a purpose built contact centre based in Wrexham.

Without any previous contact centre experience or knowledge but using their personal experience of being a customer and an employee, they created a strong set of visions and values focussing on providing fabulous relationships and conversations with all clients and employees.

Rachel proudly states that their front line advisors (Personal Assistants) are the most valuable people in their business – “these are the people we trust to have great conversations with our customers”.

She says “Moneypenny don’t have many rules; we employ grown ups and allow them to be grown up’s – they decide what to wear and when to take their breaks, we are at work for eight hours a day so wanted to make the environment as fun, engaging and challenging as we could. Performance for us means seeing the potential and taking away the interference”.

Our next speaker was Professor Moira Clark of Henley Business School. Her topic was “Is easy the new difficult”. Highlighting the changing behaviour for the connected customer who spends on average 2 hours 40 minutes a day on their mobile devices. Because of this, the connected customer wants immediacy and ease.

She says “To make it easy to be a customer is pretty difficult, we need to develop good customer insight. Companies are great at collecting data, terrible at producing insight and even worse at actioning it.”

Moira left us with the thought “If you don’t make life easy for your customers, your customers will make their lives easier and you may no longer be part of that – Measure ease, not effort.”

Continuing the topic of the customer, Michael Sherwood, Head of Customer Experience and Helen Wilson, Head of Customer Service at Atom Bank, the UK’s first digital only bank then took the stage to share their journey.

As an Atom customer, you can register in less than 10 minutes using their digital app; their personal best for having a fully open mobile back account is 4 mins and 16 minutes for a mortgage.

Right from the start, Atom decided against implementing an IVR as they appreciated, if a customer calls customer services then it was with a problem so wanted to be as accessible as possible. As each call received is classed as a failure Helen says that keeping her customer service team small is a measure of success by removing failure demand calls.

Mike has responsibility for the Voice of the Customer and how they could capture the right insight. The focus is to measure what matters, getting real-time feedback, with emotion mapping allowing root cause identification, followed by action.

Atom engages with a panel of 300 customers each month and their findings have led to over 100 changes to their app in less than 12 months.

The afternoon session started with a panel debate on the ‘Rise of the Robots – and how it is delivering the customer revolution.

Ed Creasy of NICE asked the audience why with 80% of companies competing on customer experience, why do our employees spend 80% of their time on dull and unfulfilling tasks?

Robotic automation can automate any desktop activity and remove mundane and repetitive tasks. 5% of interactions can be fully automation and 30% partially (McKinney’s)

Ed then welcomed representatives from HMRC, Cap Gemini and NICE Robotics on stage to discuss the opportunities and challenges robotics bring.

The panel gave key pieces of advice which included:

  • Start small but do it well – don’t start with the most complicated difficult problem, look for easy, simple and high level transactions.
  • Communication is crucial to the workforce as employees naturally fear for their jobs when they hear the word ‘Robots’. Educate employees on the difference robots can make to their role and focus on productivity not processing.

John Callachan, Managing Director at DDC Outsourcing supported by David Rowlands, Contact Centre Sales Director at 8×8 Global Solutions offered ‘Sharing the secrets of modern customer engagement’, an industry case study of developing a multi channel, multi site operation.

An interesting question was posed to the audience ‘Would you take an automated plane without a pilot?’ to which an overwhelming response was ‘no’ suggesting there may always be a need for a human to guide the robots – thought provoking!.

Jason Pillay, Head of Guest Experience Manager at Premier Inn then explained how his newly created team support the ‘Premier Service Guaranteed’ promise using digital customer service to surprise and delight guests with ‘WOW’ moments.

Sharing his 5 building blocks for a successful digital team:

  1. Are your people in the right place?
  2. What is your demand and when is it coming in?
  3. Does your team have the right skill set & voice ?
  4. What is the aim of your channel?
  5. Does your process really help support the guest?

Jason pointed out that the digital customer has changed; going from very public to private, fast to faster and appreciative to demanding. The way in which they use various channels is evolving rapidly and businesses need to do the same to keep up with the digitally savvy customer.

Next up was Sandra Peaston, Assistant Director for Insight at CIDAS on ‘Protecting the connected customer’ which unmasked contact centre fraud techniques.

Identify fraud is rising; the age of victims is falling as we share more of our information online. Fraudsters socially engineer information which allows them to commit further fraud, such as opening false bank accounts to launder money. They use multiple calls to call centres to obtain the information they need about their target to carry out fraudulent activity. Prolific fraudsters have been identified by audio intelligence biometrics as using voice altering software to make multiple calls targeting customer accounts.

The last presentation of the day ‘Turning your customers into your employees’ a new model for the digital age was delivered by Suzi Caesar, Head of Customer Service at the Daily Mail Group. Suzi’s team have recently launched a service inviting their most loyal digital customers to provide help and information to new and existing online subscribers, earning money and rewards for doing so.

Once again, a fabulous conference organised by Ann-Marie and the CCMA team with a wide variety of inspirational speakers. For further information on upcoming CCMA events visit their website.