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.