In the latest instalment of our contact centre industry executive interview series, we spoke to Leon Boland, Director of Learning Experiences Questions (Contact Centre) at Davies Group, about the company, the ongoing impact of COVID-19, opportunities with new technology and the importance of operational KPIs…
Tell us about your company, products and services.
We are a consultancy rooted in making a difference for our clients. Our solutions are not based on vanity and being the ‘next big idea’, but based on practical, value-based ideas which make a difference to a business and its people and deliver both a positive return on investment and a positive return on expectations.
Our solutions offer a unique blend of digital learning and human led (albeit virtually at the minute) interventions. We have our own team of consultants along with our own inhouse design and video studio. The learning experiences we create and the thought leadership we offer can solve many challenges, in a variety of sectors – across different levels from c-suite executives to front line teams. Our team of people come from the contact centre world, so they get your challenges and understand your vision. They have led and been a part of contact centre teams, and with the addition of consultancy knowledge and thought leadership development – they are based placed to help you fix and grow.
What have been the biggest challenges the Contact Centre/Customer Services industry has faced over the past 12 months?
We have seen two key stand out challenges over the past 12 months linked to learning. Learning initially went on the back burner due to the significant challenge of converting business models to be virtual, then after about 6 months businesses started to focus on the future again and we observed two key challenges, the first being the need to develop leaders to manage virtual and hybrid teams and the second being onboarding. We feel there is still more to do around managing hybrid teams and we are supporting clients with this with our tactical leading hybrid teams workshop package, which is proving successful. The second challenge of onboarding was already a challenge before covid as they are often dated, delivered in person, lengthy and not always KPI focused. There is now the immediate need is how do we sustain headcount whilst onboarding people virtually or needing people competent quicker, KPI focused onboarding transformations is something we are passionate about and do well, we are continue to support clients in this area.
And what have been the biggest opportunities?
We would say clients realising that learning can be flexible and should still happen, using virtual classroom, digital or a blend of both. We have been encouraging this for some time now.
What is the biggest priority for the Contact Centre/Customer Services industry in 2021?
Onboarding Transformations, they simply can not continue being so facilitator classroom heavy, not focusing on operational KPIs from day one, lacking true customer experience skills and speed to competence being beyond 6 months. The demand for agents to be competent quicker, more efficient onboarding experience, delivering exceptional CX and operational savvy from day one is certainly a requirement for the clients we partner with, however we also know the appetite is there for internal learning teams but the challenge is they are already overstretched and at capacity.
What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2021?
We see the demand for contact centre sales and service increasing, consumers are even more used to shopping virtually, so want to be serviced virtually. This includes via different omni-channels and businesses are very focused on tech and automation which is great, but it is important we don’t neglect the humans and the need to evolve agents’ skills is essential. Another curious question is will the need for capacity increase or will tech help balance this? Either way it is important to start thinking about how talent is onboarded.
In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?
At the minute, the same as we have been talking about for the past 5 years, we find we have a habit of talking about the future, especially in learning but are we truly planning to get us there? The hype over the past few years has been about digital learning and VR in learning, something we have rolled eyes at for some time. Digital learning has its place and it is all about creating the right learning experience and not doing digital for the sake of it, covid has helped us excel the use of digital learning (finally!) but has it gone too far? VR however is something that was the next big thing 2/3 years ago, and now we hardly hear about it in learning. It isn’t always cost effective and results effective for contact centres.
So, I support our thoughts are, what SHOULD we be talking about and we feel the focus should be on deliver outstanding customer experience to retain and deliver on revenue. Organisations that truly put their customers first stand out, with social media being a platform to advocate on, it can also have the opposite effect. Consumers expect more and will continue to expect more. So our question to you is, are you preparing your learning strategy to help underpin your TOM?
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learnt about the Contact Centre/Customer Services sector?
This was a tough one to answer, I would say initially surprising was how resilient people who work in this sector are, they are also unsung heroes a lot of the time.
You go to the bar at the Contact Centre Summit – what’s your tipple of choice?
Gin, defo gin. Actually, I also don’t mind a fizz or two?
What’s the most exciting thing about your job?
I would say getting the opportunity to partner with so many incredible clients globally to deliver results driven learning. We get insights into so many brands to see the great work they are doing. I feel my team and I are pretty dam lucky!
And what’s the most challenging?
This is a tough one, but I would say the skill in convincing operational senior leaders that learning is essential and whilst it can seem like a big investment initially, if done right the ROI should always cover the investment and more.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
The importance of becoming operationally savvy by getting under the skin of operational KPIs and the running of a contact centre, as this will be essential for my credibility when delivering CX/ Contact Centre learning solutions. I would say it is some of the best career advice I ever had, especially at the level I work at with our clients.
Succession or Stranger Things?
Stranger Things 😊