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Why CRM (still) fails

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CRM is a core component of the operational toolkit – even SME adoption levels have now reached 79%, according to a recent survey from Workbooks. And yet, CRM success rates are still too low. For every business achieving phenomenal business transformation, another will have wasted resources and seen zero return.

As a mature market, there are countless CRM solutions now available, many of which are loaded with fantastic features and functionality. So what makes the difference between CRM failure and CRM success? As John Cheney, CEO of cloud-based CRM vendor Workbooks, explains, it isn’t the technology that delivers success – success can only be achieved if companies set clear business outcomes at the point of purchase…

Pressure to Change

In a post lockdown economy, businesses in every sector are adjusting to change. Staff turnover has reached unprecedented heights as individuals rethink priorities. Customers have not just moved online but radically raised their expectations of the quality of experience at the same time. New markets have opened; others have been mothballed. It is little wonder that businesses are reassessing their existing CRM solutions and asking: why didn’t it help?

Done well, CRM provides a framework that can transform operational performance in many areas. And, as some companies discovered during the COVID-19 pandemic, a well-designed and well implemented CRM can support rapid changes in business direction – such as the company selling window shutters direct to the consumer that moved 100% online within days, as soon as measuring up visits to the customer’s home were prohibited. And yet, the risk associated with implementing CRM is widely recognised: in the Workbooks survey and report, The State of the CRM Market: An SME Perspective, 50% of SMEs confirm they are already on their second CRM platform. Too many companies are still buying CRM, only to discover it has failed to deliver.

What’s going wrong? According to the survey, the primary reason for failure is that the CRM solution is a poor fit for the firm’s needs (53%) – yet features and functions (62%) remain the most important factor when choosing a CRM. If a business has spent time ensuring the technology is a great match, why is it still a poor fit? This is a significant investment – so why are companies making such a hash of buying such a vital tool in the business armoury, something that can utterly transform performance, profitability and customer experience?

Outcomes not Features

Taking a technology first approach to finding the right CRM solution is a fast track to failure. Forget the features and functions – they come later. Companies need first to understand the business outcomes required from the investment. Driving revenue growth? Enhancing the customer experience? Reducing operational costs? Improving decision making? Without clearly defined business objectives, companies will struggle to achieve any value from the CRM investment, whatever product they choose.

It is only once business outcomes have been defined – and prioritised – that companies can truly understand the requirements of the CRM solution and set clear expectations for its implementation.  For example, many companies are looking to CRM to deliver a 360-degree view of all customers. Fine, most systems can offer to pull data together, but why? How is that information going to be used? And where, specifically, will the value be derived?

If the desired business outcome is to improve cross-selling, then pulling all data into one place will allow the business to improve segmentation and fine tune marketing. But will the sales team be automatically informed when customers click through a marketing email? Will these leads be scored to help sales people prioritise their response? Taking the time to truly investigate how CRM could support a priority business outcome turns the project on its head.

Technology Sell

Few SMEs, however, have the business analysis skills to undertake this process – and, unfortunately, the CRM industry on the whole is not set up to provide that support. For most CRM vendors, the product sell is typically features and functions focused. Then, once the deal is signed, the implementation project is handed over to an integration partner – a team that wasn’t involved in the original sales process or any discussions about the customer’s business needs.

The model is disjointed as a result: reinforcing the emphasis on ‘bells and whistles’ differentiation during the product assessment phase and offering little to no alignment with business goals or priorities – all of which can extend time to value for the customer.

Unique Business

The honest fact is that while there are some differences between CRM applications – most notably in the ease of integration, with those using open APIs making it far easier – the software is approaching commodity status. Business needs, however, are unique. Every company has its own structure, its own customer base and engagement model.

A CRM investment is about achieving a competitive edge, about being better than the competition – and actively looking to explore, capture and use business goals to define the CRM deployment makes the difference between failure and success.

Which is why SMEs need to take a different approach to buying CRM – one that starts with the business outcomes they want to achieve and, only once they have been prioritised, applies this insight to determine the functional CRM goals. Companies should look for vendors who can help them to define these business outcomes at the outset, in addition to offering implementation support. Delivering that end-to-end engagement, all the way from the initial outcome definition workshop to full implementation, ensures consistent product focus and maximises time to value.


When CRM projects work the business looks quite different. When projects fail, the business looks exactly the same – just financially worse off. And too many businesses, having been there before, are increasingly nervous of making the same mistakes. Faced with navigating a rapidly changing commercial landscape, companies are in a dilemma: they need CRM, they know it can work and deliver real value. But can they take the risk? Can they afford not to?

It is time to stop repeating the CRM mistakes of the past. Step away from product sell, the sparkly features and functions: it is businesses that prioritise outcomes and look beyond the technology – to what additional value a supplier can offer – that will be best placed to maximise ROI and achieve successful business change, fast.

Reinventing failure demand to revitalise contact centres

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By Suzette Meadows, Lead Consultant, Contact Centre/Unified Communications, Exponential-e

Contact centres aren’t averse to a challenge. For years the familiar phone call has seen its role in customer service challenged by other modes of automated communication promising fast, first-time resolutions and tangible cost savings. The reality is that right now, many of these platforms lack the automation and access to real-time customer data needed to deliver seamless, autonomous customer interactions. They will form an integral part of omnichannel communication going forward, but their integration will take time.

For that reason, contact centres remain as important as ever within customer service. They’re evolving at breakneck speed too, with cutting-edge technology increasingly powering efficient, resilient processes. Throw in the fact most contact centre agents now work remotely, and points of customer contact are spread across multiple channels, and the speed of their evolution becomes clear.

All these simultaneous changes can be difficult to navigate though, and have the potential to negatively impact customer journeys, a punishing financial and reputational prospect. That’s what makes the study of failure demand so critical to contact centres, and I want to explain why.

Studying how you fail in order to succeed

There’s been some discussion in recent years about the value of assessing failure demand in contact centres, with certain voices including IBM arguing businesses need to start focusing on engaging customers across all channels. That approach belies the unique role of failure demand in enhancing the customer experiences. It allows you to create a culture of feedback where you identify potential weaknesses in current processes and customer journeys, and then take positive, proactive action to mitigate them. Its study is a critical ingredient in ensuring the longevity and continued success of your business for as long as you are operating a contact centre model.

In practice, failure demand can typically be divided into four categories:

  • Speed: When a customer had to wait longer than anticipated for a response, or didn’t receive one quickly enough.
  • Accuracy: When the information provided was inaccurate or incomplete, meaning follow-up communications were required.
  • Simplicity: When the customer journey was too complex, involving multiple processes, departments, or channels of communication.
  • Clarity: When the response delivered was unnecessarily technical or confused the customer, and required further explanation

Prioritising performance assessment

With this understanding of how to categorise failures, contact centres can begin assessing their performance, and the potential root causes of any recurring problems.

But where should you start? That’s simple – with your agents. They will have a better idea than anyone where there are issues with your tools or processes, so speak to them to identify potential issues in everyday workflows.

Each agent won’t have a full picture of performance across your operation, though. That’s why interaction data is so valuable. Capturing data which details all instances of repeat contact, and reviewing it to identify any common trends within complaints, produces valuable insights into where customer service can be streamlined to deliver better outcomes.

This process can be made even more sophisticated if you categorise the specific details of each customer contact once you’ve captured details of the interaction. Previously this would have been fairly time-intensive, but various systems are now available that automatically capture and categorise both customer complaints and agent feedback for you. When used correctly, they provide a far more holistic and qualitative view of each customer’s experience and agent’s performance, helping establish specific patterns of performance, and producing insights into potential factors contributing to failures.

All of these steps are crucial to assessing performance, but they’ll prove futile unless you have innate knowledge of the journeys customers are taking within your organisation. That’s why it’s so important to map out your projected customer journeys; doing so means you can compare the outcomes you want to drive against actual current journeys, measure whether expectation meets reality, and act accordingly if there is any discrepancy between the two.

Developing a clear strategy to minimise failure demand

So now you’ve established the contributing factors to failure in your call centre. Of course, the contributing factors in each case will differ greatly, but the ideal strategy to mitigate them will typically comprise four key steps:

  • Equipping agents with the tools they need: Giving agents the tools and information needed to deliver first-time resolutions at their fingertips, wherever they are connecting from, should be the basis of any strategy. A lack of appropriate resource is one of the most common contributors to failure demand, but equally one of the most straight forward to identify and fix
  • Automating simple tasks to free up agent capacity: Automating routine tasks that do not require their specific expertise, such as identification and verification, ensure customers are connected to the agent best placed to help them with minimal waiting time, ensuring queries are resolved more quickly.
  • Consolidating and streamlining internal processes: Bouncing between different departments and channels of communication often causes customer communications to break down. Adopting an omnichannel approach to communication should allow you to provide effortless support and consultation to customers on the channel of their choice, without compromising their experiences
  • Analyse your data to draw your insights: Once you’ve captured, consolidated and stored all your data securely, then it’s time to start driving value from it. Make it instantly accessible to those managing customer service channels so they can run analytics against it and generate insights that they can use to proactively address and improve processes in their teams.

Contact centres are constantly evolving in response to shifting customer expectations and changing business priorities, meaning there is no set blueprint for how a contact centre should be run, or specific level of performance that it should aim to reach. Each one operates in its own unique way.

That said, every successful contact centre should aspire to match best in class CX with efficient and effective customer interactions. Ingraining awareness of failure demand across teams, and putting the right tools and strategy in place to mitigate it, will ensure contact centres continue to play an important role in surprising and delighting customers on a daily basis.

Text messaging is changing the way we communicate

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By mGage

Long ago, when streets still had pay phones, and every home had a landline, software programmer Neil Papworth sent the first text message. The date was December 3, 1992. Two decades later, around 23 billion SMS messages are sent daily around the world[1], both from person to person and through mobile engagement providers.

In 20 years, text messaging has become our primary method of communication. It has grown from being a simple way for secretaries to page their managers to the backbone of many applications that rely on text messaging – voting on reality shows, tracking packages, and confirming appointments, just to name a few.

Conversation Changers

The way we consume information and how we communicate is ever-changing. We’re more visually orientated than ever and have shorter attention spans due to most people being time-poor. The humble ‘like’ now suffices as a full response in most scenarios, and the word “emoji” even made it onto the approved list in Scrabble.

We saw emerging trends like contactless payments and curbside pickup accelerate in 2020 with the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes were facilitated by mobile phones and, in many cases, text messaging. In fact, 34% of businesses surveyed adopted SMS because of the pandemic[2] — many brands invested in text messaging to maintain a close relationship with customers and facilitate safe shopping. While many of these brands were slow to try text messaging before the pandemic forced their hands, they most certainly saw the benefits. 77% of the businesses that adopted text messaging this year say they’ll continue post-COVID[3].

This tide of change has been in progress for many years, but COVID-19 added fuel to the fire. The influence of trends, including social integration, social media sharing, and group messaging, has massively impacted how we communicate. Many enterprise companies are taking note and trying to understand how to adopt SMS for customer service, marketing, and operations.

The Rise of the Messenger App

Messenger apps (also called OTT Messaging Apps) are arguably the most popular smartphone apps. The 10 biggest collectively boast more than three billion accounts. WhatsApp, the leader, has 700m, and the number of WhatsApp messages sent every day now exceeds the number of standard texts. Last year it handled more than seven trillion messages – that’s about 1,000 per person.

These mobile-first social messaging apps create a new ecosystem for communication, but despite the growing popularity of instant messaging among consumers, OTT messaging apps have downsides for businesses. So, what is the best platform for marketers to communicate with their customers?

SMS Messaging Making a Comeback

SMS messaging is one of the most reliable and immediate ways to reach people. Whether the consumer has a smartphone or a basic mobile phone, they can receive SMS text messages. 95% of texts will be read within 3 minutes of being sent, with the average response time for a text being a mere 90 seconds[4].

Marketing channels many brands previously relied on are quickly becoming oversaturated. Around 98% of all SMS messages are opened, compared to just 20% of emails[5]. The average organic Facebook post only reaches 5.2% of the brand’s followers[6].

With text messaging, on the other hand, consumers are much more likely not only to read your message but appreciate it. Consumers opt into mobile programs and make a careful decision on which text campaigns they choose, meaning they’re a much more engaged audience. Because users limit themselves to brands they truly care about when opting into SMS promotions, brands can market more directly to a captive and loyal target audience.

SMS also allows consumers to reply instantaneously to a promotion and engage with the brand through two-way dialogue. By opening the doors of conversation between brand and consumer and creating customer engagement, marketers ultimately create a stronger relationship and build brand trust.

The Effectiveness of SMS as a Marketing Strategy

With more than 5 billion people who own a mobile device, the SMS marketing audience is vast and underserved. Customers want simplicity, and SMS is one form of digital communication that makes their lives easier, not more overwhelming. SMS text messaging is a simple, cost-effective way to retain customers, deliver excellent customer service and is proven to be a very effective method.

If you’re ready to try text messaging for your business, contact us today.

[1] TechJury

[2] ZipWhip The State of Texting 2021

[3] ZipWhip The State of Texting 2021

[4] Worldwide Texting Statistics

[5] Worldwide Texting Statistics

[6] How the Facebook Algorithm Works in 2021

DOWNLOAD: 2021 Talkdesk global contact centre KPI benchmarking report

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By Talkdesk

At Talkdesk, we know the importance of benchmarking in driving strategic business decisions. Featuring our proprietary data, the brand new Talkdesk KPI benchmarking report analyzes the impact of the turbulence of 2020 on contact centre performance across five operational metrics applicable to every industry.

What you will learn:

– The importance and benefits of benchmarking.
– How contact centre metrics changed during 2020 compared to 2019.
– How your contact centre performance stacks up against peers across industries, regions and company sizes.
– Tips to optimize your contact centre and improve CX.

Click here To Download

INDUSTRY SPOTLIGHT: Stella Connect customer service feedback, coaching & QA

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In an ultra-competitive market, how do brands deliver great customer experiences that set them apart from their competition? It all boils down to human touch. Today’s front-line teams have become a major driver of customer loyalty and retention. That’s why we’ve built a platform to help you empower your front-line team to deliver great exceptional experiences.

Stella Connect offers service teams a humanized, real-time agent-level feedback platform, integrated quality assurance, and coaching that brings all of the relevant data points together. Get visibility into agent performance, and empower your team to deliver exceptional customer experiences with Stella Connect.

Click here to book your demo.

Empower Agents to Deliver Exceptional Experiences

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By Medallia

Create a motivated and engaged work-from-anywhere team that brings a human touch to every customer interaction. Get visibility into agent performance, identify coaching opportunities, and streamline your QA program with Stella Connect by Medallia. Start using the CX management tool your team actually likes, today.

Click here to find out more.

Why text messaging should be part of your omnichannel customer service strategy

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By mGage

Americans spend about five hours a day on their phones, according to TechCrunch. Consumers expect customized and genuine engagement in real-time, across all communication channels. This trend toward personalized conversational messaging isn’t going away, particularly in the business world. As a result, SMS has become a popular platform among businesses for customer service. As part of an omnichannel strategy, text messaging for customer service can lower costs and facilitate more convenient and engaging relationships between brands and customers.

What is Omnichannel Customer Service

Omnichannel customer service enables interactions between a consumer and a business through multiple touchpoints.

There is some confusion surrounding the difference between “omnichannel” and “multichannel” customer service. Multichannel means having multiple channels for customer support.  Omnichannel, however, describes delivering a seamless customer service experience across all of those channels by collecting additional data about the customer with each interaction. With omnichannel, you have a complete view of the customer, which facilitates delivering an excellent customer service experience.

In a siloed approach to customer service, customers often have to answer the same questions multiple times. It may be difficult to transfer discussions from one channel to another. Worse, agents may not have a complete record of prior communication, resulting in communication mishaps.

When text messaging is integrated with an existing CRM system through APIs, conversations can flow easily between online channels, phone calls, and SMS. More than 60% of customers interact through multiple channels, and regardless of time, place, device, or medium, they expect consistency[1]. By adopting an omnichannel approach to customer service, brands give customers an improved experience and more ways to reach them and, in exchange, get more information about the customer.

Consumers Want the Option to Use Text Messaging for Customer Service 

Did you know that 62% of companies report that customers like using chat options over voice? In fact, 58% of customers have attempted to respond to a missed call from a business with a text message. Customers are also four times more likely to respond to a text message than return a phone call after receiving a voicemail[2]. Yet less than half of companies surveyed offer text messaging for customer support[3].

There are many reasons to consider offering text messaging as a customer service channel, including…

  • Ubiquity
    96% of Americans own a cellphone that is capable of receiving SMS messages (Pew Research).
  • Immediacy
    Morgan Stanley reported that 91% of Americans keep their mobile devices within arm’s length at all times, and 90% of all text messages are read within 3 minutes of being received (2019 Mobile Usage Report).
  • Accessibility
    Text messaging does not require an internet connection and can be used by people with various disabilities, including those with hearing impairments. Offering multiple channels helps ensure that customer service is accessible to everyone.
  • Customer Preference
    Consumers show a preference towards text messaging, particularly for urgent notices. In fact, 67% of people said they would rather a business send them an appointment reminder via text instead of an email or phone call.
  • Efficiency
    Text messaging is usually a faster and less expensive way to resolve customer concerns. The average customer service phone call costs about $16, whereas an interaction via text can cost as little as $1, including the cost of the customer service agent’s time (Campaign Monitor).

Brands that add text messaging as a customer service channel will quickly realize both ROI and customer satisfaction benefits.

Adding Text Messaging to Your Customer Service Strategy

While companies sometimes view customer service channels as “competitors” of one another, the customer does not consider it in the same light. The customer sees a brand that is delivering a top-tier service experience. This is important, when you consider that 64% of people find customer experience more important than price when making a purchasing decision[4].

Omnichannel doesn’t just improve customer experience—It also delivers significant ROI and lowers costs thanks to improved customer retention and efficiency. Businesses that adopt omnichannel strategies see 91% higher year-over-year customer retention rates compared to businesses that don’t[5].

If you’re ready to learn more about how text messaging can improve your omnichannel customer service strategy, contact mGage today.

[1] Deloitte

[2] MessageDesk

[3] eMarketer

[4] Gartner

[5] Aspect Software

WEBINAR: Employee engagement in a remote-work world

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By Puzzel

In this new world of hybrid working, contact centre leaders face a difficult challenge. How can you keep teams happy, connected and engaged, regardless of where they’re logging in?

Join Puzzel’s webinar with guest speaker, Sandra Thompson for top tips on maintaining a strong company culture, keeping teams aligned, and supporting agents’ wellbeing. Puzzel will also demonstrate how tools such as Workforce Management can help you manage resources moving forward.

Save your seat here: https://bit.ly/3fXWzHg

The greatest awards programme in the customer contact industry is now open for nominations

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In its 21st year, the European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards (ECCCSAs) is the longest running and largest awards programme in the customer contact industry. The awards recognise organisations across Europe that are leading the way in delivering exceptional service to customers. You can nominate your teams or organisations until 16 July and the winners will be announced at a live Awards Evening on 23 November 2021 in London.

“The Oscars of the contact centre industry” – emovis

Highly regarded for its robust judging process, the ECCCSAs recognise organisations that value their people, continually innovate to improve the customer experience, and operate efficiently and effectively. Being an ECCCSA winner is a prestigious accolade that has proven to raise the profile of the contact centre operation, its capabilities and its stars.

“These are the European Champs in our industry! The ECCCSAs have become ‘proper’ European awards with countries from all over Europe entering. And as for the awards evening, it never fails to wow me and is the best awards night I’ve ever been to!” – Markerstudy

The programme is seeing incredible growth with 26 countries participating in 2020 and over 2,000 people watched the Virtual Awards Evening live representing the most senior customer experience professionals in Europe.

If you’re not sure about the benefits of nominating for an ECCCSA, here are some of the reasons that previous organisations have taken part:

  • Thank your teams for responding in a crisis – especially during the pandemic
  • Recognise a significant year of achievement and the people who made it happen
  • Get great internal and external PR with other departments, the board, and your customers
  • Benchmark your operation against the best in Europe
  • Opportunity to reflect on what you’ve done
  • Engage your employees and boost morale
  • Attract new employees by showing you’re a reputable, award-winning company
  • Celebrate your company and team achievements
  • Join a community and meet your peers from across Europe

“We have taken part in other awards in the past and hand on heart this surpassed those by miles!” – The Estée Lauder Companies

Find out more about entering here.

Take the first-ever customer service speed test

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By Freshworks

Freshworks analyzed 107 million support interactions and it emerged that speed is the most important factor to improve customer satisfaction. However, measuring the speed of your customer service is not easy; metrics like ‘First Response Time’ and ‘Average Handle Time’ don’t provide an accurate representation of speed.

We’ve identified 4 areas of customer service that affect speed: service availability, self-service, proactive service, agent productivity.

Take the Customer Service Speed Test and to find out which areas of your customer service operations might be carrying ‘dead-wait’.

Once you complete the speed test, use the #CutTheWait playbook’s 5-step approach to accelerate your customer service.

P.S. We’ll be hosting a fireside chat of experts on 18th May to discuss the need for speed in customer service. Save your spot!