Contact Centre Summit | Forum Events Contact Centre Summit | Forum Events Contact Centre Summit | Forum Events Contact Centre Summit | Forum Events Contact Centre Summit | Forum Events

Posts By :

Stuart O'Brien

European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards 2023 – The winners unveiled

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The winners of this year’s European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards have been revealed across 33 categories (encompassing Gold, Silver and Bronze) following a rigorous judging process.

The winners were announced on Tuesday 21 November 2023 at an exclusive Awards Evening in London. They came to see finalists from organisations large and small compete for the crown of best in Europe in 33 categories.

The LEGO Group, Lidl, EDF, Gousto CitySprint and Estée Lauder Companies were among the winners. Concentrix + Webhelp, Cosmote e-Value, Foundever, Teleperformance and TTEC dominated the stage for outsourcers, winning Gold, Silver and Bronze throughout the evening.

You can see the full list of winners here.

DISPLAY BOARD MONTH: How to ensure a clear picture when it comes to choosing products and partners for you contact centre

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

As we explored last time, display boards play a crucial role in disseminating information effectively and enhancing operational efficiency. For Contact Centre Managers and procurement professionals, choosing the right display board partner and solution is a significant decision, impacting both staff performance and customer satisfaction. Here we outline the key considerations…

1. Real-Time Data Capability

A paramount consideration is the capability of display boards to provide real-time data. In the fast-paced contact centre environment, real-time updates on call queues, service levels, and waiting times are vital for managing workflow and resource allocation. The chosen solution must be able to integrate seamlessly with the contact centre’s existing software systems to display up-to-the-minute data.

2. Customisation and Flexibility

Each contact centre has unique needs based on its size, operational structure, and the nature of its interactions. Thus, customisability is a key factor. Display boards should offer flexibility in terms of layout, design, and the type of data displayed. Managers should look for solutions that can be tailored to their specific requirements, enabling the display of custom metrics and KPIs that are relevant to their operations.

3. Ease of Use and Accessibility

The user-friendliness of the display board system is crucial. It should be intuitive and easy to operate, requiring minimal training for staff. Additionally, considering the diverse roles within a contact centre, the system should be accessible to all relevant staff, from agents to supervisors, providing them with the information needed to perform their roles effectively.

4. Visual Impact and Clarity

The visual design of the display boards is not just about aesthetics; it’s about clarity and effectiveness in communication. Information should be presented in a clear, concise, and visually appealing manner, making it easy for staff to quickly understand and act upon the data presented. This includes considerations such as font size, colour schemes, and graphical representations.

5. Reliability and Technical Support

Given their critical role in day-to-day operations, the reliability of display board systems cannot be compromised. Contact centre managers should seek solutions known for their robustness and minimal downtime. Equally important is the quality of technical support offered by the provider, including response times in case of issues, maintenance services, and software updates.

6. Scalability

As contact centres grow and evolve, so do their requirements for display systems. The chosen solution should be scalable, allowing for easy expansion or upgrades as the centre’s needs change. This includes the ability to add more screens, integrate additional data sources, or expand functionality.

7. Cost-Effectiveness

Finally, the cost is a practical consideration. Managers must balance the need for a high-quality solution with budget constraints. This involves evaluating not just the initial investment but also ongoing costs such as maintenance and software updates.

When selecting display board partners and solutions, UK contact centre managers must consider real-time data capabilities, customisation, ease of use, visual clarity, reliability, scalability, and cost-effectiveness.

Are you searching for Display Board solutions for your contact centre? The Contact Centre & Customer Services Summit can help!

Photo by Mohammadreza alidoost on Unsplash

Two thirds of digital experiences are damaged by outdated technology

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Nearly two thirds (63%) of ‘digital experience’ professionals say their experiences are being let down by poor and outdated technology.

That’s according to FullStory research based on surveys 700 professionals responsible for building customer experiences online, including product teams, marketers and UX professionals.

The global survey spans the USA, Germany, The Netherlands, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia and 100 ‘DX’ professionals from the UK.

According to the data, almost a third of DX professionals (30%) say that siloed tools and disjointed data are causing multiple teams to replicate work, wasting time and leading to disconnected customer experiences.

Many of those surveyed are also unhappy with their existing tools, with 68% agreeing that too many analytics platforms treat customers as nothing more than “numbers in a spreadsheet.”

To solve this, many brands have invested in additional tech, often simply building on what has come before. As a result, 66% of those surveyed said there are tools in their DX stack that they have never used. A quarter (25%) go as far as to say they rarely use “the majority” of their DX tools.

Andrew Fairbank, FullStory’s Vice President of EMEA, said: “A poor digital experience can damage everything from user acquisition to customer loyalty, and even a brand’s reputation. Over the years, the market has become flooded with tools designed to address just one or two small parts of a brand’s digital experience (DX). As such, many businesses have ended up with disjointed technologies spread across multiple teams and all doing similar jobs. The result is siloed data, less informed DX strategies, and ultimately a worse experience for customers.

“Instead of piling more tools on top of each other, brands need to treat DX as a unified function with one ‘source of truth’ for data and insight. The future of this space will be single-platform solutions, built from the ground up as a cohesive platform designed to be that single source of truth, that span journey mapping, UX analytics, frustration signals, conversion tracking and more. Ideally these platforms should be used across product management teams, CX, engineering, customer success, marketing departments and more. That will be the key to better experiences, happier customers, and increased revenue.”

Photo by UX Indonesia on Unsplash

Do you specialise in CRM for contact centres? We want to hear from you!

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Each month on Contact Centres Briefing we’re shining the spotlight on a different part of the customer care market – and in December we’re focusing on CRM.

It’s all part of our ‘Recommended’ editorial feature, designed to help customer care industry buyers find the best products and services available today.

So, if you’re a supplier of CRM solutions and would like to be included as part of this exciting new shop window, we’d love to hear from you – for more info, contact Mark Connell on m.connell@forumevents.co.uk.

Here are the areas we’ll be covering, month by month:

Dec – CRM
Jan – Agent Coaching & Monitoring
Feb – Analytics
Mar – Call Centre Technology
Apr – Automated Customer Satisfaction
May – Social Media
Jun – Artificial Intelligence
Jul – Virtual Call/Contact Centres
Aug – Training & Development
Sep – Knowledge Management
Oct – Web Self Service/Chat
Nov – Display Boards

For more information on any of the above, contact Mark Connell on m.connell@forumevents.co.uk.

Photo by Ian Talmacs on Unsplash

Cloud and cyber threats pushing European IT spending to $1 trillion next year

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

IT spending in Europe is projected to total $1.1 trillion in 2024, an increase of 9.3% from 2023, as businesses allocate more funding to cloud solutions and heading off cyber threats.

That according to the latest forecast by Gartner, which says that despite a conflated economic situation, IT spending in Europe continues to be recession-proof.

John-David Lovelock, Distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner. “CIOs in Europe who pursued the “growth at all costs” strategy for over a decade, are now shifting the emphasis of ongoing IT projects toward cost control, efficiencies and automation, while curtailing IT initiatives with longer ROIs.”

Although artificial intelligence (AI) is a priority for CIOs this year and next, it is not yet a spending priority. There are other factors such as revenue generation, profitability and security fueling IT spending in Europe next year. “Maintaining a healthy profit margin has become pivotal for European corporations and this has ushered in a new wave of pragmatism,” said Lovelock.

Software and IT services are the two segments where CIOs in Europe are expected to increase their spending the most in 2024.

While there is sufficient spending within data center markets to maintain the existing on-premises data centers, new spending continues to skew toward cloud options (including infrastructure as a service [IaaS]), which is expected to grow 27% in Europe in 2024. CIOs in Europe are also shifting their priorities internally, including enhancing cybersecurity spending in the cloud and planning for AI and generative AI (GenAI).

“AI has also added a new level of concern around security ensuring that their systems are wrapped before hackers get near their sensitive data,” said Lovelock. Gartner forecasts spending on security and risk management in Europe to reach an estimated $56 billion in 2024, a 16% increase from 2023.

Table 1. Europe IT Spending Forecast (Millions of U.S. Dollars)

  2022 Spending 2022 Growth (%) 2023 Spending 2023 Growth (%) 2024 Spending 2024 Growth (%)
Data Center Systems  

44,804

 

13.8

 

46,177

 

3.1

 

49,894

 

8.0

Devices       146,391 -13.3        125,483 -14.3        131,301 4.6
Software        184,362 2.6        211,182 14.6        241,837 14.5
IT Services        347,425 2.3        382,306 10.0        427,350 11.8
Communications Services  

272,854

 

-6.1

 

285,269

 

4.6

 

297,749

 

4.4

Overall IT        995,836 -2.2     1,050,417 5.5     1,148,131 9.3

Source: Gartner (November 2023)

Some of the growth in IT services is due to talent shortages in IT departments in Europe. “There is a migration of IT skills away from the enterprise IT department toward technology and service providers (TSPs),” said Lovelock. “CIOs do not have the employees nor the talents to do all the work required and turn to IT services firms to fill in the gaps.”

Inflation continues to impact consumer purchasing power, and while businesses and consumers are expected to increase their spending on devices in 2024, the level of IT spending on devices is not estimated to go back to 2021 levels until 2027. In Europe, Austria, Ireland and Finland are projected to record the biggest bounce back in consumer spending in 2024.

The top three most mature countries in Europe will represent 51% of total IT spending in Europe in 2024. IT spending in the U.K., Germany and France is projected to total $588 billion in 2024, up 9.8% from 2023.

Among the international monetary fund (IMF) developing countries (Hungary and Poland), IT spending is estimated to total $32.3 billion in 2024, up 9.2% from 2023.

Investment in cloud is a key differentiator between mature and developing countries. Not all cloud application, platforms and services are offered in emerging countries which impairs adoption. “The lack of cloud specific skills available to deploy, maintain and run cloud is a significant barrier in developing countries Mature countries are large enough to attract cloud providers and IT talent,” said Lovelock.

Gartner’s IT spending forecast methodology relies heavily on rigorous analysis of the sales by over a thousand vendors across the entire range of IT products and services. Gartner uses primary research techniques, complemented by secondary research sources, to build a comprehensive database of market size data on which to base its forecast.

The Gartner quarterly IT spending forecast delivers a unique perspective on IT spending across the hardware, software, IT services and telecommunications segments. These reports help Gartner clients understand market opportunities and challenges. The most recent IT spending forecast research is available to Gartner clients in “Gartner Market Databook, 3Q23 Update.”

Photo by Carlos Muza on Unsplash

DISPLAY BOARD MONTH: Visualising success in the contact centre

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Efficient communication and data visualisation are pivotal in the day-to-day running of contact centres. Over recent years, advancements in display board technology have markedly influenced how contact centres in the UK operate, enhancing both operational efficiency and employee engagement.

One significant trend is the evolution from traditional static boards to dynamic digital display boards. These modern displays offer real-time data updates, providing agents and managers with instant access to critical information like call queue lengths, wait times, and service level agreements (SLAs). For instance, in a contact centre for a major UK telecom provider, digital display boards show live metrics that help in managing call traffic more effectively, enabling quicker response times and improved customer service.

Another trend is the integration of interactive touchscreen technology. Touchscreen display boards allow for more engaging and interactive communication. Managers can quickly update or change displayed content, enabling them to react promptly to changing scenarios or to highlight specific performance metrics during peak hours. This interactivity also extends to training, where interactive displays are used for collaborative learning and simulations, enhancing the training experience for new agents.

Customisation and personalisation of display content have become more prevalent, driven by advanced software that accompanies modern display boards. Contact centres can now tailor the information shown, aligning it with specific team goals or individual performance indicators. This customisation ensures that agents are not overwhelmed with irrelevant data, allowing them to focus on metrics that directly impact their work.

The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms with display boards is a nascent yet rapidly growing trend. AI-driven displays can provide predictive analytics, like forecasting call volumes, which enables better resource planning and management. In several UK contact centres, AI-powered boards offer insights into customer satisfaction trends and agent performance, facilitating a more data-driven approach to managing the workforce and enhancing customer experience.

The adoption of eco-friendly display technologies is also a notable trend. With a growing emphasis on sustainability, LED and OLED screens are preferred for their energy efficiency and longer life spans. This shift not only supports corporate sustainability goals but also reduces operational costs in the long term.

Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of remote monitoring capabilities. Display boards now often come with cloud connectivity, allowing managers and team leads to monitor and manage operations remotely. This feature has been crucial in maintaining operational continuity in contact centres that have shifted to a remote or hybrid working model.

The recent advancements in display board technology have significantly impacted the operational dynamics of contact centres in the UK. These modern displays facilitate real-time data sharing, interactive communication, and efficient resource management, all of which are crucial in the fast-paced and information-intensive environment of contact centres. As technology continues to evolve, it’s expected that display boards will become even more integrated into the fabric of contact centre operations, driving efficiency and enhancing employee engagement.

Are you searching for Display Board solutions for your contact centre? The Contact Centre & Customer Services Summit can help!

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

Contact Centre & Customer Services Summit: Here’s what you need to know

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The Contact Centre & Customer Services Summit is back once again in April, offering a unique platform at which to meet with the UK’s best suppliers – and you can secure your place today.

29th & 30th April 2024

Radisson Hotel & Conference Centre London Heathrow

You will be provided with a personalised itinerary of pre-arranged, 1-2-1 meetings with suppliers relevant to you. No hard sell, and no time wasted.

The event is entirely free for security professionals, like you, to attend.

Your free pass includes;

– A corporate itinerary of one-to-one meetings with solution providers
– A seat at our industry seminar sessions (live attendance only)
– Overnight stay at the venue
– A place at our networking dinner, with entertainment
– All meals and refreshments throughout
– Networking breaks to make new connections in your field

Click Here To Register

If you have any questions then you can contact us here for more information.

How self-service could shape the future of customer experience

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

As technological advancements continue at an unprecedented rate, businesses are incessantly seeking ways to enhance their customer experience (CX). A core strategy that has gained significant traction in recent years is the proliferation of self-service options. Over the next five years, the evolution of self-service is poised to transform CX in several distinct ways. Here we explore a few possibilities, based on input from delegates at the Contact Centre & Customer Services Summit…

  1. Greater Personalisation Through AI and Machine Learning:
    • The integration of AI and machine learning into self-service platforms will usher in a new era of personalisation. Customers will be met with interfaces that intuitively adapt to their individual preferences and browsing behaviours. By predicting a user’s needs based on their past interactions, businesses can proactively present solutions even before a customer recognises the need, streamlining their journey and amplifying satisfaction.
  2. Omnichannel Consistency:
    • The rise of multiple touchpoints, from mobile apps and websites to chatbots and kiosks, demands an integrated, seamless user experience. Over the next five years, businesses will increasingly ensure that their self-service options offer a consistent experience, irrespective of the medium. The goal is to provide a fluid, brand-cohesive journey, allowing customers to switch between platforms without losing context or convenience.
  3. Enhanced Virtual Assistants and Chatbots:
    • Virtual assistants and chatbots will undergo significant evolution, moving from simple scripted responses to sophisticated entities capable of understanding and processing complex human emotions and nuances. This will make interactions feel more ‘human’, despite being automated, thus ensuring that even self-service channels retain a touch of personal connection.
  4. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) Integration:
    • AR and VR technologies are poised to redefine the realms of self-service, particularly in sectors like retail and real estate. Imagine a scenario where customers can ‘try on’ clothes virtually or take a VR tour of a property they intend to buy. Such immersive experiences can significantly enhance decision-making and satisfaction.
  5. Predictive Self-Service:
    • As data analytics becomes more advanced, businesses will be equipped to forecast potential issues customers might face and preemptively provide self-service solutions. For instance, software platforms might offer troubleshooting steps even before a user recognises a glitch.
  6. Empowerment of Customer Independence:
    • A subtle but profound shift will be the increasing empowerment of customers who prefer a do-it-yourself approach. Enhanced self-service tools will cater to this demographic, allowing them to resolve issues, make informed decisions, and complete tasks at their own pace and discretion.
  7. Security and Privacy Focus:
    • With the growing emphasis on data protection, especially with regulations like GDPR, self-service platforms will integrate more robust security protocols. Customers will be able to access services with the confidence that their data remains uncompromised.

The future of self-service in shaping customer experience is intrinsically linked to the rapid technological advancements of our age. As businesses pivot towards offering more autonomous tools, the next half-decade will witness a blend of efficiency, personalisation, and innovation, all aimed at placing the customer at the heart of the journey.

Are you looking for Chat and Web Self-Service solutions for your business? The Contact Centre & Customer Services Summit can help!

Photo by Hassan OUAJBIR on Unsplash

AI will enable contact centre agents ‘to become true brand guardians’

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

A new report has highlighted the essential role of hybrid and remote contact centre agents, the expected impact of artificial intelligence (AI), and agents’ readiness to act as brand guardians in the face of evolving consumer demands.

Calabrio surveyed 400 contact center managers from across 10 countries, 4 age groups, and 6 industries. While there is much debate in the market, this report’s response is clear: AI won’t be used to entirely replace agents.

In fact, over two-thirds of contact center managers predict an increase in the number of agents over the next decade and believe AI’s greatest promise is its ability to make agents’ jobs easier and more productive.

However, managers expressed that agents are not yet ready to meet the demands of an AI-fueled future. If contact centers are not giving agents the skills to adapt and develop, they are already falling behind.

“The role of technology, including AI, is poised to gain even greater momentum in the contact center—we’re already seeing customers embrace automation and AI-fueled analytics to maximise their operations,” said Kevin Jones, President and Chief Executive Officer, Calabrio. “But when technology removes a large portion of the administrative tasks from humans, agents will need to adapt to embrace complex customer inquiries and become true brand guardians.”

According to contact center managers, AI has the potential to optimize business processes and create visibility and efficiencies. Managers ranked these features of AI as most impactful:

  • Augmenting agent and manager productivity (25%)
  • Optimizing forecasting and scheduling (20%)
  • Measuring and understanding contact center productivity (20%)
  • AI-driven chatbot services to customers (20%)

This focus on how AI can improve productivity is critical as customer experience (CX) organizations are looking for ways to boost productivity post-pandemic. Just 49% of managers believe that remote workers are meeting productivity expectations today, which is 24% lower than in 2020.

97% of consumers agree that customer service interactions have a direct impact on brand loyalty—which directly correlates to brand revenue. With the advent of AI, the significance of delivering an effective, efficient, and personalized CX has never been more attainable.

With automation becoming the new normal, contact center managers recognize a greater need for critical thinking (top selected) and adaptability to change (second top) among future agents. Yet today, these skills are most frequently identified as lacking, and the top skills impacted when an agent is stressed or disengaged. Managers must bridge this gap through targeted training and development programs, another area where AI can assist.

Training and skills development emerge as top strategies for attracting and retaining talented agents for both current (35%) and future (30%) success. While acknowledging the need for progress, the report reveals that only 45% of contact center managers believe their agents currently possess all the required skills. This significant gap underscores the urgency of investing in comprehensive training initiatives.

Photo by Petr Macháček on Unsplash

5 Minutes With… livepro CEO Brad Shaw

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

In the latest instalment of our contact centre industry executive interview series we spoke to livepro CEO Brad Shaw about knowledge management, why we need to move one from physical documentation in order to empower staff and deliver better customer experience, plus how artificial intelligence will impact the sector…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

livepro is a customer experience, knowledge management system, specifically designed to deliver answers to customers’ questions through their preferred communication channel.

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

One of the challenges from a knowledge management perspective is that executives have not recognised the necessity of utilising customer experience knowledge management in their contact centres and other customer channels. Many organisations still rely on document management, which is both inefficient and inconvenient. It’s inefficient for agents and inconvenient for customers, as both audiences have to read and interpret the information in the documents. A robust customer experience knowledge management system should provide answers, not just information.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

Organisations that are committed to delivering the best customer experience are realising the enormous benefits of deploying a customer experience knowledge management system to enhance customer satisfaction, boost staff engagement, and achieve significantly reduced costs.

What is the biggest priority for the Contact Centre/Customer Services industry in 2024?

To encourage executives who may lack empathy for customer service staff to adopt a purpose-built Customer Experience Knowledge Management System, ensuring that these systems empower staff to perform their roles at their desired level.

Agents need answers, not information and too often executives without the empathy for a Contact Centre make decisions to the detriment of customer service and the Contact Centre team.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2024?

Anticipate a significant emphasis on AI-supported customer experience initiatives. When considering the technology that will wield the greatest influence on the market, AI used with a single focus of providing answers to customers through their preferred channels, such as contact centres, chatbots, or websites.

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

Exploring new and innovative ways AI can deliver answers (not information) to customers.

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

I would like to meet the CEOs of organisations who promote that they are focussed on delivering a fantastic customer experience and help them understand the most important tool they can provide their Customer Service Team is the technology to help them deliver fast, up-to-date, approved Answers to provide the level service they really want to deliver. My goal is to engage with contact centre industry leaders to help them comprehend the challenges inherent in contact centres and recognise the significance of having a purpose-built knowledge management system for the benefit of both their team and customers.

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

They have allowed management to shape knowledge management system they employ instead of advocating for a knowledge management system that would operate the most effectively in the customer service environment.

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

Coke no sugar!

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Watching the fantastic things that my team can develop.

And what’s the most challenging?

Organisations should recognise that customer experience knowledge management must be an integral component of their technology stack. It’s widely accepted that a contact centre requires a dedicated telephony system and a specialised workforce management system. They invest in creating a contact centre environment tailored to efficiently provide answers to customers. However, what often goes overlooked is the most critical part of this stack – the technology capable of delivering answers to customers as swiftly as possible.

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

To make sure your customers stay with you forever – customer loyalty.