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Do you specialise in Artificial Intelligence? We want to hear from you!

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

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 Artificial Intelligence 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 Carly Walker on c.walker@forumevents.co.uk.

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

Jun – Artificial Intelligence
Jul – Virtual Call/Contact Centres
Aug – Training & Development
Sep – Knowledge Management
Oct – Web Self Service/Chat
Nov – Display Boards
Dec – CRM

For more information on any of the above, contact Carly Walker on c.walker@forumevents.co.uk.

UK businesses experience up to five security incidents each year

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Attackers are seizing on vulnerabilities in hybrid working environments, creating more work – and also larger budgets – for security teams, despite organisations accelerating digital transformation projects.

The latest State of Security Report from Infblox, which surveyed 100 UK respondents in IT and cybersecurity roles in the UK as part of its global sample, discovered that the recent surge in remote work has changed the corporate landscape significantly.

In fact 64% of UK organisations have accelerated digital transformation projects in order to support remote workers since 2020. This is higher than the global (52%) average.  

  As part of this shift just under half (49%) of organisations have increased customer portal support for remote engagement and 43% have added resources to their networks and data basis. Given that over a third (34%) have close their physical offices for good, this investment may prove to be a strong strategic move.  

Cybersecurity still causing headaches   

An increased digital footprint inevitably brings increased digital risk and the reality of a hybrid workforce is causing headaches for IT teams and business leaders. The data reveals that the loss of direct security controls and network visibility has half (50%) of UK companies more concerned about data leakage than anything else. Almost as many (45%) are worried remote worker connections will come under attack.    

It appears that organisations have good reason to worry, given the report found that 61% experienced up to five security incidents in the last year. However, there is some good news: 66% report that these incidents did not result in a breach. This may be because 73% were able to detect and respond to a security incident within 24 hours.   

Of the 44% reporting a breach, insecure WiFi access (47%) was the biggest cause. The data also suggests that UK workers are continuing to fall for phishing scams. In fact 4 in 5 (82%) breaches reported in the last 12 months were caused by this attack method. Phishing usually signals the need for or failure of employee and customer security awareness training that require technological backstops  

Defense in depth   

Infoblox’s report discovered that the majority of organisations are investing heavily in security tools to protect their hybrid environments. In fact, 59% of respondents saw bigger budgets in 2021 and 64% anticipate an increase in 2022.   

Many are turning to defense-in-depth strategies, using everything from data encryption and network security to cloud access security brokers and threat intelligence services to defend their expanded attack surface. As part of this, almost half of organisations (47%) are relying on DNS (Domain Name System) to block back traffic.    

“The pandemic shutdowns over the past two years have reshaped how companies around the world operate,” said Anthony James, VP of Product Marketing at Infoblox. “Cloud-first networks and corresponding security controls went from nice-to-have features to business mainstays as organisations sent office workers to work from home. To address the spike in cyberattacks, security teams are turning to DNS security and zero trust models like SASE for a more proactive approach to protecting corporate data and remote devices.”  

The full report is available for download here.  

Technology ‘increases employee inclusion’ in hybrid work

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In a world where 60% of employees say a hybrid work model is their ideal work arrangement, only three in ten (30%) strongly agree that their organisation provides them with the necessary technology to collaborate equally and inclusively from anywhere.

That’s according to Jabra’s 2022 edition of the Hybrid Ways of Working Global Report, carried out amongst 2,800 knowledge workers across six countries worldwide to understand the employee sentiments and motivations in this hybrid working era.

The future of work is virtual-first. With hundreds of millions of people collaborating on Teams, Zoom, and other unified communications platforms every day, these digital environments are the new standard for how we connect to one another. In fact, many employees have only ever met some of their colleagues on these platforms. Because of this, it is critical that leaders do all they can to get the most out of the virtual workspace, so employees can create more human and authentic relationships with their colleagues.

Professional audio technology impacts meeting inclusivity

Jabra’s research found that users of professional audio devices reported feeling more included in virtual meetings than those using either consumer audio devices or the microphones and speakers built into their laptops. In fact, users of professional headsets globally were 11% less likely to feel left out of the conversation in virtual meetings than consumer device or built-in audio users. Similarly, professional headset users were 14% less likely to report not being able to hear what’s being said in the meeting than built-in users and 12% less likely than consumer device users.

At present, only 29% of workers are using professional audio devices. As 87% of all meetings are either fully virtual or hybrid, with only 13% happening fully in person, it’s crucial that employees are able to make the most of them with purpose-built technologies. A lack of proper technology may make relationship-building in these virtual environments more tenuous and difficult than it needs to be.

Organisations that prioritise meeting equity have higher hybrid meeting engagement

Since the start of the pandemic and alongside the rise of hybrid work, the term “meeting equity” has entered the discussion to explore how organisations can create equitable virtual environments. In a traditional meeting room, every meeting participant has a place at the table and has equal opportunity to contribute to the meeting. However, a hybrid meeting setting consists of both physical and virtual meeting participants, so true meeting equity becomes harder to achieve.

Luckily, the research finds that organisations that take active steps towards achieving greater meeting equity are likely to increase engagement in hybrid meetings. In fact, 48% of hybrid workers say that their organisation priorities meeting equity, resulting in 53% saying they’re just as engaged in hybrid meetings as face-to-face meetings. This is compared to only 34% of full-time in-office workers who say that their level of engagement in hybrid meetings matches that of face-to-face meetings; amongst in-office workers, 32% feel their organisation prioritises meeting equity. Leaders need to take decisive steps to address meeting equity, regardless of the primary type of work model their organisation practices.

Video increases inclusion and productivity in virtual environments

Roughly half of all employees (49%) consider their office to be their laptop, headset, and wherever they can get a strong internet connection. But the research found a key location-agnostic way to impact an employees’ wellbeing and productivity levels: video. Sixty-two percent of employees say they feel more included and present in meetings when everyone attending has their camera turned on.

Similarly, 53% feel they can collaborate more productively on video calls than on audio-only calls. This is likely why 68% of employees say that standardised professional video cameras would help everyone participate equally in hybrid meetings. Moving forward, leaders have an urgent need to look into the best technology to inclusively connect all employees and business partners no matter where they’re working. This will be an essential part of achieving greater meeting equity and succeeding in the hybrid future.

Holger Reisinger, SVP at Jabra, said: “The way we work has changed forever and the current state of knowledge work requires access to digital platforms and technologies to be successful. As such, leaders need to prioritise the employee experience and ensure that they can thrive in virtual meetings regardless of location. It starts with identifying technologies that will enable both in-office and remote employees to collaborate on an equal playing field, so employees can seamlessly move between these places without feeling left out, unheard, or distracted. Only then will employees truly be able to work a flexible arrangement on their own terms and have a stronger emotional connection to both their digital and physical workspace.”

To download a copy of the full research report, visit: https://www.jabra.co.uk/hybridwork/2022

Register now for September’s Contact Centre & Customer Services Summit

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Following on from April’s successful event, we’d like to invite you to our 2nd annual Contact Centre & Customer Services Summit taking place on the 12th & 13th of September at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Manchester Airport.

This intimate two-day event allows you to explore the latest insights and innovations.

As a professional within this industry your place is entirely free.

Your free pass includes;

· A personalised corporate “speed-dating” itinerary of relaxed meetings with innovative and budget-saving suppliers

· A seat at our industry seminar sessions

· Overnight accommodation at the venue – free of charge

· Complimentary breakfast, lunch and refreshments throughout

· An invitation to our evening drinks reception and networking dinner

Click here to register.

If you have any questions or would like more information then please do not hesitate to contact Victoria Petch at v.petch@forumevents.co.uk.

A third of workers think their jobs are at risk from automation

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New research has found that one in three (37%) employees consider their current job to be at risk from automation and digital transformation.

HR software provider CIPHR has compiled a list of the occupations that are the most and least likely to be replaced by technology or machines, based on the results of a survey of more than 1,000 UK workers: www.ciphr.com/jobs-at-risk-from-automation.

Survey respondents were asked to rate the likelihood that their own occupation could become automated in the future, due to advances in smart technologies, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, and robotics.

Around a third of women (33%) and over two-fifths (43%) of men consider it likely or very likely that automation could replace their jobs. While over half (54%) of those aged 18-to-24-years-old, compared to around a quarter (27%) of over-45s, believe that their job might not exist one day.

Just because an occupation could become fully automated, however, doesn’t mean it necessarily will. A more widely accepted view is that many roles will adapt and evolve and that new roles will be created, as even more work tasks and business processes – particularly those that are more routine or repetitive – can be done efficiently by machines.

To find out how closely people’s perceptions of automation match the reality – or, rather, the likelihood – of what’s to come, CIPHR compared its survey results with a report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on the probability of automation in England.

The findings show a distinct difference, for almost all occupations included in the study, between what workers think is likely to happen to their current jobs and what ONS researchers predict will happen to those jobs.

In many cases, people vastly underestimated or overestimated the likelihood of their occupation becoming automated. This disparity suggests a significant misconception about which jobs (and which tasks within them) are susceptible to automation, with many employees unaware and potentially unprepared for the changes that may lie ahead in their working lives.

Kitchen and catering assistants, cleaners, and sales and retail assistants – some of the occupations with the largest number of workers in the UK – are among the occupations to be given a ‘probability of automation’ score of over 60% in the ONS report (ie 60% or more of those jobs are at risk from automation). The people working in those roles, however, are more conservative in their estimations – rating the likelihood of their job being replaced by automation as 42%, 17% and 43% respectively.

On the opposite end of the scale, many of the jobs assessed as ‘low risk’ of automation (with a ‘probability of automation’ score of under 30%) in the ONS report, such as nurses (25%), IT directors (25%) and accountants (26%), aren’t necessarily considered so by the people doing those jobs (who rate the likelihood of automation as 32%, 55% and 64% respectively).

The perception gap (between the ONS’ probability of automation vs survey respondents’ opinions on whether their job is at risk from future automation) varies significantly by job type. On average, people working in non-desk-based, more labour-intensive roles are more likely than their desk-based counterparts to underestimate the impact of automation on their occupation in the future (69% compared to 49%). While half of workers in desk-based jobs overestimate the likelihood of their occupation becoming automated.

Similarly, a greater proportion of people working in jobs that pay over £40,000 a year are more likely to overestimate the likelihood of their occupation becoming automated than those earning under £31,285 – the UK’s average median annual salary for full-time employees (76% compared to 29%).

Yet, the majority of occupations with the highest probability of automation, according to ONS analysis, are among the lowest paid. Over 90% of the occupations in CIPHR’s study that have an ONS ‘probability of automation’ score of 50% or more pay under the UK average wage. Most (66%) also have a predominately female workforce.

Occupations most likely to underestimate their risk from automation include:

Occupation Probability of automation, according to ONS analysis Likelihood of job becoming automated (according to people doing the job)
Fork-lift truck drivers 64% 0%
Large goods vehicle drivers 62% 0%
Postal workers, mail sorters, messengers, and couriers 61% 0%
Medical secretaries 56% 0%
Cleaners and domestics 68% 17%

 

Occupations most likely to overestimate their risk from automation include:

Occupation Probability of automation, according to ONS analysis Likelihood of job becoming automated (according to people doing the job)
Financial institution managers and directors (including bank manager and insurance manager) 30% 100%
IT specialist managers (including data centre manager, IT support manager and service delivery manager) 24% 71%
Production managers and directors in manufacturing 30% 75%
Records clerks and assistants 56% 100%
Chartered and certified accountants 26% 64%

Occupations with the smallest difference (1% or less) between the two sets of results (CIPHR’s survey and the ONS’ report) include human resource managers and directors (29% of this occupational group think their job is likely to be replaced by technology or machines), IT user support technicians (27%), programmers and software development professionals (27%), restaurant and catering establishment managers and proprietors (38%), and bookkeepers, payroll managers and wages clerks (55%).

OPINION: A new era of customer service for brands

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By Eric Leboeuf, Director of Strategic Channel Partnerships at Infobip

The pandemic has altered the customer experience landscape indefinitely. Consumers are demanding, unforgiving and know what they want – and contact centres have transformed how they operate in tandem. As the world migrated from offices to home and ‘Zoom’ became 2020’s most prevalent eponym, a new path emerged for the future of customer service.

In a short space of time, agents had to move from answering phone calls or emails, to dealing with a plethora of customer contact channels, such as WhatsApp, SMS, live chat and video calls. Businesses and outsourced contact centres had to think about technology through the eyes of their customers to reduce inefficiencies, eliminate pain points and increase the value of every interaction no matter what channel it’s on.

In this article, I will discuss how brands can optimise customer experience by maximising the benefits of virtual contact centres.

Evolving customer expectations

Today’s consumer expects to be able to contact a business at any time, from anywhere, and on any platform – and it’s given rise to new demands.

After interviewing more than 2,000 British people, Infobip found a third (33%) now have higher expectations for customer service since the first lockdown and 32% have said that they will not spend time with a business that provides poor service again. Their biggest frustrations include waiting time (35%), limited ways to contact a company (31%) and repeating details multiple times to an agent (20%).

We also found that 35% of customers are happier to engage with brands on digital channels since the pandemic . And there is no clear channel preference – 52% of people prefer to use multiple channels, rather than relying on one.

Contact centres need to build a cohesive, consistent approach to customer service that caters for consumers’ changing preferences and modes of consumption. Brands should use customer data to decipher which channel a customer prefers, whether that’s their favourite messaging app or a live chat on your website. What’s more, by ensuring customer data is in one place, responses can be tailored to the customer’s unique needs with no time-consuming switching between channels.

Revamping the contact centre infrastructure

There’s no denying that those companies that have had the easiest time with the digital transition are those that have migrated to contact-centre-as-a-service (CCaaS) solutions. There are several reasons why.

The migration of workers to home offices has complicated operations, for example agents cannot ask the floor walker or the colleague next to them for advice, they solely rely on digital tools like internal chat channels to ask for advice or coaching.  Through a cloud contact centre, agents can continue to provide superior service from the comfort of their homes, advising customers and conversing with their colleagues, no matter where or when they log on. The cloud also provides the flexibility that businesses need to handle continuous growth and seasonal peaks, as well as experiment with new service models.

The use of Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVA) is one of many automation solutions helping contact centres, particularly when answering FAQs which represents a large portion of customer enquiries. By handling more repetitive and basic customer enquiries, the speed and accuracy of handling transactions is increased, and customer experience is improved.

The human workforce

Having CCaaS solutions that engage human agents to step in at the right time is also essential, allowing them to solve more high value, complex issues beyond FAQ’s that can require multiple branches of support for one customer query, for example payment or delivery support.

This means agents can manage multiple digital channels at a time, ensuring they have the tools to do what they do best: delivering personalised responses, answering queries faster and increasing customer satisfaction. Thanks to IVA support, human agents will spend less time on low value enquiries, meaning cost savings via increased efficiency. Metrics can also inform brands on the ratio of queries going to agents versus IVA. In these scenarios, brands can evaluate their contact centres to ensure agents are not overloaded. Finally, by shifting an agent’s responsibility to more challenging and rewarding tasks, new and upgraded career doors are likely to open up.

COVID-19 chatbots 

Let’s look at this in practice. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, several public and government health organisations across the world, for example Public Health England, were faced with the challenge of providing up-to-date information quickly and at scale, whilst also combatting misinformation. For many, the answer has been using chatbots to alleviate pressure on contact centres, who were already facing a significant influx of calls, while ensuring the public have access to the latest advice and guidance.

These chatbots, built by Infobip and WhatsApp, are easily accessible over a publicly available number. Contact is initiated by the user through entering a number in their contact list and sending “Hi”. This starts a dialogue with the WhatsApp chatbot, where users can choose from a list of topics depending on the information they are looking for. This includes the latest guidelines, case numbers, testing site locations and FAQs. If further assistance is required, chatbots can smoothly transfer the conversation to a human agent for detailed answers to more complex queries.

Chatbots like this have been used across the globe – from the UK to India – to ensure the right information is accessible 24-7, and so contact centres can function as efficiently as possible during an exceptionally busy time.  A report by IBM found that chatbots can answer 80% of standard questions. With many now integrated with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), chatbots are trained to recognise customer intent through what we call natural language processing (NLP). Pair this with ML processes, and chatbots will advance over time as they’re exposed to more conversational data.

Final words

The digitally savvy contact centre is racing ahead of its peers. Relying on a hybrid workforce means bots can handle high frequency, low value requests, leaving agents to focus on delivering more personalised and detailed responses. The return on investment from purchase conversion and repeat brand loyalty is invaluable. Companies must incorporate digital tools to boost their contact centre infrastructure as we enter an era of new customer service.

SAVE THE DATE: Contact Centre & Customer Services Summit – September 2022

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The next Contact Centre & Customer Services Summit takes place on September 12th & 13th 2022 at the Radisson Blu Manchester Airport.

Your complimentary pass includes:

– A corporate “speed-dating” itinerary of one-to-one meetings with solution providers
– A seat at our industry seminar sessions (included within your itinerary)
– Overnight accommodation at the venue – free of charge
– Complimentary meals and refreshments throughout
– Networking breaks to make new connections in your field

If you are interested in attending you can confirm your free place via our booking form here – www.contactcentresummit.co.uk/booking-form/

For more information, contact us directly at b.law@forumevents.co.uk.

Do you specialise in Social Media? We want to hear from you!

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

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 Social Media 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 Carly Walker on c.walker@forumevents.co.uk.

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

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
Dec – CRM

For more information on any of the above, contact Carly Walker on c.walker@forumevents.co.uk.

DOWNLOAD: The UK Contact Centre Decision-Makers’ Guide 2022

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The UK Contact Centre Decision-Makers’ Guide 2022 is a deep dive into the largest and most comprehensive study of the UK contact centre industry.

This report reflects a full comprehensive facts and hard data about every aspect of UK customer experience management, technology, and strategy, this report will arm you with the best tips to transform your contact centre and prepare it for the future. It identifies seven of the major pain points and issues that affect the contact centre industry and presents specific solutions that you can use to solve these challenges.

With sections on:

– Improving quality and performance,

– Maximising efficiency and agent optimisation,

– Digital, cloud, and the customer of the future,

– Outbound and proactivity,

– The customer experience,

– HR and agent management,

– And, strategic directions.

Click Here To Download

74% of brands think they’re providing good or excellent personalised experiences – consumers disagree

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Research has revealed a trust gap between UK brands and consumers – while 74% of companies state they do personalisation well, less than half of consumers (42%) agree.

Despite this, both parties agree that personalisation is key to increasing brand loyalty, with UK customers spending 43% more on their products when engagement is personalised. And while 70% of them believe that personalisation increases brand loyalty, 83% of consumers hold this view globally.

That’s according to to Twilio’s third annual State of Customer Engagement Report, which reflects findings from a survey of 3,450 business leaders and 4,500 consumers across 12 countries, including the UK.

With tech giants like Amazon and Netflix setting the benchmark for personalisation, customers now expect brands to deliver accurate, tailored customer services and experiences.

According to the survey, 70% of UK consumers believe that having personalised interactions with brands increases their chances of going back to that brand for a product or service, building positive relationships and increasing brand loyalty. This is even higher on a global level, with 83% of consumers agreeing that personalisation improves customer relationships with a brand.

Companies are in agreement on the importance of personalisation in their customer engagement strategy, as this translates into increased spend. Brands report that UK consumers spend 43% more on their products when interactions are personalised. For companies in the retail and eCommerce industry, personalisation is even more critical, with 91% of these companies rating personalisation as ‘extremely’ important for their customer engagement strategies.

Although consumers and brands agree on the importance of personalisation, consumers have a distrust of the way that brands are using their personal data. The survey reveals a trust gap: while 97% of UK businesses believe that their customers trust them to protect their data privacy, only two in five UK consumers (39%) have faith that these businesses will do so.

The results reveal that lack of transparency is the main reason customers have trouble trusting brands with their data. Findings suggest that 39% of UK consumers believe companies aren’t clear about how organisations use their data, and 40% don’t believe that businesses use only first-party consented data in their personalisation. Building strong relationships with customers, using personalisation, therefore requires businesses to address trust issues around data handling to add reassurance.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • Brands need to become less reliant on third-party data. Significantly, 82% of UK companies have complete or substantial dependence on third-party data and would therefore be negatively impacted by losing access to it. With brands facing a cookieless future, first-party data will become more important to help them to understand and accommodate their customers with engagement strategies that meet expectations and needs.
  • Businesses already recognise the importance of first party data. In fact, 96% of UK companies agreed that first party customer data insights lead to a better customer experience, with nearly half (47%) strongly agreeing.
  • Companies also understand the potential value of compliantly using customer data well. Data shows that nearly all UK businesses (97%) agree that fully owning and using customer data will be their biggest growth lever over the next three years.

You can read the full report here.