It’s 20 years since the first edition of the European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards was launched. The industry was in its relative infancy and the awards evening was a comparatively small affair.
These days the awards are not only the longest running in the European customer contact industry but they are the largest with 24 countries entering and 1,300 people attending the awards evening last year.
So much has changed
Since the turn of the century, the customer contact industry has grown from strength to strength responding to changes in consumer behaviour, digitisation and globalisation. These are just some of the things that have changed:
- Employee well-being
There is nothing like a pandemic to bring employee well-being into focus. However, long before now the industry has been focused on looking after its people and in recent years recognising that if you look after your people, your people look after your customers. We’ve seen this playout through working environments with fantastic facilities such as gyms, childcare, coffee shops and inspiring breakout areas. As we go through 2020 the industry is supporting its teams more than ever with access to mental health programmes and by enabling people to work from home. It will be interesting to see how employee policies adapt to a more flexible working approach going forward.
- Advances in technology
Where do you start when it comes to technology? The industry has come a long way in the last 20 years; from the ACD to cloud comms, from stand-alone systems to integrated solutions, increased focus on security and compliance, automation, AI and robotics, sophisticated monitoring and reporting, bolt-on’s, add-on’s, modules and training to support it all. The technology stack for customer interactions is now more complex and impressive than ever before.
- Multiple channels of choice
Driven by the availability of digital platforms and intelligent technology, consumers now have many channels to choose from to interact with organisations. Voice has remained a key channel of choice despite predictions of its demise to email. Social platforms, messaging and webchat have grown in popularity amongst consumers and now the use of video in those interactions is starting to be seen.
- Consumer behaviour
The internet has given consumers access to more information, to share stories more readily and as a result consumer behaviour has changed significantly. Consumers are better informed and able to make decisions on who to buy from and why, before an organisation is aware they were even in the running. Recent months have demonstrated how much the consumer is in control of how they use technology, who they want to buy from and why they buy.
- Listening to customers
Recent experiences have taught us the importance of listening to customers and responding to their wants and needs. But even before then, organisations have been surveying and listening to customers for a few years to gather insights in order to make more informed decisions about improving the customer experience in order to retain customers, because we all know it’s cheaper to retain than to acquire.
- Access to information
The amount of information that is gathered and stored through customer interactions has been growing. There is almost too much data now available, if that’s possible, and the pressure is on to make sense of it, to turn it into useable information that can drive decision making. With artificial intelligence now able to do just that, leaders in contact centres and customer experience will be well placed to start driving the strategic agenda of any organisation that sincerely puts the customer front and centre.
- Regulation and compliance
It is no surprise that as the industry has evolved more compliance and regulation has been imposed to protect customers, employees and organisations. Whether it’s TPS, PCI DSS, GDPR, employment law, health and safety or workers rights, these important regulations have helped to secure a professional and safe place for those that work in and interact with the customer contact industry.
Looking back, the industry has come a long way. And some of these enhancements and innovations took place very recently – not just since the pandemic took hold. Before then, last year. Some of the projects that were undertaken before February 2020 prepared organisations for this year and those projects should be celebrated.
If you have a project or a team that you want to recognise for moving your organisation forward, then why not enter the European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards. Enter here today.