Carolyn Blunt, managing director of Real Results Training Ltd, shares her thoughts on the current state of the call centre industry, the benefits of attending the Call Centre and Customer Services Summit, and explains why bosses will benefit by listening to their front line teams…
What led you to carve a career in the call centre industry?
I’ve now worked in the industry for over 15 years. I love the chatter, the buzz and the speed of how a contact centre operates. To me, everything else seems flat and boring in comparison! I get a lot of satisfaction from helping and impressing customers, and I believe retaining a loyal customer base is even more important than building it.
Tell us a bit about your current role in the industry
I run a company called Real Results Training Ltd, a contact centre consultancy that improves performance through impartial advice and training. There are 10 of us altogether and we work with big name clients all over the world. I love creating unique, memorable and exciting solutions for each one.
In your opinion, what are the three most important challenges currently facing call centres and customer service teams?
Live chat is currently the fastest growing channel and is becoming a standard expectation when returning and potential customers visit a website. Getting this right in terms of the content and style is essential; therefore, at the moment, we are doing a lot of work to help organisations across all sectors instill effective strategies. In addition, with more contact channels being added into the mix, it is crucial to train advisors and agents to be able to use the right skills for the different demands of each one. Keeping customer effort to a minimum means empowering your front line teams to use their common sense and make good decisions. One of our clients was running a ‘Just Say Yes!’ front line campaign which we loved! Often, the internal indirect costs of jumping through hoops of approval – plus customer dissatisfaction and loss of future value – outweigh the quick resolution goodwill cost.
Where do you see the industry progressing in the near and distant future?
In the short term, call centre professionals will need to work more closely with sales and marketing than ever before. Customer retention and acquisition need to be aligned, and the digital customer contact channels – in particular social channels and review sites – mean the impact of customer service is more visible and powerful than ever before. Contact centre teams need to prioritise investment in technology, training and salary to value and support this important work. I’d also like to see more use being made of homeworking and video support. In regards to the distant future, there is much focus on artificial intelligence and, in particular, ‘chatbots’ to handle some of the more simple and repetitive chat queries. There are already brands implementing this to great effect; when actioned well, the customer can experience exceptional service and it frees up staff to concentrate on the more complex queries.
Why do you think an event such as the Call Centre & Customer Services Summit is valuable?
As a speaker at the Summit earlier in the year, I have to say that it’s a great way for all professionals to view and experience a wide range of different products and services on the market, altogether under one roof; as well as listen to the insightful seminars to absorb constructive ideas and tips and apply to your own contact centre businesses.
Overall, what advice would you give to call centre and customer service professionals moving forward?
Listen to your front line teams. They have more knowledge and ideas than you might think. They will also tell you honestly what is working and what isn’t for your customers and also give you simple ideas that can make a big difference to their own engagement. It might also be a good idea to host focus groups at least every quarter and try to action all provided feedback.
Find out more about Real Results Training Ltd here