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 Tagged :

Interview

5 Minutes With… Sabio Group’s Stuart Dorman

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

In the latest instalment of our contact centre industry executive interview series we spoke to Stuart Dorman, Chief Innovation Officer at Sabio Group, the customer experience (CX) digital transformation specialist, about the company, the ongoing challenges posed by COVID-19, industry opportunities, new technology and why voice will remain king…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

Sabio is a UK-headquartered but global reaching customer experience (CX) digital transformation specialist with more than 600 customers worldwide.

We are a rapidly growing organisation which has been helping businesses operating within the customer contact centre industry for almost 30 years.

Today, we specialise in bringing together expertise in cloud migration, cutting-edge CX technologies and powerful customer insight and expertise to deliver exceptional end-to-end customer experiences for our customers – specialising particularly in banking, housing, insurance, travel & leisure, utilities, telecommunications and retail.

As well as offering our own technologies, we work with world-leading CX specialist partners – such as Genesys, Avaya, Twilio, Verint, Google Cloud and Salesforce – to provide innovative and market-leading CX solutions.

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

Although very much in recovery mode, it’s hard to ignore the remnants of the pandemic and the effect that it is still having on some areas of the industry – the move to a hybrid workforce being one example – as businesses switch up their operating models.

However, there is one area of focus that I’d like to concentrate on and that’s agent wellbeing and, in particular, attrition levels and associated employee engagement.

At Sabio, this is a focus for us at the moment and we recently launched a new e-book entitled ‘Putting Your People First With Human Service’ which focusses on why it’s time businesses looked inwards to unlock the potential of their number one asset.

In terms of agent wellbeing and associated attrition levels, this is a major, major area of concern for the industry and quite rightly it is now gaining some much-needed focus. The modern contact centre agent is under unprecedented levels of pressure, arguably it is the most intensely-measured human role on earth, and this is having a huge issue on mental wellbeing and engagement.

Our industry should be doing much more to acknowledge the key role that advisor mental health and wellbeing plays in delivering excellent customer service – which is in contrast with the volume of metrics tracked and management information collected to analyse each advisor’s performance. Contact centre managers know exactly when advisors need to be working, how many calls they are handling, whether service levels are being met, whether their employees are saying the right things to customers, and even ways that they could be more productive. So why can’t we have similar tools and technologies that can be turned inward to ensure our agents are healthy and happy at work? And if not, why not?

If we continue to overlook mental health then organisations are failing to provide the rounded support that they need to continue delivering high quality customer experiences.

Because we don’t tend to monitor advisor wellbeing, we shouldn’t be surprised that so many end up frustrated, with a significant proportion choosing to quit their roles. Indeed, average advisor attrition levels suggest this is a significant industry-wide problem, with an average rate of 15% across UK contact centres, with that figure rising to 40% in Europe. It’s a problem for contact centre operators, with this rate of annual attrition effectively costing a 500-seat contact centre approaching £1m to replace and train advisors – in addition to its impact on the customer experience and brand loyalty.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

Arguably, and probably controversially, the pandemic.

Covid-19 has encouraged organisations to accelerate their digital transformation strategies, in my opinion, by at least five years. The pandemic has brought into focus for businesses and their contact centre operations that, if they are to survive in an increasingly digital world, then they will need to evolve.

From a wider perspective, people – and specifically contact centre agents to stay in line with this topic of conversation – are now putting their personal lives front and centre with their jobs now having to take a slightly secondary position. Work-life flexibility is a key issue nowadays, with people now preferring choice in their daily routine – a choice to work from home if they want, when they want, or opting for a hybrid model instead. This live-and-work attitude is in stark contrast to the previous work-to-live environment pre-pandemic and businesses within the contact centre industry are realising they need to move with the times in order to not only keep their staff, but ensure they’re motivated, enhance engagement levels and improve brand loyalty and customer satisfaction at the same time. At Sabio, and alongside our partners, we are central to that movement in helping these organisations on their digital transformation journeys with innovative solutions, such as Workforce Management Optimisation, to help them. We’re excited to play a key part in the evolution of the industry.

What is the biggest priority for the Contact Centre/Customer Services industry in 2021?

For me, and related to my last point, I think getting to grips with hybrid working as things get back to normal should be at the forefront for the industry. There’s lots of questions on how this will impact shift patterns, recruitment, training etc and organisations really need to get this right.

Also, equally to that, I think adopting a more agile, DevOps approach to running the operation to fully exploit cloud technology is another crucial priority. There are a lot of organisations at the moment still operating legacy, on-prem systems that are beginning to or will begin to creak as technologies and businesses evolve and so exploiting cloud technology is also going to be crucial.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2022?

An increased focus on employee experience and agent wellbeing.

A much bigger push for async messaging as an email replacement.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

The flexibility of cloud technology has made it much easier over the pandemic to support home and now hybrid working. Whilst that sounds a bit boring it provides an important foundation for future innovation.

As mentioned above, Agent Wellbeing/Human Service is now a big focus with attrition levels at worrying/alarming levels and arguably going to worsen before getting better.

Also, for me, I still remain hugely excited about the prospect of AI and, in particular, how it can help employees as well as customers…

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

Voice will still be king – but will be treated much more like a digital channel with the ability to augment conversations with digital content – much like we do when we present to our colleagues using Teams or Zoom.

We expect every interaction to be touched by AI by this time and an increasing gap opening between those organisations that have embraced AI and those that have not…

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

For most of us, the interface between ourselves and the organisations we deal with is the smart phone. For me, there is so much more that we could do to enhance this experience.

I’d like to have a chat with Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, particularly around how iPhone customers could share information and manage security more effectively when they contact a business to reduce customer effort.

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

Just how large it is! Particularly when compared to other markets in Europe.

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

A beer! A nice IPA (but not too strong)

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Getting to learn about the latest technologies and work with organisations who are at the forefront of designing and implementing them.

Also, reimagining how CX can and will look if (and when) we get it right!

And what’s the most challenging?

Seeing so much potential to improve the experiences that I encounter on a day-to-day basis though technology.

Succession or Stranger Things?

I haven’t watch either yet – but they are on the list! I am currently re-watching Breaking Bad with my oldest son who has suddenly taken an interest. (To confirm, it’s just as good the second time round!).

5 Minutes With… TalkDesk’s Jay Gupta

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

In the latest instalment of our contact sector industry executive interview series we spoke to Jay Gupta, Global Director of Product Marketing at Talkdesk, about the company, the ongoing challenges posed by the pandemic, the importance of operational efficiencies and the potential for artificial intelligence…

Tell us about your company, products and services?

Talkdesk was founded in 2011 by Tiago Paiva. He recognised that the problems contact centres face didn’t change, but businesses needed a better way to find solutions and deliver impressive customer experiences. Talkdesk is helping customers innovate a better way to great CX with Talkdesk CX Cloud™, an end-to-end customer experience solution that combines enterprise scale with consumer simplicity, all on a single unified platform. Talkdesk has since been named a Leader in the 2021 Gartner® Magic Quadrant™ for CCaaS for the second consecutive year.

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

The pandemic completely restructured our day-to-day lives, many of us working from home and relying on online services. The companies that thrived were those who provided digital, frictionless customer experiences. Customer expectations became higher than ever, with 68% of customers reporting that a single poor customer service experience would negatively impact their brand loyalty. This pressure on brands to offer the amazon-like customer service was one of the biggest challenges in the contact centre industry and pushed businesses to rapidly accelerate their digital transformation roadmap.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

Especially over the past year, it is clear that the efficient operation of the contact centre is key to any business success. However, even the most efficient contact centres are not often viewed or operated as strategic assets, and companies miss clear opportunities to generate significant enterprise value by failing to invest in unlocking the true potential of contact centres. In direct response to this, Talkdesk has launched the ‘Cost-to-growth’ campaign which leverages the contact centre as a growth centre through 3 stages: Assess, Dream, and Launch.

What is the biggest priority for the Contact Centre/Customer services industry in 2021/22?

I think the biggest priority for the contact centre industry in 2021/22 would be to upgrade legacy technology and take advantage of cloud based technologies. The cloud has allowed so many people to work from home and been one of the main reasons businesses have been able to continue over 2020. Businesses are now recognising that every aspect of their organisation needs a cloud based solution to operate as efficiently as possible, as well as safeguard against unusual events.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2022?

I would definitely expect to see an increase in the adoption of AI and automation. We are seeing an increased recognition of the benefits of AI for providing agents with real-time contextual information, better managing the contact centre workforce, as well as delivering personalized, 24/7 customer service. I would expect this to be a growing priority in the contact centre industry in the near future.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

This year, cloud-based intelligent security solutions are having a huge impact on the market. Intelligent Security, such as Talkdesk’s ‘Guardian’ enables businesses to gain better visibility of their remote workforce and effectively mitigate risks such as insider threats, noncompliance, negligence, and unpredictable work-from-home infrastructure. This technology can also ensure that customer interactions are handled securely and compliantly, regardless of where agents are located.

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

In 2025, I think AI will become mainstream. We’re seeing more businesses across industries, big or small,  who don’t necessarily have the technical clout of a technology giant like Amazon, but want to transform their contact centres with AI to offer an Amazon-like customer experience. With 84% of organisations now believing customers expect self-service options 24/7, AI is providing contact centres with the tools to deliver impressive, frictionless customer experiences outside of the call centre operating hours. AI is also being used to empower agents by providing them with real-time, contextual information so they can answer customer questions more quickly and accurately. Finally, contact centres are now able to intelligently uncover friction points in customer journeys. I expect AI will be essential to the operation of the most successful contact centres in 2025.

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

The contact centre is often positioned as a cost centre despite sitting at the heart of customer experience. I was surprised to learn that businesses are extracting more value from their contact centres by enhancing their customer experiences. Delightful customer experiences that boost customer satisfaction and brand loyalty can catapult contact centres from a cost centre to a profit centre.

5 Minutes With… Davies Group’s Leon Boland

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

In the latest instalment of our contact centre industry executive interview series, we spoke to Leon Boland, Director of Learning Experiences Questions (Contact Centre) at Davies Group, about the company, the ongoing impact of COVID-19, opportunities with new technology and the importance of operational KPIs… 

Tell us about your company, products and services.

We are a consultancy rooted in making a difference for our clients. Our solutions are not based on vanity and being the ‘next big idea’, but based on practical, value-based ideas which make a difference to a business and its people and deliver both a positive return on investment and a positive return on expectations.

Our solutions offer a unique blend of digital learning and human led (albeit virtually at the minute) interventions. We have our own team of consultants along with our own inhouse design and video studio. The learning experiences we create and the thought leadership we offer can solve many challenges, in a variety of sectors – across different levels from c-suite executives to front line teams. Our team of people come from the contact centre world, so they get your challenges and understand your vision. They have led and been a part of contact centre teams, and with the addition of consultancy knowledge and thought leadership development – they are based placed to help you fix and grow.

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

We have seen two key stand out challenges over the past 12 months linked to learning. Learning initially went on the back burner due to the significant challenge of converting business models to be virtual, then after about 6 months businesses started to focus on the future again and we observed two key challenges, the first being the need to develop leaders to manage virtual and hybrid teams and the second being onboarding. We feel there is still more to do around managing hybrid teams and we are supporting clients with this with our tactical leading hybrid teams workshop package, which is proving successful. The second challenge of onboarding was already a challenge before covid as they are often dated, delivered in person, lengthy and not always KPI focused. There is now the immediate need is how do we sustain headcount whilst onboarding people virtually or needing people competent quicker, KPI focused onboarding transformations is something we are passionate about and do well, we are continue to support clients in this area.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

We would say clients realising that learning can be flexible and should still happen, using virtual classroom, digital or a blend of both. We have been encouraging this for some time now.

What is the biggest priority for the Contact Centre/Customer Services industry in 2021?

Onboarding Transformations, they simply can not continue being so facilitator classroom heavy, not focusing on operational KPIs from day one, lacking true customer experience skills and speed to competence being beyond 6 months. The demand for agents to be competent quicker, more efficient onboarding experience, delivering exceptional CX and operational savvy from day one is certainly a requirement for the clients we partner with, however we also know the appetite is there for internal learning teams but the challenge is they are already overstretched and at capacity.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2021?

We see the demand for contact centre sales and service increasing, consumers are even more used to shopping virtually, so want to be serviced virtually. This includes via different omni-channels and businesses are very focused on tech and automation which is great, but it is important we don’t neglect the humans and the need to evolve agents’ skills is essential. Another curious question is will the need for capacity increase or will tech help balance this? Either way it is important to start thinking about how talent is onboarded.

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

At the minute, the same as we have been talking about for the past 5 years, we find we have a habit of talking about the future, especially in learning but are we truly planning to get us there? The hype over the past few years has been about digital learning and VR in learning, something we have rolled eyes at for some time. Digital learning has its place and it is all about creating the right learning experience and not doing digital for the sake of it, covid has helped us excel the use of digital learning (finally!) but has it gone too far? VR however is something that was the next big thing 2/3 years ago, and now we hardly hear about it in learning. It isn’t always cost effective and results effective for contact centres.

So, I support our thoughts are, what SHOULD we be talking about and we feel the focus should be on deliver outstanding customer experience to retain and deliver on revenue. Organisations that truly put their customers first stand out, with social media being a platform to advocate on, it can also have the opposite effect. Consumers expect more and will continue to expect more. So our question to you is, are you preparing your learning strategy to help underpin your TOM?

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

This was a tough one to answer, I would say initially surprising was how resilient people who work in this sector are, they are also unsung heroes a lot of the time.

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

Gin, defo gin. Actually, I also don’t mind a fizz or two?

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

I would say getting the opportunity to partner with so many incredible clients globally to deliver results driven learning. We get insights into so many brands to see the great work they are doing. I feel my team and I are pretty dam lucky!

And what’s the most challenging?

This is a tough one, but I would say the skill in convincing operational senior leaders that learning is essential and whilst it can seem like a big investment initially, if done right the ROI should always cover the investment and more.

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

The importance of becoming operationally savvy by getting under the skin of operational KPIs and the running of a contact centre, as this will be essential for my credibility when delivering CX/ Contact Centre learning solutions. I would say it is some of the best career advice I ever had, especially at the level I work at with our clients.

Succession or Stranger Things?

Stranger Things 😊

5 Minutes With… Erik Delorey, Empirix

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

In the latest installment of our contact centre industry executive interview series, we spoke to Erik Delorey, Product Marketing Manager and Solutions owner for the Hammer Test Automation product line at Empirix, about the company, industry challenges and opportunities, new technology and the wisdom of Douglas Adams…

Tell us about your company, products and services.        

For more than 25 years, Empirix’s HAMMER test automation solutions have served as the de facto standard for contact centre and enterprise IT teams looking to protect their business and customers from the technology disruptions that lead to poor service service quality and dissatisfied customers. Our differentiated software and services help our customers improve service quality, operational efficiency and customer retention.

What are the biggest challenges the Contact Centre/ Customer Services industry has faced in the last year?

The migration of an entire global workforce to virtual, remote environments was not only unprecedented but extremely disruptive. Companies were forced to change how they conducted business, with or without adequate preparation. This created unexpected challenges for many dimensions of the business from productivity to technical readiness issues which ranged from voice quality issues due to home network constraints to providing agents with the right tools to work remotely.  Companies were also challenged to respond quickly to regulatory and security compliance mandates, and to do so without a forecasted budget.  Human factors such as kids schooling from home, illness and even workforce retention had a tremendous impact on staffing and overall productivity. All of a sudden, people’s personal lives factored into workforce planning.

And what were the biggest opportunities?

Technology has been the backbone of forward-thinking companies for decades and this past year was no exception. Some companies were forced to make transformative change while others were able to optimize existing investments to achieve the same outcome.  The one thing consistent to all companies was that we were all in this together. We had to work cross-functionally to get where we needed to go fast. There wasn’t time for rework and we learned that together, we can do more as a team than we can by working independently. Technology is the tool we used to do the work, but trust in each other is what ultimately drove a strong, productive work culture. Empirix deliver the best of both worlds – our testing solutions help cross-functional teams build economies of scale and a foundation of collaboration and trust.  This combination is highly profitable since it yields operational efficiency and creates a feedback loop that drives continuous improvement.

For Empirix, decades of experience with preventing technology disruption became an unforeseen business opportunity this past year. The rapid migration to remote work environments gave rise to more than a handful of technology-driven issues for companies around the world. New network traffic patterns emerged and companies were forced to reconsider their entire network configuration. Could SBCs handle the new load? Do residential ISPs provide the bandwidth needed to support customer support engagements? Our response was to create a privacy-compliant solution for monitoring home network bandwidth and voice quality; a solution that enables IT and Contact Centre teams to move agents in and out of chat and email queues as home network conditions change.  Having end-to-end visibility into network conditions and performance (from contact centre to remote agent and back) is absolutely critical for delivering a positive customer experience and sustaining satisfaction levels.

What is the biggest priority for the Contact Centre/Customer Services industry in 2021?

The contact centre services industry is very keen to integrate Artificial Intelligence into their technology stack. It will help them personalize self-service offerings for their customers and build more intelligence into the assistance software used by customer service reps.

The interest in AI is caused by a downward trend in NPS benchmarks [1] for more than 50% of industries that participated in a study. Companies are pouring millions of dollars into customer experience management software with the promise of increasing their NPS scores so this decline is distressing. Customers expect to have a good experience and their loyalty is quickly challenged when better options are readily available.

What trends do you expect to emerge this year?

Natural language processing and personalized applications will become mainstream. The industry will start to see the consolidation of chatbots, IVR and agent-assistive technologies. This will introduce new opportunities but also new challenges and risks.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

Call avoidance will be re-thought and re-evaluated as voice sentiment analysis proves itself to be more accurate than post-transaction surveys.  The efficiency of those technologies vs the response rate and cost of questionnaire-based surveys could very well bring transformational change to how voice interactions are handled inside of contact centres.  Companies may even pivot and rotate specific callers to agent positions directly to capture their voice and sentiment of their customers on a routine basis.

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

The same thing we have been talking about for 25 years…that contact centres will have two-way video sessions between all their customers and customer service representatives.

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

Edwin Margulies. Whenever I think about contact centre technologies, I get really excited about the potential of a unique use case. When applying a technology to a specific problem it’s really important to think both vertically and horizontally across the different technology and business use cases. Mr. Margulies has done a good job of merging both the technology and the business use case of a new technology and pushing that out to the public.

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

The wide diversity of technical competency and adoption “on the floor” of contact centre operations.  You can have two different lines of business within the same organization and one team is using innovative emotion detection and AI while the other department is doing manual data entry.  The lack of cross-functional communication and transparency is preventing organizations from being the best they can be.

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

That really depends on the day. It could range from Golden Ale, to a Russian Imperial Stout. It’s really just a matter of what’s right and what’s fresh.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Exposing teams to a new way of thinking or a new way of doing things; getting them to understanding that there is a benefit to changing how things are done.

And what’s the most challenging?

The same thing that makes it exciting to be honest. People come with their own biases and opinions. You have to learn, understand and empathize with their particular situation and find the truth in their concerns, find false assumptions, and build a pathway towards making them successful while guarding against risk and concerns The key is to really get them excited about what technology can help them do; fear prevents growth personally and professionally.

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

The quality of any advice anybody has to offer has to be judged against the quality of life they actually lead – Douglas Adams

Succession or Stranger Things?

Succession, because I love non-fiction labelled as fiction in order to get it financed by the people it is about.

[1] Satmetrix-NICE NPS benchmark scores

About Erik Delorey

As an Expert Services Consultant at Empirix, Erik has designed, coded and executed test automation and network operations monitoring programs for the world’s largest service providers, financial institutions and government agencies for the past 20 years.

Passionate about technology adoption, Erik helps companies overcome the fear of change and mitigate the risk of failure through quality controls and oversight using world-class automation techniques that focus on user experience and Intent based success.

He holds a Master’s Degree of Business Administration, and In addition to his professional work, Erik is a Member of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), a scientific society devoted to promote research in and responsible use of artificial intelligence.  Additionally he balances out his time with his wife and two children in the northern suburbs of Boston.

eBook: Why a Distributed Workforce Wreaks Havoc on Your Business (and what you can do about it)

www.empirix.com

5 Minutes With… RingCentral’s Max Ball

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

In the latest instalment of our contact centre industry executive interview series, we spoke to Max Ball, Director of Contact Centre Product Marketing at RingCentral, about his company, the challenges posed by COVID-19, industry opportunities and priorities for 2021 and beyond…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

RingCentral is a market-leading business communications provider. We provide businesses with secure and reliable communications technology to help them operate more competitively.

Cloud communications has really come into its own these last 12 months, and we’ve been at the forefront of that – helping businesses keep their remote workforces connected, engage customers on multiple channels, and stay productive and collaborative thanks to virtual workspaces.

Born in the cloud, RingCentral was voice-first, and expanded from there. More than two decades later, our offering combines a digital-first contact centre platform with world-class telephony and UCaaS integration in an open platform, all in the cloud.

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

The COVID-19 pandemic has been the biggest challenge for contact centres in the last year, decade, or maybe ever. Moving to a work from home model overnight while call volumes are spiking is not for the faint at heart. The most impacted companies, for example those in travel, retail and government, face up to an 800% increase in volume.

To handle the volume many companies have increased their presence on digital channels, a change that is frankly overdue. It allows agents to be more efficient while significantly improving the customer experience by meeting them on their channel of choice.

A lot of contact centres were still housed in on-premises hardware when the pandemic hit. That gap between leaving the office and setting up remote agents caused major disruption in customer services the world over. Shep Hyken likes to say that the pandemic forced 3-5 years of advancement in the contact centre in 6 months. I think he’s right, and in many ways contact centres will be the better for it for decades to come. Work from anywhere for agents is now normal, and that changes the quality of the agent’s life and the type of person you can hire as an agent.

Managers must learn how to manage remote agents effectively, and contact centres must have the right cloud technology in place to allow agents to communicate and collaborate from anywhere. With agents burning out over increased pressure, and suffering with forms of ‘COVID fatigue’, organisations must learn how to support their employees through these different styles of work, and make sure it works for everyone.

The first half of 2021 will be a particularly trying time; the novelty has worn off, in many places the weather is cold, and customers’ patience is once again wearing thin. COVID fatigue is real, and keeping agents’ spirits up so they can meet customer expectations is more important than ever before.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

The biggest opportunities seem to have been around businesses delivering virtual experiences. Whether that’s restaurants offering takeaway meals or retailers pivoting to a purely online presence, the power of virtual connection has offered some fascinating opportunities.

From a contact centre perspective, this is the time to start realising the benefits of a remote workforce. From widening your access to talent, to offering follow-the-sun support, to cutting property management overheads, bringing remote agents into your contact centre operation is going to give your business a much better chance over the coming years.

Complementary to that is the shift to digital. Now that shift is gathering pace, and the companies that learn to embrace this technology will benefit greatly.

What is the biggest priority for the Contact Centre/Customer Services industry in 2021?

This will be the year of the haves vs. the have nots. Companies that are stuck on ageing premises-based systems will struggle to deliver the same service they had before and keep their agents sane. They will face many challenges: voice-only support, inefficient impersonal customer experiences, siloed agents who cannot access experts for assistance to solve problems quickly, high turnover from agents who are still stuck at home and don’t have the communications tools required to connect with the rest of their team.

Companies that embrace cloud based solutions will be able to grow and differentiate in ways that turn customer service into a significant competitive advantage.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2021?

”Virtual contact centres” – more adoption of flexible cloud contact centres through CCaaS providers. Cloud has provided businesses with the tools to handle the challenge, whilst ensuring high levels of service to consumers. Now, businesses recognise that the cloud contact centre is more than just a tool for innovation and scalability; it’s a critical part of business continuity.

Businesses will continue to modernise their legacy technology, they’ll also be looking to advance their digital initiatives and will increase cloud adoption. A big part of this will be the push for a digital-first approach. Customer service organisations must provide digital omnichannel support and self-service to reduce call handling time, increase customer satisfaction and lower their costs.

We’ll also see an increase in video interactions. Video will allow employees to collaborate on complicated tasks with their subject experts and deliver face-to-face interactions with customers, which introduces the entire body-language part of the communication spectrum into customer interaction. That’s really going to help build loyalty, because the customer experience will be so much richer for it.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

AI and automation will play a key role in helping contact centres handle volume and deliver consistent customer experiences at scale. Machine learning will make chatbots more attractive for handling and routing queries, while automation will help in reporting trends, guiding attention and completing admin that frees agents up to handle more cognitive tasks.

There is a real possibility for a shift from a customer contact centre to a customer experience centre, where AI takes care of the simple stuff and allows for proactive, highly personalised experiences. (Think of getting a text message alert that you have been put on the next connecting flight automatically since your first leg was delayed.)

This significantly changes the agent’s job. Agents become empathetic experts, able to help with the most difficult challenges, and able to really understand the frustration of a complex situation and help the customer through that. This is where ‘work from anywhere’ really combines with automation and digital transformation: my pool of talent really expands when team members don’t have to live within an hour of the office.

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

The most obvious one is how the pandemic turned customer engagement upside down. But I’ll go a bit broader and say we’ll be talking about how crazy we were to wait so long before finally embracing the hybrid work model. I think we’ll look back and be relieved we’re not commuting hours to work anymore, that we’re not tied to living in a specific location simply for work.

Will we also be looking back at how rigid and unhelpful the 40-hour, 5-day week was? We’ll have to see.

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

Well, I missed my opportunity: the person I would like to meet was Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.  He passed away last November, but his approach to customers and customer service showed how the right focus on the customer can make all the difference. At Zappos agents were not measured on average handle time, or how many calls they took in a day; the only measure was how long agents interacted with customers. If an agent spent 10 hours on a single call with a single customer all day that was a great, and very productive day. Tony really understood the power of building relationships with your customers; it wasn’t a catchphrase, or something just for PR, it was a passion for him.

He was also focused on the agents, and the environment in the office. Everyone had their cubicle decorated in a way that showed the world who they truly were. He will be missed.

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

The complexity of inputs and outputs. It’s not linear; it’s not x + y = z. Customer service is an intricate web of various components; management, technology, communication trends, expectations, accessibility, and so many other factors. It’s dealing with people, so the potential for personalisation is unfathomably deep. But you have to balance that with business goals and ROI, along with other competing priorities, so it’s like a constant dance of trying to fit everything in.

Along with that, the basics of customer service – the essential elements of what customers need and value, and their expectations based upon these fundamental needs – will remain remarkably persistent and consistent. The complexity is fascinating.

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

White Russian. I’d sip it while munching through a bag of cookies.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

I love it when I get to meet with our customers. They are the ones who use our technology and make a difference for their agents and customers. 25 years ago I worked on IVR systems and saw them go out into the world and create nightmares for people with a laser focus on making people do everything through self-service without a thought for the actual needs of the customer.  I really feel that the world has changed on this front and companies really want to deliver great customer experiences, and with the cloud it is so much more practical to do this than ever before.

And what’s the most challenging?

We always want to do more, and it’s a question of prioritising. We see so much opportunity everywhere, and we want to do more than we have time for. So we have to make decisions about what to go for and what to hold back on.

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

Treat others as you wish to be treated. It has encouraged me to empathise with others and try to understand their perspective, which is so valuable in creating a connection and finding ways to work together with people. It’s also the basis of great customer service!

Succession or Stranger Things?

Stranger Things – I’m a sucker for nostalgia. I also have Netflix and not HBO at the moment, I saw the first episode of Succession, so ask me again when I’ve seen the rest.

5 Minutes With…. Jabra EMEA North MD Nigel Dunn

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

In the latest instalment of our contact centre industry executive interview series, we spoke to Jabra EMEA North‘s Managing Director Nigel Dunn (pictured) about the company, the ongoing challenges the sector faces as a result of COVID-19, market opportunities and the impact of new technology…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

Jabra is a leader in intelligent solutions that are engineered for purpose.

We design professional headsets, speakerphones and video collaboration solutions to help businesses reach their full potential.

Jabra is part of the Danish-owned GN Group. GN is the only company with intelligent audio expertise across professional, consumer and medical-grade solutions utilising a shared R&D facility.

Jabra specifically gives contact centres a powerful way to satisfy more customers. Jabra headsets are designed to fit the unique needs of all types of contact centres and customer service departments.

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

It goes without saying that the biggest challenge faced by the Industry this year has been Covid-19.

The pandemic forced agents to move to home working and the challenges that entails, such as increased noise levels, constant distractions, lack of suitable remote working technology and possibly, remote supervision for the first time in their careers.

Early on in lockdown Contact Centres had to try to balance maintaining customer service levels with setting up new operational models adapted for the pandemic. Jabra personally saw that technology being sourced, configured and rolled out as part of digital transformation projects took days rather than the months it would have taken historically.

Contact centres also had to cope with significant changes in demand for their services or products as life changed during the first wave of the pandemic. Previously seen peaks and troughs patterns of inbound comms disappeared or dramatically reduced as consumer buying habits and lifestyles changed. This made workforce planning challenging at the start of the pandemic and had an impact in call resolution and customer satisfaction initially.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

Home working models have created a variety of opportunities for both the Contact Centre and their agents. Agents have been able to gain more work-life balance without the commute into a location, as well as increased morale and job satisfaction in being able to help people in need. Contact centres have experienced a decrease in attrition, as more agents stayed in their roles. The challenge of needing to quickly accelerate digitalisation to enable home-working provided benefits in changing recruitment processes and staffing models to hire people with a wider skillset than the previous office-based position would have attracted. This brought a much deeper and more diverse level of experience into contact centres.

In addition, many contact centres have been able to build positive brand recognition and loyalty by maintaining good service levels and effective communication during lockdown, which improved customer satisfaction and ultimately led to new business acquisition and greater retention.

What is the biggest priority for the Contact Centre/Customer Services industry in 2020?

The main priority for contact centres for the rest of 2020 is adapting to the new way of working. Home working was viewed as a short-term solution to keep staff safe.  However, with the pandemic still greatly affecting the country, contact centres are having to lean into the idea of a longer-term remote workforce and find new ways to ensure that staff are engaged, motivated and productive.

There will be an increasing demand for technology which supports remote working and hybrid models. After the initial rush for equipment to support getting the workforce home and safe, contact centres will now be looking for longer-term software and hardware IT solutions to enable on-going agent performance, customer service and satisfaction and that also support their ongoing digital transformation programme.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2020/2021?

Contact centres will continue to handle increased demand from their customers during the remainder of this year and the next via all of their channels. New technology will help the industry manage this demand and handle it more efficiently. Investment in AI, automation and analytics will help route calls to the relevant advisors, reduce call duration and provide invaluable customer and agent insights, to turn the department from a cost centre into a strategic resource and insights generator.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

Technology that enables advisors to deliver exceptional service regardless of their location have the biggest influence. Noise and sentiment analytics will provide visibility of performance to help the agent and their supervisor gauge the quality of the call and its impact on the end-user. Noise analytics can increasingly be found within the newest digital headsets, making this intelligence cost-effective and easily accessible.

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

The contact centre as an experience hub that sits at the centre of the organisation, providing valuable insights to other departments such as marketing, sales and management, whilst continuing to deliver a best-in-class service to its customers.

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

A Customer Experience Manager – someone who looks holistically at inbound enquiries and measures the quality of the interaction to ensure the entire customer journey was a positive experience. These people offer such rich, valuable insights into the nature of the customer, perception of the brand and possible future product or service developments, that they are integral to any forward-thinking organisation.

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

I’m always most surprised by the diversity that you see in contact centres. There’s a tendency to think contact centre staff are predominately made up of young people just starting out in their careers. However you get all types and ages of people working in contact centres from parents looking for a few hours in-between school runs to older more experienced people who want to take a different role in their career before retirement. It’s this diversification of employees that fuses great life-experience and empathy together with enthusiasm and energy to make a really great contact centre that caters for all types of customer.

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

Always a gin and tonic – preferably Monkey 47 and a nice tonic.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Every day is different – challenges come from all angles. This year it has been triggered by COVID-19 and consequently sales have reflected the unprecedented demand for headsets and video solutions. Successfully delivering devices and supporting new technology roll-outs that allow our customers to be more productive and efficient is one of the most satisfying parts of my job.

And what’s the most challenging?

Managing expectations. Pre-Covid that wasn’t really a problem. Now it is. The key is to over-communicate and be as transparent and as honest as you can. No one appreciates setting false expectations.

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

If a customer is angry, let them explain their issues and always listen properly, so you can understand their position. Your first response must never challenge how they perceive the situation, as this is their reality. Empathy is always the starting point and this will help you to understand the impact the situation has had on them and their business. From there you can take the necessary steps to resolve the problem and hopefully maintain their loyalty in the future.

Succession or Stranger Things?

Neither. I’m really into Unbelievable at the moment, but the subject matter is a little heavy compared to those! For something more light-hearted I also watch Space Force.

5 Minutes With… Christoph Neut, CEO at Sparkcentral

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

In the latest instalment of our contact centre & customer service executive interview series, we spoke to Sparkcentral CEO Christoph Neut about his company, industry opportunities, the challenges of coronavirus and new technologies…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

At Sparkcentral, we offer a global SaaS platform for digital customer service that enables seamless conversations across digital channels such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WeChat, SMS, Live chat,…

By making customer service scalable and supporting operations, SLA based customer service can be delivered on these highly popular messaging communication channels. Want to drive customer satisfaction up and operational costs down? I would advise you to enhance your strategy with a seamless collaboration between humans and bots.

And what our Spark team is most proud of, is that every day we can work with some of the most customer centric brands in the world: Zappos, Emirates Airlines, Nordstrom, Air Canada, Netflix, citizenM hotels, Axa Partners, Engie, Concentrix … to name a few!

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

During this global health crisis, the contact center industry demonstrated huge resilience by massively adopting “work from home” models while delivering qualitative services to customers worldwide. This in itself will surely be remembered as the biggest operational challenge in the last decade.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

What we learned from this global crisis, is that the contact center industry needs to adopt new service delivery models that are not only cloud based, but also geographically distributed and able to handle a large degree of home workers.

In my opinion this is an opportunity for the entire industry. Now, more than ever, they will have to move faster in their digital transformation. Using platforms that are innovative, AI-driven and make customer service more efficient.

What is the biggest priority for the Contact Centre/Customer Services industry in 2020?

The contact center industry needs to be aware that younger generations are changing customer communication. Generation Mute, as they’re called, are texting instead of talking.

As a result, I advise large service operations to create new service delivery models, including people, processes and technology, to meet the expectations of this generation. Many contact centers are still focused on voice and email, but I think it’s time to get ready for some change. Listen to your customers and engage with them on the platforms they prefer.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2020?

In addition to the more widespread adoption of digital channels like WhatsApp as a consumers’ favorite engagement channel with their beloved brands, we’ll see an increased use of AI and bots to deliver proactive and reactive services in various parts of the customer journey.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

It would be pretentious to answer this one myself, so I prefer to look at what Gartner’s analysts have to say about this. In their latest ‘Market Guide for Digital Customer Service & Support Technologies’ they predict that Artificial Intelligence, Chatbots and Omnichannel Customer Engagement Technologies will have the biggest impact on the industry in the next three years. That’s why I am pleased to see that according to Gartner, Sparkcentral operates in a promising domain of this customer service technology industry.

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

Finding the perfect balance between AI driven automations with chatbots and highly relevant human service interactions over a continuously evolving number of digital communication channels. Brands who master this game will definitely deliver memorable customer service and will be adored by their growing and loyer customer fan base.

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

Without a doubt: Tony Hsieh, CEO at Zappos. And preferably during an informal chat in a casual bar with a glass of wine, to talk about our mutual passion for customer service and how we foresee this part of the world will evolve.

Thanks to his leadership and vision he convinced many CEO’s worldwide that the customer service department is not a ‘cost center’ but a ‘profit center’ and that old-fashioned metrics like average handle time are not necessarily customer centric. 

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

By engaging frequently and more often with your customers you’re building stronger customer relationships and … lots of data. This data is also considered the ‘new gold’, it enables businesses to improve in various areas.

The surprising part for me is that there are still leadership teams that do not seem to value the importance of customer feedback. They consider ‘more’ conversations as a cost rather than an opportunity to learn from their most important assets: their customers!

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

As a Belgian native, I actually have to say: a great Belgian beer. However, I do prefer a good red wine and I would love to discover a local wine of the country where the summit takes place.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

Being able to work with a team of very talented young people, who are passionate about our clients and who have the desire to make an impact in the customer service industry with innovative technology. For me that makes the job enriching and fun.

And what’s the most challenging?

What remains a challenge for a scale-out like us, is how enterprise organizations often still use very heavy and formal processes that last for months and require tons of paperwork. In today’s world companies should embrace the innovations smaller companies can bring to the table in a much more agile way.

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

If you focus all your efforts on the innovations that are ‘natural next steps’ they will eventually happen, because the force of nature is always stronger than the resistance to change.

Succession or Stranger Things?

Am I missing out on something?

www.sparkcentral.com

5 Minutes With… Christoph Cyrol, RingCentral

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

In the latest instalment of our contact centre executive interview series, we spoke to Christoph Cyrol, Product Marketing Manager – Contact Centre at RingCentral about his company, industry opportunities, challenges, technology and Stranger Things…

Tell us about your company, products and services.

RingCentral delivers cloud-based CCaaS and UCaaS to provide fresh approaches for contact centres and customer engagement in businesses of any size. Our solutions are tightly integrated, making it easier for companies to increase agent performance and enhance the customer experience across all interactions and throughout the entire organisation. RingCentral provides an open platform that integrates with today’s leading business apps while giving contact centres the flexibility to customise their own workflows.

The RingCentral product portfolio, comprising Contact Centre, Engage Digital and RingCentral Office, offers a market-leading business communications and collaboration platform for organisations that wish to compete in the 21st century.

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

The sudden pandemic outbreak with most organisations trying to enable their workforce to work from home. Before that, we realised that delivering consistently high levels of customer experience (CX) across multiple communication channels is one of the biggest challenges for most of the existing contact centres. Digital channels here are really important as they have shown a very strong rise in popularity among the customer base, so businesses need to meet the expectations of customers to communicate on these channels.

And what have been the biggest opportunities?

Cloud contact centres: To improve customer experience (CX) by improving employee experience (EX) with the support of providing a fully integrated contact centre solution to agents. This integration allows agents to simplify their daily workflow, which results in shorter average handling times (AHT). Adopting a cloud-based platform provides the immediate opportunity to move the contact centre operation from office to home and enables remote working as the new norm.

What is the biggest priority for the Contact Centre/Customer Services industry in 2020?

Many industries and organisations might struggle right now and their main focus is to stay open and online and continue to meet customer expectations. This will be followed by analysing existing business continuity plans and how they can improve them moving forward. All this will become a regular process across the industry.

What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2020?

I see a strong trend of using additional digital communication channels (Apple Business Chat, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, etc.), in-app messaging (iOS® and AndroidTM) and social media (Facebook®, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). Working on business continuity improvement plans for contact centres is another trend I predict when we all get back into the office.

What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

Integrations with the most valuable business application; often this would be the CRM solution. It clearly delivers day-to-day advantages for ever-busy agents. On the other side, cloud solutions are great to improve and simplify any required analysing and reporting tasks for contact centres. This can be achieved as cloud solutions break up the data silos that still exist in many of today’s contact centres.

In 2025 we’ll all be talking about…?

How we all used to be in a call centre running separate data silos and now we are all connected anywhere.

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

The day-to-day heroes, passionate in keeping each contact centre operation up and running.

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

That almost 4% of the working population in the UK is in this industry.

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

Argentinian Malbec after 18:00.

What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

I love the action and variety. Things are moving fast, and it’s thrilling to help push contact centre technology forward. Every day is different, bringing new challenges and opportunities, and that’s what keeps the work fresh and fascinating.

And what’s the most challenging?

The scale and speed requires focus to keep on top of. I’m involved with a number of fast-moving projects that require a lot of attention during the workday, so I need to prioritise, focus and deliver at speed. It’s demanding and exhilarating in equal measure.

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

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you get stuck. A problem shared is a problem halved, and asking for advice is a good way to start building relationships.

Succession or Stranger Things?

Stranger Things.

5 Minutes With… Harriet Treadwell, Butternut Box

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

In the latest instalment of our contact centre executive interview series, we sat down with Harriet Treadwell, Head of Customer Love at Butternut Box, to talk about her company’s approach to CX, industry opportunities, challenges and career…

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career to-date.

I head up the amazingly dedicated Customer Love team at Butternut Box, striving for better for every customer and employee experience. Regularly sharing insight with industry leaders on our unique offering, and demonstrating our exceptional customer journeys with outstanding NPS, Google and Trustpilot reviews.

Operating always with genuine care to go over and above, being open and transparent across every interaction, and knowing that our whole Customer Love team does everything for the love of dogs is what keeps me motivated and enjoy every day at Butternut Box.

I’ve worked my way up in many customer facing roles, from cabin crew to property management – but I’ve always been passionate about developing a team of people, and firmly believe that great team engagement and experience in the workplace makes the customer journey exceptional.

What do you believe are the biggest challenges facing the industry at present?

A new generation of workforce who have grown up with digital platforms – this means they really find it challenging to speak to the older generation on the phone. This instills a fear factor of being taken outside their comfort zone, and in a world where wellness is key, what can we do to combat this?

If you had not taken your current career path, what do you believe you would be doing now?

I would likely be a pilot, and probably for the Royal Navy.

What has helped you get to where you are now, and what advice would you say to others who want to go in the same direction?

Push yourself far and wide outside what you think you can achieve. Two years ago, speaking in front of a crowd would scare me, and I wouldn’t think that what I had to say was valuable. In fact, all of our experiences present value in different ways to different people and it’s important that you know your worth – otherwise who’s going to be there to speak up for your team in critical business decisions?

What do you believe are the benefits of attending the Contact Centre & Customer Services Summit?

Seeing how companies have scaled and operate with a large team.

Tell us an interesting or funny fact about yourself?

I once went on ITV’s The Chase.

What is your go-to party anthem?

AC/DC – Thunderstruck

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

I’d know what others were thinking, so I could make better life choices!

5 Minutes With… Jeremy Payne, Enghouse Interactive

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

As part of our ongoing executive interview series, we sat down with Jeremy Payne, International VP Marketing at Enghouse Interactive, to talk about customer interaction, market trends and the pace of change…

Q: Tell us about your company, products and services.

A:We develop customer interaction management solutions. Core technologies include contact centre, attendant console, predictive outbound dialler, knowledge management, IVR and call recording solutions that support any telephony environment, on premise, hybrid or in the cloud. Today, we have thousands of customers worldwide, supported by a global network of partners and more than 1600 dedicated staff.

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

A: First, customer expectations are escalating all the time, and many organisations are finding it increasingly difficult to meet them. Second, organisations struggle with integrating systems together cost-effectively to create an effortless and seamless experience.

Q: And what have been the biggest opportunities?

A: The biggest opportunities have been – and continue to be – in offering enhanced service levels without increasing business costs. There are several ways to achieve this:  through advanced automation, the use of AI, bots and through self- and social customer service. The triangulation of those elements will allow businesses to drive a better customer experience without necessarily driving up cost.

Q: What is the biggest priority for the Contact Centre/Customer Services industry in 2019?

A:The focus is on offering the best possible customer service to drive higher net promoter scores, attract new customers and increase loyalty and share of wallet from those customers. 

Underpinning this, businesses need to be aware of customers’ growing need to interact with them digitally. They therefore need the right channels, people, systems and processes available to service those channels. And, they need to do all this in a way that is regulatory-compliant.

Q: What are the main trends you are expecting to see in the market in 2019?

A:  There is a growing recognition that AI and bots add great value to an organisation’s customer service efforts. However, we are also seeing growing awareness that these technologies can never form the basis of a one-size-fits-all or plug-and-play scenario. Businesses are becoming more aware that thought and effort needs to go in, to ensure these technologies can proactively support enhanced customer engagement and drive a better customer experience for organisations today.

Q: What technology is going to have the biggest impact on the market this year?

A:Across the board, momentum is building behind AI, bots and associated technologies. Within the collaboration space, we expect collaboration platforms that help solve complex queries, such as Microsoft Teams and Slack, will continue to grow rapidly. We also expect to see a renewed energy around systems integration this year.

Q: In 2021 we’ll all be talking about…?

A: People will become more familiar with talking to natural language understanding (NLU) engines and interacting with them in a human-to-machine way. We will also be talking about increased machine-to-machine communications and people using their phones as a virtual assistant. They may even be driving to work and dictating to their phone about the jobs they need to get done that day. That device will then interact on a machine-to-machine level with service providers who can help to fix specific problems or challenges. 

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

A: Anyone who is involved in developing and deploying social and crowdsourced customer service strategies and approaches. It is a big focus area for the customer service industry today.

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

A: It’s around the pace of change. If you listen to the hype, you’d think that robots have replaced most agents and AI is dominating the space. When you look at the reality, however, most interactions are still passing through voice and email. So while we are seeing exciting technological advances and a definite shift to digital, the move away from legacy communications channels is not as rapid as you might expect.  

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

A: A gin and tonic from one of the latest micro-distilleries that are springing up everywhere today. 

Q: What’s the most exciting thing about your job?

A: Working with innovative organisations that are looking to embrace new technologies but doing it in a way that drives real value towards their end customers. 

Q: And what’s the most challenging?

A:The market we are in is constantly changing. Indeed, the pace of technological change is such, that, in the world of customer service, staying ahead of what is possible is constantly challenging. 

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

A: Be true to yourself.

Q: Peaky Blinders or The Crown?

A: Peaky Blinders.

  • 1
  • 2