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Tech set to ease CX frustrations in 2020

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Three key issues – taking advantage of Conversational User Interfaces, ensuring effective customer Journey Analytics, and addressing the impact of Peak Voice with augmented solutions – will become even more critical in 2020 if brands are to become more consistent in delivering brilliant customer experiences, says Sabio Group’s Chief Innovation Officer, Stuart Dorman…

More and more CX teams now recognise that pursuing a broad omnichannel customer engagement strategy hasn’t actually enabled the kind of best-in-class customer experiences they were looking to offer. That’s why in 2020 we’ll see an increased emphasis on the shaping and refinement of smarter customer journeys – ones that will help direct people towards the channels and resources that are more appropriate for what they’re trying to achieve.

However, being able to deliver this level of engagement at scale is always going to be challenging. And with Conversational User Interfaces fast becoming the dominant way for customers to begin their engagement with organisations, it’s essential that projects are not only designed and driven by CX operations specialists but also regularly optimised with the latest Journey Analytics tools to identify process and customer experience improvements. At the same time, organisations also need to recognise the increased complexity of voice interactions and provide agents with new levels of augmented support.

Here are our 3 key areas of focus for 2020:

  1. Conversational User Interfaces (CUI) – while it’s comparatively easy for an IT team to use open framework tools to build simple chatbots, it’s a much harder challenge to craft comprehensive virtual assistant solutions that can support a range of customer needs while still delivering high quality service at scale. Achieving success here requires organisations to look beyond key technology components such as speech recognition, natural language understanding and text-to-speech, and instead focus more on ‘the Art of CX’ such as the UI design aspect, the language used and the ongoing refinements that can only come from deep operational engagement.
  2. Journey Analytics – Despite the relative maturity as a technology, it’s surprising how few organisations take advantage of analytics tools to really understand the end-to-end customer journey. Getting this right is complex, however the benefits – whether in terms of identifying where demand is coming from, gathering and analysing customer intent, or refining processes to improve the digital experience – can be significant. Effective journey analytics also help to close the loop with other key CX processes. For example, it’s great to have a contact centre with demand fully optimised, but less good if you don’t know where those calls are coming from in the first place.
  3. Peak Voice – with customers experiencing continually improving self-service options thanks to innovations such as the Conversational User Interface (CUI), organisations are reporting a consequent reduction in voice traffic volumes. However, as the industry moves beyond Peak Voice, the actual complexity of calls coming into contact centres is increasing, along with handling times, as agents are left to deal with the interactions that can’t be resolved through self-service alone. This is placing greater focus on continued improvements to the CUI, as well as the introduction of augmented voice services that effectively add a digital channel in parallel with voice to allow agents and customers to share content during interactions.

Tackling these three challenges and working to streamline the customer journey will unlock huge benefits for both organisations and their customers in 2020 and beyond. However, brands simply can’t rely on virtual assistant or chatbot systems that only deliver one-size-fits-all FAQ-style responses.

As consumer expectations evolve, today’s conversations need to be tailored to customer understanding, they increasingly have to recognise a customer’s intent and mood, and they also have to be agile enough to recover from errors in dialogue or journey disconnects.

Bringing all these elements together and making it simple and intuitive for customers to get what they need from their interaction is where ‘the art of CX’ can make a real difference.

Top 3 predictions for contact centres in 2020

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

Rapid change in the contact industry may seem overwhelming but a great place to start 2020 is with people, partners and technology. That’s the message from Puzzel‘s Thomas Rødseth as we welcome in a new decade…

With so much happening in the contact centre world, the thought of planning ahead can be daunting and 2019 has been no ordinary year.  It’s been one of immense transformation, for example take Artificial Intelligence (AI). As the industry cuts through the jargon and dispels the myths, we are seeing more organisations embrace AI to serve customers and agents. 

Innovative Robotic Process Automation (RPA) tools such as chat bots are carving out a great opportunity for contact centres to reduce live assistant responses, leading to huge savings in time and support costs.  With the power to boost agent and customer satisfaction in one go, automation is an agent’s best friend by dealing with routine customer enquiries round-the-clock to improve customer experience (CX) and strengthen brand loyalty. Leaving agents to handle more complex interactions.

This year also saw the launch of Puzzel’s new agent application to remove desktop clutter and to present agents with the right information, without switching screens or resorting to pop-ups.  This single view of customer conversations accelerates an agent’s ability to improve CX all in one place and improves employee engagement into the bargain.

Top 3 predictions for 2020

These are exciting times full of seismic shifts at every turn and for a clearer vision, here are our favourite predictions for 2020:

  1. Agent wellbeing will take centre stage – when Puzzel conducted its recent survey of 100 contact centreprofessionals, an overriding sentiment was that agents are key to delivering a high standard of customer experience.  Happy staff who feel valued are quite simply, better performers.  As a result, we believe that organisations will take greater and more proactive steps to improve agent wellbeing.  These will include clearer communication of expectations, goals and vision coupled with a concerted effort to involve agents in departmental decision-making.  Contact centre leaders will have an even more significant role to play.  They will need to be approachable but lead by example, encouraging collaborative knowledge sharing while making the time to understand the challenges that their agents face and helping out if necessary. 
  2. Smart companies will create collaborative partner eco-systems – cultural wellbeing will extend to the way organisations work with partners.  There will be a definite shift from volume to collaborative working.  Rather than recruit 100s of new channel partners, forward-thinking companies will truly engage with partners that complement their services.  It’s a practical approach that will give companies the freedom to generate new revenue streams in their own way while effectively protecting margins and ensuring their offering stands apart from the competition.  This new collaborative partner eco-system model will provide everything organisations need to build a contactcentre where employees, their customers and the business flourish.
  3. Technology for the hybrid workforce – contact centres are already seeking to blend the best that man and machine have to offer to drive operational efficiencies and customer engagement.  As the trend for combining agent intelligence with automation continues, the focus will be on building a hybrid workforce.  For example, the latest application of Chatbots maximises AI learning from the contact centre and other parts of the business, to provide agents with the real-time knowledge they need to resolve customer interactions.  This new breed of Virtual Personal Assistants or ‘bot buddies’ will give employees an opportunity to boost their performance and grow their careers. 

It’s time to plan for the year ahead. Why not use these 3 predictions as a sounding board to prepare for your best contact centre ever?

Semafone predicts Brexit boom and a Bitcoin bounce for 2019

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Semafone is taking an optimistic view of the outlook for the technology industry in 2019.

CEO Tim Critchley, Global Solutions Director Ben Rafferty and Head of Information Security Shane Lewis, share their top tech predictions for this year:

1)     Brexit – the voice of the tech sector will prevail

Our view is that the pre-Brexit fog will lift. The UK Government will finally implement a forward-thinking immigration policy that will give tech companies access to the skills they need to grow (come on Mr Javid – you know it makes sense!). Our money is on a 12-month delay to article 50, but we refuse to be downbeat and believe that we will find a way past the current impasse and that the UK tech sector will move on to bigger and better things in 2019.

2)     There will be no 4% fine – yet

We’ve seen the number of breaches and incidents being reported to the ICO go up since GDPR, but we’ve got at least another year before we see the full 4% imposed on a major brand. Companies have taken heed of the regulation and are – on the whole – doing all they can to be compliant. In the UK, the ICO will therefore continue to work with brands, using carrot rather than stick. Fines will be imposed, but they won’t be anything like 4% of turnover.

3)     Cryptocurrencies will stand their ground

In spite of the widespread jeers at the over-hyping of blockchain and the dramatic descent of the value of Bitcoin, cryptocurrencies aren’t going away any time soon. While Goldman Sachs may have put its digital currency trading plans on ice, it hasn’t scrapped them altogether and our view is that we’ll see cryptocurrencies find their place in society before too long. This may not be the year in which the practical application for Blockchain is finally nailed, but we might just see Bitcoin pull off another bounce.

4)     After the CCPA in the US, other states will follow

The California Consumer Privacy Act officially comes into force on 1 January 2020, so we’ll see companies across the pond racing to get to grips with this regulation next year. We’ll also see a number of other states following suit. California is a trend setter when it comes to data protection regulations, so we’ll see other states such as Massachusetts, Illinois and New York looking to draft their own form of the regulation soon.

5)     In the race to modernise, vulnerabilities will be exploited

In the increasingly flooded technology market, companies are attempting to get their new solutions on the shelf as quickly as possible to stay competitive. However, in this race to modernise, companies are bypassing security controls and requirements. Glaring vulnerabilities are making these new technologies, such as IoT, a target for hackers, and we’ll see some serious hacking of these devices in 2019. Companies that offer products to consumers without having considered privacy and security by design, means that peoples’ homes will be at risk. With WiFi enabled kettles, heating systems and more with no security, hackers could easily find a way into the network through these devices. DDoS attacks on IoT devices will therefore be increasing even more over the next year.

6)     Old hacking techniques will thrive

While new technologies are leaving doors wide open for hackers, 2019 will also see the age-old hacking techniques, such as ransomware and phishing, making serious headway this year. Sadly, it is smaller organisations, armed with fewer resources to protect themselves, that are becoming the prime targets. Even those companies who do perform security awareness training are still seeing 20 per cent of staff fall for basic phishing campaigns, so organisations need to make this a top priority in 2019.

Tim Critchley, CEO, added: “With so much technological advancement happening so quickly, we’ll see hackers working harder than ever in 2019, using both old and new techniques. However, demand for our services has never been higher and we see so many of our customers now investing in good data practices that we can only be optimistic about the future – ‘security’ seems finally to be on the agenda in the right way for a lot of large and small organisations who are more aware of the dangers. There are new US regulations on the horizon and it’s going to be a great year ahead for the tech sector, so we can expect to see companies putting up a robust defence.”

5 trends transforming Call Centres in 2017

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The Call Centre industry is “evolving at a very rapid rate”, according to leading industry analyst Peter Ryan. “Whether it is new technologies, alternative points of delivery or taking on the growing multitude of channels needed to communicate with today’s mobile consumer, enterprises need reliability and quality,” he claims, whilst offering his predictions for 2017


1 Location and languages spoken will become less important

The rise of automation will see a change in how people interact with call centres. As computers and voice recognition continues to impress, new business models focussing this way will change current opinions and concepts on off-shore and nearshoring.


2 Central and Eastern Europe will provide huge UK opportunities

In the post-Brexit world, studies are already showing countries such as Romania and Poland are increasing as top outsourcing destinations, as the countries are building reputations for customer service and financial attractiveness.


3 Data Security is more important than ever

As technology becomes the backbone of the industry and payment options become quicker and easier, security has to keep up with the evolving world in order to prevent dangers such as data and identity theft.


4 The boom of Apps, Chatbots and Mobile

It is predicted that around 85% of customer interaction will be entirely automated by 2020, and the companies that can more quickly make that switch will be leading the pack.


5 The departure from traditional voice

In the world of instant messenger, digital interaction is becoming the communication of choice for younger generations. Call centres will need to open up more channels in order to appeal to as many customers as they can, including emails, live chat and a broader range of social media if they want to stay relevant with an increasingly tech-savvy customer base.

GRS predicts five ‘rapid’ trends for call centres in 2017…

800 450 Jack Wynn

Global Remote Services (GRS) has come up with five trends set to transform the call centre industry next year with the assistance of industry analyst Peter Ryan.

Acknowledging that Brexit and continued digitalisation will potentially bring many new opportunities to the sector, both parties claim:

  1. Self-serve will grow with chatbots, apps and mobile: By 2020, Gartner predicts customers will manage 85 per cent of the relationship without any human interaction. The rise of mobile, apps and chatbots will revolutionise how organisations communicate with customers. Companies need to be clever to capture customers browsing the web on their mobile phones.
  2. Data security will become a top priority: Contact centres and outsourcers will have a strong focus on preventing security breaches and data theft and ensuring safe and easy to use payment options.
  3. Location and languages spoken will become less important: Where your outsourcer or contact centre is based will become less important as a new business model around automation changes established concepts of nearshoring and offshoring.
  4. CEE Region will provide huge opportunity for UK companies: Post-Brexit is providing additional opportunities for outsourcing to Central and Eastern Europe as UK companies look for additional skills. T.Kearney Global Services Index 2016 found Romania and Poland increasing as top outsourcing destinations based on financial attractiveness, people skills and availability and business environment.
  5. Digital will take over from traditional voice: Millennials prefer digital interaction. Call centres will need to leverage more channels such as email, livechat and social media to service broader customer bases. According to the 2016 Global Contact Centre report, contact centres expect to be managing nine different channels within the next 12 months.

For more information about GRS, click here