The UK National Contact Centre Conference 2020

This week I had the pleasure of attending the UK National Contact Centre Conference with the CCMA.

This is a long standing commitment and much anticipated event, always a highlight in the calendar as we make our way to the British Library for an informative, engaging day with a wide range of customer service and contact centre leaders and Directors.

This year, of course was a little different as the event moved to an online digital venue but the day did not disappoint and had as usual a great deal to offer.

Leigh Hopwood, CEO of the CCMA kicked us off and introduced our first speak Amy Cashman, CEO Insights Division UK and Ireland, Kantar.

I am always fascinated by the research, which for today was proven true across many of the day’s presentations.

Amy talked about confidence and how important confidence is to those business and brands who want to succeed. Confidence is at it’s lowest point since 2013, yet without confidence, we delay projects, we delay growth, we delay investment, we delay decisions. However, investment in brand, proposition and Customer Experience are proven to deliver business value over time.

Confidence and actions create a self fulfilling virtuous circle of process, productivity, investment and results.

Amy also shared something we see time and time again, where 91% of CEO’s believe that customer centricity is essential to driving business growth, yet only 18% of customers rate their brands as truly customer centric…

We heard from Aimie Chapple, CEO of Capita Customer Management who shared some information and innovation they were seeing with their client base, some of which was around online retail which has seen seven years worth of forecasted growth happen in just a few months, much of which is happening on mobile devices (50% of UK Sales traffic). Aimie also introduced me to the word ‘Phygitial’, I must admit that was a new term for me, although I have experienced the concept whilst using a well know furniture app. This is super innovation for the retail sector as they look to bridge that gap between the physical emotional experience of shopping with the digital one, delivering a much enhanced customer experience.

Stephen Yap, Research Director at the CCMA shared some insight and data around contact and contact channels, he asked ‘why are we still directing customers to phone?’ and ‘do customers habits need changing?’. Voice is still a popular and ‘go to channel’ for many, with marked differences in omni-channel usage, and I would say availability for some sectors, although everyone throughout the day concurred what we have all been seeing in recent months, WhatsApp and text based channels have experienced significant uplifts in contact preference.

Stephen also carried out a number of polls throughout the day, some key highlights for me were;

Mental Health issues remain a top or high priority going in to 2021 for us.

Improving flexible working was about a 50/50 split of a High or Top Priority vs Happy with what they have, or medium priority.

Upskilling of our Advisors and also the continued development of resources and equipment for the same also.

40% of the audience stated that improving their remote recruitment was a top priority for 2021, although quite astonishingly for me was than 30% were happy with what they had already, for those of you who want to hire the best and improve your virtual recruitment strategy I would say the majority of the market definitely needs some improvements and to help you get started, we have a free short guide available on this subject ‘How to create a Successful Virtual Hiring Strategy’

I was really delighted to be asked to take part in a ‘Ask The Expert’ session. I joined Sarah Hunt, Membership Director at the CCMA for a series of questions across, talent acquisition; attraction, recruitment, onboarding, induction and retention.

We were joined by a number of industry leaders who had some interesting questions and thoughts on the subjects. I left the session with a final thought; for me, recruitment is such a fundamental, if not the most important part of any organisations strategy, yet it also seems to take a back seat when compared to other change or improvement programmes. When we look at the strategy, time, investment afforded to many a process of strategy change, tool or technology, recruitment seems pulled together by copy and pasting old job descriptions, a Hiring Manager and perhaps someone from HR or recruitment, an advert is written, interviews happen and let’s hope for the best…

Whilst there is never a guarantee when dealing with us humans, there is a way for so many companies to improve the success and retention of their new hires, with a few simple small but highly effective changes.

After lunch, there was an interesting panel discussion with leaders from a variety of industry markets; Jonathan Cowie, COO of Vivid Housing, Liam Smith, Director of Customer Service of the Rank Group and Phil O’Sheil, Operations Director of Atos. The debate covered a whole range of topics, with some great insight and thoughts from these leaders, led by Sarah Hunt.

We heard off a number of other speakers; Michael Sherwood, Head of Customer Experience Atom Bank, Gil Trotino, Director Portfolio Product Management NICE, Mark Billingham, Group CX Director and COO The Very Group, Judith Yates, HR Director and Helen Beaumnt Manahan, EMEA Quality Solutions BPA Quality, Kirk Bradley, Director of Commercial Operations BUPA, Bill Wilson, Digital Strategy Lead, Severn Trent Water and finally Martin Hill-Wilson from Brainfood Extra who closed the day, Martin always shares a wealth of information, ideas and insight and once again he did not disappoint.

Martin shared that in a study by Customer Contact Week, over 58% of customers care more about customer experience when considering who to buy from and support now, than they did pre Covid-19.

Martin also shared some interesting developments with significant investment around customer data, following Twilio’s $3.2bn acquisition of Segment, a customer data platform. Telefonica’s use of voice prints to help improve their customer journeys and interactions and contactless engagement for ‘In Field Service’ from Verizon.

For me the resounding takeaway to the event from so many of those featured, was, whilst this is indeed a time to reflect, to learn, it is an opportunity like no other for us to innovate and excel. Do we want to go back to how things were, or do we want to move forward and become so much better? The choice is ours and it looks like we are surrounded by everything we need to make it how we want too, or if not, it will soon be with us.

Thank you to Leigh and the team for putting together a really enjoyable day and for the opportunity to feature in the ‘Ask The Expert’ session.

Until next time and I hope very much that we will all be able to meet up again in person.

Michelle Ansell is a Managing Partner of Douglas Jackson, Management Consultants Talent Acquisition.

About Douglas Jackson Executive Search and Recruitment Consultants

Douglas Jackson are an Executive Search and Independent Recruitment Consultancy offering professional executive recruitment and managerial appointments on a permanent and fixed term contract basis. We work with customer and experience focussed organisations, who want to develop, or, improve their operation, sales, strategy, service, experience, or success. We recruit for Chief Customer Officer, Director, Head of Department, Manager and skilled strategists for; Customer Service, Customer Experience, Customer Contact, Resource Planning, Operations, Strategy, Insight, Analytics, Sales, Success, CRM, Data, Programmes, Transformation, Continuous Improvement, and Contact Centre. We work in partnership with our customers across the UK and internationally, many of whom are FTSE 100, blue-chip brands but also challenger, fintech and start-up organisations, to design, develop, deliver and manage your Customer strategy. Revolutionise your Recruitment and Retention of New Hires. Douglas Jackson Search takes the guesswork out of your hiring. Sourcing Exceptional Talent….Define your Customer Strategy. Lead your Operations. Design your Customer Experience. Direct your Digital and Customer Contact. Transform your functions. Develop your Customer Insight. Manage your Data/CRM, Deliver your Sales and Customer Success. Differentiate your business and brand.
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