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The Connected Customer Revolution: UK National Contact Centre Conference 2017 - Douglas Jackson Limited - Blog

The Connected Customer Revolution: UK National Contact Centre Conference 2017

8th November 2017 and the UK National Contact Centre Conference from the CCMA, held at the British Library knowledge centre.

The event, free to members was sold out with a capacity crowd of over 250 in attendance.

One particular highlight of the day, was right before the start of the conference.  After taking my seat in the auditorium I introduced myself to my neighbours, on my right, two representatives from Lovehoney, Britain’s biggest online sex toy retailer, recently  awarded the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade.  On my left, a representative from LV=.   Another hugely successful business brand, multiple award winner and one of the largest insurers in the UK with a DEFAQTO 5* rating and recently awarded Which? Insurance provider of the year 2017.    As I introduced both parties to one another, Paul from LV= said to Matt from Lovehoney, “yes, we are more green hearts as opposed to love eggs”.

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In addition to Paul’s whitty observation in the differences of brands, this interaction did showcase the diversity of organisations in attendance.  It goes to show how far-reaching this event is.  Whether you are a Utility, Insurer, Retailer, Telco, Housing Association, or Public Sector body, great value and learnings can be taken from the content rich agenda from industry leading speakers, case studies and networking.

Ann-Marie Stagg, Chief Executive of the CCMA opened the conference, sponsored by Genesys, introducing the subject of ‘The Connected Customer Revolution: How to stay engaged with (and meet) the needs of the connected customer.’

First up was Ben Page, Chief Executive of Market Researcher Ipsos Mori with ‘The state of Britain in 2017 – consumers, citizens and crazy people’;   As we all know with recent surprises across our political landscape; Donald Trump, Brexit etc, predicting trends can be tricky, however there were some mega trends to consider for the future;

Technological Change  - Uneven Economic Growth – Climate Change and Sustainability – Population Change -  Political Change and Multi Polarity – Globalisation and Migration.

Some key takeout’s for me:

  • People with a positive mental attitude about ageing, live on average 7 years longer irrespective of wealth or social backgrounds. Men with friends outside of work, also live longer!
  • Japan has already stopped giving out silver sake cups to those reaching 100, as the number of centenarians rise year on year.
  • Optimism varies greatly across markets, individuals in Indonesia and Peru are much more positive about their future than those in London, or New York.
  • We now manage to spend on average 24 hours per week on our devices.
  • Our ability to think is being ruined by our use of devices as they battle for our attention.
  • The rise of tradition; as we become more unsure of our future, we look to our past traditions and values. For 81% tradition matters; we love the Queen, the Army and the NHS (2 out of 3 of us would pay more tax for a better NHS).
  • Millennials are more worried about technological progress destroying our lives than other demographics (53%).
  • 40% would rather be living in the 1970’s
  • 66% want a simpler life as we strive to get back control as life becomes more complex.
  • Although we are becoming increasingly intolerant of poor service, 40 million problems are not acted on, as consumers stay silent and don’t complain.

For brands and employers in general, there is lots of change and uncertainty.  Overall people want to feel good about Britain and good about themselves.  If we can build on these desires, we can be successful in both our employee and customer offerings.

Ben’s presentation was jam-packed full of statistics and interesting facts, I couldn’t get enough of it and took pages of notes, so apologies for any inaccuracies in my commentary, they will be mine alone!   There is a report online for those interested om learning more on the subject of Millennial Myths and Realities which can be found here.

Next up Rachel Clacher, Owner and Founder of Moneypenny, a leading answering service provider, who are regularly listed in the Top 5 of the Best Companies to Work For. “Putting people first – the importance of being human”.

I almost felt a bit sorry for Rachel, pitched straight after Ben the next speaker could have struggled, I needn’t have worried.  Rachel told story of the inception, development and growth of her and brother Ed’s business.  With an initial £10k investment, born out of a necessity in Ed’s business, lack of a viable market offering and using their own experience of being a customer and employee, they set about founding and growing a business with a strong set of vision and values.

Without any contact centre experience, or, knowledge Rachel and team have built a business which serves over 10,000 business customers and employs over 500 FTE in a purpose built contact centre based in Wrexham.

They believe in having fabulous relationships with all clients and employees, in fact, Moneypenny are happy to ‘resign’ a client if they don’t feel they are working in partnership with the business


  • Moneypenny develops its people from within, recruiting for attitude not just aptitude.
  • Wear other peoples’ shoes to get a clear perspective of what they want to achieve
  • They think big but act small – They asked each of their employees two simple questions: Give me one thing that will make life better for you and one thing that will make life better for their customers.
  • Challenges Convention – given they were such a people focussed business, why did they need a HR department? They no longer have one.
  • Investing in and celebrating wellness with free breakfasts, fruit baskets and incentives for a lack of sick days, the business achieved 1000 more days worked.

On the subject of robotics; “Let all the robots deal with the boring ****!”.  People tend not the be very good robots, after all, we need to be continuously told what, or not what to do.

Moneypenny don’t have many rules;  They employ grown ups and allow them to be grown up’s, they decide what to wear and when to take their breaks etc.  Moneypenny management take performance and potential and remove interference.

Achieving 20% growth year on year with a fabulous team around them, Moneypenny you had me at hello!  A great presentation from a people focussed business.

Professor Moira Clark from the Henley Business School followed: “Is Easy the new difficult?”

Moira also opened with the current uncertain times but what if you could have gone back 10 years, what would we have done differently?  “invest in bitcoin” was one response from the crowd.

The subject of happiness came up, with research showing that by the age of 35 we now start to become less content with our lot.  Are we are becoming a nation of grumpy old men and women?

Aging again came up as a major consideration, 30% of the population in Japan are now over 60 and 50% of the UK population will be over 50 by 2031.  Thought provoking stuff.

The changes in behaviour for the Connected Customer: Spending a significant amount on their devices, 2hrs 40 mins a day, slightly less than the earlier 24 hours per week but where do we find this extra time?  Because of this, the connected customer wants immediacy, (typically a response within half an hour).  We also expect a rich interaction and full transparency; to know how business spend their profits, treat their employees etc.

We want a proactive service, where the customer helps create the experience/product service with customisation and personalisation.

Is it easy to be a customer?

Moira went on to talk about ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ from Daniel Kahneman;

‘Thinking is to humans as swimming is to cats.  We can do it if we have too, but we’ll do anything to avoid it’

Apparently when we think more, we need 40% more calories.  On autopilot we can be processing 11 million pieces of information a second, however this autopilot status also sees us jump to conclusions, which can be unhelpful and with more emotional responses.  Thinking requires more effort but allows reflection and consideration.

However, be warned, asking your customers to think too much can lead to decision fatigue!:

When a retailer presented 42 types of Jam, 60% of customers stopped to look with only 3% purchasing at a value of £18.

When they presented 3 types or Jam 40% stopped to look, with 30% purchasing at a value of £120.

Making things easy is pretty difficult, we need to develop good customer insight.  Companies are great at collecting data, terrible at producing insight and even worse at actioning it.

Should Marketing and Insight teams be part of the contact centre, or at least work within it?

NPS as a measurement tool is ok, but it needs explaining and it doesn’t tell us if we are easy to do business with, or to work for. Do not measure effort, measure ease, it is either easy or it is not. If not why?  Then analyse this feedback and close the loop by responding to the customer.

The golden rules for closing the loop on customer easy and feedback; Make the interaction authentic, relevant, in the moment and low effort.   To do this you have to map the customer journey but the key is collaboration.

Moira ended with an example from Disney’s Magic Band, a $1bn dollar project to drive out friction points across the Disney experience, working in coordination with MyMagic+ you can see more in this video here. Moira left us with the thought:

“If you don’t make life easier for your customers, your customers will make their lives easier” and you will no longer be part of the conversation.

Event sponsors Genesys invited Atom Bank to take their slot and give us a view into ‘Delivering Digital Brilliance’ hearing how the UK’s first digital bank is building its customer experience.

Michael Sherwood, Head of Customer Experience and Helen Wilson, Head of Customer Service, took us through the journey of this Durham based, low cost, no branch challenger brand and fintech, recently named by LinkedIn as one of UK’s top 25 start-ups.

As an Atom customer, you can register in less than 10 minutes using their digital app and or platform. Atom took the decision to avoid an IVR, accepting that customers who were calling them already had a problem, so it was all about accessibility.  However, Helen is also focussed on keeping the size of the Customer Service team as small as possible, removing failure demand wherever possible across the business.

Mike was bought in to develop the Voice of the Customer, how they could capture the right insight and then how this was fed back; Userzoom, Appbot, Conduent and Genesys were just some of the tools used to achieve this.

The focus is to measure what matters, getting real-time feedback, with emotion mapping and actual comments allowing root cause identification, followed by action.

A customer panel records and tests customer interactions whilst in their own homes and has led to over 100 app changes and developments in 12 months!

After Lunch Ed Creasey of NICE introduced a panel debate on The Rise of the Robots -and how it is driving the customer revolution.

Ed asked, with 89% of companies competing on customer experience, why do our employees spend 80% of their time on dull and unfulfilling tasks?

Forgetting AI for the moment, Robotics removes mundane and repetitive tasks using automated processes.  this can be done with assisted front office interactions, or non assisted back office.

5% of interactions can be fully automated and 30% partially automated (McKinseys).

Ed was then joined on stage with representatives from HMRC, Cap Gemini and NICE Robotics to discuss some key questions:

What opportunities do robots give us?

What challenges do robotics bring?

Where to start with robots?

One of the key pieces of advice from all on the panel; do not start with the most complicated difficult problem.

  • Look for ease, simple, high level transactions.  Start small but do it well.  
  • Don’t think about robotics removing headcount, consider the productivity and performance uplifts by having 10% more staff.
  • Robots are not free labour, they require planning and significant work to start automating well.
  • Engage your employees, share positive robotics news and information to drive out the fear they can bring.

Next up, John Callachan, Managing Director at DDC outsourcing with David Rowlands, Contact Centre Sales Director UK & EMEA at 8×8 Global Solutions.  supported by 8×8 John took us through the development of their multi channel, multi site operations in an industry case study ‘Sharing the secrets of modern customer engagement’

Jason Pillay, Guest Experience Manager at Premier Inn offered a bright, positive and humorous overview of ‘Premier Service Guaranteed’ using digital customer service to wow guests.  Jason shared his 5 building blocks for a successful digital team.

Speed of answer is still a major digital requirement. 15 minutes is now acceptable as opposed to 30-45 minutes in the past.

“Don’t be afraid to stand your ground and be brave on digital”, Jason said. You don’t have to give them the world, if you are already offering a good service.

Use Digital interactions and insight to wow your customers.

With Twitter opening up to 240 characters, potential Whatsapp interactions for B2C in the future, interactive focus groups and bots/automation digital, how customers use the various channels is continuing to change and business needs to do the same.

If you like to be kept awake at night by a good horror story then the next session is definitely for you; Sandra Peaston, Assistant Director for Insight at CIFAS and Nikolay Gaubitch from Pindrop on ‘Protecting the connected customer’ - Contact Centre fraud techniques unmasked.

With 325,000 cases of fraud recorded by CIFAS last year, Identity fraud is rising.  Fraudsters are utilising different methods and channels for fraud all the time and the age of victims is falling as we share more of our information socially and online.

Fraudsters are also targeting information we would not necessarily protect so fiercely,  as they look to socially engineer information which then allows them to commit further fraud, such as opening false bank accounts to launder money.  The fraudster is also using call centres to gather more of this information about the customers they are targeting.

Nikolay from Pindrop led with ‘No contact centre does not have fraud’ and a shocking statistic that 86p is the average fraud loss for every call handled in a call centre!

Fraudsters are using multiple calls, sometimes 3-5  interactions, targeting a certain account to obtain the information they need to carry out a fraudulent act.

Prolific fraudsters identified by Pindrop’s audio intelligence biometric engine such as Mr & Mrs Smith and Teen Vader are using voice altering software, or pretending to be both male and female callers and are making significant amounts of calls, 160 calls a week to target 13 customer accounts.  Fascinating but scary stuff!

Last up, it was over to Suzi Caesar, Head of Customer Service at The Daily Mail Group. Suzi presented the case study ‘Turning your customers into your employees’ - a new model for the Digital age.   

Suzi and team have launched a service where their most loyal digital customers were invited to provide help and information to other, or new subscribers, earning money and rewards as they go. An interesting concept, which takes onlin forums and communities to a new level, no doubt one to watch.

Phew….that is it! This event was certainly jam-packed full of content and one of the longest posts I have had the pleasure to write (and I left out a good few pages of notes).  For those of you who are members of the CCMA but were not able to make it, copies of all the presentations are available if you get in touch with the CCMA directly.

Thank you to Ann-Marie, her team and of course, all the speakers and attendees I met on the day, it was a great day.   We look forward to seeing you next year!

Michelle Ansell is a Managing Partner at Douglas Jackson, partnering with customer and experience focused organisations, many of which are global brands, FTSE 100, or award-winning organisations, to identify, attract and hire talented, experienced professionals, who will help differentiate your business and brand, lead, develop and engage your people.


Publish Date: November 13, 2017 5:00 AM

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