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IP Integration - Blog

Turn back the clock by leveraging contact centre reporting

Many contact centres are actively looking to upgrade or replace their management information (MI) systems which govern contact centre metrics, suggesting that in many cases, that these systems are not giving management what they need in terms of actionable information.  But is it the MI system or is it the herculean effort involved in reporting on too many KPI’s (which slows down reporting cycle time)?  For example, if there are really only 18 KPI’s that a given contact centre is gathering data on yet only 5 KPI’s that impact the Financial KPI’s.

Typical contact centre reporting can be turned around to lower the cost per contact, increase sales revenue and improve your customers experience.  Workforce management (WFM) solutions have the capability to identify these KPI’s and report in a rolling, aggregated manner so that as soon as trends are identified even before a performance period is completed, action plans can be put into place to address the issues or for even faster “insight to action”, automated WFM systems that recover small pockets of fragmented agent idle time, then can automatically assign activities such as training, coaching, back office tasks or administration in a targeted fashion. By reducing the latency and going beyond just reacting to the average — and knowing which operational KPI’s impact financial KPI’s — reporting can be leveraged to directly impact the business bottom line.


Publish Date: September 22, 2016 5:00 AM

‘Press 1 for sales’ – Not so annoying as you may think now!

With the increased development of technology and applications these days the old ‘Press 1 for sales’ won’t be quite so annoying, in fact, it will provide a better customer experience and an overall benefit to your business.

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems have traditionally been expensive and annoying i.e. menus are too long, too much information, hard to understand etc. These systems have also been quite complex to implement and there are too many companies out there that just don’t get it right.

Simply put, an IVR solution should be just that… A SOLUTION! It should take an instruction from the caller and perform an action based on that instruction. (Commonly, using a database in the background). So, getting the application and scripting right is essential for a smooth customer journey.

The primary benefit of an IVR solution is contact avoidance, whereby you drive customers to ‘self-help’ instead of tying up expensive agent resource. The automation of repetitive calls and simple interactions can allow the call centre agents to handle valuable and complicated queries.

At the same time we need to look at the customer benefits. With a proper IVR solution in place, the customer with the simple query doesn’t need to be sat on the phone waiting for a person to answer as they are held in a queue. We’ve all been there and done that! And most of the time I have hung up, especially if I’ve been waiting for more than 3 minutes! The customer wants the fastest route to get what they need. Where the query is more complex, the IVR interface can direct the customer to the best skilled agents or group of agents.

Benefits to both customer and business is the extension of business hours, giving customers access to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

I’d like to talk a little about how this technology has developed so we can try and change the minds of some managers, entrepreneurs and CEOs who don’t understand the value that this simple tool can bring to their business.

Moving on from the old touch pad system approach, speech recognition and speech-enabled IVR have come on leaps and bounds. They now have the capability to replace the traditional menu-driven IVR experience with a natural conversational customer interface. Not only can calls be answered and identified by an intelligent and friendly automated system, but they can directly ask for what they want without wading through multiple levels of IVR hierarchy.

To find out more, and how IPI could assist your contact centre register for one of our October roadshows, Voice of the Customer – Voice of the Contact Centre.


Publish Date: September 16, 2016 5:00 AM

Social-ising your Contact Centre

Social networks are an extraordinarily important part of Gen Y or Millennials’ digital lives, in part because social networks have become much more than a way to connect about personal matters.  This demographic is considerably more engaged with digital technology and social media than their previous generations, and are heavy users of portable devices (smartphones, tablets).  Being the largest demographic in the marketplace, they are changing the way companies interact with their customers.  Millennials have a completely different view of customer service as compared with other generations. These “digital natives” are experiencing more of their lives online than any generation before them, particularly through social networks. Every social network, to a greater or lesser degree, is now a news platform.  Now, these social online channels are a significant source of customer service and proving challenging for some contact centres to keep up.

So here’s a bit of advice:

  1. Carefully listen to and monitor your social media mentions. By monitoring what customers are saying about your band, you can immediately barge in to quick fix complex situations or just get engaged with your customers. Gen Y use social media for various purposes such as:
    Acknowledging an awesome customer experience
    •    Attempting to get an actual response from a company about a service issue
    •    Venting frustration about a bad customer experience
  2. Be alert and instantly come for rescue. Quickly responding to negative comments and taking measures to correct them is a fantastic way for a brand to promote itself and enhance its market image.
  3. Leverage technology for monitoring social media. Instead of staring at your social media feed all day to know when your customers need help, you can opt for some useful social media monitoring tools which will alert you when you get mentioned.
  4. Sift through and be selective. The tidal wave of social mentions can be overwhelming for teams on the frontline. Not all messages require a response and you need to be able to cut through the noise to get to those which do.  You will need a tool that enables you to monitor your main account and indirect mentions.
  5. Deploy automations and real time visibility to manage interactions. Automations can intelligently scan, route and prioritise inbound messages to the right person at the right time. Priority tags, defined by specific keywords or phrases, means that agents quickly get to the most important mentions first.  Team members should have real-time visibility on their social inbox and a single stream of mentions automatically assigned to them to assess and action.
  6. Analyse why customers are sending social messages in the first place. Get proactive and create useful pro-active visual content for your most common queries.  This will help to cut down on the number of messages agents need to send to fully answer a question if they can simply share a link and customers can find out the information they need for themselves.

If your contact centre needs help social-ising, contact IP Integration and we’ll be happy to assist, and in the meantime you can read how we helped The Caravan Club and our latest news about delivering a responsive social experience for The Caravan Club members.


Publish Date: September 15, 2016 5:00 AM

Why should you care about chat bots?

We previously discussed Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems and how they have dramatically developed over the past few years with better scripted applications and the fact that it is another layer to your customer service proposition.

So this brings us nicely on to yet another layer of the customer service model. Chat bots.

A chat bot is a service, powered by rules and sometimes artificial intelligence (AI), that you interact with via a chat interface. The service could be any number of things, ranging from functional to fun, and it could live in any major chat product.

You are probably wondering “Why does anyone care about chat bots? They look like simple text based services… what’s the big deal?”

Good question. We will tell you why people should care about chat bots.

It’s because for the first time ever, people are using messenger apps more than they are using social networks. (Source BI Intelligence).

They are certainly heating up conversations among customer engagement executives these days. Chat bots have been around since 1994 and have matured to the point that they can be used effectively for real business applications. And now thanks to Facebook’s recent announcements and a demo of chat bots, the topic is top of mind.

So how do chat bots impact your digital engagement strategy?

Some see chat bots as the future of customer service. Some say they’ll give it a week. It’s really early days still to gauge either way. There is no real data yet on how many people have started to use bots for service and how effective they find mobile automation. We’re talking about the potential here for bot technology to enhance the customer experience as messaging apps consolidate use cases as one-stop customer service, commerce and content hubs. Facebook has turned up the heat by opening up its Messenger platform to thousands of brand developers to launch chat bots, and businesses have quickly gone into bot building mode to be able to offer customers a blend of automated and agent-assisted interactions. Kik, WeChat, Line et al have also been innovating on this.

Hang on a minute…

Most people who have tried to use automated voice services have felt the pain when you’re not understood, you give up and want to talk to a real person. This is true and obviously the quality of the AI brands deploy is critical so bots can effectively parse natural language, understand requests, mimic simple human conversations and learn on the job. There will always need to be an option to connect with an agent if bots get confused or people want to talk a real person. But, the future could be bright for the early adopters that get the balance right.

So, what do consumers think?

Research by myclever gives a strong indication that consumers are ready for these types of automated services (although face-to-face is still the number one channel choice). The agency asked 1,000 UK consumers about the technology and found that 46% of respondents thought chat bots would be a quick solution and unlock the immediacy and convenience of online services. Meanwhile, 40% said they would use bots as a link to connect with the right agent to help them. Round the clock service was seen as the biggest benefit for 68% of participants in the survey, followed by quick answers to simple questions at 54%.

And, it’ll be first in, last out

“Consumers are clearly ready for a new customer experience and think chat bots would significantly improve online services, so those in customer service need to get ahead of the competition, adopt Bots and lead the way in the future – before someone else does.” (Rob McNair, managing director, myclever).

So, here are a few examples of how businesses which have been quick out of the starting block are testing chat bots – with a service edge

Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut is simplifying the ordering process by launching a chat bot on Messenger. Once people have placed an order – a receipt and order number is then sent via the Messenger conversation – and hey presto, it’s on its way.

London City Airport

London City Airport passengers can send their flight number via Messenger on the day they are flying to receive personalised, real-time flight and departure information.

Cheap Flights

Cheap Flights’ interactive bot on Messenger helps people to search for flight, travel and hotel information with the added benefit of weather, currency and emoji searches too.


Netflix uses its bot to recommend stuff for people to watch. It works well if you are clear about what you want to watch or use a film example of what you like. It’s only compatible with Messenger.

American Express

American Express’ bot on Messenger provides transaction and purchase-related content. It also sends reminders for flights for its travelling community and makes restaurant recommendations.


KLM passengers can receive flight documentation via Messenger: booking confirmations, check-in notifications, boarding passes and status updates.


H&M’s bot on Kik helps consumers with fashion tips. It asks questions to learn about what you like and uses product pictures to find out more. It then suggests style choices based on your answers. If you like what you see the bot sends you its mobile website to buy.

Building human connections

There is a real potential for chat bots to increase efficiency by answering simple queries and FAQs, or by letting customers book a flight or order a pizza say. It adds another self-assist layer to web and IVR. But, there will always be a need for agents to build a human connection, and handle more complex interactions via messaging apps and other social channels. Connecting with a live agent is still the number one choice when it comes to service.

To find out more, and how IPI could assist your contact centre register for one of our October roadshows, Voice of the Customer – Voice of the Contact Centre.


Publish Date: September 7, 2016 5:00 AM

Why Real-Time Speech Analytics is Critical to Your Contact Centre

Imagine a virtual coach that helps your agents say exactly the right things, in the right way, on every call, and respond correctly to your customers in any given situation.
Imagine how this would help you increase customer satisfaction, maximise business opportunities, boost your employee’s motivation, and strengthen your relationship with your customers.
Real-time speech analytics can be used to ensure customers reach the right agent as well as providing agents with the most relevant information to answer queries and ensure customer satisfaction remains high.

Real-time information is necessary to improve interactions as customers switch between channels and support calls become more complex. Customers typically try to resolve their issues online or in self-service before contacting an organization; phone calls are spurred by important or highly personalised issues they cannot resolve themselves. At this point in their journeys, customers want to speak with knowledgeable agents that can help them efficiently. And agents would benefit from historical context about the customer so that they can quickly guide a customer through their problem. Enterprises should implement real-time tools to ensure that agents and customers get the information they need at the right time, in every channel, leading to higher satisfaction ratings and increased loyalty.

Agents need adaptable guidance and updated information; they will benefit from trending issues from social media, regular product updates and a list of current topics that customers are calling about. Using this real-time knowledge, agents can tailor their support answers to customers and improve first contact resolution rates. Managers will also be able to put rules in place that change scripts based on speech cues so that they become more relevant to individual agent conversations.

The need for faster access to customer data has led to improvements in speech analytics tools. Faster processing, more accurate recognition and lower storage costs now mean that customer calls can be analysed in real-time alongside text-based interactions. Enterprises are able to use this technology in a number of ways: to ensure that agents meet compliance needs, to send manager alerts and to create contextual updates or process changes that benefit departments outside the contact centre. Enterprises should implement real-time speech analytics alongside existing analytics tools in order to deliver a better service to their customers.

Register for our event, Voice of the Customer – Voice of the Contact Centre, to gain more valuable insights.


Publish Date: August 30, 2016 5:00 AM

New EU Data Protection Regulations are coming – are you ready?

As a new financial dawn for many UK businesses breaks, the mists of confusion over the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation have at last started to clear, giving long needed clarity and direction to business leaders over what needs to be done and by when. There are just two years to become fully GDPR compliant and that’s not a lot of time for such a wide-reaching regulation.

In the current climate, one could be forgiven for seeing the past three years of discussion and consultation as another example of EU bureaucracy and meddling. To do that though would trivialise and miss the real point of the GDPR and also vastly underestimate the complexity of what a single regulation has to cope with.

With ever increasing amounts of data flowing across ever blurring geographical boundaries, the question of how to harmonise and protect EU consumers’ personal data across the community, and beyond, has been both difficult and increasingly important. This is, after all, a regulation that is there to protect ourselves as consumers!

So what does the GDPR really mean for businesses that sell goods or services to consumers in the EU?

To start with, it is best to look at the GDPR from the outside-in, from the consumer to the business. If the consumer is an EU Citizen, compliance with the GDPR will apply regardless of where the business supplying the goods or services is based or headquartered. In practice, this means that even a company outside the EU which is targeting consumers in the EU will be subject to the GDPR.

It’s worth saying at this point that compliance with the GDPR cannot ever completely eradicate the loss of sensitive personal data by an organisation. Card Fraud and Cybercrime is on the increase and methods of attack, especially where obtaining payment card information is the objective, have become much more sophisticated and difficult to defend against.

The GDPR brings to the statute books real obligations to businesses in terms of protecting consumer data and also how quickly a company must publicise any breach that it has –  within 72 hours of it occurring. Failure to do so can result in a fine of up to 4% of annual worldwide turnover, a startling amount that has got a lot of attention with senior business leaders and board level executives. This fine is in addition to any other penalties that would be levied on businesses by organisations such as those within the payment card industry. These charges are typically brought to replace compromised credit or debit cards. Add to all of this the significant financial losses of reduced customer loyalty and overall brand damage, the risks associated with processing such essentials as card payments from EU consumers are now substantial. Research completed and published in the 2015 Cost of Data Breach Study by the Ponemon Institute shows an average cost of $3.79M per data breach. This is up 23% on the 2014 figure and that trend isn’t expected to reverse any time soon.

But why should I care?

Maybe the real challenge for businesses is in understanding and accepting the true costs and value of becoming compliant in budget and time terms. The reality on the ground is that there are currently very few organisations that can deliver the knowledge and skills required to get businesses to where they need to be, before the inevitable happens. This general lack of availability of resources is especially apparent in the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI-DSS) space. With this in mind, the sensible approach is to engage as early as possible with those few specialists in the field.

We believe that the best way to protect organisations from losing sensitive data is to completely avoid being exposed to it in the first place. All you need to know is that you got paid, not the full details of the payment.

How can we help?

Our patent-pending solution delivers this by intercepting and processing sensitive customer data such as their card details, before it enters your organisation. If a data breach does occur in your company when you’re using our solution, card details are never recorded and therefore risk to the business, brand, reputation and its customers is minimised. This approach also ensures compliance with PCI-DSS regulations.

Where we differentiate ourselves over competitors in the compliance space is by offering our hosted solution as truly carrier independent. Our clients don’t need to lock themselves into a multi-year calls and lines deal with a single provider for all locations, as some PCI vendors force their customers to. Additionally, are we are a provider of complete business solutions across Voice, Contact Centre, Network, Professional Services and Applications, we truly understand the customer journey  and can offer not only MOTO transaction protection but also all of the other essential security solutions, such as 2 factor authentication, that assist in aligning with the GDPR.

The GDPR is coming and a quick start, along with engagement of specialist resources in the field, will underpin your success. The last thought I’ll leave you with is this – the organisations that show early leadership by investing in protecting their customer’s data will be the businesses that thrive – it can be a differentiator to promote yourselves above the competition. Value your customers’ data and they will value you…


Publish Date: April 29, 2016 5:00 AM

Why I quit my job in a Contact Centre and what you can do to stop it happening again!

I have read numerous blogs about ‘Agent Engagement’ in the Contact Centre, looking at how to keep agents satisfied and stop them leaving, but very few seem to have come from an agents’ perspective.

As a student I worked in a Contact Centre and I hated it. That’s why I quit. I am now part of IP Integration’s (IPI) team, and one of our key focuses is stopping agents going through the same experience I had.

Now working ‘on the other side’ and with the benefit of hindsight, I can start to breakdown why I didn’t enjoy my role and what I feel could have been done differently.

Why I Quit!

Aside from the physical factors, like the fact my office was too hot and the break room was too small with nothing to do, there was the issue of not being challenged. I’d have days when I’d sit there and the phone just wouldn’t ring. I’d be sat twiddling my thumbs looking out the window and wishing I was making better use of my Summer Holidays. When the phone finally did ring, I felt unprepared and I knew I sounded bored to the person on the other end.

Then there was the other end of the spectrum, Panic Stations! Someone from Marketing has sent out the wrong ‘Promo Code’… again. There aren’t enough agents in the world to manage the call volumes, and no one is allowed to do anything other than answer that phone. Forget about breaks or the fact that my shift ended half an hour ago.

Of course I am picking out the extremes, but that’s what I and my former colleagues remember. Even during ‘normal’ periods I was still bored and disengaged. I went into auto pilot. There was no incentive to push myself.

What could have been done differently?

I didn’t understand how a Contact Centre could be so haphazardly organised, and now I‘m part of IPI who works to remedy these problems, I still can’t!

What needed to happen was proper scheduling. My managers seemed to spend most of their time lurching from one problem to the next. Their spreadsheets became virtually worthless when the call volumes were twice what they had projected!

Introducing Intraday Task Management would have meant that when I was sat there doing nothing, like 20 of my other colleagues, I could get sent packets of work to be getting on with, whether it be training or back office tasks. These would have stopped my mind from wandering and meant when I did get back on the phone I’d be ready for it. It would also have removed the manual process of me having to go out of my way, to distract my manager, to get more work.

If we completed all the work that needed to be done and the call levels still hadn’t increased Intraday Task Management could automatically empower agents like me, by giving us the flexibility to leave work early.

When the surge in traffic came, it wouldn’t cause the panic I experienced. The real time system would pull all the agents back onto phones, or whatever the offending channel was. It could offer voluntary overtime to bring more agents in, and would still schedule breaks for the agents who needed them.

During ‘normal’ periods I needed something to keep me engaged. Since working at IPI, I have encountered the idea of Gamification – or turning work into a game. I never even considered this during my time in the Contact Centre. Whilst it is important not to patronise agents with ‘Kiddie Games’ and ‘Mickey Mouse Prizes’, the idea behind Gamification is sound, as long as it is done right. Presenting the games in a fun, engaging and adult way, and offering real incentives to the winners can lead to healthy competition and a more productive working environment.

Of course, different agents and Contact Centres are always going to have a diverse range of bugbears, but I have been amazed at the different ways IPI could have improved my experience as an agent. I encourage you to challenge us to see what inventive ways we can use to get the most from your Contact Centre in a way that keeps your agents happy.


Publish Date: March 30, 2016 5:00 AM

Creating a seamless customer journey using both automation and agents

There’s been a lot of scaremongering lately about how we’ll all be out of jobs in a few years and replaced by robots. In fact, a few weeks ago, I spoke on a Call Centre Helper webinar on exactly that topic.

For the Contact Centre industry the scaremongering is ripe – with the rise in automation people have been fearing the worst. However, robots aren’t all bad and can actually help you to improve your call flows, customer service and first call resolutions, as well as cutting cost; but, before you go all out in what you think will be a massive cost saving exercise and replace agents with IVRs, you need think about your customer journey and what is best for your business.

Why are you considering automation?

You should know why you want to introduce automated processes into your Contact Centre. How will they benefit the customer? If it isn’t going to make it easier and quicker for the customer to get to the information they need, then forget it.

Creating a balance

The best use of automation in the Contact Centre enables faster resolution of customer issues. Use the automation for skills-based routing to get the customer to the right agent first time. Know when and where the best place is to deploy automation and customer issue resolution will be quicker and won’t generate repeat calls into your Contact Centre. This is best highlighted by giving you an example of how it works in a bank – when all you need is your bank balance, it’s easier and quicker for it to be delivered to you via an automated process than using valuable agent time which can be used to help people with complex mortgage enquiries, for example.

Make sure the agent has all the information they need

Good automation also ensures agents are presented with all the information they need when they take the call. There’s no point putting a customer through a complicated IVR process where they’re pressing buttons and using speech recognition, only for them to have to repeat themselves when they get to an agent. We’ve all been there and it’s very frustrating.

It’s also the vital that the agent is fully aware of the full journey your customer is being taken on from start to finish to avoid repetition or confusion for the customers.

Make sure the customer is completely clear about their journey

Customers are happy to use IVR technology, as long as they’re kept informed of what’s going to happen to them and they see the speed of service increase. It’s when they have to put in avoidable extra effort that everything falls apart – so again, good planning is essential.

Think about what happens when it breaks

Yes, robots are unemotional and don’t take days off, but we all know that technology has its moments and breaks down from time to time. It’s critical you plan for this and have a Disaster Recovery strategy to fall back on so that customers aren’t left with no service at all.

Clever, engaging, reactive and experienced – now that’s a customer journey

Automation is great, but it must be used in conjunction with the experience and empathy that humans bring to customer service. It seems obvious to say, but it’s surprising how many forget, that the most appropriate use of automation is for the simple tasks, in order to leave Contact Centre teams to deal with those customers that have complex queries and need a sympathetic ear. Even in manufacturing, where robots are becoming more prevalent, Mercedes-Benz has started reintroducing humans, as it’s realised the robots aren’t up to the more complex tasks.

Think of them not as robots but as co-bots – working together with humans to deliver exceptional customer service.


Publish Date: March 7, 2016 5:00 AM

The cheapest call is the one that you don’t have to take

It goes without saying nowadays that customers are more impatient than ever. This proves a challenge to Contact Centres who, more often than not, struggle to provide the right assistance first time round. We all know that this not only affects customer satisfaction, but also agent morale and ultimately, the bottom line.

There are increasing amounts of technologies deployed by Contact Centres to fight this challenge, but the problem still seems to prevail.

I’ve come up with a few handy tips below to help Contact Centres increase first call resolution, which in turn should aid customer and employee satisfaction scores:

Are you connecting customers to the right agents first time?

Skills-based routing is vital to map customers to the right resource. Workgroups can be created using different criteria, meaning that high priority customers that need tailored services can be directed to subject matter experts. Intelligent routing such as this reduces the number of escalations needed, leading to happy customers that are dealt with quickly.

Have you fully identified the reasons for repeat callers?

It is important to quickly identify the reasons why people need to contact you more than once before they can resolve their query. Agents are often the best source of this information, so using tools such as post call surveys is a good way of discovering the issues. Speech and Contact Analytics are also helpful tools to give you an even deeper and more impartial view of what’s happening in your Contact Centre. Following this you can then implement any training that is necessary to help your agents deal with queries at the initial point of contact.

What are the top three reasons for follow up calls from your customer base?

Try to predict reasons for follow up interactions into the Contact Centre – there are often patterns. If you can predict what these may be then you can arm your agents with that information so they fulfil your customers’ requirements before they even knew they had them. This will cause your customer satisfaction rates to soar and again cut repeat contacts.

What percentage of your agents are upskilled and empowered to address the customer’s enquiry the first time around?

If your agents are unsure of what they’re doing then they can’t deliver good service. Similarly, if they don’t feel empowered to make decisions, then that leaves the customer feeling like they can’t trust what’s happening. Even if an agent doesn’t know the answer to a question, if you can make the answers easily accessible they’ll feel more confident in their role.

How can we help? 

These tips are just a starting point on the route to faster resolution for customers, but sometimes even when you’ve taken all the above actions, repeat calls are unavoidable. For more complex queries they’re even necessary.

However, if you’ve got unnecessary calls coming in to your Contact Centre caused by bad processes or agent errors that can be easily fixed, then taking some simple steps such as those above could save your company an awful lot of money and its reputation.

Talk to us so we share with you success stories that you can apply to your business.


Publish Date: February 24, 2016 5:00 AM

Is Holistic Security the Way Forward?

We all know that the Cyber Security Threat Landscape has changed but what new risks does this bring?

We live in an age of Hyper connectivity, where we are all globally connected and this in turn has led to the Cyber Security threat landscape to your business and private persona changing. It is a global threat, you only have to look at one of the many vendors threat maps to see real time Cyber Security attacks all over the world.

We work and play in a world of global connections and global threats and attacks. Whether it is the CIA & MOSSAD taking out centrifuges in Iran or Russia causing a disruption to Ukraine’s power or GCHQ spying on their own citizens or maybe it’s the thirteen year old script kid who’s gone on the dark web and downloaded a Zero Day Attack kit. The point is that everything that is online can be hacked.

The way that we connect and interact with each other in business and pleasure, through information sharing and the way that we enjoy such accessibility through personal devices creates risk and vulnerabilities. Therefore it is imperative to manage the cyber security risk in a preventative way rather than to wait until your corporate assets and data are protected, or you experience a breach and your client’s details end up for sale on the dark web.

Once this happens the damage to the company’s brand and reputation is often irreparable. For example, the recent TalkTalk breach cost their organisation over £60M and 95k customers left.

When we look at how much it costs to mitigate the risk with a combination of outsourced/in-house skills and strategic partners to leverage expertise from, while utilising top of the line tech and services solutions, it seems criminal that large blue chip organisations don’t have an effective and adaptive cyber security strategy which puts their clients and customers personal data at risk. Hackers in this day and age can bring down power stations and disrupt every facet of our lives unless we take cyber security seriously and in this new era of cloud computing and social media we have created new threats and risks.

The Headlines are full of various breaches and loss of credit card details which grab the eye of the consumer on the street. Hackers look to damage company brands, people have been targeted through social media and have then been exploited and targeted for financial gain. None of these threats are new it’s just we are entering an age of hyper connectivity which changes the game.

Unfortunately, a non-holistic approach to security where each area focused only on its domain without considering impacts from outside that domain doesn’t protect your organisation in the manner we’ve grown accustomed to, and taking a siloed approach to security and risk management no longer works like it once did which is why we have to implement a firm IT Security policy which is enforceable.

The reliance on data to make complex, mission-critical business decisions puts pressure on the cyber security that protects said data. Recently, as more companies are hacked and customer information compromised, we see a hyper-focus on cyber security and the business around it. The issue is that too much attention on one siloed area of security & risk management without seeing how it affects the whole can lead to major pain.

So we need to start looking at all facets of the perimeter network, Firewalls, IPS, Zero Day Prevention, AV, Content filtering, anti-spam, Data Loss Prevention etc. and create a risk plan to protect your organisation and to implement full forensic accountability by utilising a SIEM solution and managing ones Cyber Security policy correctly. After all there is no point spending thousands on perimeter security and then leaving the end points insecure and vulnerable to say an employee executing a malicious pay load from a USB stick that they have found in the car park of their workplace. Cyber Criminals are increasingly launching attacks on different parts of the network that used to be held as secure i.e. DDoS attacks on VOIP Telephony Systems.

Risk needs to be manageable, organisations need to protect their assets by implementing a secure environment with a multi layered defense, using key skills and technologies combined with a strong policy enforcement route taking into account issues like Regulatory compliance i.e. PCI DSS, HIPPA etc. all of which can be easily adhered to using the right set of tools.

CISOs also need to take into account the potential enemy insider threat and take steps such as implementing a secure BYOD policy and defining an acceptable enforceable use policy for all employees.

Taking this approach to security and risk management is not a simple task. It can be time consuming and fraught with dangers, But enabling the kind of Cyber security policies as discussed above and bringing in outside resource when needed can and will lead to your organisation successfully minimising and mitigating vulnerabilities and threats and will prevent the company from simply becoming another headlined statistic.

Acenseo/IP Integration are holding a number of WebEx’s throughout the coming months on mitigating the Zero Day Threat utilising Sandblast from Checkpoint, the only Zero Day Solution with a 100% Catch rate as confirmed by NSS Labs….. You can contact the author of this post for more details. Or email, for more information.


Publish Date: February 22, 2016 5:00 AM

Have you considered how the Cloud is affecting the performance of your network?

Cloud services are here to stay and growing ever rapidly. So, how is it going to affect your business and are you ready to embrace this revolution?

Huge amounts of data are now being shared more and more across wide area networks and internet pipes, and recent studies indicate that businesses who are adopting this Cloud culture will grow up to 20% faster than their competitors. I’m not sure how analysts actually come up with these figures but they are powerful nonetheless (and maybe scary to some!).

Interestingly, this move to Cloud is actually being driven by the business leaders and NOT the IT crowd, and productivity and efficiency is the name of the game. No longer can business critical applications just “tick over” or “work” and voice is now just another application fighting for survival on the network – the demand is for always-on services with a seamless and responsive user experience. Welcome to the expectations of generation Z.

So, with more than 20,000 readily recognisable applications moving around and sucking up bandwidth, it’s easy to understand why businesses are grinding to a halt. This is being compounded by rogue departments bypassing corporate governance and directly consuming apps for their own needs. Yes, they may claim there are productivity gains made when these services are used without the knowledge or input from the IT department but there may be serious consequences. Security anyone?

Unplanned adoption of ANY applications, including Cloud services, will result in uncontrolled performance on the network. And when I say uncontrolled, I mean poor. Bandwidth is always a limiting factor and bigger is not always better. Yes, bandwidth pricing is pretty cheap at the moment but without visibility and control of this resource it’s pretty much a free for all…and, if applications are not performing well then people are not able to work efficiently – and this, of course, costs cold hard cash.

Let’s not forget the “unofficial” Cloud uses of corporate bandwidth…..Facebook, Torrents, Dropbox, YouTube, SkyDrive, Netflix, LinkedIn, Instagram etc etc. The irony is that some of these are actually used for legitimate business purposes by a select few, but how do you actually manage this on your network? And don’t forget, whatever your staff are doing on the network is your responsibility to police and control, or face the legal consequences.

So how does IT get a grip on their network traffic? Where is it coming from? Who is using it? How is it affecting the user experience?

Perhaps most importantly: How much is it costing in lost productivity?

In our view there are two things that can radically help with the above challenges: Visibility and Control. Coincidently, these are two of the main concerns cited by CIOs when migrating to the world of “Cloud”.

At IPI, we have the knowledge and expertise to deploy and manage specific technologies that can solve these problems. Once you can see in real time what is happening on the network, you can dynamically control any application to maximise the bandwidth and, in turn, provide predictable and acceptable application performance to every unique user. So, if the CEO wants to watch re runs of Top Gear in his lunch hour, then so be it.

We are currently offering a cost effective proof of concept of this technology so please feel free to contact me personally to discuss your needs.


Publish Date: February 8, 2016 5:00 AM

Looking to take your business to the next level?

You might just find that you already have access to the best business improvement consultants that money can buy.

Engaging consultants to improve your business is, famously, an expensive exercise. But what if we told you that you already have access to an unparalleled (and almost certainly untapped) source of business improvement consultancy – in the form of your contact centre agents?

The chances are that you’re failing to make the best use of the collective asset that is your contact centre agents – and they can really help you understand what is happening in your business.

We all know about the voice of the customer (VOC) (click here to download our VOC white paper) and how important it is to help run an efficient and effective business. But have you considered the voice of the contact centre (VOCC)?

We believe using VOC and VOCC together could actually provide a more effective means of measuring and analysing what is really happening throughout your business. You can employ the various popular customer feedback methodologies (such as Customer Satisfaction, Net Promoter Score, Customer Effort and Customer Sentiment) as the tools to understand what your company’s core pain points and priorities are. Then, armed with that information, you can use front-line contact centre agents effectively as “consultants” to review, workshop and further highlight root causes of problematic business processes.

Your agents  have deep insight and can evidence the reasons behind why customers engage and respond differently when using various feedback channels.  Contact centre agents are on the front line, taking calls all day so, almost by definition, they have a better understanding of which of your company’s business practices are broken, or at least ripe for improvement.

Agents are often, if not always, overlooked when it comes to the interpretation of your VOC data. Managers are always quick to review the data through their limited lens of experience and often find it challenging to identify ‘real root cause’ of feedback scores. Unfortunately, contact centre agents often only see the top level “CSAT Scores” posted on a wall in the canteen and most times these results are not up to date. The agents hear everything in real time, raw emotion through to sarcastic quips and therefore should be considered your most valuable resource. Don’t view them as a cost centre, they aid cost reduction and generate revenue.

Using contact centre agents as consultants

There are many ways in which you can unlock the consultancy potential of your contact centre agents. Ask  them to complete post-call surveys, to gain an understanding of what is going on, or use a more thorough ‘speech analytics’ approach: the latter has the benefit of actually listening to your contact centre, in fine detail. Identifying what is going on, with tactical solutions, can help to fix broken processes in the Customer Journey.

There are methodologies to VOCC- just like there are to VOC – that go way beyond focus groups.  When both are incorporated into the operating rhythm of a contact centre, they can help with product development, effective marketing and the streamlining of processes.

In summary, using VOCC and VOC together will provide robust interpretation and understanding of your customers’ needs plus, most importantly, will give those needs real context. You will find out which departments are causing the issues and how to proactively address improvements.  Having the most experienced contact centre consultants (that is, your agents) on tap and sufficiently engaged to provide you with the voice of the contact centre can truly accelerate management’s understanding of what is happening in your business. It  can be the force that drives the change you need to become more successful. Contact Centre agents really are the best business improvement consultants money doesn’t have to buy.


Publish Date: January 22, 2016 5:00 AM

Contact Centres – One size doesn’t always fit

Your customers are getting more demanding, right? And, in a world that provides them with more options to fulfill their needs.  Meanwhile, you are on the frontline, trying to deal with their demands every day in your contact centre and it’s creaking and fragmenting under the increasing pressure to keep up.

We’re finding many organisations in this position and they’re struggling. They just don’t have time to plan and execute on all the steps towards implementing more advanced routing decisions before engaging on the road to a fully blended contact centre. In other words, the blended contact centre ends up happening to them vs being designed by them.

There are some key questions that need to be addressed – Are you able to consistently offer customers the service they’re expecting? Have you thought about the processes you need in order to handle social media and web chat enquiries as seamlessly as email and voice? Are your agents up to speed? How fast do your new agents get up to speed? Are you aware of all the tools available to help you? Is first contact resolution (FCR) your priority? Or, does a tiered service level model for higher value customer bode better for your business?

It’s all about customer journey mapping and ensuring you have the tools in place to monitor and measure this.

Gone are the days where a one-size-fits-all approach was deemed the norm. Customers want the choice of which channel or touch point to communicate with, whenever they want and with the least amount of effort.  All this with a successful outcome the first time, every time. Yes, very demanding indeed.

It’s not necessarily about the ‘right’ processes though, it’s more about what’s right for your business and your customers. A balanced approach that is lead by the Voice of the Customer. Sometimes it takes a fresh pair of eyes and someone who can take a holistic view of your business, point out the blind spots and see what processes need to be put in place to ensure customers are served in the best way possible.

But this can raise more questions – Does your business need to implement a social customer service strategy? Are there ways you can contact the customer before the customer contacts you?…For example, forward thinking delivery companies are texting a customer to keep them informed of when their parcel is due, instead of them calling to find out. Or, some companies, whilst they have a customer on the phone, proactively inform them of things that they have a high propensity to call about during a follow up in order to prevent the need for more calls.  Assessing, measuring and executing on this pre-empts customer effort and business cost all whist potentially exceeding your customers’ expectations.

Are there processes that could provide successful customer outcomes via the dreaded and often poorly designed Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology? There are best practises that actually make the IVR a first choice in how customers interact with a company.  This can be via a telephone keypad or by speech recognition. Simple service enquiries or status updates via IVR greatly reduce customer effort and cost to your business. Given the growth in mobile phones, the latest innovations in this area include smartphone visually guided IVR systems which can allows the customer to simply touch their way through the IVR system without listening to options. Less calls and higher customer education.

We have seen time and time again businesses fashioning their customer experience around off the shelf technology, which has limits. It’s important to optimise current assets or processes or find methods, tools and software that you can use to move from technical solutions, to technical enablement and on to technical effectiveness.  All this with measured benefits realisation and accelerating your customer experience for alignment with your organisation’s strategy. It’s not just about acquiring the technology for a blended multi-channel contact centre – it’s all about operationally integrating that technology to optimise processes that enhance your frontline ability to exceed the ever demanding needs of your customers.

Given our background and many years of being in your shoes and understanding the challenges contact centres face, we accelerate what works and remove what does not. Our practitioners take the time to understand your unique goals and help you get the time to design and implement your future goals, whilst allowing you to focus the right now. With a clear-focus on value propositions, control and defined outcomes that can be measured we help you tune what you have for the best customer experience across all touch points.

Make the blended contact centre happen. Don’t let the blended connect centre happen to you.


Publish Date: December 21, 2015 5:00 AM

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