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How effective is your council’s complaints procedure?

The vast majority of councils have Complaints, Compliments and Comments procedures in place, but how effective are these processes?

Every organisation expects to get complaints at some point and while it’s important to minimise these, it’s also important to handle them in a consistent, fair and timely manner.

From council housing and parking tickets to policies or procurement procedures, complaints across a council are varied. Many of these processes rely on information being captured, circulated and then tracked around the organisation via email. Dealing with complaints can often be laborious, time consuming and difficult to report on across the council.

When thinking about the procedures and processes for handling complaints there are some basic questions that need to be addressed and agreed upon:

  • What is the simplest and most effective way for customers to raise a complaint?
  • What channels will be available for customers to raise complaints – face to face, phone, letter, email, web form, social media etc.?
  • Are all complaints taken seriously and dealt with in a fair and consistent manner?
  • Are customers given a comprehensive response within a given timescale and kept informed of the status of their complaint?
  • Are any delays or hold ups explained and documented?
  • How will you ensure complaints are quickly routed through to the correct person or department?
  • What is the escalation procedure if the customer is not satisfied?

It’s critical to have a defined process with various checks along the way to make sure that the complaint has been recorded and is being dealt with appropriately. Using technology to create a series of forms and workflows makes it easier to record, track and report ongoing and historical complaints.

To keep costs down, you may look to shift channels away from expensive face-to-face and telephone interactions to an online self-service model, for example, an interactive web portal. The customer is able to record all the required information and workflow engines do the rest, automatically routing the complaint through to the right person/department and managing it through to resolution.

This, in addition to creating ‘template’ forms and workflows that can be used across multiple devices both externally and internally, saves time and money and leads to an increase in consistency and improved productivity.

When deciding which solution best suits your council’s needs, you may look for something that offers:

  • Ease of use - for both customers and agents
  • Full flexibility - a system that can be quickly and easily changed if the need arises
  • Streamlined and automated processes - to save time and money
  • Excellent reporting - to track against KPIs
  • Council-wide application - for more than just complaints procedures e.g. offering full case management capabilities.

Find out more about how our Liberty CXM case management solution can help you manage your complaints procedures along with many other council processes while improving customer experiences.


Publish Date: July 5, 2016 5:00 AM

Top tips to overcome two major obstacles and kick start your CX planning

In our previous blog we discussed what customer experience (CX) is and why it is important for you. In the second in this blog series, we share with you some top tips to kick start your CX planning – more specifically, how to leverage the required collaboration and buy-in at all levels.

There are two major obstacles to overcome to start effectively strategising CX…

1. Seeing the BIGGEST picture

Yes, that’s right – not the big picture, the BIGGEST picture.

With today’s enhancements in technology, it makes sense that consumers are interacting with companies using the same channels they once only used for personal purposes. Allowing customers to contact through multiple touch points has given organisations the ability to analyse data from multiple sources to understand customer behaviour – therefore, offering empowerment to increase CX.

This highlights the challenge for many organisations who rely on cumbersome, non-integrated contact centre solutions that are no longer fit for purpose to achieve the high levels of CX desired, resulting in silos of important customer information across their organisation or teams. After all, data is only useful if you are able to find and share it easily, right?

If a contact centre only has access to each channel’s data in a silo, the organisation has no choice but to look at the contact centre’s fragmented data in exactly the same way. If both the contact centre and the larger organisation continue to take the silo approach, they undoubtedly will miss valuable insights that can be real drivers behind CX. Failing to gather these important insights can also result in a competitive disadvantage in this ‘age of the customer’, where customer service is rapidly becoming the only differentiator.

So in short, if a contact centre can integrate data from all aspects of the omnichannel approach through unification of queues and reporting, then the wider organisation is empowered to treat the contact centre as another step on the customer journey.

2. Creating the business case – the value/ROI of your proposition

If you are working on or lead a CX project, you’ll probably (proverbially speaking) be cradling the project like a new born baby. You will want to nurture it, care for it and watch it grow through infancy and beyond into a blossoming success story. However, does the hierarchy of your organisation have the same, or even remotely similar attachment or bond to the project?

Stakeholders at all levels, especially those higher up have the ability to stop any project in its tracks. What you will need for buy-in at this level is a compelling business case!

Whether you are looking to improve CX to make money, save money, increase customer loyalty or reduce complaints - ensure it is aligned with the goal of your peers and create a compelling business case.

Take a look at our infographic, ‘The Business Case for Customer Experience’ to learn more, then read our ‘Business Case for Customer Experience eGuide’!

Happy planning!


Publish Date: June 28, 2016 5:00 AM

5 reasons why you shouldn’t neglect your CRM

When focusing on your customers’ experience, it can be easy to neglect your back-office CRM system. Keeping your data organised and up-to-date is imperative to your marketing campaigns, sales cycle and brand identity.

We’ve compiled 5 key reasons why keeping your CRM system up-to-date is vital for your organisation.

1. Your CRM is at the heart of your customer experience
While a CRM is a great tool to help you with contact and sales management you are missing a huge opportunity if it doesn’t support you in driving improved customer acquisition and retention simply by providing excellent customer experiences.

Why is this so important? Research shows that the following is likely to happen when your customers are satisfied.

Investing in a modern CRM/CXM solution that has the customer at the centre will often bring an increase in sales and a rapid ROI.

2. It supports your goal to offer multichannel and omnichannel communications to customers
With the country’s changing demographics and the explosion in the use of mobile technology, contact centres need to have CRM solutions that cater for customers’ communication preferences. While telephone calls are still likely to be the most frequent form of communication for the foreseeable future, many organisations are seeing significant increases in contact through mobile, email, web chat, SMS and social media.

Funnel the information coming into your contact centre through a universal queue to quickly and easily record and action tasks from your CRM/CXM. This allows you to improve your customer experience and help build a competitive advantage.

3. You can access all your customer information on one screen
When it comes to company contact centres many customers feel that they are not getting a good experience. Common complaints include:

If an organisation is serious about providing a great customer experience then then they need to have their CRM/CXM at the heart of the contact centre. Agents should have the ability to pull information/data from disparate backend systems and have it unified and displayed on one screen within their CRM/CXM. Presenting a single view of the customer through a unified agent desktop can bring many benefits to an organisation.

  • Increase first contact resolution
  • Reduce average handling time
  • Improved customer experience leading to increase customer loyalty
  • Increased revenues – satisfied customers tend to buy more
  • Reduced agent training.

4. It isn’t just a ‘contact book’ – it can affect the success of your marketing campaigns
If you are seeing a steady decline in positive responses from your CRM driven marketing campaigns, this could be a sign of poor data. While this could also be due to other factors such as poor messaging, wrong targeting, stronger competition etc., the most common reason is incomplete and inaccurate data.

As with many sales/marketing databases quality is often far more important than quantity. Organisations that see success as simply the number of entries in their CRM are missing the point. A CRM system needs constant reviewing and the data needs to be nurtured. Every few days there is a good chance that someone within your CRM will have moved house/office, got a new email address, switched mobile providers, changed jobs, or got married/divorced and you need systems and procedures in place to capture and react to these changes.

5. If used and updated correctly, it can be a powerful company-wide tool
As your CRM is often the core of any Sales and Marketing focused organisation, this needs urgent attention. If people are not inputting new customer data and keeping records up to date then it’s likely they are not seeing the benefits of the tool so very quickly your CRM could become an expensive and ineffective bit of software. Any organisation in this situation needs to quickly identify the fundamental reasons the CRM is not being used.

Common reasons may include, “it takes too much of my time”, “I keep my own personal records of my clients/accounts”, “I don’t see how a centralised CRM benefits me”, “the tools are too complicated and once in CRM my manager gets to see it and the pressure to close the deal ramps up”. Management need to take a proactive stance to eradicate these types of comments and “re-educate”. To be most effective this should include both a "carrot and stick" approach. Clearly explain the benefits of having an accurate and up-to-date system for both the sales staff and the organisation and, where relevant, put some incentives in place for completion and penalties for persistent offenders.

Learn how to create your Dream Contact Centre with our 5 simple steps infographic.

For more information about our products and services, contact us.


Publish Date: June 22, 2016 5:00 AM

​Digital by default - Shifting Channels

Local authorities across the country continue to experience significant budget cuts and many are now looking for cost effective ways to communicate with their customers whilst delivering improved services.

The increasing take-up of digital services in some councils is already providing a better customer experience, offering a 24x7 service and significantly reducing costs.

Channel shift can be a key strategy to support these councils in successfully achieving their goals and extracting value from digital channels. Channel shift is the process of moving services or contact mechanisms from one channel to another in order to reduce costs and improve customer experience - for example moving from expensive face-to-face interactions and phone channels to automated voice or a self-service online model.

It is estimated that the cost of online transactions (£0.15) are 57 times cheaper than face-to-face (£8.62) and 18 times cheaper than telephone transactions (£2.83) (The Socitm Digital Efficiency report). As most councils have tens, or hundreds, of thousands of customer interactions every year, shifting just 50% of these online could result in significant savings.

There are concerns, however, over digital exclusion; the customers who do not have access to the internet or digital channels. Nevertheless, with the increase in online shopping, social media, online news and internet banking, the vast majority of the UK population are now online.

The Office of National Statistics stated that in Q1 2015 86% of adults in the UK had used the internet in the last 3 months which was up from 85% in the previous year. These numbers also varied by region with the South East of England being 90% while Northern Ireland was only 80%.

Recent figures show a significant increase in people using their mobile phones to connect to the internet. According to Ofcom's recent figures the numbers grew 14.25% between 2014 and 2015 to a total of 61%. Despite these figures, digital exclusion is a legitimate concern. Councils do, therefore, still need to provide traditional channels to ensure that the minority who don’t have access to the internet are not excluded from services.

One way of supporting channel shift is to leverage a customer-facing, self-service web portal. This allows councils to handle many common transactions through intelligent online forms that can capture information and initiate workflows to automatically manage tasks through to their completion. The portal can be available 24x7 allowing customers to achieve a resolution even outside normal office hours. Traditional interactions that would usually take up a large chunk of agent time, can easily be handled by a self-service web portal. These could include:

  • Council tax queries
  • Benefits
  • Direct debit sign up
  • Bill payments
  • Tenancy agreements
  • Refuse collection request
  • Parking enforcement
  • Reporting problems
  • General enquiries and many more.

The self-service web portal capabilities built into Liberty CXM help your council improve customer experiences while saving costs. To find out more, view the recording of our Digital by Default webinar. For more information our other solutions tailors for the Public Sector they please view our dedicated web pages.


Publish Date: May 19, 2016 5:00 AM

Universal queues are more than technology

Are your teams managing blind? When customers are more informed than staff it has a significant impact.

Disparate systems and ‘add-on’ technology will not deliver. You need your service to seamlessly integrate into your customers’ everyday lives. While retention is key, there is a hidden threat too, over 70% of customers will reduce their commitment to an organisation when the relationship spoils. (Mckinsey)

The Universal Queue (UQ) is not technology ‘nirvana’, instead it is the synergy of solutions and processes that, when effectively and methodically implemented, will enable you to transform your customer experience (CX) resulting in customer service that differentiates you from your competitors.

64% of people say that the customer experience is more important than price in their choice of a brand (Gartner 2014)

Put simply, the universal queue uses:

  • Business rules to intelligently, automatically and flexibly manage all interactions across a contact centre its sites and remote workers
  • Time plans to direct contact to the most appropriate skilled agent or a self-service option
  • Data gathered from the touchpoint or back-end to inform the more rapid resolution of every contact.

All this provides management with an intelligent 360 real-time view of the contact centre and all its activities.

73% of adults’ 18-24 say that “valuing my time” is the most important thing in providing good customer service (orange who cares report)

A successful end-to-end customer experience should form part of the fabric and values of your business; it’s a way of life not a finite project. Perhaps you are developing your strategy now. How do you move from multi-channel to universal queue? Our Solution Architects find that using these four steps combined with an analysis of your environment lead to the highest potential for success.

Step 1 - Analyse your customers

  • What are the most effective channels per transaction type?
  • Monitor the purchasing power of each customer segment
  • Make your first target the demographic/s which will deliver your future growth

Step 2 - Match the channel to the task type

  • Make tough decisions, create success on efficient channels that deliver best experience
  • Assess how to appropriately reassure customers, so they know their transaction is successful
  • Avoid additional contact, implement proactive updates using all channels
  • Monitor transaction costs and understand trends - be prepared to make tough decisions

Step 3 - Map your work processes

  • Analyse your processes, include back-office teams
  • Deliver consistent performance quality using agent guidance improving resolution rates
  • Monitor and eliminate any process bottlenecks immediately, marginal changes all add up
  • Automate alerts between stages and update everyone, even the customer
  • Push progress updates in real-time to management while red flagging any issues

Step 4 - Integrate technology and deliver a universal queue

  • Assess technology and integrate all channels and your case management
  • Offer appropriate self-service, minimise contact for routine tasks
  • Maximise the use of your skills based routing, use skills templates across all channels
  • Reduce handling time and improve accuracy, when you provide your agents with a single view
  • Monitor compliance and quality with automated analytics
  • Ensure managers have real-time dashboard visibility on any device enabling immediate response
  • Optimise your workforce, schedule from accurate forecasts, respond rapidly to peaks in demand with intraday adjustments
  • Contact customers before they contact you with proactive outbound communications, deflecting demand
A commitment to customer experience results in up to 25% more customer retention and revenue than marketing or sales initiatives (Gartner)

Ensure that your teams are as informed as your customers when you provide them and your supervisors with a complete and integrated view. Significantly impact customer satisfaction and profitability. Netcall works with organisations like yours helping them to transform their customer engagement.

Take a look at our infographic or read our eGuide for advice on what a universal queue is, what this means for your teams, how to implement it and the benefit to your customers.


Publish Date: May 9, 2016 5:00 AM

Welcome to the new customer service era

With organisations accelerating digitalisation across their businesses, many now look to invest in solutions which improve how they interact with their customers, making it easier and faster to resolve customer enquiries.

The growth of new technologies; mobile, social media and cloud, merged with changing business models forces organisations to transform their customer engagement processes while also maintaining more traditional forms of communication such as the telephone.

Increasingly well-informed and sophisticated customers expect organisations to provide multiple interaction channels, around-the clock. They require a personalised experience, first contact resolution and real-time fulfilment. As a result, many organisations look to change their customer interaction focus from ‘isolated transactions’ to long-term relationships.

With a complete end-to-end view of customer information meeting changing demands becomes achievable. This requires not only a great user experience, but also an overhaul of business processes. Front- and back-office systems need to be integrated in order for those services at the forefront, the contact centre, to deliver improved customer experiences.

The role of technology in this transformation involves evolution not revolution, to deliver a contact centre that aligns and supports your goals.

Get the basics right
A focus on customer engagement is not about improving customer experience alone. It’s about bringing efficiencies and cost savings. Despite the emergence of new technology, 87% of people still turn to traditional journeys such as telephone and email to make enquiries. The many systems that collate contact information, are often ‘bolted’ together, bringing about productivity challenges and making offering a streamlined customer experience challenging.

Embrace new channels, optimise data and processes
New contact channels – web chat and social media - are now heavily involved in the contact centre. Traditionally this information feeds into your CRM system, however different systems handle each channel and the flow of information becomes disjointed and systems no longer ‘talk’ to each other. Using business process management technology to link data and processes, you can display relevant information to agents, instead of jumping manually through multiple applications to find information. Providing a single view of the customer and their previous interactions, improves first contact resolution, reduces average handling times and call abandonment rates.

Are you ready for transformation?
By aligning your customer experience with your corporate goals you can provide a single point of access and seamless experience no matter how customers contact you – any location, any device, any channel. Customers enter a ‘universal queue’ that enables managers to effectively allocate skilled agents and monitor progress in real-time, giving visibility, control and the ability to respond rapidly to changes in demand.

Agents work within one familiar interface and quickly move between workspaces to their assigned queues, regardless of channel. Responses are captured centrally and are immediately visible for review. Using tactics such as a customer portal to proactively inform customers about important information avoids unnecessary inbound interactions into the contact centre.

The changing expectations of today's consumers

In today’s world, customers are in charge and it can be challenging to keep up with their demands. Their expectations are high but their experience can be very different.

We've compiled an infographic which highlights some of the key expectations of consumers today and the potential consequences of not meeting them.


Publish Date: April 22, 2016 5:00 AM

Shared Services: Friend or Foe?

Police forces across the UK provide a highly accountable, reactive and visible service to protect the public and is called to do so on increasingly tighter budgets. With the need to continue delivering effective policing in the wake of these cuts apparent, police forces' thinking has become more future-focused and innovative, involving huge amounts of collaboration.

Early adopters, identified as being at similar points in IT development have already formed partnerships that allows shared services to support police forces miles apart from each other.

The evident success of these partnerships is prompting many forces to ask themselves the question: Shared Services – Friend or Foe?

There are five key considerations when discussing the possibility of a shared service scheme, either internally, or with a potential partner force:

  1. Will you be acting as a unified service or as separate, discrete entities using a common platform?
  2. Is one organisation acting as the lead, or will there be a consortium of parties?
  3. After assessment, which processes should be retained, amended or discarded – and does this suit you?
  4. Politics is usually a much greater challenge than technology – are you making sure all stakeholders and staff are involved and on-board?
  5. Will key providers allow you to share systems or will new licenses be required?

With many possible options and ways of working, finding a best fit solution for both you and a potential partner shouldn’t be too difficult - a little time consuming, perhaps.

It is also difficult not to consider the benefits of a shared solution when collaborative working towards a collective goal has already proven hugely successful in other areas - multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) being a great example.

Netcall has a long and established history of working closely with police forces across the UK, improving communications and the transfer of information. Our range of comprehensive solutions are already boosting the efficiency of forces and saving significant costs. With all solutions hosted on our single yet modular citizen engagement platform, Liberty, it is also well placed for the consideration of empowering shared services.

Learn more about how we currently support UK police forces. Alternatively, if you would like to discuss shared services in more detail, complete the form below.


Publish Date: April 15, 2016 5:00 AM

Netcall's Customer Experience Manager provides a 360° customer view to Cairn Housing and The Highland Council

Cairn Housing and The Highland Council enhance service delivery using Netcall’s Customer Experience Manager to deliver a 360° customer view.

We are pleased to announce our Customer Experience Manager (CXM) solution is streamlining customer engagement and saving costs by providing the right information, in the right place, at the right time for both Cairn Housing and The Highland Council.

A Netcall survey cites 58% of customers saying that having to repeat information is their biggest irritation and 44% saying “each time I speak to a company, they don’t really know who I am” indicates that many organisations find that their front and back office systems are disjointed, impacting on customer experience. CXM sets out to address this challenge, unifying data from front and back office systems to create a holistic and personalised view of the customer and a seamless customer experience.

Fin Smith, Head of Business Improvement, Cairn Housing Association explains “We began using Netcall’s CXM in October 2014 as the central system to drive delivery of an enhanced customer experience through our Contact Centre. We chose Netcall as they were able to offer us a range of complementary technologies all based on one platform. Since implementation in 2014 we have developed a range of workflows that have enabled us to resolve customer contacts more quickly, whilst also increasing visibility of processes and transparency on performance. We introduced a web self-service portal for our customers early in 2016 that was built in partnership with Netcall, we have also introduced web chat and we are in the process of piloting a new mobile CXM application that we hope will help us to work in more flexible ways.”

Darren MacLeod, Digital Services Manager at The Highland Council The Highland Council undertook a ‘whole of the market’ procurement exercise to replace their current CRM. The current CRM system had become aged and was in significant need of upgrade at a significant cost. There was an opportunity to improve service delivery and reduce costs by selecting the right system. The Netcall CXM product offers a high level of flexibility and is fully configurable – elements such as the Task Wizard and workflow can be easily adapted and customised to fit our current and future needs. CXM is an integral aspect of our Customer Services delivery strategy and will ensure that The Highland Council is able to provide an improved citizen experience.”

Mark Holmes, Sales & Marketing Director of Netcall, commented, “Based on feedback from our customers there was a real business issue with disparate systems in customer facing departments. We developed CXM to do what others can’t; track, oversee and organise every interaction between a customer and the organisation throughout the customer lifecycle; increasing customer satisfaction and loyalty. CXM is housed on Netcall’s latest technology platform, Liberty, to seamlessly manage customer interactions from start to finish. Our solutions are smart, user-friendly and beautifully designed to help organisations to achieve priority goals; improve service, reduce costs and increase staff productivity."


Publish Date: April 13, 2016 5:00 AM


​6 top tips for integrating the back office into the contact centre

Contact centre interactions are often complex and normally they are a customer’s last resort after exhausting all other customer service channels. As the number of contact channels available continues to increase, the larger the project to integrate them becomes.

It is key, therefore, for contact centre agents to strive for first contact resolution (FCR). However, providing a seamless and successful customer experience is dependent on a seamless agent experience.

Tighter integration of front- and back-office systems supports agents to resolve issues faster by rapidly supplying them with the correct information. Whether working remotely, in-office or ‘on the road’, agents are able to quickly resolve issues, reduce handling time and manage customer frustrations.

In this article, we will reveal the best practice top tips to follow when integrating the back office into your contact centre.

Tip #1
Map out your ideal customer journey – audit current processes between your contact centre and the back-office to provide you with a map of the elements you need to deliver a great customer experience.

Tip #2
Include even those infrequently used forms of contact – focus on the end goal of developing a universal queue, this includes all forms of contact; email, web chat, face-to-face, post or phone, to transform your customer experience through any channel.

Tip #3
Be transparent - let the rest of your business know about your plans, other departments might be able to help. Set common goals to motivate team work and improve customer satisfaction.

Tip #4
Obtain buy-in at executive level – in order for this to be successful you need the support of executives from both the back office team and the contact centre. It’s often a good idea to bring the two teams together and get the executives and managers to show that they are fully on-board with the proposals.

Tip #5
Evolution not Revolution – you may find some staff are resistant to change – they are unsure how these changes will affect their jobs and their future. It’s often better to take “baby steps” – find some quick wins and share them with the team. Ensure them that the changes are a good thing and will help their job to be more satisfying.

Tip #6
Make sure you have the right tools for the job – integrating back office information into the contact centre can be a complex job. Make sure the tools you are using can easily pull information from disparate systems and display it in a way that makes it easier for the call centre staff to do their jobs. Also make sure that it is flexible enough to make changes in the future that will not require expensive technical consultants.

Transform your customer experience

Learn more about why you should invest in Customer Experience (CX) and the benefits it could have for your business.

Take a look through our handy infographic for hints and tips and what improving the customer experience could mean for you.

Read through our Customer Experience Manager (CXM) brochure to discover how our solutions can help you on your journey.


Publish Date: March 29, 2016 5:00 AM

​Walk a mile in your customer's shoes, where does it take you?

Taking the time to test your customer's experience will refine your focus and significantly improve your understanding of their experience of your service.

Analysts agree customer service is the new competitive frontier, and there is a significant reward for getting it right! Research confirms that organisations who meet customer expectations improve profitability and customer retention.

Just a 5% growth in customer retention can increase profits by 25% to 95% (Bain & Co)

Disruptive business models are challenging established business. To survive, organisations need to respond to market change and meet evolving customer expectations.

In our Age of the Customer webinar, it was exciting to hear that 29% of delegates believe that they are more than 85% aligned with their customer channel needs. The remaining 71% however, felt they were less than 50% aligned or were not sure.

Adjustments are required, therefore, to improve the affinity with customer needs to provide a better service. But achieving this while also driving operational efficiency and cost savings (the #1 priority for contact centres as seen in our recent report), is challenging.

During the webinar the significant majority (70%) of delegates reported that they did not have an end-to-end customer journey.

A bad system will beat a good person every time (Demming)

To confirm the urgent reality Contact Centre Managers will need to provide the business case for multichannel expansion and the implementation of a universal queue.

So what then is the business case?
First you deliver improved operational productivity. Jonathan Rapley, Netcall Client Manager, has seen the difference and the results include:

  • Reduced average handling time while supporting increasing first contact resolution
  • Boosted productivity (savings of 15% and more)
  • Reduced training time ensures agents are ‘up-to-speed’ more quickly

Companies that choose these routes and engage their agents also benefit from reduced agent churn, from improved morale and job satisfaction!

And secondly it is the “experience effect”, Richard Farrell, Netcall Chief Technical Officer, discussed research that shows top performers are 30% more likely to align agent activities and omni channel processes with customer needs (Aberdeen). Making it easy for customers will bring them back. In fact 94% of customers who have a low-effort service experience will buy from that same company again. (CEB)

Competitive market conditions and demanding customers mean acquisition is increasingly expensive, yet retained customers spend more.

Figure 1: Sweet Tooth Rewards: Repeat customers are profitable

Clearly there are two benefits from transforming your customer experience into one that meets your customer needs. Productivity and revenue, both will impact your organisations bottom line and overall success.

For more information about multichannel contact centres and how you can support your business case for offering additional contact methods, take a look through our resources and watch our multichannel video.

For a more in-depth look at the ‘Age of the Customer’, and more specifically ‘Winning in the Age of the Customer’, take a look through our eGuide.


Publish Date: March 14, 2016 5:00 AM

Improving tenant services - ​Is it an IT project or is it “business transformation”?

During IT in Housing delegates repeatedly agreed that IT teams play a leading role both as an enabler and visionary ensuring that data will be fully integrated into a single view or ‘golden record’ and that kit and systems are efficient.

However delegates accepted that to be successful, transforming tenant services is not an “IT project” and here is why…

When you use the “ultimate customer result” as the project driver, and acknowledge that sustained savings requires your customers to be motivated to return, you will deliver cost savings and customer satisfaction.

Looking at business transformation from a customer’s point of view radically changes the mind-set from a project to service delivery perspective. When projects only focus on ‘best in class’, only they may miss the best end-to-end result!

Using agile project techniques why not ask yourself:
As a tenant …

Tenants have an emotional connection to services. When you “make your services so good, people prefer to use them ” the outcome results in a fundamental reshaping of the delivery of your customer services.

4 steps to a project - advice from our Solutions Architects

Step 1 What do you want to achieve? Decide on the end-in-mind
Lift your vision above the technology to understand the ‘end-in-mind’. Analyse what ‘good’ will look like 24 months from now such as

    1. "It will be good when tenants can pay their bills, make balance enquiries and ask for support using voice and web channels” or
    2. When we can track any case from point of first contact right through the customer experience to the final resolution and survey feedback.


  • Check with customers, what would they add? Perhaps you will hear “that sounds great but if I could also do ….”
  • Ask your agents, they handle the drudge and can quickly remind you of any forgotten workarounds or factors that if ignored might derail your plans
  • Check with managers, what data is missing, what do proactive responses look like, what one thing would change their ability to control risk or make effective decisions.

Align the vision across all stakeholders to fully understand the journey you will need to follow.

Step 2 Document the business process and workflow; analyse and reinvent

  • Ensure that you fully understand the workflow from both the business process and end user requirements. Who does what, when, and what dependencies are likely to result in failure. Rapidly map the current process, then on a clean sheet reinvent! What could it look like? What dead steps could you lose? Ensure every step is fit for purpose and absolutely necessary
  • Recognise the IT requirements, data access and 3rd party system integration. Detail the systems from and to which data will travel. What security protocols are in place? What application programming interfaces (APIs) will be needed to support a solution that is fully integrated with your legacy systems?

Step 3 Implement in phases, one step at a time
Manage your risk. Working using a responsive project approach, your plan is phased each with a defined outcome and deliverable. Phases have start and completion dates and management is updated rapidly on any changes to the current phase. This means that the project risks are reduced.

Focus is enhanced – step wise projects ensure that the team is fully engaged and gives appropriate focus to individual transformation projects.

Step 4 Review the outcomes and refine from the beginning
Your transformation represents the potential for even greater future success. Assess every step, did you meet the targets and milestones?

  • Pre-define success criteria to support analysis. Focus on the customer outcome. Business transformation is only a success if customers and agents adopt the service and find they could not live without it!
  • Report regularly and understand the root cause of any hiccups so that mitigating actions can be taken for future stages. Avoid project creep and regularly refer back to the ‘end-in-mind’. Does every step help you to achieve this goal? If not, make a critical reassessment of any request and be prepared to say ‘NO’.

When transforming your tenant experience is central to change, customers will do more for themselves and automation becomes habit. You will do more with less and team productivity will increase.

If you need advice along your journey, read our top tips or contact us and speak to one of our Solutions Architects


Publish Date: March 14, 2016 5:00 AM

​Who should own your social media - Marketing or Customer Service - and why?

In the previous two blogs of the series, we discussed the business case for Marketing and Customer Service owning your organisation’s social media platforms. Each department made a strong case for their ownership, but does it need to be one or the other?

Instead of conflict, consider the impact and customer value when you use ‘@brand’ to represent the main social forums and ‘@brandhelp’ represents your customer service social forums. These two personas then work in partnership to transform your customers’ experience.

The solution…
When you align your marketing and customer service teams you deliver more for less. For example ‘@brandhelp’ will be prepared for an increase in demand as a result of marketing acquisition campaigns. Additionally:

  • Your operations department are able to ensure there is enough stock to cope with a promotion
  • The immediate feedback you receive via Twitter will provide you with real-time data
  • Daily update meetings (scrum style) will inform your teams, we suggest five minutes every morning:
    • What happened yesterday?
    • What needs to happen today?
    • Any issues stopping actions?

Are you asking the right questions for social media campaign success?
Meet increasing customer expectations and maximise the benefits of social for your organisation with a multichannel response. Before you make any decision about the appropriate tools, ensure that you are able to:

  1. Provide both marketing and customer service the visibility they need to collaborate while supporting customers
  2. Automate data collection from a variety of social channels
  3. Integrate queries from multiple social media channels into your existing processes
  4. Support agents to simplify workflow, automate, and prioritise mentions in a single interface
  5. Monitor agent activity in real-time on dashboards and with tailored reports
  6. Empower supervisors to flexibly control delivery and authority by agent
  7. Provide useful standard answers together with staged approval processes
  8. Deliver consistent quality and compliance with applicable regulations
  9. Report on all performance - brand and agent activity - in real–time.

When marketing teams use the same tool as their customer service colleagues it builds communication bridges and silos are broken. For example, frontline service teams can see scheduled content, are kept informed on campaigns and are able to plan their resources for any inbound service peaks.

Consider this advice from Martin Hill-Wilson, Brainfood Consulting:

“Social customer service is an open tap for content hungry marketers. The smart ones have already scheduled weekly news story sessions with their service colleagues”.

See how your organisation can deploy an integrated solution that provides a transparent platform with real-time planning, control and reporting – ask us how...


Publish Date: March 10, 2016 5:00 AM

The role of ‘@brandhelp’… Why customer services should own social media

Viral social media transforms unconnected customers into a powerful audience. In a recent broadband service outage @BTCare peaked with 1,346 tweets at 3pm, from a total of 4,329 comments over the day. Poor customer service comments on social are visible to all, including management, in real-time. The evidence shows that there is a persistent dilemma: How well did @BTCare cope during Tuesday’s outage?

  • 67% of companies believe that social customer service is the most pressing short term priority for the contact centre
  • 42% of service agents are unable to efficiently resolve customer issues due to disconnected systems and outdated interfaces (Sentiment)

Customer service works hard to retain customers, they rapidly diffuse concerns and when customers are disappointed, ensure the appropriate operations department is informed, for example when “stock not in correct stores” or “poor customer service”.

  • 68% of customers will leave you if they don’t feel you care about them
  • It costs 4 to 10 times more to acquire customers than to retain them.

With these figures in mind, it is vital that, when using an @brandhelp account, it is monitored and managed correctly. Below we discuss best practice.

Rapidly resolve queries
Customers don’t want to wait for a response - and social provides immediacy. When you invest in customer service ‘@brandhelp’ on social, your customers feel heard, and will quickly learn that you are there to answer them.

  • 71% of consumers receiving a quick brand response on social media would recommend that brand to others, compared to 19% of customers who received no response. (Source: NM Incite)
  • It is especially useful for broadcasting urgent messages and updating customers, such as flight delays or services down.

Control and transparency
Upset customers vent. “@brandhelp” is the perfect way to give them a voice, within your control. You gain the opportunity to respond and set it right. Everyone sees that you care and retained customers spend more.

Personalise the experience
Personalising social media responses extends contact, person to person, on a new channel. You soften your contact with customers using social media’s informal conversation; the brand value is supported and customers feel heard.

What customer services need from a social media tool?
The fast paced real-time nature of delivering effective customer service on social media is demanding. It means you need to effectively equip your team. Carefully consider any investment and check that you are able to:

  1. Monitor and automate data collection from a variety of social channels
  2. Centralise data and synchronise actions within internal teams
  3. Implement simple easy to follow agent workflows ensuring rapid customer response
  4. Monitor agent activity in real-time on dashboards and with tailored reports
  5. Empower supervisors to flexibly control delivery and authority by agent
  6. Provide useful standard answers together with staged approval processes
  7. Ensure consistent quality and compliance with applicable regulations.

Customer services can make a strong case for their ownership of your organisation’s social media platforms.


Publish Date: March 9, 2016 5:00 AM

​Marketing own the brand – should they own social media too…?

Typically marketing and communications are the corporate brand guardians, regulate brand communications and manage customer acquisition. Marketing hold the budget too, so therefore social media should belong to them – shouldn't it?

Brands now know that they are not in control, it is their customers who decide what they want to see, think or buy. There is, therefore, a real business case for marketing ‘@brand’ on social.

  • 78% of consumers trust personal recommendations over search result rankings
  • 94% increase prospect click through rate when exposed to relevant branded social media. (Prestige Marketing)
  • 48% of online purchasers use both search and social media to make decisions.

Greg Allum from British Gas says marketers who monitor social platforms have an advantage. “We get to hear real customers talk on a daily basis about our brands in real-time.” Using this rich insight “can be extremely potent if used in the right way – not just for brand marketing but to inform the business about competitors and enable the development of new products and services.”

Below we highlight three key areas to consider when embarking on social media projects.

Target your marketing
Mine the data from your social sites and enhance your ability to segment, target and personalise future communications. 83% of all organisations do not analyse the demographics or profiles of the customers that are active or influential on social media. (Source: Aberdeen Group)


  • Do you clearly understand what will differentiate your product or service?
  • Are you marketing to the most applicable people?

Monitoring sentiment or complaints for all competitor products highlights quick wins. Learn where improvements will make the most impact. Recognise your key influencers and brand advocates and engage with them.

SEO and search engine rankings
Increasingly search engines will reference rankings from social networks meaning comments from customers will now affect your marketing web and digital outreach and your position in search results.

What marketing need from a social media tool
Carefully consider any investment and check that you are able to:

  1. Monitor activity and sentiment in real-time to understand the reasons for interactions
  2. Keep all parties informed and up to date with integrated campaign planning
  3. Ensure visual appeal of every action with pre-flight image editing
  4. Deliver content consistently
  5. Automate capture of competitor mentions to improve monitoring and awareness
  6. View and use tailored real-time reports.

Marketing can make a strong case for their ownership of your organisation’s social media platforms.

Imagine the added value to your brand and customers when you use ‘@brand’ to represent the main social forums and ‘@brandhelp’ to represent your customer service social forums.

However best practice shows that when ‘@brand’ and ‘@brandhelp’ work in partnership, your customers and prospects both win!


Publish Date: March 8, 2016 5:00 AM

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