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Executive Interview : Bill Stefos From Concentrix On The Past Year And What To Expect In 2017

Director Operations and Delivery ANZ
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#contactcenterworld, @Concentrix

Bill Stefos, Director of Operations and Delivery for Australia and New Zealand at Concentrix is thinking about data security and protection as we get further into 2017. Find out what else is on his mind when it comes to the contact centre industry in the following interview.

In your opinion, what has been the greatest challenge the contact centre industry has faced in the last 12 months?
Bill Stefos: As a global provider of services, in 24 countries with over 55 contact centre locations, we deal with a lot of clients and get insights into their challenges, which flow to us. The biggest challenge, I believe, is the ability to execute and manage the change of their strategy.

Why do you believe has this been a challenge?
Bill Stefos: Everyone has engaged consulting organisations to provide a pathway to their strategy. For some it is in the bottom drawer, for others top drawer. Even though the contact centre industry has made significant progress over the last 10 to 20 years, there seems to still be a disconnect between the contact centre and the C suite. The organisations that have made progress have an educated C suite, but it takes a "leap of faith", controlled of course, with a solid financial business case. Doing nothing is not an option, execution starting is the challenge. That being said, the financial outlay required to implement on key strategies has been, and remains, a time driven constraint.

In 2017, what do you think will be the top priorities in the contact centre industry for each of the following: a) Contact Center Directors b) Company Executives c) IT Directors d) Human Resources Directors
Bill Stefos: a) Drive Customer Experience to higher levels while managing the costs and meeting or exceeding KPI's. Executing in Omnichannel environments.
b) Growth and profitability of the business.
c) Lower cost and secure technology, especially Cyber crime.
d) Talent education and acquisition.

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What technology do you believe will have the biggest impact on the industry over the next 12 months?
Bill Stefos: Omni/Digital channel. The elements of this are not new. The market is asking for this now and there will be pressure to execute various channels. Couple this with Security and Data Protection will be paramount, not just in the next 12 months, but ongoing. I see BOTS being more prevalent during the course of 2017.

What impact have "external events" even had on your company, and how have you adapted your business?
Bill Stefos: I guess you can categorise "external events" into 2 broad categories: 1) Natural disasters (floods, earthquakes, etc.) and 2) political/country stability.

1) We have been fortunate to have grown our operations over 20+ years and as we have grown, we have a strategy that assesses the suitability of our locations for the safety of our people, the ability to have strong operational resilience.
2) In terms of political/country stability this integrates with the location criteria.

Do you feel the service you personally get as a customer is better or worse than it was a year ago?
Bill Stefos: The service I personally get is interesting. By and large I feel service has improved. As I am in this industry, I evaluate every call I do with a contact centre, and at times get disappointed but I also occasionally get surprised. A perfect example of this, I recently called my energy retailer for a billing question. Response time was not great but I eventually got through to only have the agent reiterate my question and then pass me to a tier 2 agent to resolve. So in this example, I was disappointed to get 2 people to resolve what was a simple answer, and it took 2-3 times longer. The upside is that the second operator was confident and strong in her knowledge and resolved the issue in a few minutes. If this was actioned at the first interaction I would have been delighted.

How do you intend to improve your contact centre in 2017?
Bill Stefos: There are 2 key drivers for 2017:
1) We will continue to work with our clients to focus on outcomes rather than transactional metrics. What I mean is that, as a customer, a good Customer Experience is to resolve my enquiry. Therefore, focus on resolution rather than ASA/GOS/AHT (these are important hygiene metrics) but the outcome of a first call resolution will drive up Customer Experience.
2) Implementation of omnichannels to give customers a channel of choice.

What contact centre technology or other innovation excites you the most right now?
Bill Stefos: Artificial Intelligence is the exciting technology. I can't see it in production this side of 10 years. I hope to be proven wrong.

What has been the most important contact centre related conversation topic in 2016 and what are your views on this?
Bill Stefos: I think its two-fold - 1) Customer Experience (CX) and 2) Omnichannel. Both vitally important. The Omnichannel will give consumers and customers the ability to interact with any company on their terms. If we can do this right it will, by default drive up CX.

Can you share a great story of service you received when contacting a contact center in the past year?
Bill Stefos: I have yet to personally experience great service. That being said, I have heard some extraordinary stories of what some truly customer service focused individuals have done. They all have the common denomination of people taking ownership and responsibility.

What do you think will be the buzz word / focus for the contact centre industry this year?
Bill Stefos: A.I. and BOTS - Although they are very different. People may inter-mix the two. BOTS have been around for years. The market will start to expect and accept BOTS.

Regarding the change in governments in places like the US and the Philippines - do you see this is good or bad for the contact centre industry in those countries and why?
Bill Stefos: The contact centre industry is of the top 2 industries, if not number one in the Philippines. It is a significant contributor to the financial well being of the Philippines and will remain solid. Just like no one expected Trump to win, we will always be surprised in the decisions and positions that countries take. As one person said recently: "Regardless, tomorrow the sun will still rise and as such the contact centre industry will thrive and grow."

Lastly, what do you think 2017 holds for the industry? (Good or bad and where/how etc.)
Bill Stefos: Over and above the points I have raised above, I see that there will always be one thing that will not change - people. The ability for truly remarkable people that are customer centric will always be there. Regardless of the amount of automation, unless your products and services are perfect, never fail, there will always be a need for people. Therefore we have to maintain our focus on our best and brightest, nurture and encourage them. We have an obligation to leave a legacy, one that we are proud of.

#contactcenterworld, @Concentrix

About Concentrix:
Company LogoThe global leader in customer management, billing and HR services, providing outsourcing, services, consulting and software solutions to leading companies around the world.
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