5 Key Takeaways from BT Evolution Forum

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Today I attended the BT Evolution Forum in the Aviva Stadium. Some 90 key decision makers came along to listen to findings from a BT commissioned study into the consumer experience of Irish contact centres.

Results were based on the biggest survey of its kind to date. And attendees also got to hear insights from industry sage, Colin Taylor of The Taylor Research Group.

From my point of view it was great to be part of a big team effort to put together an extremely educational morning. But for any Contact Centre Managers out there who couldn’t make it, I wanted to leave you with a few gems from the day:

1. Natural Selection - Our customers are telling us how they prefer to talk to us!

Graham Fagan Head of Contact Centre Propositions for BT kicked off the day by presenting the findings from the research. For a small country we have an extremely high rate of interaction with contact centres in the first place. One in three Irish dealt with a contact centre 4 times or more in the last 6 months. That’s 25% more than any US citizen!  This leads to the obvious question of whether there is a failure of service driving above-average interactions.

Some 82% of Irish customers are interacting over the phone, and in fact that is our second most preferred channel for communication, especially when dealing with a billing query.  When we buy something new, the research shows we prefer to do research ourselves online rather than talk to an agent.

When asked what channels we prefer Irish consumers prefer the phone (30%), and face to face interaction (31%) first and foremost. Email (17%), Internet self- service (16%) are also very popular. And surprisingly, when it comes to social Irish customers have not embraced it with regard to seeking service support.

2. Some New Trends

What I found to be an interesting new trend revealed on Tuesday, is that customers (18%) will be looking at a company’s website whilst talking to an agent on the phone.  So contact centre managers you’d better ensure there is no ambiguity between what your agents are saying and what’s on your web site. And with that insight there’s obviously opportunities to introduce more self-serve options.

When talking to contact centre managers themselves their biggest challenges are driving operational efficiency and cost savings AND developing agent skill sets.

3. Keep Calm and Focus on the Basics

Colin Taylor, Chief Chaos Officer of The Taylor Research Group main message was to ‘Keep Calm and Focus on the Basics’.  He feels CX  (customer experience) is not a new phenomenon at all and should not involve paying consultants huge money to set up customer journey mapping.  Colin went as far as to say he didn’t believe Customer Mapping existed anyway.

In fact Colin believes that CX is over hyped especially in the US, CX is simply Customer Satisfaction and it’s really all about:

-          How easy we are to reach and deal with (customer effort)

-          How knowledgeable agents are

-          How well we connect with a customer (rational and emotional)

-          What the customer expectations are

The focus therefore should be on empowering your agents to do their job better, whether that’s by providing regular  training, having the best tools to help frontline staff do their job, or by simply by hiring well. Do your people have the soft skills to build a connection with each customer, can they use a keyboard and turn out quotes quickly on the phone, so customers are not waiting too long!

In fact Colin gave one example whereby agents were given training and authority to process customer refunds.  The end result was the company made huge cost savings and doled out less money. The agents were closer to the customer and were making better judgements on each case.  Previously pretty much every refund was granted because a single person signed off most claims without any true insight into each customer case!

4. Let the customer pick the channel and make it easy for them to switch channels

Colin explained that contact centres need to offer customers the choice of contacting you in a number of different ways (live voice, automated voice, email, chat, sms, social, etc.) He gave one amazing example of how Kindle support use video via your kindle device, they  talk to you directly via video chat and they can even take control of your Kindle and do whatever needs doing! That’s taking it to another level isn’t it?

As regard Omni-channel this means if a customer phones in one day but decides to email you or use web chat afterwards ,  your agents have the ability to see a consolidated history regardless of channel.  However the research shows that few Irish consumers are looking for an omni-channel experience.  Instead, they want their issue to be resolved first time on the channel of their choice.

5. It’s Dating Versus Marriage when it comes to trying out new cloud contact solutions

The morning finished with a customer panel discussion, the big take away for me was the research showed that 86% of contact centre managers recognise the benefits of a cloud solution. The panel discussed how cloud solution providers are constantly under pressure to deliver for their customers. It is no longer the case of legacy systems and until death do us part, if you invest in a cloud contact solution you can get it up and running extremely quickly and easily, and try it out for a few months. It is pay as you go so you can shut it down just as quickly without hassle or loss. With bespoke or big legacy systems, once that big investment is made you are stuck with each other for richer or for poorer.

For more information Read about BT Cloud Contact

Fiona Sexton


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