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Curium Solutions – Simplified Change Management, Birmingham, West Midlands

Pudsey Bear: the ultimate contact centre manager?

By Andy Dawson

In this Children in Need inspired blog, Curium founding director Andy Dawson asks whether Pudsey Bear is the ultimate contact centre manager

According to a Which? survey, the UK’s leading energy service providers take up to 14 minutes to answer the phone. What a shambles! Where is the commitment to delivering excellent customer service that accompanies all the marketing blurb to get customers switching?

This Friday is Children in Need, so it is timely to ask… would Pudsey the Bear, the friendly face of hundreds of the Children in Need contact centres, put up with this? No.

I’ve had the pleasure of being involved in many Children in Need activities over the years. They are fantastic fun and for a great cause. Why does Pudsey run such a fantastic contact centre?

  • Planning, there is so much planning that goes into running the operation, nothing is left to chance
  • The teams are well briefed, motivated and all well trained in the key tasks that need to be done
  • The management team are present, they have a feel for what is happening and have management information at their fingers tips, especially when it comes to amounts raised
  • The phone is answered, and the focus is on the customer and processing the transaction efficiently and in a friendly manner
  • Peaks are known, both in terms of intervals and which moments in the show will trigger a surge, so demand and supply are matched

However, this is not typically the case in the same contacts centres the next week because the basic disciplines are just not there. We see this all the time when we are helping businesses.

An enlightening part of the Which? report was the fact that responses to emails could be equally slow. Back office teams are struggling as much as front office operations. There was, however, good news for the digitally enlightened; live chat seems to work well, where it is in place.

Every day, if not every hour, there are stories about the rise of the robots. They are coming, but many business leaders are not yet sure how they will best deliver results for the customer. I have a hunch that businesses have taken their collective eye of the ball, as they need to have their robotics, AI and digital stories in hand.

Companies want their own Watsons or Alexas – even law firms are in on the act with Keogh’s launch of Lauri, an AI lawyer. You can’t blame boards for wanting a clear story – it is what the analysts and shareholders want to know:

  • Can we be a lawtech, fintech, insurtech business? (Translates as: Can we see a huge increase in our valuations?)
  • How much can we save?
  • Are we disrupting, being disrupted or just in the pack?

A couple of thoughts to share:

  1. As organisations become more digitally enabled, the role of customer services teams will become harder. Queries will be more complex (the simpler ones will be taken care of by robots) and customers will be more agitated as robots struggle to answer their unique queries
  2. Your organisation employs hundreds of people. Look after them, develop them, talk to them and share everything that they need to know. They are your real brand ambassadors and can save you from appearing in a Which? Survey

Finally, a word to all of the CEOs out there. Just be careful that, by the time your robots arrive, your customers have not left, as the phone keeps ringing out!

To donate to Children in Need, visit the BBC Children in Need fundraising site.

Curium in the News