Jaime Scott shares the secrets to EvaluAgent’s rapid growth while making some bold predictions about the future of contact centres.
How long have you been working in the contact centre industry?
Like the majority of us, I fell into the contact centre industry over 20 years ago, and to be honest, haven’t looked back since.
After gaining my PhD in Engineering at Newcastle University and a few years in that industry, I was presented the opportunity to join Orange during the very exciting days of massive growth, with responsibility for improving business processes. After a number of great years, I joined Barclays as their Customer Experience Director and more recently I opted to go into the outsourcing arena with Vertex before it was bought by Capita.
Throughout my career, I have had the pleasure of leading teams and developing frameworks that drive improvement in areas such as employee engagement, quality assurance and customer feedback – which is where the story of EvaluAgent starts.
In 2012, the timing was right for me and a couple of co-founders, Alex Richards and Michelle Dinsmore, to set up EvaluAgent. Having driven improvements across a range of clients within Vertex, we all knew that combining software and support was key. Within two months we had our first client, Atos, and it’s gone from strength to strength since.
We recognised that quality assurance, coaching and feedback needed to be at the centre of contact centres if they wanted to deliver a great customer experience (CX).
Back then, we recognised that quality assurance, coaching and feedback needed to be at the centre of contact centres if they wanted to deliver a great customer experience (CX). The industry is always getting better, but we believed then, and we still do believe, that it could be done better.
What do your customers tell you are their greatest challenges?
There’s a couple of things. The first, as I keep coming back to, is engaging agents and helping them to develop the skills while having limited time and resources.
Resources are always scarce in contact centres, who are under pressure in terms of retention and motivating the team to deliver great service, with ever demanding customer expectations. So, keeping morale high and delivering performance feedback is key.
With that in mind, we help clients give agents real time feedback straight to their desktop, so they’re not waiting until the end of the month to see their results. Feedback is presented in a way that helps them to understand how to improve and take ownership of their own performance, improving engagement and customer satisfaction.
The second challenge for our financial services and utilities clients is all about ensuring regulatory compliance while providing a great customer experience. This is where our experience comes into its own. For example, we can help develop scorecards and frameworks that properly balance soft skills, process adherence and risk.
What impact do you think Artificial Intelligence will have on the contact centre?
Balancing the efficiencies of automation and Artificial Intelligence with the empathy that only a human interaction can deliver will be something that larger contact centres may have to soon start thinking about.
Chatbots and AI will undoubtedly increase, and in time, customers will expect to interact with a chatbot, which is great for the simple tasks. However, in the near future, it won’t be the simple things that make or break your customer experience, it’ll be how the company handles those sensitive and emotive queries.
In the near future, it won’t be the simple things that make or break your customer experience, it’ll be how the company handles those sensitive and emotive queries.
There may come a time when chatbots can do all of that, but I’d suggest this is well beyond the next five years. Even in the longer term, there will be a challenge around what I think is an inherent need to speak and interact with other human beings.
While there are things like speech analytics and machine learning helping us to identify and prioritise interactions, I’m not sure how effective an automated chatbot coaching session would be, for example.
So, it’s getting that balance right, using the technology to give us the efficiency but not losing the effectiveness of that human interaction.
What product developments will your company be making over the next five years?
The big thing that we are focusing on at the moment, certainly for the smaller contact centres, and something that we’re launching pretty soon, is the free version of our Quality Monitoring Software.
It’s perfect for contact centres of up to 50 agents, packed with all sorts of features around calibration, evaluations and building your own scorecards. So that’s something we are very much focused on at the moment.
For the larger contact centres, we’re looking at compliance and risk and developing things such as third and fourth line defence workflows to help them address those types of challenges too.
At the same time, we’re also having conversations with a number of cloud-based call recording providers who are interested in partnerships and integrations.
How has the company grown since 2012?
We’re six years in and we started off with a great reference client, who we have worked very closely with ever since. But we’ve gone beyond that, and now have thousands of users on the EvaluAgent platform.
We’ve been working hard to ensure we have a very secure cloud-based platform that is the perfect fit for contact centres with circa 100 to 1500 staff and one that is extremely quick to implement.
With such a well-developed QA platform, the majority of our clients sit within regulated environments such as the utilities and financial services markets. We’ve also continued to build relationships with a number of large outsourcers who are of course under pressure to deliver innovation to their accounts.
Now we’re at the stage where we are constantly focused on developing the business, the product suite and really just working with clients to evolve the solution.
We’re going from strength to strength and it is an exciting time!
What do you attribute your success to?
There is nothing better than working with people that really want to learn and collaborate.
First and foremost, we have a great team – very experienced, and extremely passionate about the contact centre industry. There is nothing better than working with people that really want to learn and collaborate, which is a message that we spread to our clients too.
In addition, we’ve got a really strong product vision that we call workforce engagement (or WEM), which is all about putting your employees first, engaging them, and giving them the tools that they need to get the job done. I think, over the last few years, we’ve proven that this approach – not just to the product, but also the way that we interact with clients – builds trust and delivers results.
Finally, I think that we’ve got a lot of experience working with all sizes of businesses, from global outsourcers in multiple geographies to relatively small helpdesk operations.
We understand the challenges and I think it’s this experience that allows us to build credibility between our team and our clients.
What is your proudest achievement at EvaluAgent?
On a business level, building the platform and the software is my proudest achievement. We’re all about the products and creating software that clients really like using. Seeing clients deliver improvements in CSAT or NPS and then get recognition from senior stakeholders is really motivating too.
From a personal level, I’d have to say building the company. We started six years ago and we’re now in seven-figure revenue streams and we’re surrounded by a lot of really passionate people who enjoy working together.
So, in summary, building the business as well as the products into something quite tangible is a really good feeling.
What has been the best company/ contact centre that you have recently visited?
Our client Extra Energy springs to mind. We’ve helped them overcome some challenges recently and we’re starting to see the results. Quality scores are up, employee engagement’s up, compliance is improving, while agents are also getting involved in quality, calibration and feedback sessions more regularly.
Being frank – and I’m sure we’ve all felt it – you sometimes come away from a contact centre and think ‘that doesn’t seem like the nicest place to work’, but Extra Energy is the polar opposite. It’s refreshingly open and supportive.
They recognise, certainly for the types of interactions they handle, it is about employee engagement and feedback. And they’re seeing rapid growth because of it.
If there was one piece of advice that you could offer our readers what would it be?
In an internet-fuelled world where it is very easy to switch providers, it’s no surprise that companies and brands are looking for the latest innovations in customer experience, and those small angles that may help them differentiate.
However, don’t get carried away by vendors promising to replace all your agents with self-service or chatbots.
Don’t get carried away by vendors promising to replace all your agents with self-service or chatbots.
In a world which is becoming increasingly automated, it is going to be your frontline agents that make or break the customer experience, so be sure to invest in their learning, development and engagement.
Invest in creating super-agents, because it’s going to be those experiences that we tell our friends about, and those experiences that build loyalty, revenue, and success.
Thanks to Jaime Scott for sharing these insights.