Six Lessons From Customer Strategy and Planning 2014



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Michael Gray shares six of the things he learned at this year’s Professional Planning Forum event.

1. The role of the manager is changing

Everyone accepts that having skilled and motivated people is key to delivering great customer experiences. But how do you create more engaged employees?

For years, the contact centre has been the most controlled of all environments. Today, however, managerial roles are often focused on facilitating greater employee engagement.

Take PPF award winner Capital One, which has “opened doors so that colleagues can challenge, without fear and develop, with support, to grow the business”.

Alongside changes to the workplace environment, it has introduced programmes around training, process improvement and two-way communications, with managers supporting, facilitating and empowering advisors to do the job – rather than controlling them.

2. Empowering people can reap real rewards

I was very interested to hear about Aviva Healthcare’s Continual Learning initiative that allows people to take responsibility for their own online learning.

“If you give people the framework to work within, and the commitment, they will respond positively,” said one Aviva Director, and the results speak for themselves.

In the second half of 2013, the initiative led to a 4% per month increase in personal development time, a 20% uplift in employee engagement and improvements in both CSAT and NPS scores.

3. Measuring everything isn’t always the right approach

Remove QA tick lists, targets, scripts and fixed shifts and what do you get? Chaos? Not in the case of Home Retail Group (HRG).

They found that absenteeism halved, and work generated by errors and repeat calls in one department fell from 40% to 3%.

Again, a continual learning (CL) framework was key to success. This was ably supported by an enthusiastic CL team that encouraged ideas and input from front-line teams, created 2-way dialogue, and used customer feedback, speech analytics and more to improve.

4. Homeworking has moved on

Launched in 2012, HRG’s Call Centre of the Future project contains 26 separate initiatives to create a ‘digital retail leader’. One of these initiatives is homeworking.

HRG’s take on homeworking is about as far from the hit-and-miss approach to traditional homeworking (where the IT department blame the HR department for problems and vice versa!) that it’s possible to achieve.

It’s about mature virtual models for recruitment, training, management and technology, self-scheduling and more. And about impressive results in terms of improved performance, enhanced employee engagement as well as greater flexibility and reduced costs.

RAC, another champion of homeworking, painted a similar picture to the conference delegates.

A May 2014 TUC study revealed that 4m people in the UK now work from home, either part or full time – around one in ten of the working population.

5. Customer insight is king

Big data, analytics, forensics… Whatever you call it, it’s all part of the same thing. It’s about the science of getting useful data from past customer interactions and interpreting that data to improve future customer experiences.

A number of speakers discussed the use of analytics to empower advisors to handle calls better, remove process bottlenecks, segment customer needs, and better manage the customer lifecycle so that potential issues can be resolved – before they ever become problems!

6. It’s all about the customer journey

As organisations transition from ‘customer satisfaction’ to ‘customer experience (CX)’ thinking, they’re thinking more strategically about the whole customer journey.

Michael Gray

One speaker waxed lyrical about the work of his company’s multidisciplinary CX committee (that contained senior representatives from service, sales, marketing, product and finance) to map out end-to-end customer journeys, identify process bottlenecks and proactively create opportunities to amaze customers.

To date, service departments have often been disconnected from the rest of the business and customer journey planning has meant little more than root cause analysis of existing problems. However, the tide appears to be turning.

Michael Gray (Gray Associates) is a Marketing consultant specialising in customer contact and Cloud technology.

Published On: 4th Jun 2014 - Last modified: 22nd Mar 2017
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