Q&A with Christine Stubbs, Workforce Optimisation Consultant at Maintel...
Maintel has delivered hundreds of contact centre solutions for national and international customers of all shapes, sizes and vertical. Our contact centre practice incorporates experts from the arena of design, succession management, workforce optimisation and business transformation by supporting and integrating all aspects of a millennial contact centre.
We offer on-premise, hybrid and cloud contact centre solutions in association with some of the market leading workforce optimisation software houses. In addition to the nuts and bolts of the solutions, we also provide contact centre consultancy, digital transformation programmes and staff training, amongst other things.
Since acquiring Azzurri back in May 2016, we also offer Contact-Centre-as-a-Service (CCaaS) using our unique ICON Contact platform. It delivers a hosted, enterprise class CCaaS solution that combines the flexibility of the cloud with the features of a highly capable on-premise solution.
How do you think the contact centre market has changed in the last year?
The contact centre has had to change because customers have changed. The ease of access to the Internet and search engines has made each customer an expert on your business. Combined with the explosion of smartphones and other mobile devices, this has created a need for access to products and services to be effortless as well as competitively priced. Self-service is no longer a ‘nice to have,’ but a staple demanded by the millennial generation.
In this new market, where monopoly has almost been completely eradicated, it’s all about effortless customer experiences – ease is the new loyalty. In 2016, generic market and sales messages do not work: only personalised approaches will resonate with customers in this hectic world. Data analytics (used correctly) mean that every interaction with a customer can be and must be personalised and specific to the their individual wants and needs.
As voice channels are on the decline, this may seem like bad news for contact centres, but other communication avenues such as video, chat and social are actually on the rise. These channels can be just as personal as a traditional voice call and need the skills of experienced contact centre professionals.
How important is training for contact centre professionals?
Training is critical to success when it comes to contact centre teams. As the staff and customer demographic changes, contact centre providers need to train and invest in their workforce or they will risk falling behind by not offering what the customer wants or expects.
Millennials bring the skills to lead contact centre businesses, as they innately know what customers expect and don’t have to be taught. While contact centres are, in the main, behind the digital curve, this will not always be the way: consultancy will be hired to provide innovation and training.
What predictions for the future do you have when it comes to the evolution of contact centre technology?
What does the future look like? We’re going to be seeing more predictive interactive voice responses (IVRs), which are perfectly placed to handle particularly large call volumes.
In terms of the working habits of contact centre professionals, the sector will begin to embrace flexibility enabled by the growth of the cloud. We’ll therefore see an increase in homeworking as well as an expansion in what is typically viewed as ‘working hours’ as we work much smarter.
As for changes we will see in the customer service landscape in general, we’re likely to see more use of artificial intelligence, but this doesn’t usurp the need for real, live human beings. In instances where customer needs aren’t met by artificial intelligence, chat or other avenues, live agents are critical to retaining customer loyalty and ensuring that the customer’s journey is a successful one. After all, self-service doesn’t work for everyone.
What tips would you give to a contact centre manager?
The absolute key to being a successful contact centre is to have a comprehensive understanding of your customer demographic and their preference for conducting business.
It’s not about you and what technology you want to adopt: it’s about taking a deep look at your customer base and understanding what they want. You need to very carefully look at the type of business you’re in and the generation(s) you’re appealing to, whether it’s baby boomers, generations X, Y or Z…or all of the above.
We’re entering an era where smartphones and tablets are outnumbering the world’s population – where the proportion of people calling contact centres via their mobile phone is as high as 80%. Your customers’ wants and needs are changing in reaction to this, and your contact centre must accurately reflect these changes.
Christine has worked in the IT sector for almost 20 years. Her current role sees her as Maintel’s workforce optimisation consultant, a role she has held since 2014. Prior to that, Christine built up her contact centre knowledge by founding Reid Right Solutions, a contact centre specialist organisation.