Successful customer contact operations

Successful customer contact operations

To start with the obvious, we need to know not only where we want to be, but also where we are starting from in order to define the gap. We then need to bridge this gap, which requires the right mix of skills, involving people from the outset, and working collaboratively. At The Forum, we celebrate success each year through selecting Customer Contact Innovation Award winners, recognising that great innovation transforms the experience of customers or employees and changes the way we work within the wider organisation or community.
Consistent top performance doesn’t happen by chance of course. Great achievers know clearly what their goals are, what their current performance is and how to bridge the gap.

Their first step to success involves building an accurate, complete, shared awareness of their actual starting position – as well as where they want to go. Further steps require building a team with the right mix of skills and involve them from the outset, give them a voice and allow people with expertise to develop this and work collaboratively on a solution within an established framework. Great support, effective team work and checking impact are all equally necessary steps.
2015 Award Finalist, NHS Business Services Authority Innovation Awards, demonstrates how you can start to build an end to end experience for the customer by identifying and extending successful planning principles and systems into a back office environment.
A great example of engagement in long tenure complex environments, is how the central planning team improved turnaround time of customer enquiries by 10 per cent and delivered 11 per cent cost savings in the back office for Patient Services at NHS BSA. They identified the gap and the opportunity, and resourced flexibly to build the right team. They also created a change and a communications strategy that was vital in creating a change of culture that delivered for the customer.
Another example of dramatic cost savings, resulting from transforming the customer journey, is given by 2015 Award Finalist, HM Revenue & Customs. They have used natural language IVR to make lives easier for customers, while reducing operational cost by £20million and improving call routing. This greater insight provides far more clarity about the gap and what is needed to bridge it, for instance by helping advisors start the call, with knowing exactly why the customer is calling.
While some bridges are a set of small steps, famous suspension bridges use a different model of support. Here all elements need to be held in tension, with exact calculations. This is precision engineering and we need the right blend of skills and perspectives to build effective solutions. In customer contact operations we also need to understand the overall picture and then deliver our bit, clear not only about our own roles but also how we depend on each other. We can’t be effective in isolation which is why collaborative working and cooperation are so fundamental to our success.

Five steps
It’s important to realise that these five steps are not a ladder we climb up once in the process of a project. In fact, all five steps are being used more or less at once and in this way we use the final review step many times, creating many opportunities for learning and improving the end to end customer journey. In The Forum’s experience, what marks out organisations who achieve the most success is the fact that they repeatedly come back with improvements and changes that directly affect the customer’s experience and in doing so reduce the cost of delivering their service. All 14 awards finalists can be heard on 27-28 April 2015 at Customer Strategy & Planning Conference in Newcastle‑upon‑Tyne. They can also be visited during our programme of site visits held during the summer and autumn.

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