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  • Welcome to Customer Contact Planning & Strategy Blog Posted 5 years ago
    Read on and enjoy our new conference blogs - scroll through the pages and add your comments.  With over 600 delegates across the two days, this event was buzzing, action packed and stacked with great ideas and loads of enthusiasm for making things happen.  This year we wanted to let you hear about this through the voice of our members - roving reporters who shared the insights they picked up as they went along.  These conference blogs are part of our strategy of involving members and friends of the Planning Forum in creating best practice materials that enables members to learn and innovate. Thank you to everyone who has taken part in this 2013 initiative.  
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Feedback and news about the Annual Conference: Customer Contact Planning & Strategy 2013


Customer Strategy & Planning 2013

Something that immediately struck me at Customer Strategy & Planning 2013, apart from the packed, buzzing auditorium for the opening speeches, was when Steve (Woosey), asked those attending the event for the first time to ‘stand up’. I am not sure on the usual attendance statistics for ‘first timers’, but was surprised and encouraged at just how many of the audience would be seeing the PPF conference for the very first time. 

Throughout the day I managed to speak with a number ofdelegates who were present at the conference for the first time and identifiedwhat I felt to be three different categories of attendees; some were starting out on their Contact Centre careers, others had recently migrated into the‘planning world’ from other functions within their organisations and the third group had significant change programmes planned. What brought them all together was a willingness to share and an appetite to learn about Best Practice across the industry, or, a desire to make additional contacts they could call on, or,network with again in the future. It made me realise that it is events like this, (coupled with the first ever Customer Contact and Planning Management Degree that the Professional Planning Forum has done a fantastic job of pulling together with the University of Ulster) that will help our industry step off the ‘we are on the Edge of Great Things’, as suggested in one of the opening slides and achieve the greatness we can.

Putting People First

A key theme through this year’s event was ‘Putting People First’ and this is where I think we may be seeing the evolution of Resource Planning with the critical integration of all the departments across the whole business to achieve great Employee Engagement and Customer Service.  This focus on people seemed to resonate throughout many, if not all, of the sessions I was lucky enough to attend. Time and time again the speakers and case studies told of how their people were trusted, engaged, involved, empowered and consulted, which in turn enabled them to deliver some fantastic business results and achieve best practice.

Some of the delegates I spoke with had already embraced an enhanced employee engagement culture and were working closely with their operational colleagues to deliver more effective planning and performance, but, many had still to make this shift. For example, I spoke with another delegate, who was uncertain whether they would be allowed to make the changes they wanted to when they returned to their business. I think this does emphasise how important it is that the whole business is fully aligned with the ultimate goal, which was certainly another key element in many of the best practice presentations and case studies.  It was those businesses who had a very clear vision twinned with the commitment to see it through, that went on toachieve the best results. Despite that individual not knowing how much theymight be able to change, we did refer back to the ‘starfish story’,   also used in Steve’s opening speech; This story,of the young boy who was told he could not make a difference as there were so many starfishes stranded on the beach, but, as he threw one back into the sea said,‘I made a difference to that one’, is something that we will all do well to remember when we embrace tasks, or challenges which may at the time seem too big to contemplate.

Big thinking

Another strong theme from some of the sessions and speakers was about big thinking; Peter Massey (Budd) and Bill Price (Limebridge), shared some of Amazon’s strategy to be the World’s Best Customer Centric business, inaddition to some detail around their theory on how ‘The Best Service is No Service’, as, ‘Not a lot of customers wake up in the morning and say “greatI've got to contact you.”’. We discussed this in the breakout session andgenerally agreed that we found our most positive experiences of brands, ororganisations, was when we didn’t have to pick up the phone or make contact.  When something had gone wrong, which was whenwe were most likely to call, the experience became less positive, as the services and interactions weren’t fluid and a lack of empowerment, trust, orineffective processes made the experience less successful.

In the same session, the 7 Key Drivers to Customer Happiness also had some great, fun breakout sessions, with each of us being asked toapply these principles to our own relationships with our spouses/partners andthen, our work colleagues.  I and many ofthe other delegates found this a real eye opener and if anything, we realised how much we did not do, as opposed to how much we did against these key principles.  I will certainly be looking to try and develop my 7 key steps to improve and many of my fellow delegates said that they would too.

My final observation isaround courage. 

Following some sessions, some delegates made comments on how certain change or, ideas couldn’t, or wouldn’t be able to be delivered within their team or business.  There is no doubt that transformational change can be more difficult for certain environments, or companies, but some change and new ideas can be made in every organisation.  Take the overall innovation winner BT Retail, who managed to affect change despite its size and the complexity involved. It is all about finding your own vision or, goal andworking to achieve that.  I hope that by the end of the conference andafter such inspirational speeches and case studies, a few more people will be motivated to try.  To quote Craig Holland, Head of Customer Contact Centres from Avios in their session; “Be Brave – It is easier than you think”.

Michelle Ansell
Douglas Jackson
Email: michelle@douglas-jackson.com
Visit: www.douglas-jackson.com

This article is written by the author, who takes full responsibility for the content. These are not the opinion of the Professional Planning Forum and we take no responsibility for accuracy, appropriateness or any other aspect of the content.  Please contact us direct if you feel any blog should be amended or removed and we will discuss this with the author. These conference blogs are part of our strategy of involving members and friends of the Planning Forum in creating best practice materials that enables members to learn and innovate. Thank you to everyone who has taken part in this 2013 initiative.  


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