Member Resources

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Planning for field operations: optimising routing & regions

Field planning is changing, with huge benefit by softening regional borders or increasing flexibility, from both an efficiency and engagement perspective, and some organisations more supply-led in the way they set appointments

Calabrio Unveils New Platform for a New Era of Workforce and Customer Engagement

First-ever virtual Calabrio customer conference showcases cloud-based WEM platform designed for the modern, agile contact centre

Virtually Everything!

Bringing people together is at the heart of The Forum’s vision and values. It was not that many years ago that virtually everything we did was face-to-face, onsite in venues and hotels, now virtually everything we do is virtual. This has been a huge learning opportunity for us, and as we look to create our best practice programme for 2021 and plan our next face-to-face events, I thought it would be good to share our journey during 2020.

Partner News: How to Calculate Contact Centre Spin

Read how Call Centre Helper investigate the mysterious metric of contact centre spin and explain why it can be such a headache for contact centre planners.

Why it pays to add AI to the shopping list

When it comes to sustainability, consumers are clamouring for change and driving the corporate agenda. Henry Jinman of EBI.AI shows 3 ways ethical retailers are using the power of Artificial Intelligence to create a sustainable shopper experience. 

2020 Forum Heroes

For 10 years our Forum Hero Awards have spotlighted role models for each community of best practice - individuals who stand out for how they learn and share. For 2020, we recognise 3 further Forum Heroes

Partner News: Aspect Announces General Availability of Aspect Via® 20, Its World-Class Enterprise Cloud Contact Center Solution

The only fully-featured enterprise cloud contact center solution designed to meet the demands of large enterprises.

2020 Vision: what skills help the modern analyst stand out clearly?

The role of an Insight Analyst has evolved significantly over the last 20 years. Simply being good at Excel is no longer enough. So, take a look at the seven top skills we see developing among successful analysts, setting them up to produce great insight for the next 20 years.

Planning for COVID-19 Series Takeaways

Just as lockdown was announced we launched our Planning for COVID-19 series of learning module webinars. Starting back on 24th March the first module covered forecasting, followed by sessions on homeworking, scheduling, real-time, mental health and creating future business continuity. These free webinars were designed to provide supporting knowledge to help Planners during this unprecedented time. The additional Networking session brought together the group to discuss and share their experiences. The last in the series looked at capturing learning and using COVID-19 as a catalyst to shape the strategy and build for the future.

Jeopardy management: real-time in field, branch or back office

The very best teams are adding insight, are agile and able to react quickly to changes. They feed learning from the day into the Planning Cycle, to inform future decisions, and have operational playbooks or incident management plans in place, helping build stakeholder trust.

How can choosing the right metrics bring your strategy to life?

Do we present people with more information than they can realistically act upon? It could be insightful, but insight without action delivers no value. What happens, instead, if people look at information and immediately do something with it? They love it and want more!

Creating great online journeys and the role of face-to-face service

Is face-to-face part of a wider omni-channel strategy? What is a great online journey? Paul Smedley highlights ways to update yourself with new developments and create a workforce strategy and operating model that can be sustained, for both organisational ethos and costs.

COVID-19: learning how to plan for the unexpected

If ever there was a time for good planning, this is it. This pandemic has been without doubt ‘disruptive’. Not only do we need to respond ‘in the moment’, but it can also be a positive catalyst for rethinking our operating model and strategic objectives.

BOTs, Apps & Chat: what makes a great online journey for customers?

How do we blend the personal touch with AI & automation? What’s our role as analysts, planners or quality teams? From in-app or web chat to asynchronous messaging, Paul Smedley looks at the latest thinking and shares some examples of ‘omni-channel’ in practice.
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How can predictive analysis be powered by analytics & AI?

See how combining the skills of forecasters & analysts can unlock potential in your organisation and your career. Predictive analysis is like forecasting, but not just for planners, and, if you have access to joined up data, analytics or machine learning are powerful tools.

2020 Vision: clarity and focus, crystallising your knowledge

Twenty years of raising standards has been made possible by the growth of a vibrant professional community, where we continue to share and learn. From the original vision to now, we look at how this shared knowledge has shaped best practice and look ahead to what the future may bring.

Necessity is the mother of invention

In 1970 Edwin Starr said “War, huh. What is it good for? Absolutely nothing; listen to me”. However, there is one exception. History does show us that at times of war we do see a significant acceleration in technological advancement. 

Planning for Christmas Leave 2020

How well did you plan for Christmas? Did you accurately forecast your workload? Did you “fairly” allocate annual leave? Were your customers happy; were your colleagues happy? Or, was is just a case of survival and now you are only thinking about January, February, March and the next budget cycle?

6 Top Tips to ensure your dashboards and reports are read and used

For many analysts a constant frustration is that we spend a lot of time creating reports and dashboards that can make a real difference to our organisations, only to find that nobody is reading them. This is not only a waste of our time but a wasted opportunity. An objective of many insight teams is to reduce waste in our organisations, so this is a great place to start.

5 Top Tips to communicate with confidence

To turn insight into action we need to effectively communicate and get people bought into our ideas. Analysts with both the technical skills to interpret data and the communication skills to get people engaged are few and far between. Why is that?

Lifestyle patterns the cornerstone of your Workplace Wellness Strategy

Over 50% of organisations now have a Wellness Strategy. Typically, top of this list is: Meaningful work, respectful culture and flexible hours and working. Wellness Strategies may be relatively new, however, wellness is not new, as quoted by Sigmund Freud 100 years ago "Love and work are the cornerstones to our humanness".  If you want to take this seriously this needs to be built into your organisation’s strategy, budgeted for and built into your operating model. There is a cost, but how will you pay?

Are we focusing on what are customers really want or what we think they want?

I recently saw on the News that Boris Johnson had pledged to invest in the HS3 rail link reducing the travel time between Leeds and Manchester from 50 to 30 minutes at a cost of £39 billion. This a journey I do regularly so my initial reaction was ”brilliant”. However, after that announcement I continued to use the trains and this made me rethink how highly journey time really rates in my list of priorities as a customer. Here is what really matters to me.

Any holidays booked?

The classic hair dresser question “have you got any holidays booked?”, probably as most people have a holiday and most people like to talk about their next planned adventure. Not only that, it is a legal entitlement. However, too often the annual leave process can be “clunky”, an all-round problem, administrative heavy and unfair.

Lifestyle Pattern Jigsaw

Lifestyle Pattern Jigsaw, the puzzle of almost infinite outcomes restricted by a lack of understanding and bad practice, only limited by business knowledge and our imagination.

Connect and Communicate with Andy Bounds

To make connections that work, it’s not what you say that counts. What matters is what people do differently after you’ve said it. Andy Bounds is famous for his training, his books, his Tuesday Tips, his ability to help people do what needs doing. Take a moment to learn something you can use.

2019 Forum Heroes

The Forum Hero awards were presented to four outstanding customer professionals, recognising their exceptional personal contribution in developing professionalism and best practice. They join our growing rank of heroes, reflecting excellence at all levels in our profession.

Measuring the value of insight and your return on investment (ROI)

Insight rarely delivers benefits directly but it does enable decisions that can realise tangible value. During their insight standards assessment, Ember’s approach to measuring the value of insight really stood out so we have asked them to share their knowledge.

How can a fresh approach to feedback increase your customer retention?

Collecting feedback in the traditional way doesn’t make enough of a difference, as Guy Letts explains. A recent breakthrough moment came with the discovery that feedback must be integral to the customer journey. Find out more.

Enterprise-wide: planning & analysis for field, branch & back office operations

Digital transformation is creating massive opportunities across the whole organisation. So, if getting started is difficult, you know what to do but not how to do it or you just want to see how others work, get in touch, you are not on your own.

Holiday booking: making it effective and easy

Too often the annual leave process is clunky, admin-heavy, unfair and with bad operational impact. Having seen some great approaches as well as some awful ones, here is my list of guiding principles, which require action at each stage of the planning cycle. 

Influencing Success: creating a win-win every time

Do you think of influencing as devious and underhand? Perhaps you don’t like the idea of being manipulative? Nicola Callan challenges our perception of influencing and shares some top tips for influencing success.

How to size your planning team & benchmark your service levels

What are the key considerations when you are looking to design your planning team or respond to challenges within the organisation. What service goals should we be working to and how are these set? How can an outside-in perspective help?

Behaviour-based quality: what makes the difference?

When we talk about behaviour-based quality we are normally moving away from a tick box exercise (what did you do) and looking more generally at the behaviours that make the difference (what outcomes did this drive).

Operationalising the plan: can we balance supply and demand?

Capacity Planning is fundamental because it demonstrates the link between commercial plans and operational resourcing. To support the business as analysts we need to minimise the variance between operational capacity and the needs of our customers.

Digital: KPIs & resourcing for messaging and social media

KPIs underpin our goals, from a customer, strategy and performance perspective, so we can track how effective we are in achieving our objectives. Moreover, KPIs help us define our resource requirements and may be very different for digital channels from telephony.

Are you engaging? Don’t let your good work go to waste!

How do you get your story across? Insight can drive real benefits, but only when it is communicated effectively, and people want to hear it. That’s why many leaders say that engagement is the most useful skill you can develop as an analyst.

Digital transformation: open source forecasting & the potential for analysts

Data connects. With so much information out there, we need to spend time and open our minds to new possibilities. How do we look for data and insight beyond our own organisation? Is this an opportunity to stretch and deepen our skill set as analysts? Paul Smedley reports.

Multi-skilling: understanding complexity in a multi-channel world!

As we go searching for cost and efficiency savings, with new channels and more complex calls, we will often turn to multi-skilling and work blending, but does anyone really understand the complexity of multi-skilling and the importance of a skills matrix?

AI & Machine Learning: key applications for teams running customer operations

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has captured the imagination of the media, set boardrooms buzzing and sent stock markets bubbling. 2019 is talked about as the year when ideas give way to results. So, what will that mean in practice, for customer operations?

The playbook: don’t wait, you know what to do!

Too many people and organisations don’t have an accurate, trusted picture of the future or a consistent understanding of what business as usual (BAU) means. This leads to problems, as perception and subjectivity project the wrong version of tomorrow.

Consultancy delivers fast and effective results

We understand how our member organisations are under increasing pressure to deliver faster, better and cheaper results and we are ready as a team at The Forum to help you achieve exactly that.

Mark Henderson from NHS BSA shares his experience on The Forum's Standards Accreditation

Working through the accreditation it certainly provides you with some questions where the answers aren’t always what you have always thought…..

Budget & Capacity Planning: Understand the boundaries, not working within the limits

How would you describe your final signed off budget?

1. A reflective picture of the numbers required to deliver against all targets

2. Numbers fixed by finance/senior management which operations have been challenged to deliver targets with

3. Numbers that do not reflect your requirement or current performance

Disrupting Insight

Over the last few years I’ve developed an unhealthy obsession with bringing business model disruption into everyday working scenarios. Particularly the concept of platforms for mass consumption. The basic idea, at a market level, is pretty simple: can you reinvent a business value chain by creating a direct connection of provider and customers while effectively turning your providers into customers too? Ok. I’ve just re-read that too and it’s not an easy sentence to follow so here is an example that I like to use.

Is creativity the future of work?

There continues to be much discussion on the future of work. Nesta, The Innovation Foundation, have released research that suggests that the creative economy is the one that is going to grow the most and be the most human-centred economy by 2030.

Delivering Quality Feedback

You’ve listened to the call, you’ve done the assessment against your quality framework and the feedback is ready. What do you do next?

A question of Structure: What to do with your planning team

One of the questions I have been asked most often through my career in customer service is “how should our planning team be structured?” This is generally accompanied by some more detailed questions like “should real-time be part of planning or part of the operational team”, “should MI and Planning be together”, “should we have one planning team for everyone or many planning teams, one for each line of business”? If I could only come up with a standard model that fits any organisation, I could save a lot of time and make a lot of money!

Be your Personal Best: How I conquered Mount Elbrus

Read Dee Chapman's account of her expedietion to climb the highest montain in Russia; Mount Elbrus

Are you making the most of your apprenticeship levy?

It’s been reported for a while that the apprenticeship levy is not reaping the rewards it set out to when introduced in 2017.

Be Your Personal Best

Personal Bests are important for athletes, whether amateur or professional. These provide a benchmark for comparison and instant feedback for future adjustments to training. Ultimately, we need to track how we perform so we can track our progress. Unfortunately, performance cultures can be negative (always falling short of targets), unhealthy (causing stress, anxiety and burn-out) and therefore not sustainable cultures. So how can we balance the need to understand performance versus a negative short-term focus?
About us

As an independent association established since 2000, we offer a trusted space for professionals in contact centre, field service, back office or retail operation. Benchmark against the best in class and learn from innovators and pioneers.

Learning Academy

On-demand modules

We have a wide range of virtual modules that you can view at your own pace.

Covid-19 Series

You have a community of support at The Forum. See the series of free webinars to help you through this unusual situation.

Conferences

Customer Strategy & Planning 2020
28th Sept - 9th Oct, Virtually
Learn first-hand from practitioners and business leaders who are delivering successful change.

National Conferences 2019
Catch up on the highlights
Annual conferences dedicated to the needs of their communities.

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