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Partner Article: Double success for Sensée at the 2021 Forum Awards

Work-from-home specialist Sensée has won an Innovation and Transformation Award for ‘Engaged Homeworking’ at the 2021 Forum Awards. The company also received a Highly Commended Partnership Award for its groundbreaking homeworking partnership with Bupa at the gala awards evening on Friday 23rd April.

Partner Article: New survey paints positive picture of Employee Engagement during lockdown

Homeworking is here to stay say top UK contact centres

Throughout lockdown, business leaders have debated the tricky issue of how best to engage and support their people while working from home.  

Have planning roles changed in the last 5 years? Yes, and by a huge amount

This morning, I was flicking through LinkedIn articles looking for an external view on what a successful Contact Centre Resource Planning team should look like. I found an article from November 2015, and to describe this as an ‘eye-opening’ read would be a shining example of understatement. Here’s what it said in a nutshell.

Partner Article: How to Use AI and Analytics to Adapt and Innovate

Are you struggling with bad data in your CRM? Have you tapped into the wealth of information your contact centre interactions data holds?

Partner Article: Access in the Palm of Your Hand with Aspect Workforce Mobile with the Infographic

The ubiquity of smartphones has changed the way we live our lives. In this mobile world, we’re used to conducting much of our lives and business from the palms of our hands through apps. Contact centre agents are no different, so shouldn’t they be able to use an app to manage their work schedules? 

Partner Article: State of the Contact Centre 2021: Cloud is here. What's next?

We all know that the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation and that contact centres have followed suit, with 3 or 4 now using full or partial cloud solutions. Calabrio’s original research, State of the Contact Centre 2021, is based on a survey of 273 contact centre managers in 3 major global markets and in a variety of industries. 

Partner Article: Making the move to cloud in contact centres: 3 key questions to ask

As organisations look to future-proof customer experience they are reviewing their contact centre strategies with many turning to cloud-based technology for all-round agility. Magnus Geverts at Calabrio shares his top tips for a smooth and successful transition to a cloud-first approach.

Data visualisation – what can we learn from the media?

Following on from my last article we are seeing a lot of data being displayed graphically, we can take some great ideas from these but we can also see examples of some of the common pitfalls we need to avoid.

How correct data can give wrong answers

We can learn a huge amount about the interpretation of data when looking reading articles about Covid19. 

Five Years On....and what have we done?

As we are looking to prepare our 2021 Best Practice Guide, I’ve spent some time recently flicking through older versions of the guide to see what content we featured ‘back in the day’. One article in particular caught my nostalgic eye.

365 Days Later....

Well, here we are in March 2021 and for those of us in the UK, this brings us to a significant milestone. We have been in lockdown (at various levels) for a whole 12 months, now. What an alarming and sobering thought that is. And I can assure you that no-one thought that this would be the case, no matter what the ‘I-told-you-so’ merchants say to the contrary.

Partner News: EBI.AI launches Community AI with cost-effective AI assistants for local councils

Coventry City Council is first to join the exclusive network for local councils overwhelmed with calls about bins, Council Tax and Covid

Partner Article: Recovery Accelerator Kit at Calabrio

Insights & Tools You Can Use to Increase Your Pandemic Escape Velocity Insights.

365-days later

Well, here we are in March 2021 and for those of us in the UK, this brings us to a significant milestone. We have been in lockdown (at various levels) for a whole 12 months, now. What an alarming and sobering thought that is. And I can assure you that no-one thought that this would be the case, no matter what the ‘I-told-you-so’ merchants say to the contrary.

Budget Planning

Budgets don’t typically create excitement, more of a necessary evil, “we need to do it”, it is often a long drawn out, boring process which often feels like a making the numbers fit, which few people follow anyway. Tedius detail, wild estimates, ambitious sales targets and even more ambitious handle times and shrinkage percentages.

In the fact the only thing potentially more tedious, unnecessary and, drawn out would be a keynote on the very topic.

Planning for Outbound

Outbound dialling – viewed by some as a nuisance, and by others as a vital tool in the battle to serve customers in the most effective and efficient way possible. Whether done manually via a list or automatically using the latest in Dialler systems, hundreds of companies employ tens of thousands to make outbound calls for making sales, managing inbound queues, imparting information, or collecting outstanding monies. It is a very important consideration for modern companies.

Which possibly makes it more surprising that so little consideration is actually given to the best way to build capacity plans or plan FTE requirements.

Partner News: Using automated analytics to identify contact centre issues and solutions in turbulent times

New Calabrio ebook provides practical advice and strategies from 3 award-winning organisations

Planning for Wellbeing: Considering the Employee Lifecycle

As a result of Covid-19, each aspect of the employee lifecycle has been challenged. This has provided an opportunity to design and rebuild a new and joined up approach, supporting both the long- and short-term strategies. The uncertainty of planning during a pandemic has led to decisions being made with a short-term view in mind; some of these responses may turn out to be poor enduring solutions.

Partner Article: Aspect Workforce Optimization

Aspect Workforce Optimization v21 is the most advanced enterprise cloud solution for the mobile workforce—making it easy to manage, schedule and motivate agents working from anywhere.
 

Partner Article: Overcoming Inertia

Moving to your Contact Centre to the cloud is easier and more critical than ever!

Partner News: Sensée named Small/Medium Outsourced Contact Centre of the Year at the 2020 Contact Centre Network Northern Ireland Awards

Sensée named Small/Medium Outsourced Contact Centre of the Year at the 2020 Contact Centre Network Northern Ireland Awards

Partner Article: AI – Enabled Contact Centre Analytics for Dummies

How much do you really know about AI-powered analytics? Have you really tapped into your Contact Centre Interactions, and the wealth of information they hold?

Partner Article: Watch On-Demand! Webinar - Enabling Flexible Working Practices

As organisations change their “Target Operating Models” post Covid, many are looking to challenge their current scheduling methodology (and advisor contracts) as they integrate some form of homeworking strategy into their business. 

Watch on-demand David Vernon’s presentation from The Forum’s National Conference - Enabling Flexible Working Practices.

Turn Customers into Fans with help from a CX Rockstar

The pandemic has changed how contact centres operate. Agents working from home and changes in customer expectations are just two of the challenges that organisations face. Ed Creasey of Calabrio discusses how successful Customer Service Managers can boost their skills to deliver exceptional customer experience (CX) in extraordinary times.

Just when we thought it was safe to go back to the office…

There’s an old expression I’ve heard – ‘It’s the hope that kills you’. I think it’s most often used to describe the lives of fans of certain football clubs, if I’m honest, but I’m certain it applies in all walks of life. Its premise is simple – if you have no sense that things may improve, you can easily suffer deprivations. However, once you are shown hope that things may one day improve, you will suffer the pangs of disappointment when improvement fails to materialise. The beggar is only truly down at heel when he is aware of the millionaire, I suppose.

Benchmarking: The benefits and the total lack of drawbacks

Have you thought about the awesome power of benchmarking? If not, maybe you should.

Partner Article: Sensée announces 200 new UK work-at-home contact centre jobs

Homeworking specialist Sensée is recruiting immediately for 200 new work-from-home roles.  

Partner Article: Remote Workforce Management – from survive to thrive in 3 easy steps

Richard Pinnington of Calabrio discusses how workforce management means so much more in challenging times. 

Leadership Discussion Part 3: Technology

What technology is required and what is currently missing to support the future working environment?

Partner Article: Is collecting debt in large volumes on the horizon?

Is collecting debt in large volumes on the horizon?  Aspect is a leader in the outbound dialer market with contact capabilities that power automated, compliant campaigns, that help you send the right message at the right time – which helps improve collection activities.  

Partner Article: Wave Goodbye to 2020: What’s in store for 2021?

As we say farewell to 2020 there are plenty of positives to take from this year of change and challenges. Magnus Geverts at Calabrio sums up the lessons learned and reveals his top 3 predictions for 2021.  

2021 Best Practice Programme

We have now launched our programme of activity for 2021, combining the very best of virtual and face-to-face to offer you a variety of ways of maximising your membership.

The forced virtual environment of 2020 has given us a huge learning opportunity to understand how we can grow our community, make more events easier to access whilst still ensuring value. 

These can be accessed through your membership, or pay-as-you-go.

Redefining the role and responsibility of Planning; Creating the right team to deliver value

Regenerating, rejuvenating or just reviewing your role and responsibilities is a great way to continuously improve. 2020 has been a year to rethink and reflect on how we used to do things, how we need to respond now and to consider what the future could bring. There may have always been problems which have never been addressed, and the response to handling COVID-19 has exacerbated the problems; you may be under difficult cost challenges and need to adapt; or, you want to stay ahead of the game and look for new opportunities. It doesn’t matter why, what does matter is that you are willing to challenge your current state and think about positive change. Redefining the Planning team is a healthy way of re-engaging with stakeholders and the wider business, so everyone is clear on their role and responsibility.

Partner Article: Look forward not back: 4 ways to future-proof your contact centre

Heightened customer expectations are here to stay and are having a huge impact on technology in contact centres. Ed Creasey at Calabrio shares a forward-looking plan for the “new normal”. 

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

Partner Article: 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.

How Omni-Channel Transforms Customer Experience In Retail At Clarks

Virtual Site Visit, held on 22nd July 13:00

See how social media, CAI the Chatbot and a new digital platform are empowering advisors, delivering a dramatic improvement in customer satisfaction and future-proofing this 200-year old brand.

The team from Cirrus shared the story of how they worked with Clarks in this transformation.

Summary 
The digital team, and their technology partner Cirrus, have been a catalyst for radical changes at Clarks Shoes over the past 18 months. This has been transformational for both colleagues and customers – and opens up the brand in new ways to their global market. CAI, the chatbot, now takes 70% of incoming contact, half of them out of hours, resolving three quarters, with an 83% satisfaction rating. Fourteen systems have been combined into a unified desktop for advisors and data is captured across every touchpoint. As a result, the business can now listen to what customers want and colleagues feel they have a hand in owning the customer journey. Customer experience is handled in a measured way end-to-end, with a massive uplift in their independent Trust Pilot rating to 8.6 (Excellent). It’s a demonstration of how true supplier partnerships can power change in a receptive business. 

Speech Analytics: Quality And Customer Experience At VitalityHealth

Virtual Site Visit, held on 9th July 2020

See how successful implementation of analytics has transformed the contribution of Quality at Vitality, engaging colleagues and raising care scores up by a quarter, with a 13% drop in lapse rates.

Summary
A detailed view of customer experience is provided by 10 new scorecards, based on 100% sample, made possible by the successful automation of call scoring using CallMiner. This has already completed the equivalent of 20 years manual effort and audit fails are down 16%. A new governance process is developing the use of analytics in the business, with Quality, Coaching & Continuous Improvement coming together, in a value-add function, alongside planning. Programming of 260+ rules, based on over 750 key phrases, relied on the expertise of external consultants from Ember, who provide a managed service. In just 18 months this new Quality Framework, has been rolled out across four areas of the business, raising NPS by 8-18%, supporting a 4.5 Star rating on Trust Pilot and leading to being voted the best large centre and No.1 for voice contacts.

Confidence In Planning Transforms The Operation At Yorkshire Ambulance Service

Virtual Site Visit, held on 7th July 2020

See how core planning principles have transformed the ambulance emergency service across Yorkshire, with great collaboration and leadership the key to gaining trust and making change possible. 

Summary 

The Ambulance Response Programme (ARP) has transformed patient response times through changes in resource utilisation for the 999 service. With the transformation team, Resource Planning stepped up to provide confidence in decisions, through implementing a planning cycle with patient care at the heart. 130 FTE efficiency was created by developing demand-led, end-to-end planning. The overtime strategy saved in excess of £2 million and all seven performance targets are now being met. Career development, important to colleagues, retains skills in a sector with key shortages. Furthermore, hearts and minds have been changed through accuracy of forecasts and engagement. Doors have opened up to further change. Planning is fully integrated within the Leadership Team and called on by other ambulance services for their own transformation programmes.

Transforming Sales: Joining Together For The Customer At RS Components

Virtual Site Visit, held on 2nd July 2020

See how sales opportunities doubled in a challenging market, by embracing customer service principles in sales and focussing on colleague engagement, proactive contact and value-add actions.

Summary 
A cultural transformation within sales at RS was supported by collaboration with the insight, planning and quality teams. By focussing on what is important to customers and colleagues, the sales teams evolved to meet the needs of a changing marketplace. Colleague feedback and engagement played a crucial role in this, adapting established best practice for customer service to help colleagues succeed in sales. Sales opportunities doubled, a 200% increase in the types that were most effective. As a result, turnover grew 5% and customer Net Promoter (NPS) & Net Easy (NES) scores each rose by 20 points. Significantly, this new operating model provides the benefits of personal client relationships, while bringing in a more centralised function, driving efficiencies and refocussing resources on value adding roles and activities. 

Strategy & Budget Planning Join Up The Business At RSA

Virtual Site Visit, held on 1st July 2020

See how strategic resource models are evolving and driving continuous improvement, consolidated onto a shared platform with Finance, fast & flexible, with a single trusted source of data.

Summary 

Learn how the Planning Team at RSA has developed as a trusted partner, with a place at the top table. It’s been a strong period for planning, with 15% efficiencies, rising engagement and hundreds of hours saved in the annual budget planning process. The new, standardised planning models evolved in agile sprints, with stakeholder scrum teams. It’s quicker and seamless, with a continuous improvement ethos. This creates flexibility, agility and confidence in the plan – serving 27 business areas, from Sales to Claims, Front to Back Office. Models have been simplified, automated and rebuilt in Anaplan. Savings in analyst time alone yield a compelling ROI, with further flow-through benefits later in the planning cycle and for the operation. Analysis can be turned around instantly or in hours, not weeks. It’s so good because the key data is always there, with a single model framework and robust governance.

Onboard Training From London To Inverness At LNER

Virtual Site Visit, 30th June 09:15

See how planning helped tackle complex challenges in introducing the first new train type in 30 years, itself the first step in a journey of digital transformation.

Summary 
Successful implementation of the new Azuma trains has depended as much on the planning and delivery of training, as the technical introduction of the trains themselves. This required complex planning on such a crowded rail network, including suspending two daily services and gaining flexibility on schedules from colleagues. Yet over 1,600 crew were successfully trained, at the same time that trains were being tested and drivers trained, losing only one service in 18 months. Customer experience is transformed – moving LNER to 3rd out of 28 operators. And technology now provides new facilities and data, paving the way to expand the services further, in a competitive marketplace. Adapting key planning approaches, to face new challenges with limited technology, this is all about engaging with people at the right time to bring them on board on this strategic journey of change. 

Transforming Back Office For Clients & Colleagues At L&G

Virtual Site Visit, held on 25th June 2020

See how planning and transformation teams worked with operations on an operating model that raised productivity 32%, employee satisfaction 13% and halved turn-round times for customers

Summary 
See the value that can be gained by visibility, control and engagement in back office operations. Remarkable transformation in Group Protection at L&G has driven growth and profitability on the back of outstanding service, with new corporate clients signing up for this. Brought about by a new model of collaboration, the Transformation, Planning & Operations teams (the ‘customer service triangle’) have engaged people, using powerful frameworks for change, planning, workflow and communication. Re-launching EG Workforce Manager has been key to establishing control and creating an emotional connection for colleagues. Results are impressive: 21% FTE savings, renewals 75% faster, outstanding premiums cut by 50% and double the consistency of service. The new ways of working are now driving sustained, incremental improvement far beyond the initial recovery. 

Planning Transformation And Systems Thinking At LV= General Insurance (LV= GI)

Virtual Site Visit, held on 24th June 2020

See how Planning gained a seat at the top Customer & Ops table and built confidence in the plan, while at the same time genuinely supporting those accountable for ‘doing the right thing’ in their own area.

Summary 
Systems Thinking is often seen as incompatible with planning, yet the Planning Team at LV= embraced the opportunity to redefine their purpose, gaining a mandate to pioneer new activity and support people using data to make decisions. They are empowering advisors and providing bespoke support to business leaders. Planning models have been stripped back and simplified, data reports automated and made visible. Self-serve for lifestyle planning has cut escalations to Planning by 80% and helped people feel ‘set free’. A sector-first tool for surges in demand in home claims is planning what’s ‘waiting to happen’, before it happens, in stormy times! The shift in thinking has helped raise colleague engagement 12% across the business – and support the key goal of exceptional customer experiences, with NPS up seven points to +72. 

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 Webinar Series 2

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 2021
Catch up on the highlights
Learn first-hand from practitioners and business leaders who are delivering successful change.

National Conferences 2020
Catch up on the highlights
Annual conferences dedicated to the needs of their communities.

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