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Beware of the Leopard!

I recently saw on the BBC website that additional travel restrictions have been imposed on eight areas in the UK including where many of my family live.

This has been in place since Friday, but nobody knew about it. There was no announcement it was simply posted in a subsection of a governance Covid advice page. But since as far as anybody was aware there had been no change, there was no reason to visit that page.

The key to unlocking opportunities is to understand the problem you are solving

You are the key to unlock opportunities, whether this be a personal change, a team development or a business transformation. In celebrating 21 years at The Forum, Phil Anderson looks at the part you can play in influencing the people around you, changing mindsets and overcoming the issues that block or slow down progress in our member organisations.

How correct data can give wrong answers

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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 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.

The Learning Academy: invest in yourself and your people

With a major expansion of our learning materials in the last 12 months, see how members are creating personal development pathways for their own needs, as individuals or organisations. Learning is accessible virtually or face-to-face and can lead to professional accreditation

How can we release the value of partners in transforming our business?

Great partnerships have this in common, both teams become increasingly in demand. With technology transformation a key challenge for business leaders, see how these brilliant award finalists brought learning from the outside that deliver on key organisational objectives.

Target Typology: how are your measures & targets understood?

Are your key metrics understood? What behaviours are your targets driving? Learn about different types of targets and the misconceptions that surround them. Why not look afresh at what happens today in your organisation and how you might move forward?

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.

Digital challenge: why do data-driven organisations perform better?

Data matters, because it’s helping us grow new opportunities, offer new services and drive huge efficiency. So, what does this mean for analysts and business leaders? How do we seize this opportunity for our organisation? Read about the emerging trends and learn from great case studies.

Planning cycle: resource allocation & training in field planning

This stage of the planning cycle is key for Field Operations and there is much to learn from best practice elsewhere, as our Field network grows, we launch our first Field Planning workshop programme and kick-off a cohort in standards benchmarking for field.

Driving improvement in end-to-end processes and back office capacity

Best practice in back office planning offers many of the disciplines that are key to the new digital world as much as the old, as the growth of digital channels creates new tasks and processes. Understand how best practice can be shared and evolved. Find out more.

Releasing Potential: collaboration, empowerment and shared purpose

We share success stories and uncover what releases untapped potential in our organisations and the people who work in them. What sets us free to give of our very best? What makes professionals stand out, in striving for excellence and improvement?

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. 

TARGET TAXONOMY

Targets – we all have them.  In the world of Contact Centres, there are lots of them.  A lot of time is spent collating information for reports about certain ‘key’ performance indicators and even more time is spent looking to change or enhance performance in one area, often to the detriment of performance against another.

Standards benchmarking: how the best get better every year!

Peer review is a unique feature of our standards benchmarking and accreditation at The Forum. In effect, we now have a bespoke benchmarking group of planning pioneers that helps ‘the best get better every year’, as one member put it. I’ve been lucky enough last month to lead two superb Standards Benchmarking Days. This is what people were talking about – take a look.

Taking the Focus off Lateness

A lot of time and effort in Contact Centre Real Time Management is spent focussing on schedule adherence.  A resource-heavy occupation, the focus is on making sure that people are doing what they should be doing, when they should be doing it.  Real Time Adherence Monitoring is a key function for Contact Centres all over the country.
 

Starts Monday!

How many times have you been doing the Friday big-shop and thrown in a multipack of Jammy Wagon Wheels, because its on offer, and thought diet starts Monday? On one hand its very easy to put “things” off to the following week, on the other hand Monday’s provide a great “line-the-sand” for us to start again.

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?

Sociometrics & The Modern Customer Operations World

My esteemed colleague, Ian Robertson, recently shared an article with me – The New Science of Building Great Teams – from the Harvard Business Review https://hbr.org/2012/04/the-new-science-of-building-great-teams. It’s a great read and features something at its core that I’ve never encountered before – Sociometrics.

What can I learn from chefs & photographers

I recently read an article that stated “The simple act of rotating your plate can make the food on it taste better.” Like many of you my first reaction was scepticism, surely this was yet another of those statistically unsound studies that newspapers seem to love. However, as I read on I found that this was a valid study conducted by the Science Museum scientists at Oxford University. 

The Future Is Coming. Are You Ready?

The world of contact centre planning is very quietly going through something of a revolution at the moment. Teams are more and more being asked to divert their attention from the confines of the telephony floor and to focus more on Customer Operations; to look at back office activities, branch networks and, increasingly, Field planning. More and more Forum members are bringing us challenges that are far removed from Erlang or Talk Times.

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.

The Skills Matrix, by Phil Anderson

Multi-skilling provides a great opportunity for efficiency savings, customer service improvements and adding variety and ownership for advisors.  Multi-skilling also adds layers of complexity which can be very difficult to understand and accurate plan for.  As we go searching for cost and efficiency savings we will often turn to multi-skilling and blending channels, but does anyone really understand the complexity of multi-skilling and the skills matrix?
 

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.

Targets drive behaviours

We know that targets drive behaviours. The problem is that it isn't always the right behaviour. When we are targeted it is human nature to find the easiest way to achieve that target.

What makes a great analyst? Take a leaf out of these books!

Analysts need to be able to listen & draw ideas from others and the professional community is a great place from which to learn. What does good look like? It’s a top question we get asked, so Ian Robertson put it back to some experienced analysts on LinkedIn and shares the results.

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.

Social Data:- Likes and Retweets, right?

Social Media is a rich source of insight but how can we use this to drive real benefits. James Brooks, Innovation Lead at Capita shares his thoughts.

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.

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?

Problem Solving

Solving Problems

For some, the attraction is the challenge of solving something so complex, for others it’s the satisfaction when it’s achieved, for others still it’s collaborating and working together knowing that many minds are better than one. Problem solving can be a key enabler to success but how successful are we in the act of problem solving itself?

We’re bringing learning to you, so you can make a difference

Do you ever feel that your role is so specialised that most training is either irrelevant to you or prohibitively expensive? So do we.
At The Forum we have a clear vision: professionalise our communities. So, this year we took on the challenge of designing and delivering professional development that is completely bespoke to your needs, yet completely affordable.

In 24-hour racing the team always comes first

Forum Member James Stewart, Head of Live Operations at Sky UK, reflects on his roller-coaster ride at the 24-hour European Championships and the resulting team medals.

Across the river Bega, a bar erupts in a cheer. It is the kind of roar that tells you something special has just happened. The commentator is screaming in Romanian and I can see the big screens clearly, Gareth Bale has just scored a wonder goal in the Champions League final.

Meanwhile, I am emptying my belly over the fence being sick once again. Even so, I wouldn’t have swapped a seat at the bar for the fence I am hunched over in the Ion Creanga park in Timisoara for all the tea in China at that moment.

Yep, welcome to 24-hour racing!

Read the full blog.

Date Published: 18/06/2018

The Curse of Knowledge – 5 Ways we always go wrong!

As analysts it can be frustrating when all our hard work is ignored in favour of somebody’s hunch.  How is it possible that our well thought out research is ignored and instead decisions are lead somebody with very little knowledge and a half-baked idea. 

How can I make barriers disappear?

Ian Robertson explores how techniques used by magicians can be used to help us find ways around barriers within our organisation

What is this trying to be?

Now that I am the wrong side of 40 my evenings are no longer a whirl of social engagements, (if I am honest, they never were), but are instead spent sat on the sofa watching cookery shows, like The Great British Menu.
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

National Conferences 2021
w/c 1st November Virtually and 9th November face-to-face
Annual conferences dedicated to the needs of their communities.

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

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