Member Resources

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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”. 

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.

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.

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.

Explore the new best practice framework for quality & improvement

The purpose of quality and improvement teams is to continually review and improve. Success comes when we have a defined role and purpose in the business and our work cycle powers change, acting like a heartbeat in an empowering, customer-centred performance culture.

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. 

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?

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?
 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

Quality Community Interview

Here at The Forum, we have three core communities; Planning, Insight and Quality along with our Leadership Community. If you’ve been associated with us for some time, you will know that Planning is at our heart – indeed for nearly 15 years we were the Professional Planning Forum, or PPF – but our other newer communities are gathering momentum. We caught up with Nicola Callan, our Director and Head of Best Practice in Quality to find out more.

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.

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?

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?

Could your email contact result in a fine?

The biggest risk to sharing sensitive data is by email. How well does your Quality Assurance framework help to guard against this?

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?

Behaviour based Quality Frameworks

Say the right thing, do the right thing
 
It’s not unusual to hear that organisations are ‘reviewing their Quality Frameworks’. Regulatory changes, company or departmental merges and ever-increasing focus on customer experience are the most commonly cited reasons for doing this. What’s appearing to be an emerging theme through this is the desire to base a framework on the behaviours the organisation desires to be displayed by colleagues rather than what’s necessarily right or wrong.

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

Is the customer’s voice heard and acted on?

Some organisations are building tools for effective prediction of customer experience, using cross-functional, omni-channel data, as well as customer surveys, but if we don’t take action and change things, then customers are not really being heard.

Continuous Development methods: quality as an improvement not a metric

What is the future of work in the digital world of robotics & AI? How can new approaches help us improve process and products at pace? Leigh McIlwaine offers insight on the latest methodology for rapid change and suggests topics for us to look into as professionals with a future.

How to focus on customer outcomes and be confidently compliant

With such great regulatory changes in 2018, how can you be sure that your quality & risk assurance framework delivers robustly? Pete Dunn and Paul Smedley explore how you review compliance from different perspectives and meet the needs of customers, colleagues & business.
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

National Conferences 2020
30th Nov to 10th Dec
Annual conferences dedicated to the needs of their communities.

Customer Strategy & Planning 2020
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