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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.

Leadership Discussion Part 3: Technology

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

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”. 

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.

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.

Planning As A Strategic Capability For The Business At Sky

Virtual Site Visit, held on 18th June 2020

See how ‘inspired experts’ in the Sky Planning Team drive innovation in planning, to bring strategic value to the business and make life better for customers and colleagues.

Summary 
Sky considers 2019 to have been a vintage year for the organisation. Customer numbers, sales and profitability have all shown material increases and the Planning Team are at the heart of these impressive results. A strong commercial intellect coupled with a thirst for innovation, which puts people and customers at the forefront of their thinking, makes the team pivotal to the success. No longer just about operational efficiencies, this team is helping to shape the future strategy of the business. They run many concurrent projects, such as automation with robotics and apps, reducing customer effort and improving colleague work-life integration. Freedom to innovate, test, fail fast and learn is central to the team’s culture, whilst their career pathways programme provides inspiration and development for their own people. 

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.

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. 

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?
 

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.

What do I really want?

The reality is that our stakeholders are much the same, they will think they know what they want but all too often this does not meet their needs. It is very rare for our stakeholders to fully understand all the systems, processes, techniques, data and insight we have available, or the challenges, limitations and restrictions we need to work around. Unfortunately, this does not stop them trying to define the solution.  It is our role as analysts to find out what they really want and find a way to deliver this. To do this we need to employ coaching and questioning techniques.

Inspiring Performance: the actor’s method

I BEHAVE THEREFORE I AM. William James said “we have as many personalities as there are people who know us”. Your ‘character’ is defined to others not by your thoughts or intentions, however well-meaning and earnest they may be, but by your BEHAVIOUR. Like it or not, each and every one of us gets judged on our behaviour, every day. The way we act, the things we say, the stuff we do – for better or for worse, we’re always making an impression on those around us. Your behaviour shapes what people think about you and defines how people remember you. You could go as far as saying ‘You’ are the behaviours you display to the world! Read more or try out this short training video.

Agent Engagement: How to Nail It

There is plenty of evidence that happy agents mean happy customers and staff turnover hurts the bottom line by thousands of pounds. Gain top tips in this short popular conference presentation
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Learning Academy

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Covid-19 Webinar Series 2

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National Conferences 2020
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