Another Season Is Upon Us

Autumn has arrived and, at least in the North West, it is delivering some amazing weather that was sadly lacking through the summer months!  My home office is in the basement of my house and so I really value the one window I have, which perfectly frames a broad and no doubt ancient horse chestnut tree.  Throughout this year, I have watched it grow from a bare set of branches, through almost florescent green spring leaves, to ever-darkening foliage to now golden autumnal colours.  If I paid any attention in biology class at school (and I did a little Mr Armstrong) I am fairly sure I will watch it shed those leaves and return to the sparse branches heading into winter, but I am confident that this time next year, the same golden leaves will be there to reflect the October sunshine.  There is a point to this observation (stay with me!).

Work from home

I recently attended CCExpo and like many other industry conferences, the word digital featured in virtually (no pun intended) every conversation.  Predictive this, omni that with a healthy dose of connectedness.  When you see some of the innovative technology offerings available now, it feels like an incredibly exciting space to be in, with a real and rare opportunity to tear up those broken or clumsy pre-existing service models and start again…..but is that really happening?  Or are we just bolting these new shiny toys onto the legacy architecture that exists today, and then shoe-horning the knowledge and skills to support these new products into the same people who handle everything else?

After many presentations and discussions, I couldn’t help feeling that our industry is captured in a similar deciduous cycle of seasonal variations.  The leaves are changing every quarter, but it is still the same branch network attached to the same tree trunk.

Many organisations seem to be changing their QA framework from tick-box process adherence to customer-centric soft-skills, or at least trying to change the bias, and this has to be a good thing for the Customer Experience, but how long will it be before the focus moves on, or returns, to the battle between NPS and CSAT.  Do we measure the success of the journey or the interaction?  Did Customer Effort and Net Easy come and go?  When will Average Handle Time (AHT) return to the fore…Spring…Summer?  Perhaps when service levels aren’t being met, because it is taking longer to deliver a great Customer Experience, and that change is being reflected in the cost-to-serve.

Many who have worked in this industry for any length of time will agree that these shifts in operational focus are nothing new, and are necessary to adapt to the changes and challenges in the business.  What’s more, they are absolutely cyclical and so back to my long-winded reflection…

Attendance at the Homeworking Seminar at CCExpo was scarce.  When offered an opportunity to explore, and potentially embrace, an alternate resource model that could turn their entire approach to servicing the needs of their customer on its head, the audience sought comfort in the procurement of shiny technology to help move their organisation forward and meet its business challenges.  Perhaps the wrong audience or the wrong forum?  Who knows…but I cant help thinking that if the technology breaks, and the Customer is left with no choice but to pick up the phone, how will they make sure that that Advisor, Colleague or Agent is skilled, equipped and best prepared with the knowledge and emotional intelligence to handle the increased complexity and inevitable emotive aspects of that call.  Change their QA framework?  Focus them on CSAT surveys?

Our industry is evolving through technology to keep pace with the Customer and the Competition, but we are still relying on the same core of people to deliver the service.

A good contact of mine shared a view which really struck a chord with me: “We aren’t changing our technology until we have changed our people, so that they are ready to support those Customers using that technology”.  When they said change their people, they meant it quite literally.  Through distributing their workforce and facilitating remote working, they are targeting a completely different demographic, one much more closely aligned with their customer.  This represents a huge investment in their organisation, but not one that would overshadow some of their potential investment in technology in the future.

In their world, they have stopped the seasonal cycle of operational focus.  Instead, they are growing a new tree….

KeirKeir Greenwood is a Vice President of Client Results at Arise Virtual Solutions, but his views shared here are his own.  Arise are a unique specialist provider of Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), that uses a virtual Work@Home operation enabled and supported by leading edge technologies, innovative processes and highly skilled and motivated human resources. With a network of independent business owning agents, who can operate on-demand, Arise clients have the ability to accurately resource by the half hour, daily, weekly and through their seasonal peaks, with agents matched to customers by their skills, demographics or interests.

 For further details on the Arise work-from-home model, visit our website at