A little while ago I sat in a conference room listening to a (rightly) well-respected customer experience guru propound the importance of Customer Experience becoming a profession. Through recognised qualifications, methodologies and practitioner groups Customer Experience could become established and respected.
It’s hard to argue with that logic. Over the past few decades HR, technology and marketing have joined legal services and accountancy to gain perceived stature through becoming recognised as professional activities, best trusted to qualified experts. Even in a world of work where it’s increasingly difficult for outsiders to understand from job titles what people actually do, there is organisational cachet and implied authority from having a ‘professional job’. And professional roles and disciplines tend to become indispensable by being ‘baked in’ to organisational design and operating models.
Great. As far as it goes.
Who’s afraid of the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)? Well, in a sense we all should be. Getting on the wrong side of the ICO can lead to reputational damage, massive fines and possible closure. And the organisations that do find themselves under the ICO’s scrutiny aren’t just the ‘usual suspects’ of dodgy telemarketers, spammers and con artists.
I’ve been on the Information Commissioner’s Office’s website looking at the firms and organisations that have experienced the ICO’s most serious enforcement actions, since last March. Those actions are
• Enforcement Notices
• Monetary Penalties
The exercise has yielded some interesting results.
These are challenging times for organisations which make large-scale outbound calls using predictive dialler technology. The UK communications regulator, Ofcom, is undertaking a ‘Review of how we use our persistent misuse powers: Focus on silent and abandoned calls’ http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/silentcalls/JAP_Update_Dec2015.pdf.
In its initial discussion paper http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/review-of-how-we-use-persistent-misuse-powers/summary/Persistent_misuse.pdf Ofcom has provided some suggested changes to their regulations to help address the problem of – what their research claims are – 4.8 billion nuisance calls made annually. Amongst other changes, Ofcom appear to be proposing that the number of ‘abandoned calls’ (that is, calls which are made but are then automatically terminated by the contact centre because no-one’s available at the contact centre end to handle the call – typically because the predictive dialler’s been set to slightly ‘over-dial’ or its algorithms have got it wrong) from 3% to 3.
I’m not entirely clear whether that’s 3 per month, or what, and there are various questions and ambiguities about exactly what is meant by Ofcom in the review. No doubt because of this, the DMA has successfully lobbied Ofcom to extend the original consultation period by two weeks to Wednesday 24th February. A team from the DMA are meeting with Ofcom this coming Tuesday (2nd February 2016).
This blog was originally published on LinkedIn on 21st December 2015 and generated some lively comments
Today, the last Monday before Christmas, is ‘Panic Monday’ for many retailers. According to modern tradition, it’s the day that customers decide it’s too late to buy presents online, so go (physical) shopping. In turn, that creates demand for switches from couriered delivery to ‘click and collect’ fulfilment, late-cancelled on-line orders, a need to for clarity and accuracy in differing stock levels between online and store locations, and so on. All this is grist to the mill for those of us interested in the omni-channel customer experience, but it’s likely to prove to be a difficult day if you’re working in a retailer’s contact centre.
EU Data Protection regulation is changing; charity fundraising has been found wanting and radically shaken up; the probity of commercially traded customer data is still suspect. These were just some of the issues addressed at the DMA’s Legal Update on Tuesday 20th October.
There’s nothing like a good three-hour Legislation Update in the morning to get your Tuesday off to a flying start. So, yesterday I joined a roomful of people at the Direct Marketing Association (DMA)’s Margaret Street offices to find out what legislative changes have been made and are in prospect which will have an impact on direct marketing.
The John Lewis Partnership. Four words that are catnip to Middle England.
We just love ‘em, don’t we? Competence, reassurance, value and consistency.
John Lewis may well be the tallest of the ‘tall poppies’ in the big, muddy field of organisations seeking to do right by their customers and employees.
However, this recent article in The Guardian – which you might think of as the John Lewis (JLP) house journal; beautifully aligned in terms of customer profile and corporate values – entitled ‘Has John Lewis Lost the Plot on Complaints?’ really set me thinking.
You haven’t got long, so let’s fall back on some reassuring clichés. Sales people will – if they make their numbers – get to go on flashy, company-funded overseas trips, but marketers are meant to be smarter and get invited to better parties. Customer service people are too busy fighting fires to socialise – and IT people don’t get invited to parties. Does that sound about right?
I came across Forbes’ Dan Schawbel’s article on Workplace Trends for 2015 http://www.forbes.com/sites/danschawbel/2014/10/29/the-top-10-workplace-trends-for-2015 through a Teleperformance blog http://blog.teleperformance.com/2015/01/08/customer-experience-trends-for-2015. In the blog Teleperformance’s Dax Lopes pick up on Schawbel’s warning about the growing skills gap and the linked expansion of automation and outsourcing. Drawing on these trends Lopes highlights that the customer management challenge “tracking who is saying what about your brand or products, and when, and why, is already complex enough. Trying to engage with those same customers across the same channels they are using and trying to connect all those channels together so you have some knowledge and insight is getting harder”.
So, says my friendly client, we need to get serious about focusing on the customer experience. Customer Experience needs to gain status; it needs a budget in its own right.
Well, of course it does. Like government ministers, corporate executives need budgets. And few executives ever got promotion by giving their budget away. Size may or may not matter, but budgets do. This may sound cynical, but in most organisations you spend your way to importance. Vision and goodwill are great, but without a seat or a voice at the top table they won’t get you – or the organisation – far. As a rule.
As 2014 comes to a close, it’s interesting to look back on some significant anniversaries. In the very different worlds of railways and banking 2014 marked the anniversary of the founding of two highly successful brands.
2014 was the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of the Japanese Shinkansen (‘New Main Line’ – or more commonly, dangan ressha or ‘Bullet Train’). 50 years on and the Shinkansen is still regarded as a marvel and a source of national pride. Why? Well, ‘bullet train’ appeals more to the 8 year-old child in us than ‘TGV’ or ‘ICE’, I suppose. Aside from that, though it still provides an utterly reliable, fast and uninterrupted service, through a still-expanding national network.