Hi. I’m Vicky. I’m a people person, and I happen to work in Human Resources. Let me tell you the story about Dave (not his real name, but everyone knows a Dave). Dave has not been his usual self lately, a little grumpy, some might even say snappy, and he certainly hasn’t produced work to his normal level. His manager spoke to HR in the shared service centre, who told them to manage through the policy. This meant a recorded conversation and potentially a PIP.
There is now a lot of customer dissatisfaction about wait times to the contact centre and with companies blaming this on Covid. In This Report last week from Moneypenny published in the FMJ, 85% of consumers were unimpressed with companies blaming long wait times on Covid, and their patience is wearing thin.
A lot of retailers have suddenly woken up to how valuable their contact centres are, having relied solely on their stores until now, viewing the customer service centre as a necessary overhead to be managed. This is leading to many of them needing to bring their contact centres and the customer service supporting infrastructure right up to date having underfunded and under developed it for many years.
The Virgin Media and 02 merger has now been given approval to proceed. I’m curious as to know what this is going to mean for their CX design and their contact centre estate. Virgin in particular have had an appalling reputation, and have never really fixed broken processes and customer journeys from several legacy acquisitions and rebrands from the cable space going back many years. I still wear the battle scars from my days at NTHell as we somewhat affectionately called it.
I have been struck over the last couple of months how many companies are complaining about a skills shortage. And not just call centres either. Utilities companies, retailers, healthcare organisations, travel businesses. Wherever I’ve been this year, organisations are struggling both to the find people with the skills needed, but more worryingly, the people who they already have, not being competent in their existing roles, causing unacceptable performance issues and resulting business impacts.
Bus use had dropped over 20% outside of London in recent years, and since the pandemic, numbers have plummeted, as low as 9% of previous levels in places during the various lockdowns. Many of the passengers won’t come back under the current market arrangements and there is a fundamental shift taking place in the sector, that some feel is long overdue. What’s clear is that the deregulated, privatised commercial model that has operated since 1988 has had its day.
We have talked plenty in recent weeks about very poor service experiences, so am delighted this week to write about two great experiences. I went to the physio last week. Never something to look forward to, but they have definitely updated and redesigned their service experience since I last went a couple of years ago. They now have an online pre-assessment where you fill out details of your condition, pain issues, mobility etc. This is then reviewed by the physio before you arrive on his tablet, so doesn’t waste time establishing the nature of the condition. More time for treatment. Everything about the condition, treatment and exercise plan, explained on the screen, with diagrams, all supported with a really fabulous human interaction.
Have we seen the death of Presenteeism? If there is such a thing as a good thing to come out of the COVID pandemic, surely this is it? No one used to bat an eyelid if someone in the office went out for a 5 minute cigarette break or had a five minute chat whilst making a coffee. Now our breaks include taking the bins out or hanging the washing out. It’s the same thing but different right?
I was desperately sad to hear of the passing of Customer Service legend Don Hales last Friday. The word legend is often overused, but when it comes to the impact and legacy Don leaves on the world of Customer Service, it barely does him justice. A tear was shed, the gap he leaves in our professional world, and personal lives of many, will be huge.
Anthony Healds frustrations with Sainsbury’s Bank last week struck a chord with me. If you didn’t see it, here it is. “Four and a half minutes of IVR which screamed ‘GO ONLINE AND SERVE YOURSELF’. I tried that but as I wanted to cancel a card the website told me to call. ‘Due to Covid…’ followed by ‘due to severe weather…’, regularly interspersed with ‘YOU CAN DO MOST THINGS ONLINE’. This is a blue chip brand here that clearly did not want to talk to me, despite telling me to call.