Omni-channel – managing the complexity

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In this full interview, Simon Brennan from EngageHub discusses some of the complexities of managing customer contact and contact strategies in an omnichannel world with associated high customer expectations.

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Interview Transcript

0:00
Hi, everyone. I’m here with Simon Brenan here today who’s the VP of Sales Europe at engage hub. So Simon, thanks very much for joining me. Really appreciate it.

0:08
My pleasure. Thank you, Chris.

0:09
We’re at the start of the new year, I sort of promised myself, I wasn’t going to talk about COVID, or the pandemic crisis, we spent like the last year talking about it. But it’s going to be my first question, I suppose, which is, which is, I suppose, you know, what have you seen coming back into the new year and how you guys been sort of affected over the last sort of, like, couple of years in terms of like, dynamics of change, and contact levels have changed and those kinds of things,

0:33
certainly initially, at the start of the pandemic, what we saw with our customers, the fact that certainly for, you know, the key sectors that were busy and didn’t have to shut down, they were facing kind of phenomenal demand in terms of contact from their own consumer base, and is really trying to find out a way to service that demand, it reached unprecedented levels. I know. So one of our clients would had received, I think from an inbound contact centre perspective, they received 300% of the contact they would normally receive in a whole year. So it was really adjusting to that, accepting that actually, they needed to do something about it, and then go about planning as to how they could do that and ensure that they were trying to know still offering a service and an avenue for customers to get in touch

1:22
those initial peaks that we kind of saw did they carry on all year? So it’s sort of a sort of, I know, we saw initial peak went for like, there was an initial lockdowns, but then did it, did it go back to the previous levels always remained at this sort of higher level in terms of telephony, as an example? Yeah. So

1:36
the first few weeks were unprecedented levels from our customers, it certainly maintained a much higher level than it would have not in a normal year, for a good period of time. I think in the past, sort of in 2021, certainly, it’s probably gone more back to what might be termed the new normal, which seems, seems to be a regular phrase these days where it might be higher than pre pandemic levels. But actually, it’s it’s the new level that the contacts are these days, but certainly a lot less than at the start of the pandemic.

2:10
And do you think it sort of changed fundamentally, is it changed, like the nature of contact in terms of like how we interact with companies, do you think I mean, if you’ve been sort of seeing that, I mean, you guys look at multiple contact channels. I know, it’s not just telephony, is SMS, you got one, you can sort of orchestrate all of those. I mean, you’ve seen like shifts and changes in the mix at all. I

2:27
think in terms of inbound, the range of channels is, is much greater than it would have been in the past. I think some of that was happening anyway. But I think one of the big things that pandemic is, is hastened quicker change than some organisations were expecting. I think he’s proven that actually in the event of a major issue or emergency, which it wants, in terms of customer contact, for many, the ability to move and pivot much quicker. A lot of organisations could have done something in maybe six weeks typically would have taken six months, if they needed to just go back to the question, certainly, more channels are being used. I think the outbound contact, at least the traditional channels for the past five or 10 years is still the most prominent, the likes of SMS email voice. I think inbound, obviously, we’ll chat as chat has been increasing over the past few years anyway, irrespective of the pandemic, but certainly the availability that for a lot more organisations seems to be a lot more prominent. But I think one of the biggest keys as well is that the need for automation in contact strategies and contact channels has been one of the key things at the pandemic case, and particularly with the unprecedented contact rates coming in in the you know, whether everyone wants to be served by a chat bot or such or whether they speak to a human, I think there’s an acceptance that most people would rather have a level of engagement, rather than being sat in a queue for an unlimited amount of time, potentially, with no contact. So then it’s all about actually how can you try and remove potentially avoidable contact that could or should be self served within like an automated contact channel? So rather

4:10
than being customer preference, it’s actually the actual customer preferences and preference around channel, it’s, my preference is getting to my solution as quick as possible.

4:19
Absolutely. I mean, people still have their preferable channel. And certainly for outbound, you know, that’s probably more important, but the reality for a lot of organisations, certainly the early days of the pandemic, the the actual demand was outstripping the supply the supply being of agents to actually take calls. What’s the better case scenario sitting in a queue for an limitless period of time, and meeting massive frustration while you’re waiting to get through or having a route or avenue to try and serve that channel? Obviously, within that there’s more intelligence needed in terms of, you know, the ability to do things like deflect to a different digital channel that might be a quicker handling time for an agent or initial response, or offering the option of a call back potentially a pre arranged time, so at least you could shedule in, I think the key was it was, you know, offering the offering consumers a route to try and fix whatever their problem was, or the question was,

5:15
with the digital channels, it just seems like the whole thing has just been massively exploding in terms of like, the variety of channels, right. So, you know, you’ve got, you know, WhatsApp scum on the scene, you’ve got the different other different types of messaging channels, you’ve got telephony, you’ve got email, you’ve got more than that just seems like exposure, I suppose part of the challenge seems to be like, how do you coordinate all of that?

5:34
Yeah. And I think that that is one of the things that a lot of organisations that are having challenges with, as you say, the red channels is, it seems to extend almost every few months at the moment, and particularly social and say, the likes of WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, all these contact avenues that customers have got to reach their or the organization’s, then it’s actually how do you harness the data across the different channels to enable connected conversation. And I know, personally, from engage hub, one of the big things that we found is actually our ability to connect across the different channels and offer a seamless experience as being keen as really having and delivering some great solutions since the start of the pandemic, and is

6:19
that clients looking for that? And is that because I know, Omni channel has been around for a while. And it’s sort of like it’s been gradually growing. But is that is that sort of turned a corner? Do you think in terms of like, being a real sort of hard drive? I mean, you’ve seen that from a lot of clients, or in some of your conversations, I think

6:35
it’s an aspirational drive in the respect, you know, everyone would like to do it, a lot of organisations claim and think they’re doing it, there’s not that many sectors that are really doing it right in to the follow up, or at least a, you know, a high degree of capability. But it’s so aspirational. Yes. Reality, probably less. So. I mean, from a technology standpoint, the capabilities are certainly there. I know, within our organisation, we can mobilise those types of solutions. Part of the challenge is, from the organisation side, just how connected their own infrastructure systems processes are, you still find in a lot of silos and legacy architecture that providing significant challenges to kind of hit that utopia of offering true omni channel and a totally seamless and connected experience consumer,

7:28
what’s the groundwork that the companies need to do? Do you think to get it ready?

7:32
I think one of the big things to start really is, you know, assess exactly what they’re looking to achieve, you know, are they offering a channel because it’s cool, and are they offering it, knowing how they’re going to deliver it, provide it use the data and offer it as, as actually a channel that’s going to be successful for them internally and their customer base, I think next thing is looking at the breadth of channels they’ve got and how connected they are in respect of, and that connection, the most key component of that is data, and how they orchestrate that data across the different channels for that connected experience. For example, you know, there’s there’s a lot of organisations where a consumer may call them one day, not reach an agent not have their inquiry serviced the following day, they’ve already they might have been on hold for a period of time, or come through an IVR with their number of buttons, which is signifying their intention, or what they’re looking to do, to a point, at least, they might contact the following day on web chat. And they’re starting from scratch. Again, I think it’s really, really important within the experience of the channels that actually if people are contacting you capturing what they’re doing and understanding their customer journey to a point so that when they come back, you can remove some of the some of the requirements or some of the time it takes them to actually touch and get to the point they were at previously.

8:52
That’s quite interesting questions around channel effectiveness isn’t there. So for example, you send an SMS or you send a message. And as far as you’re concerned, it doesn’t result in an immediate callback. But it’s but it’s it’s been read. I mean, I mean, I might actually read a message. And it might actually is triggering in the back of my mind that after the second one off the third one, maybe then I go and do something and it might even be be a different channel and sort of measuring that sort of like response rate becomes quite a tricky problem in terms of like what was effective, because often it’s not immediate as it certainly in my mind is not an immediate, I think some

9:21
channels are more immediate than others. Mass would be a key one for that. It’s an old thing that you you’re much more likely to read an SMS before you’re going to read an email, because the information tends to be much more concise, and to the point exactly what is rather than email, which might have more information. So it’s really about what the message is how much information needs to be in there. And sometimes an SMS actually is trying to point someone to more information, ie, to go to an online service and account or to almost prompt into an email where there’s more information about whatever that communication is talking about. It’s about using channels in in the right way. To try and engage with your audience, get them to look at an open either an SMS or an email, or you know, just to digest at least the core information. And the call to action within that

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10:13
having almost like a blended contact strategy across multiple channels. And working out the effectiveness needs to be across all the channels, because it’s quite a simple solution, just looking at just, you know, I send an SMS, they click the link, and I know what the response rate is, versus I send multiple SMS is and you know, have multiple different interactions. And how effective is that as a contact strategy versus another one because quite complex problem. I mean, one of the challenges of omni channel, I think

10:38
it does that, that’s where connecting the channels is absolutely essential bility to use multiple different channels and cascade through those channels, so that you don’t send an SMS as an example. And then once campaigns go on, just stop, and then you start a different channel, it’s really, really important that campaigns have got multiple channels, where you can cascade through them, but on a personalised basis. And what I mean by that is, you know, it’s really it’s profiling, which is the, which is the preferential channel for the consumer is a matter of choice or the ability to choose on the fly, and not being too rigid with it in the respect that don’t have a strategy where it might be send an email first, push notification, second SMS third, and then a voice call fourth, is E for enabling individuals within those different channels to choose which of their preferable options, because ultimately, that will lead to a much more effective campaign where you engage with them more readily.

11:40
And I suppose making sure that the messaging joined up all the way through that as well. So it’s not like going back to like, the first SMS message after you’ve, if you’ve had all of these other WhatsApp messages that have gone through.

11:51
Yeah, I think continuity is key there that there is there’s a similar theme to the language and style of the language. I think one of the other things that that does as well, that engenders trust, that actually the organisation contacting you, across the different channels is who you think it is, clearly at the minute, there’s, well, not just at the minute, it really is. It’s always been the case for years, but there’s a lot of spoof and spam emails and as lots of contact, and lots of schemes were quite prominent in the news where people are being scammed of money or information, data breaches. So I think, you know, having that consistency within the message in the language does actually give consumers confidence that the organisation contacting them is who they say they are. And they know it is because of the style and type of the message they’re receiving. And if

12:39
it relates to a previous message, or like you’re having a conversation, you know, it’s, you know, it’s me, because we had a previous conversation earlier. So we talked about some of the things we talked about something 100% Yeah, absolutely. So I know you do stuff in not just in financial services, you do stuff in multiple industries as well. I mean, do you see the sort of like these, these contact strategies changing across different industries as you look across them? Or what are the dynamics that kind of change?

13:01
Yeah, I think there’s there’s definitely different contact strategies across different industries. I think one of the biggest things within that is some industries are just much further, much further forward and more advanced in terms of the their technology internally. And really probably the way they’ve embraced digital and the different contact strategies. So if you think you know, you mentioned financial services, they will be much more advanced than some other sectors belongs to the energy and utilities, logistics, potentially, where there’s probably been a lot of mergers and acquisitions through the years, actually, the infrastructure across the whole organisation is very vast, and it’s probably quite often quite disjointed, which does make things much more challenging, whereas Financial Services has been significant investment for much of the, you know, the main high street banks that has probably been driven from some of the pure ecommerce, digital players where to ensure that their digital offering is, you know, is market leading and if not exactly as good as some of the E commerce players because that’s their whole business, certainly not far off that service and offering

14:09
is that an opportunity for some of the the other players to almost like leapfrog and put technology in in the primary now and much more opportunity. Do you think there is, I think

14:17
for sectors that are probably behind the eight ball in terms of their, that their current omni channel and digital offering, I think there’s a significant opportunity for those organisations to really invest massively in the technology. And if you’re looking in the retail world, I mean, some traditional bricks and mortar retailers do digital and omni channel very, very well. There’s others that some of them been very prominent ones that have struggled in recent years, some of the likes of Arcadia. We’ve never really invested enough in the digital offering, whereas those traditional bricks and mortars and you see it particularly across the the main grocery providers They’ve got a very strong offering that they’re continuing to evolve over time, and you only look then on the flip side is your likes of a sauce. And some of the hot group, some of the pure digital providers and the successes and growth they’ve had for digital been at the forefront of everything they do in their whole communication strategy. So I think the the bricks and mortar organisations that do invest in it and really take that as a lead, I think they’re the ones that have managed really to move with the times as opposed to some of that, you know, real massive names that have been casualties in recent years.

15:34
Where’s the role for, for the human in the process? Do you think I mean, we talk a lot about digital, you know, automation, those kind of things? And what’s what’s the role for the human, you know, at a company, like, colleagues and those sorts of things where we evolved into do you think,

15:49
I think the role of the human if you’re looking from an inbound contact perspective, I think the importance of the human agent will start going more and more down the angle of, you know, really dealing with much more complex inquiries or dealing with, like vulnerable customers, which obviously been a very kind of key customer profile. Since the start the pandemic and some of the challenges that’s proven the way you service vulnerable customers, or priority customers that might be like a VIP high spender. I think the role of the human will focus on those types of customer types and inquiries. evermore there’s still always roll there’s still always a percentage of the population that are going to want to speak to a human over a, an automated Chatbot. But I think complex inquiries and vulnerable and priority customers will be where human agents kind of will not evolve, they still cover that. But that’s going to be more of a focus than potential self serve inquiries that have come in, in the past,

16:56
I suppose, is just trying to find where do they fit within that omni channel mix, right and making sure it’s most value add?

17:02
Exactly. And they are essential within that omni channel mix, because I think you’ve seen it in the past where for many, many years, a lot of large enterprise organisation organisations were offshore in their customer contact operations. And then in the past few years, there’s been many more that have brought them back onshore. And that’s clearly happened for a reason reason, because I think just in terms of the general press and media, there was quite a lot of bad publicity for some major enterprise organisations who have gone down a route of offshoring where the actual consumers just felt like there wasn’t the care or attention of all that actually, it was all about offering the service at the cheapest in the cheap, cheapest possible way, rather than offering a good service and actually caring about their customers wanting to support them. What their inquiry or question was, was for

17:56
digital gives them a way of sort of doing some of that and then using orders essentially a much higher cost channels to then give where they got the value added suppose.

18:05
Absolutely, it certainly does.

18:08
So we talked about offshoring them. Once I know you do work, not just in the UK, you do work sort of internationally in other markets as well. So I’m quite interested to know what you see in terms of different dynamics in terms of contacts in different markets. So so we were chatting a little bit earlier around voice messages as an example versus versus text and those kinds of things. But what are the different dynamics, you you kind of also kind of see, I think

18:30
it’s really, really important that you know, and understand the markets you’re operating in, that’s easy for organisations who work in a single market. So they know, they know the market, because it’s naturally you know, where their operations are, I think organisations who work in multiple markets, it’s essential, they’re aware of market themes, trends, and the expectation of consumers within market, not all countries will have inbound voice, potentially as a primary contact channel. And the expectation, that’s a, I think, is important of knowing the different types. So we provide some operations through some of our global customers across like the likes of Asia and China and China WeChat as a social media channel, is massive there. So the need to have that as an offering within the contact strategy is essential. If you then take the likes of, of LATAM WhatsApp voice messaging is much more prominent out there, and you know, offering sending recorded voice messages via WhatsApp where it may only be very small in the UK, in certain parts of Europe, in other territories, you know, it’s it’s a key channel. So it’s ensure it’s essential, really, that you provide key channels by market that consumers are still familiar with, and ultimately want to use

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19:49
the voice notes kind of interesting in terms of like, why is that different? And then if it becomes popular, then how do you do that from a customer’s point of view so are you like leaving voicemails, almost like sending sending voicemail out using WhatsApp, I mean to get them to respond, because that’s the way they do it,

20:04
it really is about understanding. It goes back, I guess what’s different territories and different markets have different preferable channels, because it’s the, you know, they’re more popular channels in their markets, it all fundamentally comes back to the same point is offering choice for customer contact, for both inbound in terms of how they’re going to get in touch with you, and the way they do it, and a mix of kind of speaking, you know, the ability to reach agents, and use of automation to either offer self serve, or certainly in busy times, you know, offering them a route to do something at least serve as part of their inquiry. And then outbound it’s actually understanding what is the channel of choice, or what’s the preference on an individual level, and actually trying to look at the individual and personalise that, to enable that actually, you’re not dictating to the consumer, how you want them to either get in touch with you, or how you want them to engage with the message you sent them, you’re actually saying to them, we know that you like being contacted via this channel, you seem to relate to it and engage with it. So we’ll go with what you want, not what we want to want you to do. That’s where finding the most success, both in terms of customer satisfaction and consumer satisfaction, and in terms of success from engagement in general, whether that be in from a promotional perspective and operational or, or actually, you know, customer contact?

21:32
And what’s the best way of actually finding out what the preference is because obviously got behaviour. And you can ask them as well, but you’ve also got behaviour as well. And what’s what’s your guidance around trying to work out what the preference is?

21:43
Yeah, well, data is key to that. So whereas some, some organisations have got extensive data that’s very usable, when they’re ready, done that done that profiling, and they’re aware of preferencing. And it’s all about building it into a campaign strategy, and ensuring that actually, the technology can deliver that channel personalization in line with the data held, but where it’s not held, which tends to be more of the case, certainly, especially for those sectors that are on the you know, much more of a formative stage of an omni channel digital offering in journey, it’s important to actually start understanding and it takes time, it doesn’t happen immediately, it might be to start with is it is a more rigid approach. So if you’re looking at an outbound campaign, it might be we know that we’ve got 80% email addresses, we might only have 40% mobile numbers, so we’ll go strategy, there’s maybe email, SMS, then voice in terms of the channels we’re going to use, but then it’s essential that you actually learn from what’s happening when you’re sending out message, ie capturing things like delivery receipts, and if some, like if an emails got hard or soft bounce, or if it’s not responded to within a certain time parameter, then it’s enabling the campaign to switch seamlessly, and cascade to an alternate channel without restarting again. So is it layered campaign, it might be more rigid as say, where the data isn’t held around customers preferable channel. But it’s absolutely essential that once those if you’re doing that, that you’re understanding from the responses, actually how people like to be contacted. And it’s about having an ever evolving data strategy and the ability to work on the ways people are engaging. So

23:32
it’s almost like the it’s like that it’s the test and learn and using the data then to test learn refine, I suppose, I suppose. Yeah, is is the voice message or the voice notes. Quite interesting. I think it’s quite an interesting dynamic in terms of if you think about it, I like to read things because I find it very easy. And it takes doesn’t take me a long time, it’s very quick to read a message. So you can read quite quick. Whereas listening to the note takes quite a long time. But if I flip it around the other way, I quite like sending voice notes, because they’re very quick to do. There’s almost like a an asynchronous sort of time investment there isn’t there as well. So it’s almost like and that might might need to take that in consideration if you’re a company. So you might want to still send text notes, even though they might want to send you voice notes back if you see what I mean, there might be different sort of channel. It’s not always the same channel preference that goes one way or the other.

24:18
Exactly, exactly. There doesn’t have to be a like for like outbound and inbound content strategy. Again, it goes back to this data and understanding that, you know, an individual might prefer a text message out, but then their preference might be as you say, sending a voice message back in. It’s not really it is trying really to offer that choice and not kind of pigeonhole or route customers down and Avenue where you’re dictating to them the way in which they have to contact you. Because what is who I think is just great frustration. And, you know, just go in thinking about this and going back to the original question about the pandemic. I think in the very early days of the pandemic, there was an acceptance From a consumer that, actually, you know what, there’s a lot of organisations facing a lot of challenge. We know that unprecedented demand, we’ll give them a little bit of leeway. But I think there’s still organisations out there are still playing on this was a pandemic, we got massive numbers, the expectation, but consumers just won’t put up with that anymore. It’s not acceptable. It’s nearly two years. It’s not new. It’s the way things are now. I mean, from a personal perspective, I think I had originally planned to travel to toronto, toronto to Boston and Boston back home in 2020. And because of the pandemic, I had three different flights booked with three different airlines for me and the family. Two of them handled the refund process very well. One was a lot slower than the other, but it was still, it was still a good and fair operation. Norwegian airlines refunded almost immediately, they were brilliant way they dealt, I’ve got one remaining WestJet, who it took 12 months before I could get my refund turned to a voucher, and which I had to wait six months then to be offered a cash refund because my voucher was going to run out before I’d ever be likely to be able to use it anyway. So and at the point, I’ve been offered a refund, which is at the start in November, I have to call through to the contact centre because the only channel they can process the refund is the card I booked it on is now expired. And I’ve got a new one I’ve called about five times. And I’ve waited from 45 minutes to two hours never got through, I’ve requested a callback, which never came, I’ve tried to contact on two or three different channels, web, WhatsApp, and I’ve just been told well, I can’t service your inquiry. So never ever fly with them again purely for that. So for, for me, the big message there is you know, there was an acceptance and I think consumers more patient at the start. But now you have to move with the times you have to offer an operation that you know is offering your customers a good service via the right channel and ensure you’re not using it as an excuse, like nearly two years on

27:07
whenever I phoned up a call centre. Like almost like without fail. Now I usually have we’re experiencing unusually high volume at this time. And doesn’t matter what time I call whatever they call it always seems to be like that. So it just seems like there’s a and I only have a call if it if I need that high value sort of I’ve run out of options online. Right. So it’s sort of like it’s, it’s it feels like something’s like needs adjusting a little bit does it really does.

27:32
I think so. You know, I think consumers accept the fact that it is busy. And it’s a genuine message that triggers in after there’s a queue, I don’t know, there’s it’s very easy to do things like if it’s a queue of more than 20 people or X percentage of time to then trigger a message, say we’re experiencing difficulties, but don’t set that expectation at the start when it may not be busy. Because I think you’ll you’ll just lead to consumer frustration and

27:57
just wonder if they’re busy, or if it’s just under capacity, or lack of technologies, I suppose taking taking the volume elsewhere.

28:04
Exactly. And I think you know that that is one of the big things, you know, it’s you have to move with the times and the times are the continuation of the pandemic, yes, it’s not as unprecedented contact, but the reality is consumer expectation off the back of the pandemic has changed those patients initially, then there’s a lot of organisations who really pivoted and, you know, really investing heavily on how they, how they dealt with contact and the range of contact channels that are available. And now the expectation that, you know, organisations can offer more, more channels, more ways to contact, more personalization, more automation, you can certainly go back to it or play a message that might be a message that you played two or three years ago in, in the event of being busy or being under resourced. So it’s, yeah, it’s important we move with the time

29:00
one last question on large campaigns, we’ve just talked a bit about outbound. And I suppose controls is one of the things that comes up. So how many times do you sort of you end up sort of typing something up? I mean, I, I seem to have had problems since coming back from Christmas in terms of like spelling, I type something up, you press send anything I shouldn’t have sent? What about controls on some of those things? So particularly, you get to like really large volumes. I mean, he’s talking like, you know, six, even seven figure kind of sums in terms of messaging that goes out what’s the control kind of kind of environment and importance that you kind of see placed around that.

29:30
I think the controls go across a number of different kinds of layers. You know, from it from a system level Summit, we’ve got this, you know, there’s really extensive controls around roles and permissions of individuals. And then the the hierarchy of individuals and like sub accounts and what people can do see view and end in terms of campaigns so that one thing we find that’s essential and this this is born from say And then campaigns, particularly out in LATAM, for some of the mobile network operators in the 10s of millions at times, it’s essential that you’ve got a whole process as to how a campaign gets signed off creation, to then they go to another sign off level, so it’s been reviewed and checked, then it might be a third person, then that actually sends a campaign, and then reviews it for a third time, because the cost of a mistake at that level is the cost for actually sending the message and the cost of the potential kind of brand damage or reputation if that message isn’t on point. And the impact of the of the on the success of a particular campaign is just, it’s too expensive and mistake to happen. So those controls are really key. I would say the other thing from a control perspective, something that’s very important is that, you know, pretty much all technology providers have the ability to blacklist messaging and content, enable and allowing people to opt out, which, you know, from a data protection, GDPR perspective, you know, it’s a regulatory requirements. So that’s a given. But I think in terms of taking it to a different level, it’s around having message policies and controls in place as well we can offer on our platform is the ability to label different message types. So you might have a service message or an essential operational message that you want the consumer to get, it could be around the delivery, could be around a product recall, where you want to have a restriction because you can’t send someone a message because they’ve hit a maximum number of messages within a month. So what you might have is an unlimited for a service or operational message in terms of the number that can go across chat. But then for a marketing or promotional message, it might be the set a maximum of one or two a month across channels. So just having that it’s another level and layer to ensure that one, that you know, you’re not bombarding your customers with too many messages, clearly, then there’s the fact of impact, if you send in too much and people aren’t engaging, then it’s not having the necessary impact anyway, what you probably going to do is drive someone to opt out sooner, if they visit the actually, it’s not really personalised or relevant what’s been sent, it’s just a number of messages, because that’s when messages come out from an organisation

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32:19
in what’s what are your tips around? How do you drive engagement, what’s the what’s the best way to sort of get people to respond to a message or a voice call, or whatever it is, I mean, you know, this time of day, there’s message, there’s those kinds of things, but what’s what’s your kind of, kind of thoughts on that

32:35
I know at the start is gonna talk about the pandemic anymore, you don’t want to think about it.

32:39
Struggling,

32:42
we are struggling, because it has changed the dynamic, I think one of the biggest things that is there’s a lot more people working at home, whereas previously, you know, people might have been in offices where they couldn’t have their mobile on, they might not have had access to their personal email apart from lunch times, or, or after work or have an evening if they were doing shift work. So I think campaigns probably certainly timed ones used to be time more, or maybe just before lunchtime, during lunch time, or have an evening, because you’re likely to get people to look at the message irrespective of channel much, I think would people be in at home, you know, most people have got their personal mobiles in or near them, you know, unless they’re in a virus in an environment, that means that they’re, they’re not allowed to do it from a regulatory perspective. But I think the access to people is broader in terms of over, you know, the whole day, more often than not, rather than, you know, looking at lunchtime of an evening, I think the time of campaigns is still very important. And, you know, the personalization around the most effective channel that people are engaging with, I think none of that goes away, I just think you’ve probably got more time to engage with people. Because, you know, they’re not as restricted in terms of what they can look at when

34:01
if you know, that someone’s going to call is important to you got to pick up the phone, right? So I if you’re waiting for a call, you’re waiting for it, versus versus, versus a random calls coming through. And it’s probably the same with SMS as well. It’s like, what’s, what’s the, what’s the reason and personalization? I thought,

34:15
yeah, it is that, you know, there’s still great important importance of, of the messaging, and trying to drive action or call to action. And it’s, again, goes back to the fact that part of that personalization is, you know, understanding the channel, consumers want to be engaged with then offering a call to action that isn’t just around suit in you and your, you know, your organization’s requirements and needs. I mean, realistically, you know, there’s going to be times where you need to try and shedule around the available times and resource and there’s going to be busier within an inbound contact centre. So you need to be realistic in working within the confines as to how you’re going to be able to service or support a customer. But then on the flip side, what I would say is do Don’t try and to distinctly drive them down in absolute certain time that you need to speak to them, which might not be convenient for them. And it may mean that by doing that, they’re not able to either take your call or contact you at that certain time. And then they, they go dark and you, you lose that open communication channel. The other thing there as well, for me is, it’s actually looking at and assessing what you’re looking to achieve, again, because of the pandemic financial hardship, and some of the challenges and you know, the level of vulnerable customers certainly seems to increase a lot. That’s what we found from a lot of the organization’s we work with, you know, that bracket of customers who would sit within that kind of profile or title is much more extensive than it might have been. So it’s actually, you know, looking at what you’re looking to achieve, but are you looking to recoup an outstanding payment in full that consumer has? Or actually are you ideally looking to do that, but on the flip side, offering alternate options, which might suit their financial situation at this time, or actually, you know, the final layer is, we know, they’re probably not going to be able to pay in full, they might be able to pay something, but we’re not certain. But more than anything, we want to ensure that we’ve got an open communication or dialogue with them. So the consumer knows we’re here to work with them and support their current situation, yes, ultimately, we want to recoup the money that’s owed, we want to do it in an ethical way that, you know, we’re working with them to achieve that, I think that will engender a much more consumer loyalty if organisations are working with them terms of, you know, offering choice and channels from a contact strategy, but then, you know, options in terms of what happens once they are engaged with someone or speaking with them in a certain way, active channel,

36:46
what’s your view in terms of, you know, this year, how the markets evolving? And where do you think we’ll get getting these huge amounts of happened on digital number of channels, reformation channels, but what do you think are gonna be the big themes this year?

36:58
I think the evolution of personalization, I know there’s a buzz phrase out there these days called hyper personalization, which inactions use of data to deliver more personal and tailored products, services and information, basically, and it enables businesses can use omni channel data to create customer journeys in real time, and become a lot more prominent in the next 12 months. And that is the connection of the channels are removing of silos, and orchestrating both data and the customer journey in real time. I think there’s an expectation for from the consumer that that should be available, I think there’s much more of an acceptance for organisations, that some of the next stages of digital, if they’re not already doing it, then it’s essential that they do get on that roadmap in the not too distant future. I think in 2022, we’ll definitely see an explosion of hyper personalization.

37:55
It’s really all about the customer, isn’t it? I mean, it really is about the customer. At the end of the day, as much as I might want to want something to happen. I’ve got goals, it’s about the customer. Because if I’m making it about the customer, that’s how I get them to engage, right? Because it’s, it’s about them, not about me, it’s about them sort of thing. And it’s like, you know, when you call them when you when you visit them, what, what you what you actually say to them, those kinds of things, that’s what I was, you were sort of sparking off in my mind to think about is the load the thinking has to be about them, rather than what you actually want to circumstance?

38:25
Exactly. No, I couldn’t put it any better myself. It is, it is all about them. And it is, I think from the, from the organisation side is it’s about having, having the channels the offering to, to enable consumers to basically have that choice. I says, I think just in terms of, you know, how they’ll value you as an organisation, if you’re doing that, and supporting them in that way and the Loihi that will end up bringing into organisations, and the loyalty, not just short term, the loyalty, you know, way beyond when the pandemic finally goes away, and we don’t have to get to talking about it. I think, you know, the way consumers are treated during, you know, the hardest times and the things that will probably have the most long standing effect on how loyal they are to organisations have them in times of greatest need.

39:18
Simon, thanks very much for spending the time with me. I really appreciate it. It’s been it’s been fascinating. There’s some really good, really interesting topics there. So thanks very much.

39:27
Thanks, Chris. No, it’s been my pleasure too. So appreciate your time.


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