Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Not Gonna Change

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If you are a regular visitor here, you will know that I regularly blog about change. Looking at things differently, being more efficient, saving time, money and trying hard to make things work better. From where I am standing, it looks like a noble cause.

Now change isn't everyone's cup of tea, I get that. Inevitably though I am involved in helping someone, change something, pretty much wherever I work. Working smarter is what IT does let us do. Its scalable in a very different way to the use of human admin staff.

But what can we do when some of the main themes of change threaten to unseat some of the well-entrenched teams within our organisations? '

I have encountered ICT infrastructure teams, not being keen first on virtualisation, then the mystical and unreliable notion of 'moving server capacity to the cloud'. As I have heard people describe that feeling, it's like 'turkeys voting for Christmas around here Tony'.

That is one example that I have seen on a regular basis over the last five years. In that time, The Cloud has come of age and so have contracts and service agreements which police the safety of our data, when its migrated there. More and more data, storage and applications are being cloud hosted or via a robust managed service.

Arguments in its favour are being won and you know what, I am noticing some infrastructure teams, you know the ones who used to look after 'The Tin', are shrinking. I have known some of those displaced staff be retrained and re-deployed in ICT roles, in the same organisations. 
Cloud being one thing, the next biggest migration everyone is working on is 'Channel Shift' & 'Omni-Channel'. I am sure you will agree.

A story that I heard recently, related to a substantial sized customer service team, meeting to kick-start the journey to 'Channel Shift'. Internet portals and tablet Apps were discussed, the usual stuff. As anyone knows who has done any serious work in this area, the low-hanging fruit transactions are the ones to be tackled first.

Logging repairs and payments are probably the logical initial ones.

As soon as some detail was being put on the Omni-Channel bones, some of the ambitions were being toned down. When asked why it was not going to be the 'puppies privates' for customers, the riposte was 'well, we can't make it too good, it might affect the size of our service centre then, if we were not getting enough telephone calls'.

Well, if I was in that meeting, I might well have remarked, "isn't that quite the whole point?", because it clearly is. Getting transactions done in pence, not ten pounds a time, is totally the point.

The customer culture inside Ryanair and Easyjet is no doubt very different to that in most of our own organisations. Chances are neither started with a sizable call centre post 1997, most transactions online, from that first wet-leased charter from (London [sic]) Luton to Edinburgh. They still let you phone the call centre of course and you will probably get through faster than phoning HMRC. Maybe 20-30 minutes after suffering some bland techno. It drives you to the website, to do your business there.

However, how should we deal with a shrinking service centre, where the staff have noticed it may be shrinking?

Some of the existing KPI's might certainly need a good looking at.

Should the service centre be picking up 85% of calls within five rings? If CTI can identify callers who may be over 65 years old, vulnerable or having a designated disability, maybe those become the service centre priority? Agreement with the board and/or TP groups might even allow online to be a preferred channel, if we make it easy enough to use. Forms need to be simple to use and multi-platform, fitting tablets, Smartphone's and laptop devices well.

Payments must be simple, like paying for stuff on ebay. User-centered design at all times, with existing processes re-engineered to reduce number of steps required by the customer.

A KPI looking at overall average cost per call type, rewarding a declining value and increasing satisfaction, might be just the motivation needed.  These are the new yardsticks IMHO, for our service centre managers of the future. Empires of the past will gradually be swept away. If not, they will be priced out of existence.

Great service centre managers will need to preside over lower transaction costs, rather than a big swanky team of advisors. Its going the way of the typing pool my friends, or maybe ICT hardware & infrastructure teams. Mark my words.

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Related Post: Don't judge books by covers, or application software by how its badged... 


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Swing Out Sister - Not Gonna ChangeSwing Out Sister - Not Gonna Change.
(c) Tony Smith, Acutance Consulting 07854-655009

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