Designing the 21st century contact centre

Webhelp UK is using dynamic workplace design to build long term strategic value for our clients and engage our employees.

Anton Manley, Director Strategic Accounts, Webhelp UK

 

 

Integrating the client and the contact centre

With nearly £6bn turnover and more than 10 million customers using satellite, broadband and telephone services, one of our clients is the largest provider of digital entertainment and communications in the UK. We built a long-term strategic partnership with them, working across four of our sites in Scotland and England, to deliver significant growth into new work streams. To meet the demand we were tasked with acquiring two new sites in Glasgow and Derby.

We’re accustomed to dealing with blue chip companies and fully understood their expectation of branded workplaces. We worked hand in glove with their branding team to achieve the exacting standards they would demand of themselves, paying meticulous attention to the relevance and positioning of the brand.

We’re accustomed to dealing with blue chip companies and fully understood their expectation of branded workplaces

Improving the contact centre design

At Webhelp UK, we pay an extraordinary amount of attention to detail when creating spaces where our culture wraps around the client. We set out to create places that both our people and our clients want to be part of. Together, with a team of interior designers, we looked at everything from colours to the amount of space between desks.

At Webhelp UK, we are ripping the old contact centre image to shreds

The call halls themselves were deliberately designed so that no seats were back-to-back with each other and there was a real sense of personal space between each advisor work station; you only need to set foot in Glasgow and Derby to see that they are a world away from the public perception of a contact centre. We’re basically ripping that old image to shreds.

Substantial research went into looking at the cross section of people who would be coming into the business. We considered that we would be bringing together at least three generations under the same roof, and that played a large part in designing an all-encompassing environment. If you look at our ‘village green’ in Derby you will see that we’ve used different colours and furniture that is at once distinctively modern in style, but comfortable and accessible.

The seating area in the canteen in Glasgow has been ingeniously designed to become softer as it progresses towards the windows. The idea behind that was to draw people towards the light to relax and enjoy a different experience and view of their surroundings. In Glasgow, the training rooms are named in memory of some of the great ships that were built and launched on the Clyde. We have the Pegasus and Centaur rooms, complete with their launch dates reflecting the rich, historic industrial legacy of where we’re based.

The Discovery Lab

Another ground-breaking design feature within the customer management industry is our unique Discovery Laboratory. This initiative is our formalised methodology of the model office and it creates a distinct state-of-the-art lab feel.

The Discovery Lab enables our people to be experimental and discover things about our clients business that we didn’t already know

Its purpose is to enable our people to be experimental and discover things about the business that we didn’t already know, for example, behaviours, processes, and root cause analytics. it facilitates intelligent thought – it’s all about utilising the fantastic assets that we have, our talent, and empowering them.

Leaving the call centre behind. Becoming the customer experience centre.

We want to dispel once and for all the depressing image of battery hen coops with revolving front doors that our industry used to portray. I believe we have delivered the “wow” factor in Derby and Glasgow and now we want to invite people to come and work with us.

We can offer talented people the opportunity to work in innovative, contemporary, hi-tech environments, and the icing on the cake is that we offer a clearly defined route of career development to front-line management.

We’ve already started organic growth – in Derby and Glasgow alone we’ve promoted 11 people internally so far through our TUPE transfers into managerial positions and we have another four who have gone into support areas.

This has been achieved through our Management University, through our assessment centres and our Path to Success model. There are many more success stories, including one colleague who was an Operations Manager in our Falkirk site who is now Site Lead in Derby.

We can offer talented people the opportunity to work in innovative, contemporary, hi-tech environments

In terms of employment, evolving our environment and our commitment to social responsibility, there is a specific methodology behind everything Webhelp UK take on and do.

 


Great team leaders deliver outstanding customer experience

Becoming a strong leader will benefit your team and improve customer experience. So how do you become a great team leader?

Chris Chance, Head of Customer Excellence

 

 

In general, a call centre leader may struggle with a ‘them and us’ culture, but a strong Team Leader or Customer Excellence Leader should be able to display the highest levels of personal performance and encourage their teams in equal measure.  Ideally, they should be able to take the anxiety out of change and display a sense of leadership and trust as a foundation for others to emulate, and in so doing, improve their own performance.

"Few other work situations have the intense, relentless demands that the call centre environment demands, from customers and clients alike."

At Webhelp UK, it is the job of the Team Leader to be able to confidently influence the attitude of those around them, to be able to successfully manage concern, stress or uncertainty.  Few other work situations have the intense, relentless demands that the call centre environment demands, from customers and clients alike.  It is essential to have the skills to reassure people with a sense of confidence whilst conveying a sense of caring.

A good Team Leader should be:

• An effective listener

• Someone who treats everyone fairly

• A person who provides clear direction

• A decision maker

• Someone who takes a genuine interest in others

These are the basic characteristics a good Team Leader should be able to demonstrate on a day-to-day basis, yet all of these skills can be acquired.  It is possible to develop a team leadership style based on our core values of integrity, respect, innovation and simplicity.

At Webhelp UK, we offer a clearly defined, fully supported route of progression from advisor level to a Deputy Team Leader then to a Team Leader, moving on to a Deputy Operations Manager to Operations Manager to Senior Operations Manager.

Examples of Webhelp UK staff displaying qualities of a good leader:

Darren Johnston CEL Falkirk:

“I went through Fresher's training 2 years ago.  The training was really well delivered and helped me gain a better understanding of what was expected of me encouraging me to delve more deeply into the business world.  I still use the methods I learned during the course.  

My transition from Deputy Team Leader to Team Leader wasn't as smooth as I hoped because I struggled slightly with the interview processes.  However, I received amazing support from both Gareth Greene (Customer Experience Manager Falkirk) and Gordon McDowall (Site Lead Falkirk) on how to present myself during my interviews.  

I am absolutely certain that if I hadn't had this support, I wouldn't be in the role I am now.  I have successfully progressed through all my training and am now a full Customer Experience Leader.

I have learned so much from Fresher’s, and my continued learning and support during my DTL career has readied me for everything involved in the CEL Role.  I think the DTL opportunity is a unique and fantastic way to start a career off as it helps build confidence in even the most nervous agents who want to advance.”

Peter Bell CEL Falkirk:

“The Fresher’s training was my starting point to Deputy Team Leader.  It offered me the opportunity to receive support with my coaching techniques and gave me a better understanding of the processes Customer Experience Leaders follow on a day-to-day basis.  

The support and advice I have received throughout this whole learning process, and my determination to succeed, has undoubtedly helped me to achieve my goal in becoming a Customer Experience Leader."

A well led team leads to great customer experience

Good team leadership works at personal, team and organisational levels.  By living these core values, a team is more likely to deliver sustainable, high performance with excellent customer service results. It will influence everything from employee engagement to productivity and unquestionably, it will have a positive effect on customer experience.


Social media data: Is it worth anything?

Social media can offer a large amount of data but how much of it is of any value?

Neil Martin, Head of Business Intelligence

Social media is data gold

Social media is a rich seam of data gold, if you understand how to mine it correctly, measure it, quantify it and can report on it. If you have the expertise to know what to do with it, it becomes valuable and that’s where Webhelp UK’s Business Intelligence team excel.

Generally speaking, data mining is the process of analysing data from different perspectives and summarising it into information that can be used to increase revenue, reduce costs, and more.  It allows users to analyse data from many different dimensions or angles, categorise it, and summarise the relationships identified.

There is no doubt that having precise data enables a business to build for success, as it helps create a fuller, more rounded picture of the customer.  This new wild data gathered say, from the leading triumvirate of Twitter, Facebook and Blogger, could allow the Business Intelligence team to produce highly targeted campaigns relevant to our clients’ customers and that’s more likely to translate into a sale and build loyalty, and ultimately, advocacy.  Social media can provide us with even more tantalising market research, but taming this data presents the team with a set of unique challenges.

Organising social media data

Just how do you measure the quality of the vast amounts of data being generated by social media?  For example: 53% of Twitter users who connect with a brand on Twitter recommend that company or product. As of May 2012, Facebook had 901 million users - 46% of social media users say they would talk about or recommend a product on Facebook and 44% of Twitter users already have recommended a product.

Social Media is classified as wild data, and that’s the big challenge with handling it...  At the moment we don’t know whether a tweeted comment is factual or whether it’s a story relayed by a friend or relative. 

How do you decide out of that lot alone what’s good, bad or indifferent?  That’s going to be a tough gig filtering out the good stuff as it’s estimated that at best only 20% of the social media data stream contains relevant information.

Social Media is classified as wild data, and that’s the big challenge with handling it.  It’s more often than not, anonymous wild data flooding in from all over the place from random sources.  At the moment we don’t know whether a tweeted comment is factual or whether it’s a story relayed by a friend or relative.  That’s the problem, you can’t treat this data as ‘true’ yet as we have no way of knowing who those comments belong to or whether they are valid in a business context.

The area the team is moving into now is a lot less certain but they are discovering ways to start quantifying this new big data and looking at new ways to see what they can do to improve its quality.  Social media data will enable Webhelp UK to take targeting to the next level.  For sure at the moment its wild data, but our Business Intelligence team is on target to tame it.


Webhelp UK wins Cycle Friendly Employer Award

Webhelp UK Falkirk wins The Cycle Friendly Employer Award, a national accolade for Scottish organisations committed to increasing cycling.

 

 

 

Over the last year Chris Wilson, Webhelp UK Environmental Coordinator Falkirk, has been working with the local council to help promote more sustainable means of transport to and from the workplace as part of the 'Take the right Route' scheme.

Ideally, as part of our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint, we want to carry on with this initiative and hopefully roll it out cross-site in the future.

Chris said “Webhelp UK is one of the few organisations that has been pro-active in asking for assistance from a council to help highlight sustainable transport.  Cycling Scotland was pleased to recognise Webhelp UK Falkirk as a Cycle Friendly Employer.  Ideally, as part of our commitment to reducing our carbon footprint, we want to carry on with this initiative and hopefully roll it out cross-site in the future.

Travel Clinics have been held at the site and a Top Gear style commuter challenge was organised with the help of our Engagement Ambassadors and site lead Gordon McDowall – a keen cycling enthusiast.  We are also investigating the possibility of hosting a commuter training course at the Falkirk site which will be run by Cycling Scotland in the near future.”

Cycling Scotland is the national cycle promotion organisation for Scotland, who is working to establish cycling as an acceptable, attractive and practical lifestyle option.


Webhelp UK Highly Commended for Best Outsourcing Partnership

Webhelp UK was Highly Commended for Best Outsourcing Partnership at the European Call Centre and Customer Service Awards 2012.

 

 

 

The was event hosted in the Hilton hotel in London’s Park Lane and was attended by Webhelp UK personnel including CEO David Turner, Directors Andy Doig, Helen Murray and Michael Galvin.

We were up against some fierce competition, so it is a fantastic achievement to be singled out for this distinction – David Turner, CEO

Commenting on the success of the evening David Turner said, “I am absolutely delighted, that both Vodafone and ourselves have been recognised by the industry.  We were up against some fierce competition, so it is a fantastic achievement to be singled out for this distinction.  It has put Webhelp UK firmly in the spotlight as a heavyweight contender, but we couldn't’ have achieved this without the incredible passion and teamwork from everyone involved in our joint team with Vodafone.”