Interview: Dave Rumble

As a part of their strategic Partnership with Shop Direct, Webhelp UK launched a highly innovative approach to improving customer experience through a Customer Closeness Centre (CCC) powered by Gobeyond Partners. The CCC ‘Model Office’ provides a platform for the Partnership to deliver a new approach to designing and delivering service improvement initiatives. Here we talk to Dave Rumble, Managing Partner at Gobeyond Partners and look at the truth behind the Customer Closeness Model Office approach.

The term Model Office describes a collaborative environment that brings together a cross-functional team to design and implement complex business change. How is Webhelp using this methodology for the benefit of clients?

Essentially, the Webhelp Model Office Customer Closeness Centre is a safe environment where the Partnership can test different service improvement ideas and initiatives, which predominately focus on customer experience factors. Examples might include, evaluating conversational tone, developing new processes or supporting the implementation of new technologies, backed by Agile project methodology as an approach.

The CCC focusses on:

  • Augmenting customer experience using the existing tools and assets from a technology perspective
  • Reducing service friction when engaging with customers via human assistance
  • Improving situations through the simplification of non-voice processes using customer journey and conversation design

The team are empowered to support journey re-design on things like IVR, Knowledge Management, and Web-Chat. Finally, the team helps with future thinking around digitisation both in messaging and the use of automation technologies for chatbots and similar platforms.

How are digitisation and augmentation implemented in this model?

At Gobeyond Partners we have several Model Office options using our Customer Journey design methodology that can be tailored to client concepts or scenarios in which human interaction can be effectively augmented or replaced by digital components.

Model Office generally utilises two approaches. Firstly our Pathfinder approach; a short term, rapid proof of concept stage organised and arranged around a sprint or series of sprints, which might test a specific service improvement need. Secondly our ‘Customer Closeness’ approach, which is embedded within the client service environment as long-term strategic customer initiatives. In both cases sprints are run on a cycle of two weeks, giving a continuous rotation of improvement initiatives that flow through the model.

New project methodologies create space for innovation Credit: İrfan Simsar/Unsplash

The Model Office is also deployed in non-Contact Centre environments where digitisation can be deployed to uplift the performance of our client business in areas like Marketing, Finance, Supply Chain and Manufacturing.

What are the challenges in this approach, and how do you combat them?

Undoubtedly, the fundamental challenge facing many businesses is how the process of digitisation matures in their organisation. Technology is moving very quickly, so the ability to deploy it seamlessly into a legacy environment is becoming more complex.

We are using cutting-edge methodologies and principles and our Model Office approach to empower our client teams to innovate through analytics supporting diagnostics, solution design and supporting the with the delivery of value, without the fear of disrupting the core of the operation.

The Model Office is a safe environment, restricted to a specific area with a micro-market or micro-service approach that is perfect for supporting the in-depth evaluation of new approaches.

So, teams of human advisors are critical to the Model Office system?

Absolutely. Our philosophy is based on going further than customer experience to deliver great human experience.  Having a human ‘in the loop’, provides a vital opportunity for our clients to enhance their customer experience through personalisation. Technology is often used in a very logical way to address a single process, customer trait or customer need and we recognise that the sentiment that goes into customer experience is often more emotional than logical.

Our Customer Experience Experts allow us to add individuality and bring the brand essence and emotion to life. We bring the customer to life for clients because we understand that machines don’t have a conscience and to deliver an authentic human experience we must think more holistically about our social and human moral viewpoint in the process.

What are the crucial benefits of the Model Office environment, how does it deliver results?

Our Customer Experience Experts are trained in service improvement skills, technical skills in Lean and Agile and are coached in relevant methodologies not generally available in the core operation. Surrounding them is a range of specialist skills like analytics and customer journey design. The Experts spend time dealing with routine customer interactions but have the freedom to conceptualise and generate improvements without intruding on the whole operation.

It gives us a unique opportunity to identify and codify service advancements ‘there and then’ in the environment. To deliver an effective change we need to harness a mix of creativity and discipline and the Model Office gives us the balance to avoid disrupting the whole operation.

We have invested in a platform where our people are able to test ideas and be creative, ultimately supporting the wider client organisation to advance and re-imagine their customer experience strategy. There is an old Chinese Proverb which goes: “Vision without action is a daydream, action without vision is a nightmare”, and our Model Office enables vision and action.

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