Unlock the Secrets of Customer Service Excellence: Who’s Winning and What’s Broken?

We work in the most valuable industry in business. Not only do we hold the keys to business success through data and all the conversations had with customers, but we work in the most friendly, warm and welcoming sector. Celebrating all this is something I love doing each year at the UK National Contact Centre Awards. The big question is what does it take to be the best in our industry?  

Unlock the Secrets of Customer Service Excellence: Who’s Winning and What’s Broken?

Through my role at the CCMA, I host countless discussions with contact centre leaders about how they tackle adversity and how they succeed. These stories need to be shared so that the whole industry can continue to evolve. That’s why we invite winners from the awards to tell their stories at the UK National Contact Centre Conference; to share what they are doing that is innovative and successful, and frankly, allows others to learn.  

And that’s why, when I was approached by Sabio to host one of their sessions at their annual UK Disrupt event in London, I jumped at the chance. 

My session, titled "CX: Who’s Winning & What’s Broken?’, brought together a powerhouse panel of award winners, judges and experts. Helen Wilson, Chief Operations Officer at Atom Bank; Heather Drinkwater, Head of Operations at Benenden Health; and Joe Quinliven, Head of Customer Care at Gousto, all shared their wisdom as contact centre and customer service leaders. They were joined by seasoned industry consultants in the shape of Don Haddaway, Founder and Director of Artisiam; Nerys Corfield, Director of Injection Consulting; and Jason Roberts, Founder and Director of Appropriate Consulting to round off the panel. 

So what were the key takeaways? Here are some of the secrets to customer service success that the panelists revealed: 

  • Strategy is key. As Helen from Atom Bank put it, “We had a very clear strategy from day one.” For the digital-first bank, that meant building an intuitive, simple customer experience backed by a contact centre empowered to provide great service. Knowing your strategy - and executing on it relentlessly - is essential. 

  • Culture is the foundation. An engaged, empowered frontline starts with getting the culture right. That means living customer-centricity from the C-suite down. As Joe from Gousto explained, “Our vision was to really find that balance between service and cost...to provide industry defining customer care that sustainably supports our growth.” When the whole organisation buys in, great things happen. 

  • Tap into your data. The best operations use data to continuously learn and optimise the customer experience. According to Heather, “We capture insights from numerous different sources...and we actually use AI to help analyse data and really pinpoint areas of customer difficulty, or areas of opportunity to improve things." Those insights drive constant innovation. 

  • Go beyond 2D metrics. Consultant Don Haddaway encouraged leaders to look past traditional 2D measures and spreadsheets. The data is there to build sophisticated, three-dimensional models that surface insights and patterns. 

  • Confidence is key for advisors. AI and real-time guidance tools can act "like a satnav" for conversations, enabling advisors to handle complex, emotionally charged interactions. Nerys Corfield said: “This intervention now of real time support and assistance is giving them confidence. We're finding that that feeling of support means that they aren't leaving or looking to leave. An unsupported agent will leave, and quite quickly, if their wellbeing or interests are not managed.” 

  • The frontline are the voice of the customer. Frontline colleagues see customer needs and opportunities for improvement every day. “What has your leadership done to take the stories that you’re hearing from the frontline back into the business to really drive value?" asked consultant Jason Roberts. Organisations need to harness those insights to keep getting better. 

While technology, data and AI play a huge role, the human element is alive and well in customer service. It all comes down to empowering people, both customers and employees.  

I loved the way that Jason summed it up on the day: “It isn't about volume metrics anymore. It's about customer outcomes.”  

Want to dive deeper into these insights and more? My full session from Sabio's Disrupt event is available to watch here
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