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Customer Experience

How a Service Design mindset can be used to build a customer contact centre that breaks all the rules


In this week's episode, Mark Adams joins Simon and Matt to talk about how service design contributes to the experience you want to deliver to your people, teams, customers and members.

Mark Adams

Guest Speaker - Mark Adams

Mark has extensive experience working in customer service environments and contact centres, always focused on service design, delivery and improvement, ensuring the optimum experience is consistently delivered. He’s worked with a diverse portfolio of companies including the BBC, the Financial Conduct Authority, Which?, Virgin Mobile and now as Member Services Director at Pure Planet where he’s designed and delivered their service strategy.

You can find out more about Pure Planet here or take a look at the Pure Planet community. Connect with Mark on LinkedIn.

Service design for me is about being conscious about the experience you want to deliver to your people, teams, and then on to your customers or members in our case, and rather than being haphazard, I think that being really conscious and really consistent about how you design service for the organisation you’re in is really important.

Discussion Topics

  • What does a service design mindset actually mean?
  • What were the contact centre norms you were looking to break away from?
  • What are the common mistakes people make when developing a contact centre strategy or taking over the management of an operation?
  • Is it difficult to think service first when the business is only interested in saving costs?
  • What have been the most impactful innovations you have made and what was the outcome on the business/customer/team?
  • How do you build trust and approval from the board when you are trying to do something different?


Simon – Welcome to CX chat with Matt and Simon, our podcast series on all things customer experience. Each week we talk about some of the hottest topics and biggest issues facing cx professionals right now and invite special guests to join our discussions. My name’s Simon Thorpe open as ever, I’m joined by my colleague, Matthew Dyer, who’s here now, Matty, how are you? How’s your week been?

Matt – I’d love to see that, I’ve been it’s been really exciting. But I’d be lying. Basically, I’m back to sitting on zoom calls back to back. Um, yeah.

Simon – Yeah, zooms getting a little bit old now even the backgrounds start to have less of an impact

Matt – Indeed.

Simon – So this week, I have been getting very wrapped up into Apple podcasts league tables. So we we appeared this week 46 on the global technology league table according to Apple, and then very quickly dropped down that list too in the hundreds so we’re trying to work out what the apple algorithm is. It’s all very complicated, but fantastic to see.

Matt – If anybody out there knows please let us know. I couldn’t believe it when you sent me the WhatsApp with the picture of it. Unbelievable.

Simon – That was pretty good after a few episodes have gone live so so yes, thank you to all of the listeners for supporting us and for for the likes and the comments. It doesn’t mean the world to us and that really helps us try and shape future content and where we’re going with this so and yeah, as Matty said, If you know the the apple secret sauce to getting high on the list, we’d love to know. Hey, we’ve got another cracking topic this week company Matty.

Matt – Yeah, it’s really good.

Simon – So, this week, we’re going to cover off something that’s very close to my heart, being a bit of a contact centre, geek. And this theme is all about service design, and how a service design mindset can be used to build a contact centre that breaks all of the rules. And I think that breaking all the rules is something that I’m really interested in this, our special guest this week’s opinion on this because we’ve invited an old pal of mine who has most certainly walked his own path. He has over 20 years of experience in customer service and contact centres. And he’s been involved in some really, really interesting organisations. So he’s he’s held leadership roles at places like the FCA and Virgin Mobile, he’s worked for a couple of really well thought of consultancy businesses. He was responsible for CX at Ovo energy during their high growth period. And now managers and so he’s Member Services Director at a digital renewable energy disruptor easy for me to say, Pure Planet. And so, a big warm welcome, Mr. Mark Adams, how are you?

Read the full transcript

Mark – Good afternoon, I’m really good. Thank you very much.

Simon – How’s the last few weeks been treating are you getting Zoom and Team’s fatigue? Or is that? Is that not something your organisation does?

Mark – Yeah, definitely. Probably more and more so over the last few weeks, I think it’s I think I spent six and a half hours staring my reflection on video conferencing the other day, which was not a pleasant experience.

Simon – I don’t know about you, but I’m, I feel quite narcissistic because I can’t stop staring at myself. And it’s not because I’m looking admirably thinking, wow, it’s more crikey like is that what I look like? So I’m very in favour of the non video showing on these things.

Matt – Yeah, I was delighted when you finally got hair cut, Simon. Anyway, so Mark, quick question. Simon tells me you had the wackiest office location ever. Would you like to share with our listeners what that was?

Mark – That must be the time when I was working at Ovo. And Simon came to visit me when we were there and I think if I remember rightly our meeting was held in the shed, garden shed.

Simon – That’s right. That’s right. Yes. And explain.

Mark – So Ovo, part of the, one of the things about it is the design of the office space there and to help creativity and shift your brain from what you normally do to think differently. So we had loads of different rooms. So one’s a shed, I seem to remember we had a ski lodge at one point that was one room, lots of fake grass around. So it’s great. It’s really good.

Simon – It was a fantastic office and it was brilliant to see that shed. And that actually plays really nicely into the theme today. But Mark before we get going, I’m sure the listeners are gonna be really interested in where you are now. I mean, Pure Planet is fascinating and incredible business and going great guns since since you launched this a couple of years ago. Can you tell us a bit more about pure planet what it is and and and what you’re doing with the business?

First digital only energy company in the UK

Mark – Sure. So Pure Planet is a domestic energy provider, providing electricity and gas. So our goal, if you like, is to be able to clean Britain powered by renewable energy. So it’s 100% renewable electricity and 100% gas. And we went live commercially about two and a half years ago. And we were the first digital only energy company in the UK. So our whole service proposition is based around chatbot in an app that we have, or you can go into our online community. So if people are familiar with the giffgaff model and their online community of people helping each other, we have one of those, which we have over 33,000 members helping each other out with questions. So it’s all digitally based. There’s no inbound telephone lines at all.

Simon – I was I was amazed when when you first told me about that because I think I said this to you. I thought it sounded like a marvellous idea but I thought you’d you’d hit that kind of growth period very quickly and then and then you’d relent and have some kind of a telephony situation, you know, in due time, but you haven’t done have you two years on you? I mean, you do some outbound I think you said but but you’ve you’ve remained with that focus on on digital first, haven’t you?

Mark – Yeah, absolutely. And definitely had a bit of pressure to open up an inbound phone line, but we stuck true to our our original business model and everything is transacted via chat, email, or in our online community. We do do outbound calling, as you mentioned, so we will do that as an emergency to put are members at ease. For some of our vulnerable members we will do outbound calls to them, they can actually book a call with us through the app. A bit like the Apple Genius Bar, I guess people may be familiar with. So we do outbound calling, but predominantly, on everything inbound is all digital.

Simon – It’s an amazing model. Amazing model. What let’s not steal our thunder on this topic because this plays really nicely into the whole theme. So should we get, should we get going, chaps? So just to recap, the theme today is ‘How service design mindset can be used to build a customer contact centre that breaksall the rules.’ So, first question just to get us off the off the mark, let’s explore what a service design mindset actually means to us. I’d love to hear your point here, Mark what you think because you’ve got a long background in this.

[What is service design]

Mark – So service design for me is about being conscious about the experience you want to deliver to your people, teams, and also then on to your customers or members in our case, and rather than being haphazard. I think that being really conscious and being really consistent about how you design service for the organisation you’re in is really, really important. One of the things that I’ve always done is always look to having a set of design principles around service, that changes from organisation to organisation because you’ve got different teams of people, you’ve got different business challenges, you’ve got different technology, different routes and channels. So it’s not like there’s one set, that’s the perfect set and you lift it and you shift into the next place you work. It’s about really thinking about what your people want, what your customers want, and then building those principles. And it doesn’t need to be a long list. We’ve got a few that we have a pure planet at the moment. For example, one of our design principles is never ask a member for any information that we already hold about them.

Simon – Really? Well, that’s fantastic. And so so is that that can’t be easy to pull off. I mean, that presumably every contact centre would love to have that ethos, were you able to build that from from the ground up, or is that is that a design principle that you’ve, you’ve added in over time?

Mark – So I guess we’re really lucky because we’re two and a half years old. We have legacy and technology is in a really strong place with bots and things like that. So we had that, from the start that one, we have changed some of our principles as we’ve gone. But that one’s been there from the start. And we desperately tried to do it. I don’t think we succeed 100% of the time, immediately when we launch something new, but we quickly get there. So for example, in our app, because it knows who you are, and it has context about you, so we don’t have to ask you certain things. And it can deliver that information to somebody in my team, should that bot interaction become a human interaction with one of the team. So the team aren’t asking you stuff you’ve already told about or stuff that we already know about you?

Matt – How often do you go about reevaluating the design principles and who ultimately has makes a decision around that change?

Mark – I have the decision and I put forward if I think we need to change it. So we had a set right in the beginning. And I’ve changed them twice, not wholesale, but a few of them have moved out and a couple of them have moved in as we’ve gone along. And that’s as the business has grown, and we have when we started, we had a homogeneous group of members, whereas now, that’s changing as we’ve grown over time. And we’ve become more sophisticated and more complex as any new business tends to. So we’ve just flexed and tweaked them a little bit along the way, and I’m sure we will continue to do so.

Simon – Matty, it sounds like these principles are becoming more and more important. And I remember when we were talking to Dr. Andrew about the fantastic meals for the NHS, they had some some operational principles, didn’t they that that were their guiding light there, their North Star as it were, that if they found any kind of conflict or they were struggling to make decisions, that’s what they refer back to. It sounds like, Mark, you’re in a sort of similar field. I’m presuming you get everyone’s buy in all new recruits are aware of that, that kind of structure or is that more for for the management team.

Matt – Just on that as well, where does the community fit into that process as well, it sounds like you’ve got great engagement? So what do they get from the business, I guess, as part of this.

[Where does the community fit into the process]

Mark – First one around engagement, so actually, one of the things that I do every nine months is redesign our strategy and service. So because things move so fast in our business, and in the industry of generally, so I’m always redesigning it as part of that redesign I’m looking at the principles. Once I’ve, I take that, that new strategy back into the management team, get their challenge and buy in. And then I present a version of that to my entire team. And the design principles are shared across the tech team and service team and the marketing team. So it’s quite nice when you hear other teams quote them back at you so that they’re landing in the business. We’re, you know, we’re a relatively small business so it’s easier that communication is a lot easier.

Simon – So on Matty’s point? Where does the where does the connect with your this? Did you say 30,000 members all part of your digital community? How, how are you interacting with them? Is this something that you’ve just kind of built it? And they they then just take over? Or do you have a part to play in it?

Mark – Yeah, so we launched it at the start, and it was consciously part of our way of serving members was to have this online community. And we have a community manager. We have two people that manage and curate all the all the content in there. Taking the approach of trying to stand off which actually when we launch it was really really difficult because we want sometimes everybody asked a question, we wanted to dive in go I know the answer to that, here you go. So I’m actually the trick is to stand back and watch and sit in your hands that you can’t type the answer and let other community members answer those questions. So we always wait to make sure that there’s a chance for our community members to help each other out. And they do. And over 80% of the questions that get asked in the community are answered correctly by somebody else in the community.

Simon – Wow, that’s amazing. And I’m presuming you’re watching what the community are asking. And, and taking note of that, and feeding that back into things like FAQ’s and better communication with customers and better documentation.

Mark – Yeah, exactly the the joy is so, you know, one of the things that we have all the way through the business, I think, is transparency. And we’re really transparent in the community as well. So if you went on to our community now, like any business, and sometimes things go wrong, you will see that we talk about those things in that community. So we’re really transparent. So they’re really, really good at giving us feedback on things that they think are great things we’re not doing that they’d like us to do, and things that they think are really good or what could improve. And we have a group of really highly engaged members in that community, you spend a lot of time supporting each other and other people in there. And least once a year, we actually bring them into the office, we get their thoughts, we give them insight into the things we’re thinking about, so we get their feedback.

Matt – It’s amazing you can get that engagement, especially if you’re not offering financial incentive, which doesn’t sound like you are so yeah, kudos to you.

Mark – What’s amazing, it sort of surprised us a little bit how well how well it works. It’s great.

Simon – I suppose the appetite is to be part of that community, that’s that’s doing good for the environment, I’m guessing. Is that the drool?

Mark – Absolutely, yeah, definitely. And that’s why we have members, not customers. You’re joining something bigger than buying your gas and electricity. So I don’t think the general population are really very excited about electricity. I think if they go and switch on the light in the morning, they’re not going about saying what good electricity I’ve got today. I mean, that’s just not how we think we just expect it to work. And we want to feel like we’ve got a good deal and that you’re billing me accurately. So actually, these engagement points are really important for us to make sure that we really understand the thoughts and ideas and feelings of our members.

Matt – Yeah, just wonder cuz we obviously got the likes of giffgaff you’re doing I wonder if more organisations kind of start to pivot and change the way they’re coming to market? I wonder if this is a sort of area that they should potentially look out because you can get the engagement from, I guess your customer, or your community is very powerful, especially from a retention perspective,

Simon – HP did it brilliantly. I seem to remember they were one of the first to build a really incredible community that became the whole kind of cornerstone to them their go to market around using them as brand advocates and answering questions. Have you ever looked at HP at all Mark?

Mark – No I haven’t, we looked at giffgaff a lot, and we work with a company that delivers the giffgaff community at launch. And there are a couple of other communities in various sectors as well as energy that we, we looked at, which helped shaped the approach that we wanted to take to what content is in the community and how that’s managed. And like I said, we got to the point of, we don’t want to be in there, doing everything, managing everything, creating all the content. It’s not our community is how we see it it’s our members community. So it has to talk about the things that they’re interested in or concerned about. So as much as it’s about managing your energy account is about renewable energy and electric vehicles, solar power and all those kinds of good things.

Simon – Let’s just, let’s just have a think about the contact centre and come back to that. This this rule breaking piece I’m, I’m very interested in this is a loaded question because I know quite a bit of you Mark in some of the great things you’ve done, but some of the contact centre norms, that that you may have shied away from or thought differently about, in where you are now with Pure, or, you know, previously, is there any examples of things that you’ve done that have been, maybe seen as a bit different, and I know but I know for one that you don’t just do things for effects, you know, you’re very calculated at what you do. You’re very, you’re brilliant use of language, I think and, and kind of finessing that language to deliver a different outcome. But give us some examples, some of the things that you may have done that break that norm.

[Our service team is one team]

Mark – I joined Pure Planet just over three, three and a half years ago, something like that before we went live. And I was very lucky and fortunate that I got given a blank piece of paper to design, what service looks like. And I knew obviously I needed flexibility in there because we were going to grow, change, learn, adapt, that kind of thing. And I also knew I could, I could spot the work was becoming different for different generations. And I thought, how am I going to design something that enables me basically, to move my resources whatever they are to the place that needs that resource the most, so I can keep that. So some of the things that I’ve done is that we don’t have team leaders. So actually, our service team is one team. So they’re not broken down into individual teams. And I have two people that manage that that group of people. I didn’t want to call them team leaders, because I think that has some connotations, not all great connotations. So for one have any other better word they’re called governors, I’m not quite sure how it got to be that but that’s what it is. And it’s just a nudge to say actually, this is different because people that are joining Pure Planet as a employee, they will know what team leader felt like in the last place and there’s a reason why they leave in the last place so I don’t want them to have that same association, there’s other things that we do. As governors, I have a permanent governor, but the other governor rotates every six months. So somebody else in the team takes that role. So always rotating people around, which builds the overall strength of everybody in the team, people challenge and variety to test out, do they like this people management thing? Or is it for them? Is it not? And it means that I get challenged in the rest of my team get challenged about how we do things, and what could we do differently so that there are a couple of things that, that’s different.

Simon – I love that idea of rotating people, I imagine that presents all sorts of interesting ideas. But I imagine that comes with some challenges as well.

Mark – Yeah, it does. One of the things that we do at interview is go through a contracting process as a discussion rather than like a very exciting document. And we always talk sounds really obvious but we always talk about how flexible we need our people to be, and the ways that we will support them. And we also talk about the employee adults, which sounds ridiculous, but we always have a conversation with everybody during an interview process about we employ adults. And as part of that, we know, adults know what it means to contribute to work. And they know when they’ve done a good job, and they’re adding to the team and the company. So we start really early on with those types of conversations, because it’s not for everyone. And people have the opportunity to ask us questions about it, test us on what’s life like, and you know, they opt out if they think, well that’s not for me, we have loads of flexibility that we have process owners like lots of places do and we rotate those all the time to make sure we’re getting new sets of eyes on it and that kind of thing. So we’re sort of shifting things constantly, which I hope makes it feel quite normalised and therefore, it’s not a concern or a stress factor for anybody in the company.

Matt – Yeah, that’s interesting. So we’ve had a few guests on we’ve kind of talked about values and cultures and how organisations talk a good game, the onboarding process, and then when they get into the nitty gritty, all that goes by the wayside. But I think this growth mindset approach, kind of allowing people to be the governor, so to speak, definitely kind of, I guess, give the confidence that the ability to grow is there. So that’s, that’s an interesting takeaway for our listeners.

Simon – What do you do Mark around around targets and kind of driving behaviours because again, this is something we’ve covered previously, and I know drives Matty and I completely bonkers this, this idea of you walk into most contact centres, and they’re all measuring the same things, and they don’t really know why and half the time those measurements have just always been there. And, you know, it’s been set by someone five years ago and no one’s ever thought to change it and no one ever really looks at it and someone who’s a great expression, what was it The watermelon Metric green on the outside red in the middle, something like that. So yeah, these are kind of common metrics that go around like the 80/20. And all these sorts of things, I’m presuming you don’t do it like that Mark?

[There are no targets]

Mark – I was about to ask you has anybody found the person that came up with a 80/20 yet? It’s everywhere. So you won’t be surprised to learn there are no targets. That’s not a thing. We’re on big team. So and, and give context to that. Our service team is by far the largest team, and we put a lot of work into that team. It’s a really tough job, as any service role is, is highly technical. So in the energy industry, you’d often have a general service team, and then lots of second line support teams, broken down to more technical teams or specific processes. So I consciously didn’t want that as part of my service design. I wanted the service team to do as much as they possibly could for our members so that we don’t have to go, I’ve handed off to another team. And that’s all that I want, I want my team to go, I can do that thing for you, or I’ve done that thing for you. I think that’s more fulfilling for them. I think that’s a better experience for our members. So it’s a real deep, tough role they have to perform, and they cover the whole range of anything that comes in. So like I said, they don’t have those individual teams they have, they can rely on and hand it off to so the breadth of their knowledge is is great, and the depth is great. And they’re doing all different things. So actually, to try and create targets, all the permutations, I need another little team and I’d rather just focus on on the member and do the work and make sure their account is in a really healthy place rather than put all this little team on the side trying to come up with all the measures and all the targets and all the things and the other reason I’ve not done it is one to one groundhog conversation that people often have. And they’ve come, they come for one to one, however frequently it is, they’ve got their their stats, and don’t start a conversation with stats, start conversation with the person. And then we’ll worry about all the other stuff afterwards. So, and then they get a groundhog. Because you’re thinking, I’ve got to find some of those less pedantic I need to have a thing that I to improve the next month. We just don’t want those conversations. I think we’re much more in the moment. So if we spot something’s not right, we’re just going to chat to the person. We don’t need to have whatever it is to have that conversation.

Matt – You think it makes the staff more introspective around understanding what isn’t working so they can have probably better conversations?

Mark – Yeah, and they’re definitely not shy, which is brilliant. So we have we use slack internally, and we have an improvements channel. And that is busy everyday. They’re adding stuff in that they thought off this got in the way of them doing their job and they’ve also they do represent our members and our members give feedback. They put that into there as well.

Simon – It strikes me that and you’ve already made the point, Mark, you’ve been very lucky in this role that when you joined you were given a blank piece of paper. So there was a lot of trust. And that was obviously built on a on a long you know, very strong career. That’s why you given the role and but this isn’t the first time you’ve had that kind of engagement with with the board and that level of trust. I mean, you were doing similar things, I remember at Ovo when I first met you so I would imagine some of our listeners are thinking that there’s no way I could get away with that I’d never be allowed to what what is the secret sauce that you seem to have to get that engagement with your board or the people that assign them to checks to let you do the sorts of things.

Mark – You’re right, I’ve been really lucky in the founders are pure granite, they’re amazing and they trust me and I’m really, really lucky. I am in that position and when I was consulting and when I went to Ovo, some of the ideas I come up with people do look at me like, I’m not sure but you know, I’ll let you go with it. And even even a Pure Planet, they’re like, if you’ve designed it wrong, you’re gonna feel the pain of it aren’t you on [LAUGHTER] it focuses mind on making sure you’re absolutely clear on what you want to do. I guess mine sometimes I just don’t ask for permission. I guess that’s part of it. That sounds a bit flippant. But if I’m really clear, it’s the right thing to do I get on and, and do it. Equally, I do think things through. So I do have my principles, I’m really clear about the experience we want to deliver to the team and the experience we want to deliver to the members. So when I’m positioning something or pitching something, I’m always relating it back to that. So it’s not like I’m taking emotion out of it. So I’m really passionate about being and what we should be doing or how we can improve and change. And at the same time, I’m always linking it back to why are we doing it, how it links to everything else we want to achieve in the business and how me doing this thing ensures that we’re delivering great service, which is one of the things that we pride ourselves on.

Simon – Have you been able to generate any, any linkages with things that get the kind of bean counters excited about? And this is a common problem we talk about in this, there’s loads of great tools and loads of great tech and loads of great initiatives and the transformation often tends to fail. And fundamentally, financial people tend to lose interest very quickly because there isn’t that material connection. Have you have you been able to find those things?

Mark – Some of the things, so when I say we don’t have targets, that’s not why we don’t measure stuff. We do know how we performing and actually we have a stand up my whole team, I started when there were five people in my team, we did a 10 minute stand up every morning. And I’ve now got nearly 70 people in my team and I still do a 10 minute stand up every morning when we talk about what went well yesterday, what didn’t work, what our collective goal is or what the thing we want to achieve today is. So you know, we do have numbers and I always worry though in a contact centre, you commission everything and the temptation is to measure everything rather than the things are important at that point of time. But some of the things that we do measure is our ratios of how many members per adviser we have. And we know that those are really strong compared to others, we’ve got a way to go I’ve got a desire to improve that efficiency, through using a bot in our community more you know, we’re probably four times better than the majority on that ratio, which is, which is great. So that’s a cost to serve by any other name. That’s what that is. So that’s a really important metric. And then there’s another one, which is our employees, I guess. So I have my team running for three years. So cause we had people join before we went live. And I’ve had nobody resigned from the team in three years. So, which I think which is really good.

Simon – Incredible.

Mark – Now, we’ve moved 15 people have moved out the teams to other roles in the company and that kind of stuff. No one’s resigned to leave and go somewhere else.

Matt – No attrition, wow that’s impressive.

Simon – That really is, that really is. Um I would want to run this on and on and on. But I’m fearful that we will keep talking. That just before we get into the wrap up, Mark, actually, one final thing I know, having known you for eight or nine years now is that I know you’re, you’re a big supporter of technology. You know, you, I’ve known you to be a fairly early adopter to some of the the kind of insight technology and those sorts of things out there. Um but I know that you put an awful lot of assessment into you know, is technology going to solve the problem rather than just technology for technology’s sake? Can you just walk us through how that mindset tends to work? What do you do when making kind of technology decisions? And how does that build into your your, your cx strategy, the thing that you keep reviewing ongoing.

Matt – And what interests me as well as how do you design or write an RFP to that because not having SLA’s, doing things totally different is something that we would love. Because we normally get 1000 features, can you do it? And the answer is always Yes. If you know I mean.

Mark – Okay. Um, so I know there are things I want to improve and build on, part of that strategy view. So I’ve just done one recently. I’m looking forward for the rest of this calendar year. And I, I know what we’re planning on delivering I know what’s in the industry. And I’m thinking right, have we got the tools to equip the team basically, in order to do their job and respond well to our members so it comes from from there, that’s the first place. And as part of that strategy, conversation with the management team, I will highlight these the tools I think we need in order to maintain our performance, improve our performance deal with all the things that we know are coming our way. So that’s how I first socialise it in there as well, is our CTO definitely plays a role in it. I always have a thing that I’m trying to solve, or something that I’m trying to enhance, when I’m choosing technology, I actually rarely buy a solution and then go full on with it. I’m a bit of a fan of a proof of concept, if I’m honest, one because I don’t have all the answers, and you learn all weird unsurprising things that you couldn’t have second guessed. So I really like doing those you get, I think you get a much better medium and longer term solution and an understanding of what it means for that solution in your business with the thing that you’re trying to achieve with it so that I always pretty much always take approach. In terms of RFPs, we write, I do those. They do look a bit like other people’s RFPs but what we do is we probably skew it so much around the digital approach and the thing that most people that we work we find confusing is if you don’t have a phone line, that’s probably the biggest hurdle that we find. They do find that quite quite strange, because I think a lot of vendors that I talk to, think that everybody has one of those. So that’s an easy place to start conversations. And no, we don’t. So actually, our conversation starts in quite a different place. And the other thing that I’m really particular around, is not having all the channels because all the channels are there. I’ve talked about our channels they’re really limited, I didn’t even mention we do social because actually, we don’t promote social as a channel that’s, we try and limit channels so I buy specific things from the vendor that I think is right for that particular thing that I want to purchase, rather than one person can do all the things for me.

Matt – That’s a highly valuable perspective and hopefully our listeners are listening.

Simon – Yeah, yeah. Brilliant to hear all of this from you, Mark. We’re going to have to get into the wrap up now. But as I said before we could go on and on this has been fascinating hearing how you’ve approached things. And and I think the biggest thing having known you for a few years now is that you seem like you’re constantly learning, you’re constantly challenging your own perspective. I mean, the fact that you’re reviewing your customer service blueprint all the time, and you’re, you’re reviewing what you’re doing all the time. I mean, that, that, that evolution seems to never stop with.

[We’re digital, I don’t have the phone lines opening at nine o’clock in the morning, we can be much more flexible about how people work, and the hours that they work]

Mark – No and you can’t, part of that is my, you said, technology. So I don’t like for a second I’m always curious about what’s the next thing to do and actually at the moment in world of contact centres, people will be aware about the hype of some of the tech versus the reality and certainly, with our bots, we’re on the third iteration of our bot in just two and a half years. So, we will take the technology based on problem as we know it all the thing that we want to achieve and be comfortable that we may need to replace that whenever that time is right. So, um, you know, always looking out for that. And what I’ve really learned actually from, particularly from the team of Pure Planet, typically at the time of moment of work is different. So, because we’re digital, because I don’t have the phone lines opening at nine o’clock in the morning or whatever, we can be much more flexible about how people work, and the hours that they work. So almost a third of my team don’t work full time. And a number of them actually do other things outside of work, so they don’t want to work full time. So some are photographers, they’re managing bands, they’re mental health counsellors, and I think that forces me to think, how do I give all of those people the tools if they’re not in the business all the time to make sure they keep up with things that actually pushes me to think slightly differently because work is different.

Simon – Absolutely. Absolutely well, as Matty said, I hope people are taking note from this because it really it’s quite inspirational. Just on that, that spirit of learning. Um Mark, what we do with every podcast is we try and leave our listeners with two or three quick take homes, things that they can go away and think about. It could be things to read, it could be things to go and review or go and find for themselves. So, Mark, I’ll start with you, what’s sort of take home would you suggest?

Mark – One of the takeaways for me would be get rid of targets. I know that’s quite difficult in some organisations, but try or adapt them or reduce them. And I think you’ll find that you have really different conversations with your people.

Simon – Yeah, I totally, totally agree. And just just on that, I mean, if you are in a position where targets you’re beholden to them, and and the powers that be in your operation are saying, look, we can’t throw them away. To Mark’s point, I would, I would urge people to really challenge them. That think from the customer’s perspective do some correlation analysis or side by side analysis to say, is the are these targets getting us the desired outcome from a customer experience point of view from an employee engagement point of view? And talking to employees, you know, ask, ask your people, you know, what should the targets be? I mean, that’s kind of where you’re coming from Mark and isn’t it you’re, you’re giving empowerment to your people to to be part of the decision making tree around things.

Matt – Yeah, I think from my perspective, listening to mark, I think it’s the importance of how you write your RFPs. Maybe you don’t need all the channels like everyone else, think more about your outcome. You’ve got a blank canvas, get creative.

Simon – So hopefully those three three take homes will serve people well. Fascinating conversation, Mark I knew you’d be a brilliant guest. And you didn’t let me down for one second. You were awesome. Did you? Did you enjoy it?

Mark – I did. Yeah, that’s really good. Thank you for inviting me along.

Simon – Thank you for joining us. Some absolute pearls in there. Matty a good one this week.

Matt – Amazing. Re-imagine the contact centre, no SLA’s who would have thought it.

Simon – It’s the dream it is the dream. Mark, huge thank you for joining us, Matty a pleasure as always, and biggest thanks to our listeners. You know, we wouldn’t be doing this if we weren’t getting your support. So thank you for subscribing for checking in for sending us your comments and thoughts. We really do appreciate it. And hope you’ve enjoyed this episode. And we’ll be we’ll be back next week. And so for now, thanks very much and goodbye.

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