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Academic year: 2021



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The Boardroom holds the ultimate responsibility for the direction and success of any business, and all successful businesses recognise that the customer is the number one priority when it comes to development and growth.

Customer engagement is a term which covers every element of the customer journey with a business, in the broadest possible sense. Every single possible touchpoint that a customer can have with a brand – whether that’s face-to-face, over the phone, on email, via social media, on the website, through the written letter and so on – has its own individual nuances and requirements, and all come under the customer engagement banner.

Increasingly, the focus for businesses must be on the new integrated standard for customer

engagement – with the proliferation of digital and mobile channels, the unification of touchpoints into a seamless, omni-channel infrastructure is an ideal that both reduces operational cost and delivers a five-star customer experience. Every business however, is at a different stage of adapting to this new normal, which is being driven by the proliferation of smartphone ownership (in 2016, Deloitte reported that 81% of the UK population now owns a smartphone) and increased connectivity, wherever and whenever. Businesses that recognise that it is now the customer (not the business) driving the conversation, and those brands that enable choice and convenience to drive high rates of customer satisfaction, are the ones reaping the rewards of customer engagement and pushing the business forward.

Those chosen few with the title of ‘Chief’ in front of their job roles who head up each department, from finance to HR, are all part of the business elite. The clearly defined responsibilities within these individual roles are well known and little cross-over takes place between many of these positions. There are however aspects and divisions of an organisation that fall between the gaps in responsibility. One of these is the responsibility for the running and success of the customer contact centre.

Once dismissed by many as a necessary evil doomed to cost the business money, the customer contact centre is now the backbone of any successful business. Today, it is universally recognised as a key component to business growth, and essential to success. Delivering exceptional customer experiences is intrinsic to the success of any business.

For many, the term “customer contact centre” may seem outdated. Significant advances in technology have led to enterprises having to develop an “always on” approach in order to meet the 24/7 on-demand approach that has developed amongst the 21st century customer. Smartphones, robotics, social media, AI chatbots and other automated self-service solutions are appearing across all industries and markets to meet the needs of customers, while also playing a canny game of cost reduction for the company. There is an opportunity to digitally transform the customer contact centre and to therefore elevate it to a “customer engagement centre”. Cloud computing in particular is affording companies of all sizes the opportunity to leverage its assets, invest in new ideas and take customer engagement to a new level.

But where does the responsibility for developing customer engagement strategies lie, and how much notice does the C-suite really take of the customer contact centre? Aspect Software conducted a survey with 100 C-suite level executives of UK companies employing more than 1,000 employees, to understand their attitudes towards customer engagement and how much their organisation relies on data from the contact centre to make business decisions.




Aspect Software set out to determine the C-suite’s attitudes towards customer engagement and ascertain where the C-suite felt responsibility for both the centre and customer engagement strategy lies. For the purpose of this research, the C-suite was divided into IT and non-IT roles. Those in the IT role were Chief Information Officer and Chief Technical Officer. The non-IT Chiefs were: Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Operations Officer, Chief Risk Officer and Chief Compliance Officer. A separate category for other C-suite roles which encompasses such roles as Managing Director was also included.

100 individuals with the specified roles were asked 18 questions relating to the importance of the customer contact centre. The sample were from a broad range of enterprise-size organisations covering transport, banking & financial, healthcare, retail, the public sector, manufacturing and more. Respondents were from organisations with over 1,000 employees and were divided into three categories: 1,000-3,000 employees (small), 3,001-5,000 employees (medium) and 5,001+ employees (large).

The study was conducted in Q2 2017 through a secure online portal by Vanson Bourne, and was commissioned by Aspect Software.

How many employees does your organisation have in the UK?

1,000-3,000 EMPLOYEES

3,001-5,000 EMPLOYEES









with the specified roles

were asked 18 questions

relating to the importance of the

customer contact centre




So what is the real value that the C-suite places in customer engagement and how much, on average, are customer engagement strategies discussed at the Board level?

Impact of customer engagement on the business

How important is customer engagement to your organisation’s objectives?
















Encouragingly, in the main, the C-suite places high importance on customer engagement in advancing the business agenda. 76% of respondents highlighted customer engagement as “very

important” to their business. There were, unsurprisingly, organisational differences in the importance

placed on customer engagement. The C-suite involved in banking, financial services and insurances unanimously rated customer engagement as “very important” compared with the 9% of retail chiefs who rated it as “not important”.

When these figures are matched next to the second question – which asks where customer engagement ranks against secondary business objectives like increasing profit and customer retention – the importance the C-suite places on engagement becomes clear. Two thirds or more believe that customer engagement is more important than increasing profit (75%), customer retention (72%), new customer on-boarding (71%) and business growth (66%).

Why does the C-suite place such importance on customer engagement, even above business bulwarks such as increasing profit? A large majority (83%) believe that is has given them a

competitive edge in their industry. This is vital, as it shows that the customer contact centre is seen as a key area for an organisation to distinguish itself from the competition. Customers who have a negative customer experience are often turned off their chosen company and will switch. This is especially true of business-to-consumer markets due to the shorter sales cycle and ease of switching, which raises further question as to why retail sees customer engagement as less important to its business than many other industries.



believe that

C-suite has given them a

competitive edge in their industry



Do you believe that your organisation’s customer engagement solution(s)

has given you a competitive edge in your sector?

0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%


1,000 - 3,000 employees 3,001 - 5,000 employees More than 5,000 employees







Customer engagement strategies are discussed at Board level in many of the respondents’ organisations, with it being a topic at Board meetings at least once a month for 60% of those surveyed. The average number of times respondents discussed customer engagement at the Board level throughout the year was 15 for organisations with over 1,000 employees.

Whose job is it anyway?

While the C-suite overwhelmingly believes that their customer engagement strategy is important to their business and is fundamental to driving growth, there is a wide disparity in thought regarding who is responsible for the implementation, development, and P&L statement for this area. When asked where the responsibility lies when it comes to the customer engagement strategy in an organisation, the Chief Marketing Officer was seen as the most likely to be in charge of both the strategy and the budget, being selected by 47% of respondents. This position was closely followed by the Chief Operating Officer (46%), then the Chief Executive Officer (42%) and Chief Information Officer (41%).

The clear disparity between the standard responsibilities of these four positions (see the graph on the next page) shows that despite the strong emphasis businesses are placing on customer engagement, there is confusion as to who is ultimately responsible for the strategy.



was seen as the most likely to be

in charge of both the strategy



How much responsibility do the following titles have when it comes to

the customer engagement strategy in your organisation?

0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50%

Chief Marketing Officer Chief Operations Officer Chief Executive Officer Chief Information Officer Customer service teams Chief Financial Officer Chief Technology Officer Chief Sales Officer Chief Risk Officer Chief Compliance Officer


Room for improvement?

No system is ever perfect and the respondents understand that their customer engagement solutions have room for improvement. While many see it as a great business tool that is giving them a competitive advantage in their markets, they are still aware of the flaws that the system holds. Only 32% of respondents believe that their service is “great”, whereas 65% see areas for improvement within their current system.

Several stumbling blocks were identified in the path to an improved system. Finding a customer engagement solution that meets not only the needs of the organisation as a whole but also one that was right for the customers was the overriding concern for many respondents. 59% of respondents considered finding a solution that worked with existing company infrastructure and solutions a primary concern. Meanwhile, with 49% ranking the need for an efficient implementation as a concern, there is likely the need for the customer contact industry to work more effectively with suppliers to develop the right solution for their requirements.

Almost half (47%) of respondents have encountered major issues with finding the right customer engagement solution to address the needs of their customer – but with the right solution for the business, this problem can be addressed.

There is a wide


regarding who is responsible for

the implementation, development,



What are some of the issues that your organisation faces in trying to

improve customer engagement?

Total 1,000-3,000

employees 3,001-5,000 employees employees5,000+ CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT

Finding the right solution for us Implementing changes efficiently Finding the right solution for the customer Securing sufficient budget

Challenges changing systems across our sites Difficulties with existing legacy technology Lack of insight into the customer journey Lack of enthusiasm from other board members Other services get priority

We’re not sure how we will benefit My organisation does not face any issues

59% 49% 47% 43% 39% 26% 19% 18% 14% 11% 6% 68% 58% 55% 55% 61% 18% 37% 18% 21% 13% 5% 51% 40% 40% 31% 23% 31% 11% 23% 3% 14% 6% 56% 48% 44% 41% 30% 30% 4% 11% 19% 4% 7%

As with any organisation looking to deploy new technology, the issue of existing legacy

technologies is consistently a worry. It is often expensive to either remove these legacy structures or to retrofit them to accommodate the newer systems. This challenge was present in the research findings, with 45% of the sample concerned about the existing technology infrastructure being able to cope with new systems, coupled with 30% of respondents being concerned with legacy IT systems. Unsurprisingly, the concern over legacy systems grows with the size of the company, with 44% of those in large organisations being concerned. This is likely due to the

prevalence of legacy systems throughout these kinds of organisations and the complex processes that will inevitably follow attempts to remove these systems and replace them with a superior model.

Size matters

As companies increase in size, so they are less likely to believe that they are providing good customer engagement, according to the research. Those in the largest organisations (5,001+ employees) believe that their solution is either “good” or “satisfactory”, but see room for improvement,

as highlighted by 78% of respondents. This dips slightly to 71% for organisations with 3,001-5,000 employees but drops significantly for those smaller organisations with 1,000-3,000 employees. It is reasonable to therefore suggest that the smaller organisations surveyed have a greater handle on their customer engagement strategy and believe that they are providing a good service. Respondents from smaller organisations rate their services as “great” with happy customers at 53%, compared with 26% and 11% by medium and large organisations respectively.


over legacy systems grows

with the size of the company, with


of those in large organisations

being concerned



Unsurprisingly, budgetary concerns were a key issue for many of the organisations involved,

regardless of size. Many businesses, of all sizes, believed that budgets were currently an issue or that they presented a primary concern for potential future investment into customer engagement. Smaller organisations (1,000-3,000 employees) struggled with finding appropriate and adequate finances to invest in new customer engagement solutions (71%), especially when compared to

larger organisations who saw this as a concern (3,001-5,000 employees: 46%, and 5,001+ employees: 52%).

Knowledge is power

Customer contact centres generate vast amounts of data that can provide users with unique insights into their customers’ experiences. By analysing and understanding these analytics, Board members can understand the direction in which their centres are moving and make

informed decisions. When asked whether their organisation uses data gained from

its customer contact centres to influence Board decisions on business strategy, 89% of respondents said yes. This tendency to use contact centre data to inform wider strategy was more pronounced in smaller organisations, with, 97% of those respondents saying yes compared with 82% from large organisations.

Does your organisation use analytics and data gained from its customer

contact centre(s) to influence board decisions or business strategies?




0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%


1,000 - 3,000 employees 3,001 - 5,000 employees More than 5,000 employees





can understand the direction in

which their centres are moving

and make informed decisions




From the results of the survey it is clear to see that the C-suite places a high importance on customer engagement and they understand the high level benefits an effective strategy can bring. However, there is an understanding that no system is perfect and that there are steps that should be taken to improve the customer contact centre and overall customer experience. Despite this understanding, there are several barriers to adopting newer systems and bringing about greater levels of customer engagement and satisfaction. The most obvious barrier to greater adoption is finding and justifying investment into the latest developments. The smaller businesses are more attentive to customer engagement, but less financially capable of funding newer technologies and programmes to boost it. Meanwhile, it is the opposite at larger organisations where budgetary concerns were less acute, but there is less of a sense that their customer engagement meets a good enough standard.

47% of respondents said that the pressure to show Return on Investment (ROI) to the Board as one of their most significant barriers to adoption, demonstrating that the Board does not echo the C-suite’s faith in the importance of customer engagement.

To overcome these barriers to adoption, it is important for the C-suite (most likely the Chief Marketing Officer) to work with customer engagement solution providers to help develop a system that works not only for the customers but also the business. Developing a comprehensive customer engagement strategy can help both the Board and the company as a whole to develop a greater understanding of the many benefits that skilful customer engagement can bring to the company. This can be achieved by working with the right provider, with the understanding that the “one size

fits all” approach is no longer suitable for many businesses.




(ROI) to

the Board as one of their

most significant barriers

to adoption



About Aspect Software

Aspect helps enterprises break down the walls between

people, processes, systems and data sources, allowing

organisations to unite around the customer journey.

By developing fully native interaction management,

workforce optimisation and self-service capabilities

within a single customer engagement centre, we

enable dynamic, conversational interactions and create

a truly frictionless omni-channel customer experience.

Leveraging the agility of our worldwide cloud

infrastructure and over 40 years of industry ingenuity,

Aspect conveniently and easily connects questions to

answers while helping enterprises keep service levels

high and operational costs contained.


Asia Pacific & Middle East Headquarters

7 Temasek Boulevard #08-02 Suntec Tower One Singapore 038987 +(65) 6590 0388 office +(65) 6324 1003 fax

Europe & Africa Headquarters

The Record Store 15 Pressing Lane Hayes UB3 1EP United Kingdom

+(44) 20 8589 1000 office +(44) 20 8589 1001 fax

Corporate and Americas Headquarters 2325 E. Camelback Road, Suite 700 Phoenix, AZ 85016 +(1) 602 282 1500 office +(1) 602 956 2294 fax


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