The first batch of Coffee Club sessions for 2023 has discussed some critical topics being addressed across the CCA network. Meeting every other Friday for an hour allows time to share, explore and discuss challenges across all different types of businesses with many helpful and insightful takeaways to use.

So far in 2023 we’ve talked about flexible shift patterns to meet changing customer demands, best measurements for customer satisfaction, absence management and how to handle abusive customers. 

Front and centre regardless of the topic, is how can we best respond to customers and how can we best support our teams. Most businesses are continuing to be impacted by the tight labour market which is having a direct effect on how service is resourced. 

Technology in many instances is doing its job with more and more of the simpler, transactional needs being handled by smart tech. However that’s not stopping customers from channel hopping to be heard, or from businesses having to respond to more complicated and emotional enquiries. Quite the opposite; growing vulnerability and anxiety is manifesting at the front-line creating highly complex and highly emotive conversations. 

From a business perspective wellbeing is increasingly a priority. Recent research published by CCA cites that 84% of respondents are concerned about employee wellbeing despite having well-resourced Employee Assistance Programmes and other support mechanisms in place. Customer anxiety, frustration and vulnerability is constructing a new dynamic for those who have to speak to customers every day, often in their ‘safe space’ if working from home. 

Most organisations in the CCA network have a zero-tolerance policy on abusive calls or contact. Advisors are encouraged to raise awareness of challenging conversations but worryingly, many are just viewing it as ‘part of the job’ and not escalating or highlighting as they should. Often the outcome of the call is where the customer doesn’t like the process or doesn’t qualify for a particular product or service, requiring skilled intervention and where advisors need to tap into their training. In some circumstances however, it’s having a direct impact on absence as some are feeling overwhelmed, and intervention by team managers is essential to result in the best outcome.

Quality Assurance and MI have a crucial role to play here in ensuring training, policies and procedures are fit for purpose – both to support the advisor but also to identify customer need and best address issues being raised.

This should be reflected too in how customer satisfaction is measured. Measurement is such a nuanced area and it’s often difficult to find new and fitting ways to understand voice of customer. As always, the CCA network is pioneering with its approach and the use of video, voice and data analytics is shifting how this is presented both to the service operation and to the wider business. Making it easy to give or analyse feedback is key along with the ability for advisors and team managers to hear customer comments on the service received. The feedback loop offers the opportunity to build customer trust and colleague engagement, particularly important as the role becomes more and more challenging.

Pauline Cochrane, Head of Research & Partnerships hosts the CCA Coffee Club every other Friday bringing together senior execs from all sectors in the network to discuss, share, learn and explore the challenges being faced... over a cup of coffee, tea or refreshment of choice. If you'd like to know more or join the conversation please get in touch.