The evolution of information

John Greenwood, Head of Technology & Payments, Contact Centre Panel

On the 2nd Nov 1992, I hung up my sailing gear and joined The Decisions Group in Wimbledon. I’d married my bride the year before, got well beaten in Olympic selection by my best man earlier that summer, and was keen to throw myself into something new. By chance, that day was my birthday, and on reflection, that day was indeed a new beginning.

The journey from paper-based telemarketing teams to Automatic Call Distributor (ACD) driven call centres, through to today’s customer experience platforms, not only demonstrates mankind’s need to access relevant and timely information, but also our business needs to deliver ‘information’ at a lower cost.

Every entity has a customer. Every customer receives information about the product or service that they engage with, often irrespective of whether the individual wants to or not! That paradigm has not changed.

The big change of course is the internet. The ‘cloud’ and the plethora of engagement channels that enables, along with the enablement of tech’, to measure the data flows within them.

This means that ‘information’ is no longer just something we just see on a page, a poster, a screen or dial, it’s something much more accessible and much more about the choices we make, or at least the choices that we think we make.

Thirty years ago, the information we needed to fine tune sales messages was created through carefully managed manual processes. And whilst this still may be true, for some entities more than others, the possibility for tech’ to provide a solution to the ‘process cost’ problem is much more available today than it ever has been.

To put this tech’ revolution into some context, if you have never picked up The Telephone Book by Robert Leiderman, give it a go. It’s a great read and puts into context some great stories of how different organisations approached how to find, get, keep and develop customers using the telephone. The fascinating thing for me is that these stories are just as relevant today as they were 30 years ago when the number of ‘information’ channels limited how we shared information.

Today, with so many customer engagement channels open to us as both business entities and consumers, the ‘information as a service’ not only costs us less in terms of time and effort but is more immediately and easily available through the contact centre technology options that bombard our searches and our inbox. Whilst the last three decades have given us more technology choices, they have also bought us a ‘complexity of offer’.

Historically contact centre tech’ vendors were very simply categorised as voice, process or efficiency based. Today technology categorisation, even to the well initiated feels more complex. With a plethora of other customer engagement channel choices, automation choices and the use of true AI monitoring all of the customer engagement and back end data flows, technology selection feels more daunting, when really it should be simpler.

To paraphrase Leiderman, maybe simplicity comes by thinking of our tech’ requirements being driven by how to find, get, keep and develop customers using data. In our API driven economy, that feels to me like a much easier ask.

If you need help in framing your contact centre tech conversation, then please get in touch.