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Hottest information about 10th Annual Optimising Contact Centres Summit

16 AUGUST 2019


Head of Contact Centres

3 Questions For Vytis Zalimas

What will be the role of AI and technology in general in contact centres in the future?

Without any doubts, I can say that AI and Technology will be a main partner for human being, which will take over all simple, technical, routine tasks. Additionally, I believe technology will be a great advisor to human being in terms of data analytics and outputs out of it. I have a vision that before agent will say hello to the customer, systems will analyse who is calling and most probably why is calling. In terms of metaphor, it is going to be a TANGO dance where one partner will be responsible for feelings and the other one for routine.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of self-service?

There are two points of view, customer and organisational. From customer perspective, self-service will allow to solve simple request whenever customer will be willing to do so. UX will play a major role. From organisational perspective, I see pros and cons. Benefit – less costs to serve a customer, Risk – to lose connection with customer or possibility to do cross or upsell.

How to boost agent performance and productivity?

  • With the help of WFM, organisation should offer flexible working hours (fulfil at least 90% of agent needs)
  • Show importance and contribution of their results to company’s success
  • Find and offer a good balance between teamwork results and personal performance

Vytis Zalimas is a Sales and Customer Care professional, working in a managerial position for more than 12 years. Banking is his 3rd industry, before it, he was working in Aviation and ICT sectors. P&L responsibility, team work and change management are areas of his strength and interest. Talking about hobbies, Vytis plays tennis, football, beach volleyball, he also loves skiing and driving motorbike. Visiting new places & trying new things is in his DNA too.

29 JULY 2019


Head of Social Media Servicing
Air France

3 Questions For Romain Cuisinier

What will be the role of AI and technology in general in contact centres in the future?

Social media made it much easier and natural for customers to contact a brand than before. Conversations became the norm. With 1 million visitors a day on our commercial website and 1 ticket sold every 3 seconds, that’s hundred thousands of customers who contact us every month. At the same time, the amount of conversations that individuals hold daily make it paramount for companies to be relevant and personalised in their answers to stand out from the crowd.
To tackle the growing volumes and the need for personalisation is precisely the challenge we expect AI and technology to help us with. They already are reliable enablers – with personal agent assistant and many automated processes – but they should become even more essential in the future, allowing our agents to focus their efforts where no AI can be as subtle and expert as a human.
Technology should help automate increasingly complex processes (booking, payment, authentications, calls to external data systems, etc.) leaving more time to agents to focus on care and sales than on technical skills.
Combination of different types of AI (image recognition, voice detection, NLP…) will ease documents analysis. Dispatch of customer requests to chatbots and specialised agents will rely more and more on AI till it’s fully automated. New features allow contact centres to propose a customer to shift seamlessly to another channel where there’s less waiting time. Last, translation by AI should really grow, allowing companies to service more languages while reducing the amount of spoken languages in their contact centres.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of self-service?

Building self-service solutions gives company a back-up plan to offer to their customers in case it can’t assist them proactively or quickly enough. However, asking your customers to do any kind of job themselves when you could do it for them does not reflect a very caring attitude and makes you miss the opportunity to engage a conversation throughout which you could learn a lot and even sell more or better to people who needed you.
Still, to provide self-service solutions to your customers gives them the opportunity not to rely entirely on you and to feel in control. This freedom and autonomy given to the customers can be highly appreciated by some of them who want to handle things their way and avoid any kind of direct contact with your company.

How to boost agent performance and productivity?

Two things mainly:

  1. It’s paramount to make agents aware of their importance in the customers’ satisfaction/brand perception process. Assistance is part of the product/service you sell, they have to be as good as the promise your company made to the customers. Show them the satisfaction results of their good or bad work and make them feel the power they have over the customer.
  2. Agents are the experts. They need to be considered and they’re the best to design their own tools. Keep them updated with the latest technologies available, set-up regular brainstorm sessions to involve them in designing their future tools. Also, build feedback loops to improve their current ones.

Holder of a degree of applied mathematics, Romain Cuisinier first worked for the BNP Paribas group before he joined Air France in 2007 as a researcher on customer behaviour at their and Marketing Department. He is now part of the Social Media Team and responsible for innovations and development to leverage Social Media Servicing.


Head of Customer Service Operation Analytics
Royal Bank of Scotland

3 Questions For Jay Tait

What will be the role of AI and technology in general in contact centres in the future?

Technology in general is already having a huge influence in our Contact Centres but this will only get greater. The way our customers lead their lives means they expect:

  • more options when looking to contact companies
  • a greater pace of resolution of their request or issue
  • to know exactly the progress of their service at any time
  • to continue to get excellent “Bedside Manner” no matter the time, circumstance or channel of communication

This can only be achieved through the greater, and high quality, use of technology and the smart application of technologies such as AI. It is important to state that the success of the technology is fully reliant on what you put into it. If your Contact Centre staff are all capturing data in different ways then it doesn’t matter how much technology you implement, its benefits will always be greatly reduced.

AI is a buzz word at the moment but that doesn’t mean it is only a passing fad. The key consideration in the use of AI is not in the volume but in the power of the use cases. Where AI can progressively learn about the behaviours of your customers and actively influence your offerings and processes is always the right place to start. The most important thing while doing this is to realise that good data collection is fundamental and definitely drives a quicker, positive outcome.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of self-service?

Self-service gives customers the opportunity to engage with companies in a way and a time that suits them. This is always a benefit for the customers. From our point of view this is a positive step as it can reduce the volume we experience in our Contact Centres for things which are relatively minor.
The main disadvantages are that not all queries can be efficiently self-served. On top of this, it is also very hard to have a positive effect on customer satisfaction without the correct interactions. Our duty of care to our customers also means we need to be able to recognise and respond to them in a way that self-service will never allow.

How to boost agent performance and productivity?

From my point of view, this is easy to answer, not so easy to implement. This can all be achieved from the correct collection and use of data. If you have the right data, all to a high quality, then you can implement the right tools and processes to ensure whenever an agent is in communication with a customer, they know the right information, with no lag and they are able to present a predetermined best outcome solution to the customer.

Jay Tait is based in Edinburgh Scotland and works for The Royal Bank of Scotland as Head of Customer Services & Operations Analytics. Jay is responsible for providing Analytical Insight for the Service Centres that support the Commercial Bank customers. This has a focus on providing a better experience for the customer and driving efficiencies to way we provide services.
Jay has 20 years of experience in the IT Services and Financial Services Sector.

25 JULY 2019


People and Culture Lead – Modern Life, Gaming and EMEA Customer Service Director

The View of Microsoft on Contact Centre and Self-Service

Mary McCarthy provided us with an overview how Microsoft uses technology to support both customers and advocates, what are the latest developments in self-service and how customer-obsessed culture looks like.
Microsoft is unique in not only having satisfied customers all over the world but also having happy employees who enjoy lots of engagement.

What will be the role of AI and technology in general in contact centres in the future?

At Microsoft, Channels of Choice are provided for customers to decide how they would like to best resolve their problem. If their question is simple, a resolution can be generated very quickly through artificial intelligence and machine learning. It is important to combine this technology with the personal touch of an individual if a customer is requiring more assistance. When a support advocate comes on the chat or call to dive deeper to resolve a problem, they don’t have to ask: “How can I help you?” The advocate can already have a clear picture of the issue, so the customer doesn’t have to start over, enabling the advocate to resolve the issue more. This empowers both the front line to support customers with higher quality conversations and the customer to immediately gain more trust and higher levels of satisfaction as they are getting the help they need.
AI and Technology offers huge benefits to us in how rich data can help us to understand our customers in a better way. It supports customers to navigate them to the help they need, when they need it and in a way that works for them.
Using AI to assess customer sentiment allows us to focus on quality in a truly impactful way, it allows and will continue to prevent fraudulent activity and keep our customers safe online.
The benefits AI brings will allow our advocates spend more time helping customers to achieve more with their products and services

What are the advantages and disadvantages of self-service?

Self-service empowers customers to solve their issues and challenges quickly and efficiently. It offers quick resolution and allows customers to get back to what they wanted to do whether it is work study or gaming. There are huge advantages to offer self-service options to our customers which offer the added benefits of our advocates being able to spend more time with customers who do need assisted support.
At Microsoft, we have developed a customer-sentiment driven quality framework which is centred on the customer and focuses on four key areas. These are Empower me to prevent and resolve my issues, which focuses on self-service, Help me quickly when I need your expertise, Advise me how I can achieve more and Enable our customer service & support team through a customer-obsessed culture.

Empower Me to Prevent and Resolve My Issues
When advocates talk or chat with customers, more value is added to the conversation. Freeing up time by reducing repeated information allows for very different conversations to happen with our customers. Now agents can show customers how to find solutions to their questions easier and maximise their use of Microsoft products and services.
The best channel of growth for Customer Service and Support is listening and learning from our customers. Utilising customer surveys with the enablement of machine learning helps an advocate know quickly after an interaction if the customer was happy or unhappy with the call and why. This real time feedback really helps us coach for quality and provide insights through closed loop feedback.

Help Me Quickly When I Need Your Expertise
The best expression of a company is to show customers we are there for them, we demonstrate empathy, and we will help resolve whatever is getting in their way so they can gain the most out of their products and services. We will always provide a way for customers to easily connect with an advocate. Minimising transfers and decreasing wait-time is another way we are helping customers quickly and getting the right experts to help at the right time.

Advise Me How I Can Achieve More
In addition to our traditional role of solving technical problems, we want to help prevent problems and empower customers to learn something new about their product or service. It’s a great experience for a customer to complete an interaction with our customer support team gaining more expertise and productivity. Our advocates are encouraged to connect with customers and offer advice on how to work with the product or service more efficiently. More customers are finding satisfaction with their Microsoft relationship and achieving more.

Enable Our Customer Service & Support Team
Fostering a culture where every person understands, feels and acts with a deep sense of responsibility will deliver great customer experiences. We empower our front-line agents by making it easy for them to solve customer issues with urgency and ownership. We equip agents with great tools, processes, and training and we teach them how to communicate with customers in a way that builds trust and confidence to ultimately create fans of Microsoft. We do that through a globally engaged and empowered team.

How to boost agent performance and productivity?

In the Modern Life, Gaming and Customer Service team, we look at a number of different ways to encourage our advocates to drive a positive customer experience. We have a ‘WOW’ program where we celebrate advocates who have delighted customers. We have a FAN-creating program where team members who offer FAN-tastic solutions are invited to be part of a super-hero club. As part of our Customer Experience Framework we have the Heroes programs where advocates who demonstrate the CARE attributes (Communicate Effectively, Accountability, Resourcefulness and Empathy) are offered hero badges.
We celebrate Customer Loyalty month, customer service week with fun and engaging activities and also look at gamification through our Delivery partners as well as having a number of pilot initiatives which reward and recognise great customers.

Mary McCarthy is the Readiness, Culture and People Leader in the Modern Life, Gaming and Customer Services organization within Microsoft’s Global Customer Services and Support team.
Mary has held multiple roles in many organizations at Microsoft, starting in the EMEA Operations Centre in 1996. Based in Dublin, Ireland, she has worked both regionally and globally. Before taking this global role to focus on the readiness, cultural change and people development for our internal teams and frontline advocates, she led the EMEA Customer Services team for Consumer and Commercial business in EMEA as well as leading the Special Project for Inhouse Centre of Excellence in Bucharest, Romania.
Her previous assignments include leading the Delivery Deployment team in the Consumer Advertising and Devices team, leading the EMEA Operations Centre Project Management Office, Field Productivity involving centralizing sales functions into Operations, Chief of Staff and Global Channel Readiness. She also held positions in product marketing for Government Licensing, Operational Program Management and Channel Partner management at operational and Executive level.
Mary is a passionate People Leader who enjoys Leading Change through Innovation to deliver better Customer Experiences. An accredited Executive coach, she has recently completed a Team Coaching Diploma and loves investing in developing others and building a culture which empowers others to achieve more.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts’ Degree in French & Economics from University College Dublin and a Masters in French Literature from the Université de Rennes 2. In her spare time, she loves to spend time with her husband Declan, walk their labradors and cook for and entertain family and friends!

8 JULY 2019

Thomas REBY

Senior Strategy Manager

3 Questions For Thomas Reby

What will be the role of AI and technology in general in contact centres in the future?

Technology will play an ever-increasing role in complementing human ability. Technology provides solutions to aspects of service that are repeatable and where rapid, error-free operation is paramount. Areas such as identity/address verification, scheduling and status reporting are all examples in which technology can free up human resource and allow companies to re-deploy time and energy in to service that requires empathy, evaluation and non-standard solutions. Humans will be augmented, not replaced by technology, and my hope is that we will start seeing more focus on service and relationships, since the parts of customer service that are “script-prone” get automated. In addition, AI will help us build connections and relations between events that we would not be able to identify with our limited cognitive ability. We are already seeing many examples of this across industries and in contact centres I believe predictive service intervention and proactive, outbound contacts will be fuelled by AI. We will probably see AI help drive specialisation and advanced staffing models, such that customer wait time becomes a thing of the past. Likewise, AI driven coaching will help train agents much more specifically in the areas needed. Far too often operations managers are relying on simple analysis of operational data to make contact centre decisions and I anticipate with AI that we will increase the depth of understanding dramatically. We will gain a new level of knowledge behind Customer Satisfaction increases (and decreases) as well as much better understanding of why individual performance varies in contact centres.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of self-service?

Self-service carries the obvious examples of rapid, on-demand help at low cost. Effective self-service allows for the customer to gather the knowledge needed, when convenient and without human interaction, it creates very little overhead. A less obvious benefit is meta-data capturing. As self-service journeys are logged or journaled, meta-data is created which helps feed process improvement initiatives, all the way back to product design and serviceability. This is very powerful, and coupled with AI, the meta-data will be able to provide unexpected insight leading to improved customer experience.

How to boost agent performance and productivity?

In my experience, agent performance and productivity is driven through instilling a sense of ownership and self-direction. Too much focus on metric optimisation and coaching towards metrics, leads to disenfranchised employees who think with a transactional, sub-optimising mindset. The key to boost agent performance lies in making sure that they place a part in developing the business. Here are some tips:

  • Make sure coaching is targeting their growth and goals and the performance will follow.
  • Take their feedback seriously and improve process and product accordingly to gain their trust.
  • Allow them to help set targets and own their business reviews as a team. Hand over accountability and after a transition period you will see a level of commitment you would not have imagined.

A lot of literature exists on self-managed and self-directed teams and I would strongly suggest anyone looking to improve team performance to look into bringing in a degree of self-managed teams as a start!

Thomas is a Senior Strategy Manager at Google with extensive experience from technology companies, including Google, YouTube, eBay, Dell and Electronic Arts.
During his career he has managed global operations in e-commerce, technical support, content management and digital advertising, as well as held key leadership positions developing strategies for Customer Experience, revenue generation and knowledge management.
He has advanced CX research methodology by shifting traditional survey processes towards a progressive action-oriented insights, centring on pre-empting failure and knowing when to deviate from standards.
In addition, he introduced a fusion of sales and services, delivering Customer Success through machine learning models that drive product adoption and revenue growth as a byproduct of customer goal attainment.
Through 7 years of dedicated Knowledge Management experience he has transformed KM capabilities of 2 fortune 500 companies. This includes establishing knowledge sharing culture, implementing KM systems and tools, as well as tracking and optimising the value of knowledge and knowledge contributors across global teams.
Currently, Thomas is a Strategy Manager at Google, supporting consumer operations in areas such as gmail, Google Maps and Pixel hardware.
He is a father of two and currently lives in Dublin, Ireland.

4 JULY 2019


Director Digital Transformation Customer Service

3 Questions For Martijn Franssen

What will be the role of AI and technology in general in contact centres in the future?

AI will be a bare necessity to run decision models determining which contact needs to be established (or not) providing hyper personalised service to our customers – boosting sales, satisfaction and with that lifetime value. At the same time it will facilitate our CSRs providing them relevant information to surpass customer expectations.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of self-service?

It is always on providing ease of use, reducing waiting time and reducing costs. However, customer contact is valuable as it creates loyalty and gives the opportunity to add value in a personal contact.

How to boost agent performance and productivity?

By a complex mix of boosting employee satisfaction, data support, easy to use application, performance-based routing, coaching, providing a career/increasing duration of stay, and many more.

Martijn has 15 years of experience in Telco, Insurance and Media industry as a director in companies like KPN, Endemol and BGL.
Diverse background with functions in Finance, Operations, M&A and international management functions.
He is strongly committed to contribute to the life of others which is represented by being a member of the board of Amnesty International, Animal Welfare,
He is also an entrepreneur / founder of online platform to contribute to more than 200 charities. On the top of everything he is a proud father of two super girls

2 JULY 2019


Head of Telecom Services

3 Questions For Mailiis Ploomann

What will be the role of AI and technology in general in contact centres in the future?

In my opinion, humans will stop doing robot’s jobs and start focusing on real emotionally intelligent tasks in the near future. All the mundane and repetitive work will be taken care by bots and robots in general.
It will also be my personal dream and agenda to bring product managers closer to the client and an active part of customer service process in general. Using ML algorithms and automation tools will make all that possible.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of self-service?

Self-service can only take care of straight-forward customer actions. Without combining it with a solution targeted bot/assistant, customers will be left alone and will sooner or later start looking for a human agent. In my opinion, self-service is an essential tool but should not be considered a solution by itself, but rather a meeting point for the customer and virtual assistant/bot.

How to boost agent performance and productivity?

By leaving them with only the most interesting and emotionally engaging tasks and automating everything that can and should be automated. People start making mistakes when they are unhappy or simply bored and/or tired – that can never be excluded all the way – but could be significantly reduced once they don’t have to do robot’s jobs anymore.

Mailiis has worked in telecom industry for more than 10 years. Starting from the position of product manager and now being the Head of Telecom Services in Elisa Estonia – in charge for all products and services for the consumer customer market and also all the end-user devices for the whole customer base. She is also a licensed DISC trainer and a member of the consumer customer strategy board. With her background in business management and marketing she finds the telecom industry one of the most fascinating areas in today’s economics – basically a wonderland where everything is possible and what isn’t today – will be in a year’s time. Starting from 2017, AI and Machine Learning as a strategical tool has been one of the youngest but highest priority members of her portfolio. While rebuilding the idea of product management, customer service automation, user experience monitoring and facial biometrics are already live and this is just the beginning.

28 JUNE 2019


Performance Manager,
Customer Support Centre

3 Questions For Björn SJÖLANDER

What will be the role of AI and technology in general in contact centres in the future?

AI and technology will be used for collecting data and insights, preparing both customer and co-worker for a more effortless experience. It can be used to predict customer needs perhaps, even before the customers realise the needs themselves. I also believe that technology will change the role of the customer support centres, removing the short and easy contacts and increasing the more complex cases and interaction. This would mean new profiles when recruiting, new process for onboarding and a more in depth learning and development process.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of self-service?

Self-service has the potential if simplifying the customer meeting. The risk is that you take the perspective of the company rather than the customers. That would lead towards an overuse of self-services, which in the end would risk overcomplicating the customer interaction.
However, using a customer-focused approach, you provide an effortless experience for your customer and gaining loyalty in the long run. This would also allow you to refocus co-workers towards more complex cases.

How to boost agent performance and productivity?

In my opinion, the shift that needs to be made is to move away from performance coaching and step into behavioural coaching. With leaders focusing on changing behaviours rather than looking at data and numbers, you will empower your co-workers to make the change needed. Only when you change the root of the problem and create an understanding of the impact, you will see true changes. I am a strong believer in the power of coaching and self-evaluation, if the co-worker can identify his/her potentials you have already achieved, is the first step towards increased performance.

For the last 15 years I have been working with customer experience. Working mainly in outsourcing I have had the opportunity to work with many great brands both on local and global scale. My ongoing focus is improving the customer experience via use of analytics and process improvement. For the last 2 years I have been working with the customer meeting for IKEA Sweden with focus on performance management and finding new ways of interacting with the customer.



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