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Technology and business challenges will drive relationships in new directions

It’s clear that the way people and technology interact and ‘collaborate’ is advancing rapidly. For Customer Management, we’re not just interested in technology itself, but how it’s reshaping the human interactions we see in contact centres and the partnerships and relationships we have with clients.

Technology: Asynchronous messaging

‘Live chat’ is currently the digital equivalent of voice. Many of our clients use it as the intermediate step from voice to self-serve as they invest in web applications. But our WhatsApp experience has conditioned us to expect that ‘2 blue ticks’ feeling: ‘I don’t need a response because I know it is being looked at’. I believe Asynchronous Messaging (its technical title) will take off in the world of Customer Service in 2019. Consumers can interact in their time and on their terms, confident in the knowledge that someone in their chosen brand has seen and logged their request and will respond.

People: Moments of truth

The increasing use of technology within self serve to reduce the effort around simple actions will put even more focus on the ‘moments of truth’ - those more complex enquiries that need a ‘human’ response, particularly in the Voice channel. They might be around an escalated complaint (where if handled well, you can actually drive advocacy), or around retention through a personalised offer, or where clients are looking to cross sell or upsell to new services.

We will see an ever greater focus on such moments, because they are the personalised, real time interactions that drive affinity with client brands.

Partnerships: Changing models

In the traditional and simplest model of customer management, clients essentially pay for capacity – people, capability, technology – on a per unit basis. The client determines how much they use or don’t use, you agree a deal, and then Capita turns up, ask for the keys, and takes over the operation... Well that was the historical perception! But it’s just not how it works any more.

Increasingly, as our relationships and partnerships develop, clients are typically prepared to transfer more risk, which is where we end up in gain-share models. We can look to gain share around service experience going up, or revenue generation, or indeed taking cost out of the overall operation, which is how our relationship works with Marks & Spencer, for example. Then at its most extreme we actually get paid for outcomes that are above and beyond the activity we run, as happens with one of our telecoms clients.

I believe 2019 will continue to see clients embracing these different partnership models, and I think a lot of that is down to the breadth of challenges they face at the moment. They’re making choices around new technology, which can expensive and distracting. They see increasing pressure from regulation, with regulators looking for ever more rigour in how operations are run. And they’re coping with the fact that today’s customer behaviours are now rarely predictable from historic data. 

Clients will need a much more flexible model to cope with all these challenges, and that’s something we’re only likely to witness even more in the coming year.

Photo of Mike Barnard

Mike Barnard

Executive Officer, Capita Customer Management

Mike Barnard is executive officer for our Customer Management division which provides market leading contact centre, data, analytics and digital services to prestigious UK brands such as O2, Samsung, BBC, John Lewis, M&S, BMW, British Gas and Dixons Carphone. He is also responsible for support operations in the UK, Poland, India and South Africa, across the Utilities, Retail, Financial Services and Telecoms/Media sectors. Prior to joining Capita in March 2012, Mike was director of business and people transformation at Cable&Wireless Worldwide. Before this, Mike worked at The Boston Consulting Group as a management consult.

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