Building a 2020 call centre

Let’s set the basis for if one had to build a 2020 call centre. Firstly, we are always going to put our people first and then in terms of:

• Processes: Easy is the new loyalty
• Systems: Omni-channel contact is required
• Information: A single view of the customer will become a reality
• Digital: Web and App chat is important as service channels
• Customers / Consumers: Smartphones are changing behaviour
• Innovation: Mobile customer support is becoming a standard

Digital will become a leading channel i.e. Web and App as service channels, new channels will arise through Artificial Intelligence (Smartness), however we need to create a one-channel feel through integration and seamless handover, at the same time we need to create a personalised experience for our customers while we continue to invest in upskilling and empowerment of our people.

• Complex problem solving will become the primary function of a contact centre agent.
• Communication skills, analytical problem solving and knowledge of products and services will become the essential skills of a 2020 call centre agent.
• The core functions of an operations teams will be to safeguard customer experience through operational rigor, drive best practice procedures, highlight insights and fixes related to systems and process failures.

In terms of technology:
• Web and App chat should deliberately be designed to become the core channels of choice for customers, followed by phone and emails.
• One should look at mix of dedicated call centres and integrated hubs supported by flexible technologies.
• Key technologies are skill-based routing platforms followed by Cloud and Big Data Analytics.

But what about processes?
• Continuously revisit contact centre process in order to make them more effective, efficient and easy for users as well as customers.

Measure the ease of doing business with you through Net Easy score, the likelihood that customers will promote your service through Net Promoter score, the effectiveness of your service through First Contact Resolution, your efficiency through Service Level followed by Average Handle Time as a hygiene factor.

WEBCHAT as a service channel / SMARTPHONES are changing behaviour / MOBILE CUSTOMER SUPPORT is becoming a standard practice

  • Globally:
    • In particular in the UK surveys shows that 9 in 10 customers want service whilst online.
    • Customers with smartphones who are always connected expect a 24/7 customer service experience
    • The smartphones of the future will support online and video chat, as well as provide a “click to call” service and enable customers to make call-back requests.

(Millard & Alcock, 2014)

  • Woolworths: Are focusing on transforming the WFS (Woolworths Financial Services) customer experience to one that is consistent with and aligned to the Woolworths brand. As part of the Connected Retail Experience they want to deliver one brand experience across all their channels, including stores, the contact centre, the Woolworths website and the WFS mobile app (Woolworths Holdings Limited, 2016).

Omni-channel contact and a single view of the customer

The following few posts focuses on an article by Dr Nicola Millard and takes a look at how those concepts for designing a 2020 strategy are applied in a South African company, for these particular posts Woolworths was selected and their publicly available Integrated Report for 2016 was used for information.



  • Globally: It is believed that the traffic (interactions) via traditional channels will reduce while WebChat, Twitter and others will increase and therefore it is recommended that one should implement an omni channel strategy (Millard & Alcock, 2014).
  • Woolworths: The Woolworths Integrated report of 2016 for their Financial Services portion was incorporated into the Woolworths South Africa strategy. Woolworths retained “Building stronger and more profitable customer relationships” and moved from “becoming an omni-channel business” to offering a “Connected retail experience” therefore simplifying their 8 strategic pillars into 4 and aligning with the rest of Woolworths SA (Woolworths Holdings Limited, 2016).



  • Globally: A single view of the customer reduces the need for a customer to repeat his/her requirement or problem every time s/he switches channels which increases the ease of which they do business (Millard & Alcock, 2014).

*Note: remember the importance of the NetEasy score discussed previously

  • Woolworths: The first strategic pillar “BUILD STRONGER, MORE PROFITABLE CUSTOMER RELATIONSHIPS” and its third focus area of that pillar states that they want to “Build a single view of the customer, enabling customers to be recognised in real time, with delivery of personalised, seamless service across channels” (Woolworths Holdings Limited, 2016).

Easy is the new Loyalty

  • Globally: Consumers in the UK are claiming that loyalty is a thing of the past however they will return to do business if the experience is easy, therefore companies like British Telecom are using an indicator called the NetEasy Score in which they ask customers to rate the ease of their experience. The feedback is used to re-evaluate and redesign processes. British Telecoms have found that 40% of customer who find their service easy are less likely to switch (Millard & Alcock, 2014).
  • General: In the contact centre environment, it is important that you make your processes as simple as possible to minimize customer effort.
  • Woolworths: I reviewed the Woolworths Integrated report for 2016 and they key message under heading “26 / Our stakeholders” is that Woolworths would like to build key relationships in order to create value in the short, medium and long term. Customers are placed in the top right hand quadrant in terms of “level of influence” versus “level of interest in WHL (Woolworths Holdings Limited) activities” which makes customers the key to our success. The report also shows how Woolworths utilised customer feedback obtained through customer satisfaction surveys one example is replacing sweets and chocolates from the check-out isles with dried fruit, nuts and biltong (Woolworths Holdings Limited, 2016).

2020 Customer Service

The following is a summary from an article by Dr Nicola J. Millard on the evolution of the contact centre;

Call centres will evolve from transaction processing entities to strategically important channels and become the beating heart of strategy.

  1. Complex problem solving will become the primary role of a contact centre agent
  2. Communication skills, analytical problem solving and knowledge of products and services will become the essential skills of a 2020 call centre agent.
  3. Customer effort (NetEasy Score) and customer satisfaction (NPS) will become the primary measures for contact centres followed by First Contact Resolution.
  4. Web and App chat will become the core channels of choice followed by phone and emails.
  5. Many predict a mix of dedicated call centres followed by integrated hubs and then home-based agents supported by flexible technologies.
  6. Key technologies are skill-based routing platforms followed by Cloud and Big Data Analytics.
  7. The core / principle function of a call centre manager or performance leads will be guardians of customer experience and to drive Best Practice Procedures. They will also become drivers of fixes related to failures on billing platforms, online platforms etc.

(Millard & Alcock, 2014)

For more information read super-agent-2020-the-evolution-of-the-contact-centre