Guest blogger, Dr Nicola Millard

The contact centre of the future

Contact centres may have poor reputations but they should be seen as a strategic resource, says Nicola Millard, BT’s in-house futurist.

In this interview, Nicola talks us through a recent BT survey among contact centre managers and highlights some surprising insights. It’s high time to take a closer look at your contact centre.

You say that contact centres are potentially a strategic resource for companies. That may surprise some given the less-than-stellar reputation that contact centres have. They are often described as the sweatshops of the 21st century and are generally disliked by customers and employees alike. Can you explain – how is their role evolving? And where is the strategic value to be found? [Read more…]

Rob McGinn BT utilities

Tried and tested: tips for a thriving utilities industry

What does it take to thrive as a modern utility? This was one of the questions addressed recently at Utility Week Congress 2014 — a two-day event bringing together decision makers in water, gas and electricity to get to the heart of the issues facing utility companies.

Discussion at the event included solutions which make things convenient for customers because an easily-accessed and responsive service is the key to encouraging brand loyalty. This is particularly important for water and energy companies where customer contact is often just about billing and complaints, so loyalty has always been more difficult to earn. [Read more…]

Nicola Millard

On bananas, boots or books: unravelling the omnichannel conundrum

By Nicola Millard, Customer Experience Futurologist BT

Where would you buy bananas, boots or books?

I’d probably buy my bananas in-store, because I want to check how ripe or bruised they are. Boots I might want to try on and see how they look but I might also opt to buy online and return them if they don’t fit. Books I would almost certainly buy online — either in physical or digital form.

You may have different preferences, though. We all have different goals and motivations when we buy. These are also likely to change with circumstances — if the book is a Christmas present and it’s Christmas Eve, I will probably go in-store and buy the paperback. If I have a hole in my shoe and it’s raining, buying boots online is probably not my first priority. If bananas are part of a big weekly shop, I’ll probably order them online. [Read more…]

Nicola Millard

Tomorrow’s consumer: the next generation of online shoppers

By Nicola Millard, Customer Experience Futurologist, BT

Technology has fundamentally changed the way that we shop – the internet has given us more choice and more information about prices, product and ethicality than ever before. The smart phone has literally delivered the ability to shop anytime, anyplace, anywhere and with a full range of ever more sophisticated apps. Younger consumers especially have grasped this functionality with both hands and have turned into super connected, super demanding and super savvy consumers. Technology has fuelled the way that young people connect with retailers over multiple channels.

[Read more…]

Nicola Millard

Are reports of the high street’s death greatly exaggerated?

By: Nicola Millard, Customer Experience Futurologist, BT

It is easy to see the effects of our changing shopping habits on our local high streets. Are we turning into a nation of online shoppers? Is the high street becoming irrelevant? Or is there an upcoming renaissance linked with convenience and the fact that we are no longer doing a weekly ‘big shop’ anymore.

New technologies, the changing structure of family life and financial pressures caused by a long and deep recession have observably changed the way that we shop, possibly forever. Significant players of the past are now struggling as relative newcomers exploit consumer cynicism by providing new choices, new technologies and new value options.

So are we all becoming disloyal, connected and virtualised consumers? [Read more…]