Can you tell us a bit about your career so far and how you arrived in your current role?
After spending 3 years working in internal sales for Capita IT Services (ITS), I decided that I wanted a more ‘hands on,’ customer facing role working with enterprise level companies to revolutionize their technology setup. Russell Attwood, the former Head of Sales at ITS was in the early stages of launching his new venture, Unify Communications at the time, so I saw an opportunity and began working with him in the spring of 2013.
Put simply, we help organizations to improve their communications both internally and externally. We do this by providing technologies, professional services and support, giving both front line staff and management teams the tools that they need to deliver an exceptional customer experience.
What has been the company’s greatest success?
We’ve been fortunate enough to grow at a very significant rate, with organizations such as First Utility and Nuffield Health among our great customer base. This is all thanks to our forward-thinking business model, pooling the offerings of some of the leading technology vendors in our field to offer outstanding functionality that will satisfy any requirement.
What does the future hold for Unify Communications?
The future looks exciting! Thanks to the technologies that we deploy, there is no limit to the type or scale of opportunity that we can pursue – and thanks to most of our offerings being cloud based, they’re continuing to evolve with the market and we’re very much in line with the way that the industry is moving.
How has the contact centre industry changed since you’ve been involved in it?
The biggest change that I’ve seen is in the amount of channels that we and our customers have to be able to support. Even just a matter of years ago, the average contact center client I had would be focusing largely on voice interactions and handling/routing. Now, it’s rare that we come across an opportunity whose standard requirements don’t include covering voice, email, SMS, social and webchat, making the focus very much around how we consolidate all of these interactions rather than just voice capability.
What do you think is the greatest challenge faced by the industry today?
Linking to the above, consumers in today’s environment are asking a lot more of companies with regards to communications and it’s important to be managing that well/correctly. They say that the average customer now uses 3 different channels to speak to an organization about the same issue, so your entire workforce having complete visibility of these interactions is crucial. It’s also difficult to forecast demand across all of the different channels from a resources perspective, so having both a flexible solution and versatile workforce is essential.
What does the future hold for the industry?
The future is in the cloud! Joking aside, based on the changing requirements of the industry and the way that technology is moving, it will soon be as good as essential to be cloud based. Flexibility, scalability, disaster recovery – the way in which a cloud solution can deliver these fundamental benefits just cannot be matched by the more traditional models, certainly not for anywhere near the same cost – it’s going to become crucial to embrace this technology in order not to fall completely behind the competition.
Which companies do you admire and why?
Companies like Salesforce and Zendesk instantly spring to mind – the way in which they originally entered and now arguably dominate their markets can only be admired. Their versatility when it comes to integration and APIs is brilliant, and allows our solutions to be that much more powerful. I like Zendesk’s unique image, too!
Thinking outside of our space, companies like Netflix and Amazon have fundamentally changed the way in which we consume and purchase things by doing what they do – it’s all about convenience, and again about harnessing the power of being web-based.
If there were one piece of advice you could give to contact centre professionals reading this, what would it be?
Never be afraid to learn about new technology. I hear the phrase “but we’ve always done it this way” on a regular basis, but the fact of the matter is that technology, and more importantly today’s consumers have changed – so businesses need to be open to change themselves too, in order to keep up. If Joe Pratten from Unify tries to call you regarding your communications set up, hear him out – you may actually want to buy what he sells!
What do you do for fun?
Both in and out of the office I am classed as a social butterfly; I am a big fan of a decent gin, hosting BBQs and just generally entertaining! I often get mistaken for Michael McIntyre, but I don’t think I look that like him…. maybe it’s the skipping.
I’m also starting to spend more time embracing social media to network and build relationships, and I’d love for you to follow me on Twitter: @JoeUnify or find me on LinkedIn. We can talk technology, gin, ‘man drawers’ and much much more!