Can you tell us a bit about your career so far and how you arrived in your current role?
I have spent many years working in distribution for Tech Data (Azlan), Avnet (formerly Bell Micro in the UK) and Metrologie (Formerly Rapid Recall), as well as resellers and vendors. In my last role as MD of Azlan UK, I was very involved with Cisco, UC and the video market and this gave me an ideal knowledge that related to Jabra. The move to Jabra has been fantastic – it’s a company that provides essential products for our changing workplace, as well as serving the call centric market. So the fit and the timing of arriving at Jabra could not have been better.
Tell us about (Your Company) and what the company does
Jabra makes intelligent audio solutions that transform companies and allows them to better interface with technology to change the way they work in order to become more productive. Whether that be within the call centric market, including contact centres and Customer Services teams or in the office Unified Communications space, Jabra has solutions that revolutionise the way people work to become more efficient wherever they are located.
What has been the company’s greatest success?
Our greatest success has been to evolve our New Way of Working and Collaboration strategy which has helped transform the ways people work in companies. This has led to the development of our Jabra Evolve range of products for Unified Communications, our BIZ 2300 and 2400 II for call centric workers or the PRO 900 series for knowledge based workers who require wireless headsets. It has enabled companies to develop a more productive workforce that is not constrained by geography and is ultimately happier.
What does the future hold for (Your Company)?
In the call centric space, the Jabra Noise Guide will help companies identify how noise impacts their working environment and impinges on the wellbeing and productivity of their workforce. In using the Jabra Noise Guide solution, we will be able to design more healthy working environments which will lead to greater employee efficiency and happiness.
In our Consumer Division, Jabra has led the way in the Sports Audio sector in developing the Jabra Sports Pulse, which allows fitness users to not only listen to great music but by measuring their heart rate through the same device in their ear, they can have custom fitness programmes to help them be healthier and train smarter. Do not be surprised if the same kinds of innovation come from Jabra in the business environment in the future. And, as Jabra’s sister company, ReSound, is a world leading hearing aid manufacturer, do not be surprised if see the innovations of miniturisiation within the business sector too.
How has the contact centre industry changed since you’ve been involved in it?
Contact Centres are developing. The complexity faced by the multiple inbound and outbound interactions handled by the average contact centre agent is making their role more stressful. The role of companies like Jabra is to not just to create a superior customer experience but to also enhance the user experience and to challenge the perception that the real measurement of agent performance is not how fast a call ends, but what the outcome was for the customer and the company.
Clear audio is a must for contact centres and they have realised that this can be achieved with noise-cancelling or ultra noise-cancelling technology.
However, stress at work is real issue that affects contact centre agents’ performance and their job satisfaction – and ultimately staff attrition. Jabra’s goal is to decrease this kind of stress build-up, make dealing with an inbound omni-channel easier, make the user experience more enhanced and the customer experience even better. As call centre agents interact with more customers each day than a CEO does in a year, it means they have a profound effect on the performance of a company. Give them the right tools to do the job and stress-free and happy agents will create happy customers –and ultimately that will be reflected on the company’s bottom line.
What do you think is the greatest challenge faced by the industry today?
Customer experience and agent job satisfaction are two parts of one major challenge. Many call centres are still using audio technology invented over 10 years ago but in the same time-frame the industry has moved on at an ever greater pace. What the industry has found is that customers get very dissatisfied with poor quality calls where agents cannot be clearly heard due to background noise or inaudible conversations. The user experience determines whether a customer will show loyalty and spend more money with a specific company. The challenge to the industry, in ever more complex world, is to make the interaction with agent and customer the best possible experience. Those who achieve it, will win and retain more customers which will drive a more profitable bottom line. Automation is both an innovation and a potential curse. Heaven help the company that cannot maximise the customer experience.
What does the future hold for the industry?
There will be greater automation within the industry and that could lead to shrinkage. However, the companies that will succeed will win by deploying highly trained and upskilled agents at the right point to maximise customer experience. Customers want support and actions taken by another person to eradicate their larger problems rather than voicemails and self-serve and companies that can provide the balance between voice, web chat, Social Media and self-serve will fair the strongest.
Which companies do you admire and why?
I am amazed daily by companies who have call centres which are vibrant, full of fun, are innovative and are genuinely focused on the customer and their agents in equal measure. I love this. Equally, as a customer I get to experience some pretty awful call centres where it’s clear the agent is pressurised, not empowered to make decisions or who simply don’t have the right tools for the job. That just makes me more determined to help keep this industry moving forward and adopting the new technology available to them.
If there were one piece of advice you could give to contact centre professionals reading this, what would it be?
Demand the best to do your job. For a few extra pounds it can make a lifetime of difference in terms of job satisfaction, wellbeing and enrichment of the customer experience. That will put far more money on the bottom line than only making core systems better, because ultimately customers don’t judge call centres on the cost of the systems, but the service they receive. Get that right and the world will be far better!
What do you do for fun?
I have two young children who provide most of the fun my wife and I ever need! But in the rare free moments I like to play golf, watch rugby or cricket or just sit down with a good book. Being with family and friends make the best fun anyone could have.