SalesSense recently hosted a CCMA event in conjunction with its technology partners, 8×8, with the objective of helping firms futureproof their customer service and sales with next generation cloud solutions.

Some of the key challenges facing the contact service industry were

  • 50% of revenue in 2026 will come from products and services which do not exist today
  • 33% of agents feel stressed several times a week
  • Candidate attraction and retention in an economy which is at full employment
  • Contact centre job application clicks are down 25%
  • 66% of customers now expect a response within 10 minutes
  • There is a 23% increase in profit for companies who prioritise employee engagement

Ger Teahon kicked of proceedings and explained how 8×8 technology facilitated SalesSense in achieving its vision of becoming a real customer engagement company which would be intertwined with next generation customer engagement technology.

What does it mean to be a “real customer engagement company ”?

Below are some of the highlights of the event.

“I did not want us to be an outsourcer, that is not how we wanted to operate. We wanted to be a partner working with our clients. We did not want to take shortcuts and we did not want change controls. We wanted to do things right and we wanted people to be as proud to work with us as we are to work with them” 

Gerard Teahon, CEO, SalesSense

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Workairs MD, Stephen Mackeral complimented SalesSense in taking the bold decision of being the first contact centre of scale to move to next generation 8×8 cloud solutions.

How does 8×8 cloud solutions deal with customer service call surges?

Stephen detailed how 8×8 partnered by SalesSense in integrating natural voice recognition to deal with surges in call volumes and calls which may occur in the middle of the night. As it was based in the cloud, the automated system could handle any volume of calls at any one time. The result was that this initiative allowed consumers top up their phones in 45 seconds , 24/7. This not only improved the customer experience but greatly improved employee productivity especially in times of call surges.

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What are the future challenges facing the contact centre industry?

Russell Tilsed detailed the following major challenge:

There is huge uncertainty in the business community as research shows that 50% of revenue in 2026 will come from products and services which do not exist today. Uncertainty about the future is exasperated when one takes the global macro-economic climate into consideration.

In the context of the call centre environment there are additional challenges, namely:

  • Without good employee experience you are unlikely to achieve good customer experience and currently 33% of agents feel stressed several times a week
  • 66% of customers now expect a response within 10 minutes
  • There is a 23% increase in profit for companies who prioritise employee engagement

How does 8×8 technologies facilitate an increase in Employee Experience which leads to improved customer experience?

Adaptive Working Model Facilitation

In regards increasing employee satisfaction the adaptive working model allows employees “to work from anywhere on pretty much any device”.

Removal of Data Silos

Traditionally, using multiple channels to connect with customers creates data silos. 8×8 connect the employee experience and customer experience by combining inbound and outbound omnichannel communications on one platform.

Calling different geographic regions

Caller ID’s can be easily changed when calling different geographies.

Dialpad integration

An agent never needs to manually type in a number in a dial pad as 8×8 is an open platform which has numerous APIs to integrate with many applications, such as Microsoft Teams, for example.

Video Functionality

An agent does not need to leave the 8×8 platform to make a video call. 8×8 have an integrated video meeting functionality which allows up to 500 people on a call with the standard plan.

The availability of integrated Analytics

It does not matter if an agent communicates via Facebook, Twitter, SMS, E-mail, phone call, WhatsApp etc as all the analytics is stored in one single location in the 8×8 platform which can be represented graphically, if that is your preference.

What happens if we use another CRM such as Salesforce in the organization?

Other CRMs are easily integrated into 8×8, so agents generally experience reduced stress levels as they do not have to leave the familiar surroundings of the 8×8 platform.

From a content centre management perspective there are numerous advantages, such as:

Bespoke Dashboards

One can tailor dashboards individually to display specific KPI performance for each client firm of the contact centre.

Customer Communication Channel Optimisation

The most effect channels of communication used to resolve customer queries can be easily identified and the least performing channels are highlighted also. This gives contact centre managers clear visibility regarding redesign to optimise processes for the customer.

Next Generation Speech Analytics

8×8 also provides next generation speech analytics based on the identification of specific phrases and then file them under different categories on the 8×8 platform such as:

  • Threatening Behaviour
  • Customer Experience Issues
  • Churn and Retention

Below is an example of how this works:

Churn and Retention Speech Analytics

If “Churn and Retention” is triggered by a particular phrase on any channel, the contact centre agent can easily look at the history of interactions, the average emotion of each interaction and a transcription of previous interactions where churn and retention “threat” keywords were previously used. The agent can then listen to that relevant part of previous calls and review relevant transcripts of previous interactions. This gives the agent a speedy context to why the customer may be threatening to leave, and they can then react appropriately to ensure retention.

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Simon Brown spoke with infectious passion about Omni Channel Customer Engagement, Employee Attraction and Retention, predicting customer expectations in the future and SOS²(Sales Oriented Service/Service Oriented Sales).

Regarding the challenge of attracting people into the contact centre industry in an environment of full employment, Simon recommends:

  • Pay well
  • Have an Employee Value Proposition and brand that people will want to work for
  • Enhance your Green Credentials
  • Increase your CSR activity-show how you are giving back to society

How do you create an environment which increases retention and reduces churn in your contact centre?

The recommendations in how to create a retention environment are as follows:

  • Recruit for the right attitude and train for success
  • Mentor people
  • Give everybody clarity in regards the opportunity to win their “individual race”
  • Have a diverse and blended team of characters at all levels
  • Actively promote diversity as when diversity is combined with creation, this leads to innovation
  • Have visible and clear career progression routes
  • Ensure your employees can easily work from anywhere
  • Ensure you focus on employee work/life balance
  • Have the flexibility of connecting with your team on multiple platforms
  • Have a brand that people want to work for, one with strong green and CSR credential

How to futureproof your business regarding exceeding customer expectations?

Focus on enriching the experience for your customers

  • Use an omni-channel platform
  • Ensure it is a cloud-based platform as you will always be at the vanguard when if comes to updates and enhancements.
  • Focus on First Call Resolution metrics
  • Avoid putting customer on hold
  • Become a value centre instead of a cost centre through Sales Oriented Service
  • Invest in VR immersive training
  • Use 8×8 for voice authentication before funneling a call to a particular agent to march personalities and ensure a higher level of service

In addition to the above Simon emphasised that the most important takeaway in delighting customers is adopting the SOS²(Sales Oriented Service and Service Oriented Sales).

What is SOS²?

“For years far too many businesses ran their customer service and sales functions in separate silos. All that was happening was that they were missing opportunities to sell, to serve and to exceed customer expectations.” Simon Brown, COO

What happens when you combine SOS², Omni Channel Customer Engagement with effective Employee Attraction and Retention strategies?

Sales Oriented Service, where customer service agents are empowered to upsell solutions to resolve customer service issue, is the biggest differentiator for SalesSense’s partners.

Simon gave an example of how SalesSense’s partners benefit from the above combination of SOS², Omni Channel Customer Engagement with effective Employee Attraction and Retention strategies, as follows:

  • Massive headcount savings
  • Net Promotor Scores went through the roof (from 8% pre SalesSense to 64%)
  • First Call Resolution rates increased significantly
  • Trustpilot and Google reviews “went off the charts” for our partners
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