Contact Centre 


February 2023 Edition


What's in a name?

The power of names and why they matter

By Steve Sullivan, Head of Regulatory Compliance


So, what’s in a name? At times, quite a lot! When we name things – especially things as fundamental as the jobs and activities we do for a living – we tell ourselves and the world something about how we regard that activity and ourselves.


Like most trades, the contact centre industry has an arcane language all of its own. Terms like 'shrinkage', 'containment' and 'adherence' are regularly used by contact centre people, often as a bit of a badge of honour, to show that they’re in the know. (Though if you ask two or three contact centres for their definition of those phrases, then you're likely to soon find yourself in the middle of a heated argument!)


That’s detailed, technical terminology, but what about the names we give ourselves and the work we do in our contact centres?

Who are you? 

What do you call your front-line people? Perhaps 40 or 50 years ago being an agent sounded important or even glamorous. Like an FBI agent or a secret agent. But for lots of people nowadays, the term 'Agent' is synonymous with 'Call Centre Agent' and all the bad connotations that that description brings with it – boredom, micro-management and insecurity.

So, instead are they 'Advisors'? Do they advise? If so, that implies a level of authority and resultant customer trust? Or perhaps they guide customers. Should you call your front-line people “Guides”? Our IT colleagues aren’t wide off the mark,  because they run help desks and who wouldn’t want to be helped? 

‘Associates’ is a professional-sounding term, albeit with a with a slight sense of vagueness that might make people sound unhelpfully semi-detached from the organisation. If you’re really ambitious, your people might be called 'Ambassadors', 'Gurus' or 'Experts'. That sounds great, but you have to be sure that real world status and empowerment go with the lofty job titles, or the gesture will just feel disingenuous.

Here's an idea: ask your front-line people what they would like to be called. Kick off the empowerment with some self-definition!

Where are you?

And where do these people work (physically, virtually or both)? 

'Call Centres' were re-branded as 'Contact Centres' years ago (even if that memo still hasn’t reached everybody, particularly consumers). The name change was as much to do with trying to escape the negative, scripted telemarketing associations of 1990s call centres, as it was reflecting the move to a multichannel world in the noughties.

But things just keep getting more varied and confusing. We can debate all day whether customer experience does or doesn't mean the same as customer service. Or we can argue about the extent to which customer service embraces all that is entailed in customer management. But more contemporary terminology is reflected in workplaces and business units – which might be why I frequently spend time with organisations in which no one seems to agree what the ‘contact centre’ is now called.

You might be running a 'support centre' or a 'service unit', a 'customer hub', 'customer home' or 'customer experience factory'. In a sense it doesn’t matter – unless you aspire to really make a difference. In order to do that, you need to engage your frontline people, both actively make things better for your customers but also, vitally, take those learning and insights into the wider business. Only then can the hard work on the front line translate into a genuinely improved customer experience, propositions, technology and processes.

If the name you give to a unit or department helps the people in it and your colleagues and stakeholders all understand what you’re trying to achieve and how, then that’s a great start.


So, what’s yours called? And why? Let us know at 


'Over 4% of the UK's working population are employed in contact centres.'



Simplified Choices 

Selecting a B2B telemarketing partner

By Neville Doughty, Partnership Director 


Recent years have been turbulent. Several “black swan events” arrived en-masse and continue to impact lives and businesses. Yet the fundamental requirements to deliver growth, manage retention or increase revenue per customer remain.   
Starting 2023 without the spectre of pandemic lockdowns, but instead with the uncertainties related to Brexit, the recession, industrial action and increasing energy prices, means maintaining a team of people with the capability to deliver against your business objectives is critical. This may be the number one challenge, along with managing increasing business costs.
It is tough out there across many sectors. This makes re-evaluating growth plans key and the potential use of a telemarketing partner a consideration that carries more significance than in past years. The selection of the right partner could be the catalyst if you had the time to find the right one who will work flexibly to support your requirements.
Mitigating risk

We all understand what risk is, but how do we manage risk on a day-to-day basis? The key when selecting the right people to work with is to ensure we understand their capabilities. The trouble is, 4% of the UK population work in either a contact centre or at home on the kitchen table on behalf of a contact centre.
So how do you find the right partner when there is such a wide choice, offering a variety of services?  
Outbound calling at their core


Contact centres are in the DNA of their senior teams and they surround themselves with like-minded people. Many are even owner managed. However, strong outbound, telemarketing DNA differs slightly. It is a different discipline like the difference between Mo Farah and Usain Bolt, both are fantastic athletes, but they have their areas of expertise in the same way your businesses do. (Why the reference to gold medalists? Well, telemarketers in this space have to be winners too).
Access to the right data


You may have a file of existing records that you need support in dialling. A partner can do this for you, providing detail and appointments in a flexible range of formats. But if new data is needed, they can also support in obtaining the right lists for your needs. Working with their existing tried and tested data providers, means they are better placed to commit to the success of that data.
Proven staff


Established telemarketing providers know the right kind of people to deliver your campaign, who are able to clearly articulate your proposition and messaging. They understand the strengths of their teams and will know, from experience, which individuals will be best placed to deliver success for your business.
Sector experience


You can use partners who have specific sector experience,  taking advantage of their understanding and insights of the industry (including tested data and specific experience) to increase your probability of success.
Operating with transparency


A good partner will be able to readily provide you with  performance reporting, share call recordings and suggestions for how to develop or rest a campaign. They will work to and thrive on having clear KPIs. They will be focused on the outcome and can talk with passion about their results.
Offering you a secure environment


Telemarketing companies have to be compliant to remain in business, whether it be data handling or managing calling in line with regulations. They have to be efficient and invest in the right contact technology to enable them to deliver services for multiple clients. With many contact centre technologies available, it is important to know that they have selected the right platforms to deliver what you need. 


Sourcing the right telemarketing partner can a challenge, so if you require assistance get in touch.


The resilience of the high street

Adapting to changing consumer behaviour

By Phil Kitchen, Managing Director


M&S recently announced that they plan to invest £480 million in their ‘Store Rotation Programme’ which would entail “180 higher quality, higher productivity full line stores…[and] opening over 100 bigger, better food sites”, generating 20 more stores overall. Whilst growing a brick-and-mortar presence may seem surprising to some, due to the general shift towards online shopping caused by the pandemic, research suggests that high street stores are bouncing back.  


Analysis conducted by PwC demonstrates that current consumer preferences between online and offline shopping are polarised. 37% of consumers prefer physical stores for enjoyment or pleasure, compared to 32% for online shopping. Additionally, 56% of consumers believe that customer service is better in-store as opposed to online (19%).


Though online shopping continues to be a key part of the buying journey, physical stores will remain significant in customers’ experiences. Stuart Machin, Chief Executive of M&S, echoes this stating that “stores are a core part of M&S’s omni-channel future and serves as a competitive advantage for how customers want to shop today.” 

One of the reasons for this is that the high street offers a unique shopping experience that cannot be replicated online. Physical stores offer the opportunity for consumers to see and touch products before buying, as well as receive immediate satisfaction of a purchase. Additionally, physical stores offer the opportunity for face-to-face interactions with sales associates, which can be helpful for making informed purchasing decisions. Some retailers are also experimenting with new technologies like virtual reality, interactive displays and in-store events to enhance the in-store shopping experience and drive foot traffic. More than a third of all consumers would gladly pay more for an enjoyable shopping experience, whether that be a multisensory buying journey or receiving a human touch. 

Another reason for the resilience of the high street is the fact that it is a vital part of the community. The high street provides a range of services and amenities to local residents, including shops, restaurants, cafes, and other community services. As local authorities continue to invest in the regeneration of inner cities across the UK, it makes sense that developing more spaces for retail, dining and living are a key part of these plans. 

Interestingly, retail brands who are opening brick and mortar stores are also witnessing what they are now coining the ‘halo effect’. That is, the positive effect physical retail can have on online channels. On average, brands see a 36% uplift in online traffic the quarter following the opening of their physical store. 

As consumers demand more channels of interaction with a retail brand along their buying journey, physical and digital retail are becoming more and more blended. As a result, brands must now look to ensure channel integration is a key part of their customer service solution. This means creating an omnichannel experience, such as the ability to purchase online and pick up in-store, or the ability to return online purchases in store. 

To conclude, whilst the purpose of brick-and-mortar stores may be redefining itself, they remain a crucial part of the retail landscape and thus a brand’s strategy. The high street has stood the test of time, with a post-pandemic bounce back and research suggesting that consumers understand the value of and unique experience offered by high street shopping. 



Location watch 

Why Turkey is a top contender for outsourcing

By David Taylor, Partner Success Manager


Turkey, once the mighty Ottoman Empire, is known for many things. From shopping in the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul to visiting Cappadocia, infamous for its cave houses, cobblestones and hot air balloon rides – Turkey has a lot to offer. However, when you think of outsourcing your customer contact requirements, Turkey probably isn’t on the top of your list, right? Well, it may just be worth taking a closer look…


Recently, Turkey has made significant gains in the United Nations Global Innovation Index and became a leading innovation economy in its region, behind only Israel and the United Arab Emirates. By doing so, Turkey leapt ahead 10 rankings to place 37th in the Index, which measures the innovation ecosystem performance of 132 countries. Whilst this may seem impressive from first glance, it’s not really a surprise when you consider Turkey’s many positive attributes. 

With the 3rd largest labour-force in Europe, Turkey has delivered on developing its infrastructure to fuel this change. This has seen the rise of a young, highly-educated, multilingual workforce, who are driving the recent boom in outsourced services delivered out of Turkey – with an expected CAGR of 20% between 2020–2026.

Still, not everyone will have thought about outsourcing their customer contact requirements in Turkey. So, why else should you consider Turkey as a future destination? Well...


1. Location:


What makes Turkey different is the mix of cultures that can be found from city to city, mainly due to its location at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Istanbul itself is a bridge between two continents, connecting Europe to Western Asia. This makes it ideal for European businesses to easily commute to Turkey (3hrs 45min from London to Istanbul), whilst being able to rely on the same business infrastructure they have become accustomed to in the West – including a favourable Timezone of UTC+3.

2. Languages:


Whilst most Turkish citizens speak Turkish and Arabic, they also speak English professionally. Furthermore, there are other European languages that can be accessed in Turkey – such as German. In the 1960’s, many Turkish workers relocated to West Germany to help fill labour shortages (better known as Gastarbeiter). This led to a growth of Turkish people living in Germany, with the children and grandchildren of these workers being born and raised in Germany. As of recent years, many Germans of Turkish descent have chosen to relocate back to Turkey, which has increased the amount of German people speaking in the country (including being aware of German cultural nuances). Furthermore, you will find these languages will come at a third of the price vs sourcing European languages in-country.

3. Infrastructure:

Turkey has made major strides in the last 10 years in developing its infrastructure. Turkey now boasts an excellent communications infrastructure, with the Turkish Government undertaking some major development projects to align itself to its European neighbours. The Turkish government is also a strong supporter of international investments and job creation, which means government loans and grants have been made available to help boost the sector.

With these key attributes in play, Turkey is in a prime position to start attracting more and more Western business into the country. It’s definitely a location to keep on your radar.

Considering outsourcing? Does Turkey sound like a location you would like to explore? If so, get in touch, the team would be more than happy to speak to you.

Guest column

Fair and unfair dismissals

The dos and dont's


Jamie Baker, WorkNest


When it comes to dismissing an employee, there are right and wrong ways to go about it. Get it wrong and you could find yourself in an Employment Tribunal.


With the average award for unfair dismissal sitting at £10,812, missteps can be costly. It’s therefore essential that employers understand what a fair dismissal process looks like and what might constitute unfair dismissal.

What is a fair dismissal?

The key ingredients to a fair dismissal process are:

1.    Having a valid reason to dismiss; and
2.    Acting reasonably in the circumstances.


In relation to the first criteria, the Employment Rights Act 1996 lists five potentially fair reasons for dismissal. These are:


  1. Dismissal related to an employee’s conduct (e.g. theft, fraud, bullying or negligence)
  2. Dismissal related to the employee’s capability or qualification for the role (e.g. long-term sickness absence or performance concerns)
  3. Redundancy (e.g. business closure)
  4. Dismissal because of a statutory restriction, i.e. if continuing to employ the person would break the law, such as a driver losing his driving licence
  5. Dismissal for some other substantial reason. This is a ‘catch-all’ category that employers may rely upon if none of the other potentially fair reasons for dismissal apply (e.g. the employee is handed a long prison sentence, their conduct outside of work brings the employer into disrepute, or they refuse to accept changes to contractual terms)

From a legal standpoint, however, it’s not enough that the employer has a valid reason to dismiss; you must also be able to demonstrate that you acted reasonably in the circumstances.


What is a fair dismissal procedure?

While there is no legal definition of ‘reasonableness’, in determining whether a dismissal was fair, an Employment Tribunal will consider a number of factors, including whether the employer:


  • Properly investigated the issues and considered mitigating circumstances
  • Informed the employee of the issues in writing and notified them of the potential for dismissal
  • Conducted a disciplinary hearing with the employee to give them an opportunity to respond
  • Allowed the employee to be accompanied at any hearings
  • Informed the employee of the decision to dismiss in writing and gave the employee the chance to appeal

What makes a dismissal unfair?

A dismissal will be considered unfair if:


  • The reason for dismissal does not fall under the scope of one of the five potentially fair reasons for dismissal outlined above
  • The employer did not follow a fair disciplinary or dismissal process and/or the decision to dismiss was outside the range of reasonable responses open to the employer.

In cases of misconduct or performance concerns, employers should follow the procedures set out in the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures, as an Employment Tribunal will take this into account when assessing whether an employer has acted reasonably. 

If it is found that an employer has unreasonably failed to follow the relevant procedure in the Code, a Tribunal may consider that the dismissal is unfair.

Likewise, in redundancy situations, the main elements to a fair redundancy process are:


  • Warning employees of redundancies
  • Creating and applying fair and non-discriminatory scoring criteria and consulting with employees and exploring suitable alternative employment options

If you fail to follow a fair selection or consultation process, you may find that the dismissal is deemed unfair.

An employee with at least two years’ service may be able to submit a claim to a Tribunal for unfair dismissal. Claims must generally be submitted within three months of the date the employee’s employment was terminated.


To read the article in full, follow this link