Contact centre businesses that use artificial intelligence (AI) or data in an innovative way will be celebrated for the first time in a new category at this year's Welsh Contact Centre Awards.
The shortlist has been announced for the 22nd annual awards ahead of March’s event in the iconic Wales Millennium Centre.
The Welsh Contact Centre Forum-led awards, headline sponsored by Ring Central, celebrate outstanding contributions to a sector which contributes £650m annually to the Welsh economy.
Among the 22 company and individual awards, a new category recognises businesses for innovative use of artificial intelligence (AI) or data.
The managing director of the Welsh Contact Centre Forum, Sandra Busby, said:
“It’s understandable that nervousness can set in when we talk about technology replacing tasks undertaken by humans. The bigger picture around AI is one that can improve the lives of employees and customers, while creating efficiencies and insights for companies, improving the bottom line. The individuals and companies nominated in this year’s awards are at the cutting edge of the customer service industry and deserve the recognition for making the lives of consumers better.”
Blackhorse Finance is one of the companies nominated in the AI/Data Product or Service category. Igor Camara and Rob Howell, RPA Hub Developers, said:
“AI/Data is innovating our business today. Not only in providing fully/partially automated solutions to ease colleagues’ workdays and improve customer experience, but also through innovating the way of thinking of everyone around us.
“We have dramatically changed from a highly manual input process business area with colleagues that are resistant to change, into a business that has a culture focused on improving what we can, with colleagues actively participating in our changes. AI/Data has also allowed us to focus more on colleague development with the time that has been made free by the bots being invested in teaching colleagues new skills and further developing ones that they already have.
“The next generation will truly be a generation of people working in jobs that do not yet exist. We will likely see high risk jobs being replaced by bots so that people can really focus on what matters and spend their lives working in safer, less risky jobs.
“Being nominated has given us a feeling of accomplishment. 2019 was a year where this team had to go through a lot of ups and downs. Starting something new from the ground up with little to no outside assistance was incredibly challenging but through teamwork and dedication we were able to achieve our goals. This nomination is just the cherry on the cake.”
Also up in the category are Newport’s Shared Services Connected (SSCL) for their work in developing a product known as myHub.
Knowledge & Insight Operations Lead Veronica Stone-Montgomery, said:
“The AI incorporated in myHub allows us to work out the next best action based on our customer’s intent, driving tailored content to the customer before they ask for it or realise they need it. Through robotic learning our search engines and chat functions perform like a real human being, as real as you or me.
“The contact centre industry continues to go through significant change and at SSCL we believe that AI and robotics will be the next customer experience frontier. Predictive analytics will help us anticipate customers’ behaviour, integrating with technologies such as myHub to meet their needs before they need to pick up the phone.
“Contact centres are already rich in data but advances in speech recognition and the ability to combine and analyse big data allows true multi-channel data analytics, without reliance on human classification. We’ll see intelligent contact routing – utilising chatbots and apps to help our customer navigate services and locate information. This will provide a personalised customer experience, providing proactive, timely, effortless, in-context support on the channel that best suits the end user.
“We’re honoured to be Welsh Contact Centre Awards finalists, especially within this new category. Being recognised by the industry reflects our efforts and dedication in creating and developing myHub for our clients.”
Legal & General Insurance complete the finalists in the new category. Stephanie Williams, knowledge base and process management manager, said:
“We have been using our AI tool for 18 months. AI is allowing us to predict behaviour through insight and build data-driven content to resolve our customers’ and colleagues’ questions. Our knowledge base provides our customers with instant responses to resolve their query and provides our colleagues with ‘just in time' training to answer our customers’ queries.
“Being shortlisted for this nomination makes us very proud and celebrates what we have achieved throughout 2019. Establishing a new team and building the technology has faced some challenges but is extremely rewarding. The nomination validates the hard work the team have put in to develop an amazing product.”
The finalists in all 22 categories including Contact Centre Manager of the Year and Contact Centre of the Year will be honoured and the winners announced at the Welsh Contact Centre Awards ceremony at the Wales Millennium Centre on Friday, 20th March. The glitzy ceremony for 700 guests has previously been hosted by television celebrities including Jonathan Ross, Claudia Winkleman, Alan Carr, David Walliams and Rob Brydon, but 2020’s star turn is a closely guarded secret.
Louise Newbury-Smith, UK Enterprise Regional Vice President at headline sponsor Ring Central, said:
“We are delighted to be supporting the Welsh Contact Centre Awards and seeing first-hand the incredible initiatives that people are working on. It’s also been an honour to be on the judging panel and I’ve been particularly impressed by the graduate and apprentice finalists, they are doing great things.”
Alongside headline sponsors Ring Central, further companies supporting the event currently include Yolk Recruitment, CGI, Cardiff & Vale College, Deloitte, Pure Recruitment, Legal & General, Arvato and RW Learning.