Transforming contact centres

The Professional Planning Forum champions planning fundamentals to drive efficiencies in public sector contact centresRecent research by the Professional Planning Forum, an independent body promoting best practice in contact centre planning, indicates that in many ways public sector contact centres are now leading the way in process improvement and call avoidance and are becoming a driving force for change.
Whilst the private sector are beginning to look at cause of contact and re-engineering processes to improve efficiency and even the cause of contact itself, this has become business as usual for the public sector.
This has driven large levels of investment especially in local government as they strive to deliver against the NI14 measures. Many councils have taken the opportunity to do this by launching initiatives that have endeavoured to put the customer or citizens at the heart of the organisation. This has led to investment in people, technology and facilities to allow this to happen. This in time will deliver the efficiencies as the unproductive calls are removed and more services move to the contact centre.
However due to the need for the public sector to react rapidly post Varney, key planning fundamentals have not always been put in place. As Steve Woosey of the Professional Planning Forum explains: “Getting the fundamentals right such as schedule fit and adherence, multi-skilling, assumption tracking and aligned KPIs makes the difference. It is also essential to have well-supported and skilled full-time planners in all contact centres.”

Diverse transformation programmes
It is a sign of the times that as many as four diverse public sector change programmes reached the closely-fought shortlist for the Contact Centre Innovation Awards 2009.             

Projects from Thames Valley Police, London Borough of Haringey, Job Centre Plus and Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council were selected as finalists in the prestigious awards, alongside projects from leading private sector contact centres like QVC, Vodafone and British Gas. All have transformed the role of call centres; driving efficiency while also making them better places to work and contact.
Presented by the Professional Planning Forum, the award winners are announced at Contact Centre Planning 2009 in April 27-28 in London, where the finalists will all be speaking about how they achieved such outstanding results.         
This conference brings together participants from all industry sectors to learn about best practice in delivering improvements in contact centre performance and customer experience across the front and back office.
The published agenda includes a presentation from The Cabinet Office and local government is well represented, because of pioneering work in this sector. Surrey County Council and speakers from previous Innovation Award winners, Salford, Liverpool and Canterbury councils, will all share experience on the changing role of customer contact and how to avoid ‘failure demand’, by changing process in the back office service delivery functions.

What gets in the way of a great customer experience?

The theme running through the Planning Forum’s events and research for 2009, “delivering the customer journey”, gives a focus for discovering ways in which effective planning and information can help organisations remove the silos that get in the way of a great customer experience. Where does the journey begin that leads to a call or e-mail? What’s the end point? Do we take customers along the best route? How do we identify failure demand or avoidable contact?  
“We run regular events on specialist topics areas like getting people engaged with figures and reports and adapting measures of first time fix and contact avoidance to avoid implementing them in the wrong way, as well as seminars focused on public sector issues and specialist forums for local authorities and the Police,” explains John Casey, Director of Professional Development at the Planning Forum.
“Our mission is to promote best practice and professionalism in contact centre planning. Our members benefit from benchmark research, accreditation, bespoke support and coaching to help every centre develop confident and skilled analysts and managers that are key to contact centre improvement.”
A strong focus of all Planning Forum’s events is on helping participants take away ideas that they can put into practice in their own workplace. Three out of the four of this year’s public sector award finalists are members and participants in previous conferences. As Kath Hornsey from Stockton on Tees Borough Council explained after the 2008 conference: “I’ve taken lots of things back to put into action, and it has clearly paid off.”Dates for your diary
Forthcoming events of particular interest to the public sector are:

  • 27 and 28 April 2009, London Novotel – Contact Centre Planning 2009
  • 18 June 2009 – Public sector seminar and site visits to Stockton-on-Tees council
  • 2 July 2009 – Public sector seminar and site visit to London Borough of Haringey

Full details of all these and other site visits, seminars, specialist training and membership can be found at: or by calling us on 0333 123 5960.The Professional Planning Forum
The Professional Planning Forum ( is the independent industry body for effective resourcing and planning in the contact centre industry, working across all industry sectors to provide specialist support for contact centre professionals. Championing the importance of these critical skills, the Planning Forum is widely recognised for its best practice research and case studies, as well as the results-focused nature of its professional development training and in-company workshops.

For more information
Contact Dave Vernon, Senior Contact Manager Planning Specialist on
0333 123 5960 or
Alternatively visit