Customer service has seen technological advancements like no other. From operators to virtual assistants, and troubleshooting guides to chatbots, there are now many ways to provide customer assistance.
Datacom’s head of business enablement services, Libby Ewing-Jarvie, has seen this evolvement first-hand throughout most of her career.
Now, as part of her integral role at Datacom Connect, which helps organisations across Australasia with their contact centre support and customer experience services, she is keen to share her knowledge and to inspire those beginning their careers in customer service.
“I have a passion to ensure that everyone new to the business, whether it’s on the front line in the contact centre or in another part of Datacom Connect, appreciates that they have opportunities to explore career paths beyond their initial point of entry,” says Libby.
“It's so easy for me to relate to that personally because that's my own journey and I’m pretty proud of that.”
Libby started at Datacom in 1996, just as interactive voice response (IVR) systems were arriving in contact centres and long before virtual assistants took customer care online in a big way. Now based in Sydney, her broad range of responsibilities include overseeing the development of Datacom Connect’s workforce, managing relationships with technology partners, and enabling the company's executive team.
I have a passion to ensure that everyone new to the business, whether it’s on the front line in the contact centre or in another part of Datacom Connect, appreciates that they have opportunities to explore career paths beyond their initial point of entry.
As with many ‘Datacomers’, Libby’s journey has come full circle. Libby’s early stint with the company was spent providing contact centre support for Microsoft. This was during the heady days following the massive launch of the Windows 95 operating system.
“We were servicing the general public, who were getting on-board with Windows and everything that existed in the Microsoft landscape at that time,” Libby remembers.
“We took many calls in the course of a day – from triage and troubleshooting to placing orders and navigating knowledge management tools and CRM (customer relationship management) systems.”
It was challenging but fulfilling work. It led Libby a few years later to Microsoft itself, where she managed the important Datacom-Microsoft relationship.
"I hadn’t ventured too far from Datacom at that stage, but it did put me in a great position to pick up my next career pathway and my next set of learning opportunities,” says Libby. “Microsoft was like the greatest business school a 23-year-old woman in tech could have.”
Her eight years at Microsoft saw her confidence and skill set grow as she took on increasing responsibility, including working on customer engagement projects in Southeast Asia and New Zealand.
It was also a period when contact centre technology evolved rapidly. IVRs became more sophisticated and digital channels more important as a younger generation favoured them for customer support queries.
“It has a personality, and with each interaction, it learns and understands more. Now, it's actually able to hand off to a human agent.”
It’s why contact centre agents have now been given a more nuanced role. While many of the basic queries are taken care of by digital channels and virtual assistants, contact centre agents can handle more complex queries, many of which require a delicate touch.
Despite technological advancements, most people still seek a personal experience with a human touch.
“Voice channels and connecting with people by phone remain the primary preference for people. We see that over and over again in research.
"It’s why contact centre agents have now been given a more nuanced role. While many of the basic queries are taken care of by digital channels and virtual assistants, contact centre agents can handle more complex queries, many of which require a delicate touch.
“If a customer has a challenging need or personal issue, a human interaction provides much greater value. Humans can empathise and will, therefore, lift the value of an experience with a contact centre.”
That’s certainly been the mantra during the COVID-19 pandemic. With many workers working remotely for the first time, and more customers using online services, many organisations have needed to rely more heavily on their contact centres and service desks more than ever.
“Wow, what a crazy time it's been,” exclaims Libby.
“The biggest change has been the acceleration to enable people to work from home on a daily basis.”
For Libby, the pandemic has also shown the value in why organisations, big and small, should partner with the likes of Datacom Connect to manage their contact centre operations and influence the customer’s experience, while they focus on their core business.
“There have been big and experienced organisations along the way, such as Microsoft, Telstra, and a number of government agencies, who have moved in this direction,” she says.
“Yet, there will be other organisations with positive intent and smaller contact centres who may struggle to realise the benefits of economies of scale.”
That’s where Datacom Connect can play a valuable role, says Libby. Datacom Connect offers those economies of scale while taking care of critical contact centre service delivery and functions, such as recruitment and workforce planning, knowledge management, and quality assurance. Ultimately, each area will improve a customer’s experience and optimise business outcomes.
For Libby, it has been a lifelong quest and one she never tires of.
“I am really a connector of people,” she says.
“There's no one day like the next. It's always energising and full of variety.”