William Carson

William Carson

William Carson is Market Engagement Director at Ascensos. He sits on the Global Sourcing Association Council and is an active member of the UK Contact Centre Forum and the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing. William is dedicated to the pursuit of end-to end business conversations with clients focused on developing better 21st Century CX, delivering on business outcomes that help achieve and exceed clients' strategic goals. He is a writer, speaker and general disruptor of all things customer experience (CX) related.

Recent posts by William Carson

3 min read

Major expansion into Turkey announced by CEO

By William Carson on 08-Jul-2020 09:43:58

Contact centre operator Ascensos announces major expansion into Turkey – part of planned Pan-European push.

Customer management and service provider Ascensos is to open its first contact centre in Turkey as part of an expansion into eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia.

The move by Europe’s leading independent customer experience operator will serve clients that plan to expand across western, central and eastern Europe. Ascensos will also support brands flowing in the opposite direction.

The new operation by the rapidly growing Motherwell-based company will be located in a central business district of Istanbul, the largest metropolitan city in Europe.

Ascensos Awarded Outsourced Contact Centre of the Year

 

John Devlin, Ascensos CEO & Co-Founder, said: “We see the same global growth opportunities that our clients do coming out of the Covid-19 lockdown, particularly looking deeper into Europe and Asia, although this is a move we began planning before the coronavirus pandemic. We will help them develop those opportunities, using our strong regional connections and innovative, agile customer support culture.”

Turkey sits at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, retaining its historic position as a global centre for international trade. Much of its workforce is fluent in languages such as English, German, Russian, Greek, Spanish and Arabic.

“Turkey is the perfect cosmopolitan hub from which to seize growth in a profoundly changing retail trading landscape. It opens up opportunities for Ascensos to compete in new markets, such as Germany and the Middle East, helping brands reach into the UK and EU as well as to better serve their domestic and regional customers.

“Our expertise in managing omnichannel customer engagement in the UK, one of the most competitive and demanding markets in the world, is invaluable to retailers based in other parts of the globe.


the-view-over-the-bosphorus-strait-istanbul-turkey-P95J8L9 698x400

📷 Image:The view over the Bosphorus strait, Istanbul, Turkey. Source @twenty20photos

Executive Chairman & Co-Founder, Dermot Jenkinson added: “The launch of Ascensos Turkey is a key strategic move for us, and Istanbul is the appropriate place to be geographically because of its long history as the bridge between trading worlds."

The move into Turkey is the latest stage of an expansion strategy developed by Ascensos last year that includes reaching into substantial untapped consumer markets across the world.

For further information visit www.ascensos.com

Ascensos Awarded Excellence in Customer Service 2020

About Ascensos:
The company, which is headquartered in Motherwell, Scotland, was founded by Dermot Jenkinson and John Devlin in 2013 and has six contact centres across the UK, Central and Eastern Europe. It is a gold medal winner at the European Contact Centre and Customer Service Awards and supports more than 20 clients, including high street names such as KFC, Aldi, B&Q, Wickes and JD Sports. Revenues in 2019 were £30 million.

Ascensos Media Contacts:
Toby Moore
E: toby@applebycomms.com
M: +44(0)7976 942209

Fiona Campbell
E: fiona.campbell@ascensos.com
Partner with Ascensos to discover a fresh approach to customer service outsourcing

If you’re looking for a fresh approach to customer service outsourcing, get in touch and let’s talk or email us at partnership@ascensos.com.

Topics: Corporate
4 min read

Retail's new foot fall: the customer service team

By William Carson on 20-May-2020 11:40:00

COVID is with us now and into the foreseeable. Retailers with an active or soon to be active ecommerce solution and strategy can best support their ROI by running a great customer management operation handling voice and non-voice channels. Supported by dynamic, analytical insights and operationalized sales through service initiatives, the customer management team effectively becomes the new ‘foot fall’ for the retail sector.

As perfect is the enemy of good, and procrastination is the enemy of accomplishment, right now we’re beginning to see how pessimism, particularly in the mainstream media, will fast become the enemy of vision, growth and success. The opener in an FT article this week ran: ‘With the economy in recession, government borrowing and debt piling higher and unemployment set to rise sharply, the journey no longer looks so enticing.’ While the article dealt primarily with the issue of ‘exceptionalism’ in British politics, it also painted a grim landscape for the economy. This week was also the first-time panelists on webinars were talking openly about recession - as a reality, not a possibility.

And yet businesses like at Ascensos in CX BPO are busy. Ecommerce clients in retail are benefiting from customers’ inability to get out on the high street and into shopping malls.

This has led to increased volumes in customer contact across all contact channels and already we are reuniting our fabulous staff with their teams – albeit remotely. Retail brands’ internal contact centres too are also experiencing an uplift in customer business and along with increased productivity, lower absenteeism and sickness with W@H, there is clearly a disconnect between the headline writers and readers.

Retail New Foot Fall2_WC 698x349 By Aldi📷 Aldi & Deliveroo announce partnership. Photo credit Aldi.

This week Aldi announced its partnership with Deliveroo which speaks loudly of innovation and seizing the moment. It’s a great example of what one Everest Group analyst referred to recently in a webinar as a shift away from the ‘not invented here’ and ‘best in breed’ towards ‘fit for purpose’ and partnership. Deliveroo customers will be able to select Aldi products including bread, milk, fruit and vegetables, which will be packed by the grocer’s staff in stores. Deliveroo’s riders will then deliver the items to customers’ homes in half an hour or so. It’s the perfect solution to that old conundrum – there are no corner shops on a round-about which are built into many new-build estates in the UK these days.

Ascensos Awarded Excellence in Customer Service 2020

Meanwhile online retail association IMRG has reported that multi-channel retailers have seen online sales grow 35% during the period, compared to a more modest 8.3% increase for pure-play retailers. The online retail index showed online sales surged in April to a 10-year high, up 23.8% year on year.

There is a danger with this unexpected success to simply touch your rabbit foot, expel a great big sigh of relief and get back to work in whatever form of normal you can. But that’s missing the point. The global pandemic is driving new consumer behaviours. This is the time to truly engage CX analytics and insights as drivers for growth that in turn drive customer contact programmes to deliver effective sales through service initiatives.

According to the latest Global Webindex report on consumer behaviour, retail customers are seeking experiences as much as products with 57% stating they would ‘rather spend money on a unique experience than a status brand’ and 36% would ‘buy a product/service simply for the experience of being part of the community built around it.’

The report was compiled pre-covid and a great deal of the ’unique experiences’ referred to were in-store, harnessing VR/AR, smart mirror technology and customer labs. With stores remaining closed, an unknown customer appetite for returning to the high street, and social distancing measures potentially limiting the impact of ‘the in-store experience’ for some time, the customer management team provides a real opportunity for customers to experience the brands voice and story in a direct and ‘unique’ manner.

Ascensos Awarded Outsourced Contact Centre of the Year

Sales are central to the customer experience. Rather than discover a great deal post-sale, when purchasing an individual item, brand advocates as customers, would rather hear about an accessory or complementary purchase from an experienced advisor who has just helped a previous customer place an order for similar products or services. At scale, predictive analytics are key to support advisors with qualified suggestions for incremental sales i.e. those item ‘bundles’ or clusters that have the most propensity to be taken up by the customer as the ‘next best offer’ or action. Solutions are available now to achieve this, linking customer personas, stock, purchasing behaviour and likelihood of a successful sale.

As all of us head into the unknown for the remainder or 2020, what we do know has to play a greater part in our strategic planning and tactical approach to retaining and developing customers. We operate in a data-rich economy, where digital and automation solutions can feed real time, ‘right first time’ customer contact scenarios to customer management teams on live chat, on email and on the phones. Retail has proven more resilient than many imagined this year, the retail apocalypse has happened elsewhere, indeed the pandemic, regrettable as it is, has re-calibrated the mighty and the ‘just starting out’ brands through their common limitations on opportunities to engage with customers. The visionary customer management centre and empowered teams built around the interoperability of agile ‘humanodigital’ sales through service solutions will be a game changer.   

Partner with Ascensos to discover a fresh approach to customer service outsourcing

If you’re looking for a fresh approach to customer service outsourcing, get in touch and let’s talk or email us at partnership@ascensos.com.

4 min read

Normal sucked. Let's make sure new normal doesn't

By William Carson on 21-Apr-2020 11:06:00

Since lockdown, it's been easy to mythologise 'normal' as if the markets and economies generally were taking full advantage of what 21st century CX had to offer.

Many people in fact, were simply coping in their different ways, with internal struggles, professionally and personally, with tech trends and acronyms - from AI to IVA, NPS to CES. Analysts meanwhile continued to point out areas of opportunity for truly agile and adaptable businesses while suggesting remedial strategies to avoid irrelevance for those that were dragging their heels.

In that pre-pandemic reality of course, the 20th century continued to hold sway over large sectors of business thinking, modelling and deployment, while one person's normal, professionally or otherwise, was another's history lesson. I hear of bosses who want to 'see the whites of their eyes' rather than allow staff to work from home (not in the BPO sector I must add), while others are so comfortable with video calls that they need to be reminded not everyone needs a guided tour of their home, or an introduction to the cat.

Ascensos Awarded Outsourced Contact Centre of the Year

As customers, what is 'normal' has always meant different things dependent on the market served, the products or services on offer, and the age, or more broadly, the generation of the individual engaged, and channels available. These overlap of course and in some cases are linear for most while others are more nuanced and determined by one or other of these parameters.

From company posts and comments shared online with industry colleagues over the past weeks, there can be no doubt that the clear direction of travel is towards a more tech-enabled CX paradigm, as stakeholders in automation and AI solutions vie for attention with cloud-based tools and infrastructure. Meanwhile, 'normal' board-level debate regarding solution development and attendant business decision making, involving months of meetings and sub-committees, has been truncated to one-hour Zoom calls and follow up emails - proving in a moment, such an approach was always possible.

home working featured📷 Image: Home working, the new norm. Photo credit: twenty20photos

Indeed, to some degree the response needed to the pandemic has accelerated brands along the 'righteous path' towards blended solutions: the appropriate application of automation, machine learning and RPA, alongside focused, empathetic and intelligence-led advisor populations handling complex, emotive customer engagement. At the same time, the W@H requirement has reduced site occupancy to zero or essential personnel only, with record increases in productivity and reduced absenteeism, with cloud technologies being tested to the max in real time, every time.

But in operationalising the new normal, we must reflect on what we've learned in our collective response to the regrettable circumstance of the pandemic.

We don't need to travel so much, even those of us with a face for radio can do a video call. Sure, we've lost the water cooler chat, but we've also lost the frustrated daily commute, and managed to weaponise the Zoom Party with Shiraz, Prosecco and beer! And we don't all need to work from an office all of the time. CEOs and CFOs are already doing the maths, revising, and in some cases, curtailing commercial property leases and expansion. Yes, there are security and regulatory concerns, but there are health concerns too. A tried and tested vaccine is months away, if not longer, and nobody is predicting a relaxation of lock down means crowding back onto public transport and office floors. New health and safety measures and working practices will require immediate implementation, and companies that proactively seek solutions that put employees at ease will more quickly re-populate their sites.

Ascensos Awarded Excellence in Customer Service 2020

As customers we're also re-calibrating. What we considered a valuable purchase in February 2020 may seem rash right now.

Whatever the product or service, if we can't enjoy it, need it or find a use for it in and around the home, it's likely to fall to the bottom of the wish list. However, that includes a significant slice of ecommerce, retail and essential markets in food, grocery, consumer electronics and those all-important 'office consumables'. Subscription services too are growing offering content and entertainment for distraction-hungry kids, education and keep fit programmes. The real losers here may be those brands that have come to depend on an ill-defined relationship between footfall and online, they may not have invested enough in either.

Normal sucked3_WC 698x400 Getty featured📷 Image: Demise of the High Street. Photo credit: gettyimages

Some markets won't recover or at least will need significant consolidation to survive. Automotive, travel, leisure and luxury - as Instagram influencers are finding out, when FOMO (fear of missing out) is no longer a thing - the high value purchase needs a far greater justification. The real danger for the economy lies in the impact on employment. Those products and services we only enjoy when away from the home are supported by a multitude of primary and secondary industries with a significant workforce.

And then there's the most expensive sector of all - housing. Both the financial crash in 2008 and the EU Referendum vote in 2016 deflated house values to a greater or lesser degree across the UK, it's doubtful with an economic slump of this magnitude that bricks and mortar won't take a hit, with London estate agent Knight Frank forecasting the three Ds - devaluation, divorce and debt - putting a major brake on house sales in 2020.

In the end, lock-downs will lift, and however its organised, people will go back to work, will begin to travel once more to see family, friends and lovers, and will begin to socialise once again as before.

5G will arrive and with it new smart devices, IoT, VR and a slew of innovative products for home and corporate use. It would be a fitting testimony to the sacrifices so many have made if investments were made immediately in how these could benefit the medical and care fields in particular, as well as the forward planning and preparedness for future crises.

Finally, whatever the challenges that beset us as adults, it is the next generation whom we must support and encourage to see a future full of opportunities and possibilities, with energy and enthusiasm, that should no longer resemble the normalcy of the 20th century we took so long to shake off but give way to the potential exuberance (some might say 'chaos') of the 21st.

Pre-pandemic 'normal' wasn't all that - let's make sure the 'new normal' is the best of us!

Partner with Ascensos to discover a fresh approach to customer service outsourcing

If you’re looking for a fresh approach to customer service outsourcing, get in touch and let’s talk or email us at partnership@ascensos.com.

3 min read

Plan early for peak success

By William Carson on 13-Mar-2020 12:19:41

For many brands, last year’s Golden Quarter has ended and the subsequent ‘deep dive’ reviews and lessons learned now form the basis of planned strategies and tactics for next year’s peak.

To truly benefit from such an intense programme of reflection, planning needs to start immediately to ensure that retailers can deliver on their objectives and achieve their goals. This will allow time to explore in detail everything from better use of automation tools, workforce management, resource structure and forecasting, to use of partners and suppliers.

Get ahead of the game on traditional peak season planning


According to Statista, the most recent UK governmental figures placed the value of UK e-commerce sales at £586 billion.

By 2021, roughly 93 percent of UK internet users are expected to do online shopping, the highest online shopping penetration rate in Europe.

At the same time, what constitutes ‘peak’ in retail and ecommerce is extending across multiple quarters, with annual public holidays and discount and promotional events augmenting traditional seasonal sales and celebrations. Combined with the ubiquitous use of smart mobile device and ‘in-app’ purchases, the demands on customer contact channels are only going in one direction.

Ascensos Awarded Outsourced Contact Centre of the Year

Peak preparation then should incorporate all available tech tools, examine opportunities for automation in front and back office, and review the structuring of teams to include ring-fenced specialists and blended activities. Volume forecasting and subsequent resource modelling is also crucial, and that includes social media teams, to ensure 360 degree coverage of channels where brand reputation can fall foul of third party challenges including logistics such as delivery issues.

blog-analysis-people-technology-mission_t20_VKNvmP📷 @FotoArtist via Twenty20


People remain core to customer contact and many retailers will continue to offer overtime at their busiest periods. For many employees, overtime is attractive for obvious reasons, but contact centre operators need to ensure staff want to be there. By providing good down time activities and amenities, and by being cognitive of staff burnout, it will be easier to put in place processes and facilities to address employee ‘wellness’. Well-being is important to morale at any time of year but especially when teams expand for peak.

Partnering with a customer management services provider is also a core component for many national and international brands. With their focus on scalability and flexibility across multiple channels, sites and geographies, they can help retail brands reduce the pressure on in-house teams. The added complexity of resourcing multi-lingual customer contact for peak can also be passed to the services provider and will benefit from in-country recruitment knowledge and expertise.

Ascensos Awarded Excellence in Customer Service 2020

According to the Sabio CCMA Benchmarking report 2019, for the first time, voice is no longer offered by 100% of participants. Email remains strong, offered by 95% while Social is offered by 79%, and Webchat continues to grow. Once again, a partner can be the right choice where contact channel capability or capacity is insufficient to accommodate spikes in customer demand and helps avoid service degradation and associated reputational risk.

Whatever the options retailers choose to consider, early co-planning is critical, both internally across sales, operations and marketing, and externally with partners and suppliers. And communication will remain key between all stakeholder partners and is never more important than during peak to achieve success and business goals.

Partner with Ascensos to discover a fresh approach to customer service outsourcing

If you’re looking for a fresh approach to customer service outsourcing, get in touch and let’s talk or email us at partnership@ascensos.com.

Topics: customer service outsourcing peak planning