Auscontact Association Head, Fiona Keough on the shift from Customer Service to CX

Nov 18
Author:Ash Natesh
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In achieving customer service excellence there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’. There are diverse ways in which public sector departments, agencies and local councils are setting their customer-centric service strategies, providing unique insights into the key factors for success.

We spoke to Fiona Keough, Chief Executive Officer, Auscontact Association about the various depths of understanding customer experience in the public and private sector. Her insights:

What are the lessons that the public sector can learn from the private sector in regards to customer experience?

I think both the sectors can learn from each other, rather than it just being  one way traffic. I think we are seeing a significant shift in the public sector about delivering a great customer experience, being more about the client experience. There has been a real shift in focus for client experience which is not a mismatch to the private sector. 78% of private sector CEO’s stated their intent to differentiate their business by the quality of the service provision for the people that they deliver to, rather than on product or price. So, in terms of customer experience there is a really close alignment .

What are the best practices in the private sector in terms of customer satisfaction and excellence?

Clients or customers cross over both sectors, so their service expectations irrespective of which sector is providing the service is the same. Self-service and/or automation has become more prevalent in the last decade as has mobility in the private sector. Focus on the key differentiator their people has also risen to the top as many organisations provide similar products and services, however, their talented staff cannot be emulated and they are what makes the difference in terms of experience. Investment in EQ and training is a core component. Of course there are other factors which influence the experience such as how respected and valued the customer feels which also play a key role in satisfaction.

What are the 21st century priorities and leadership skills that customer service leaders need to be across?

So customer service leaders are people leaders, it’s a people job. We are all about the human touch. We are leading people who connect with customers  irrespective of channel whether that is on the phone, email, text or social media and the list goes on.

Emotional Intelligence is essential, whilst it’s been around for more than 20 years is certainly going to be a key focus. However reports show that emotional intelligence is declining, it should  be a key focus for leaders looking into the future.

Yes they will need to understand technology,  yes they will have to understand how to transition from a non technical role to a technical role. But at the heart of everything they do, they need to understand their people.

What are your views on how different organisations are utilizing data effectively to improve outcomes based strategy?

It is essential for organisations to use data to improve outcomes. We have enormous access to big data, small data all of it is critical to better build a relationship with a client or a customer.

So if you understand that I prefer to interact with you via text and I have a pink BMW and my preferred drink is champagne and I really like dark chocolate. If you got that data about me then you actually know better how to work with me. So the end result is something that is more meaningful for both parties.

Provided that the data is used with good common sense and doesn’t feel like ‘Big Brother’, it will enhance the experience. People shouldn’t be afraid of data, provided it is used appropriately used with appropriate control, I think data is very helpful.


Fiona Keough

With current role as CEO , Fiona demonstrates a strong commitment to driving customer contact capability.

As Auscontact CEO, Fiona is responsible for developing and executing strategies and ensuring a strong, coherent voice domestically and internationally for the more than three hundred thousand Australians employed within the industry. Fiona is a passionate advocate of the industry, who thrives on interacting with the customer excellence community – both practitioners and technologists which together provide great customer experiences that make up this critical component of everyday life.

Fiona’s career has included senior leadership positions at NRMA, St George Bank, American Express, and Carlson Wagonlit Travel. In these roles, Fiona has been responsible for the business strategy, implementation of technology and led in excess of 900 staff located in multiple sites in Australia and New Zealand.

Don’t miss Fiona Keough at the Improving the Customer Experience across Government Conference, 12th & 13th February 2019, Sydney.

Submitted by Ash Natesh

Ash Natesh

Ash is the Content Marketer at Criterion Conferences. Writing and sourcing content is all part of her day to day routine. She can’t stop drinking coffee, other than coffee her interests lie in Music, long walks amidst the mountains, Dance, Anime, Science Fiction and all things nerdy!

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