Six winners gained prestigious innovation awards for outstanding initiatives that put people at the heart of their operational improvement.  The overall winner was BT Retail, with individual awards taken by Charles Tyrwhitt, Concentrix, Experian, Motability Operations and Sensee.

Organised by the Professional Planning Forum, these sought-after awards celebrate and benchmark excellence in the industry. The winners showcase innovations that integrate improved use of technology and data with process improvement and cultural change, to deliver demonstrable improvements to their customers and employees.

The awards were presented at the Planning Forum’s 13th conference in Warwickshire on 30th April, where each talked about how they achieved their outstanding results. You can also see them and learn more during the Forum’s best practice site visit programme this summer.

BT Retail Customer Services gained the overall Innovation of the Year Award for radical changes that are making it easy for customers. The radical customer effort metric NetEasy has helped increase customer loyalty, deliver efficiency and emphatically engaged front line advisors. They were also presented the Innovation Award for Cultural Transformation.

 “We need to focus on the customer experience in order to drive loyalty and advocacy. Net Easy is a single measure that is meaningful and impactful… We are properly accountable for what happens to the customer,” explained Joanna Howard, General Manager, Customer Service Strategy. “If we make it easier for our customers day in, day out, we can be number one for customer service,” added Warren Buckley, Managing Director, Customer Service, BT.


The new metric, Net Easy is similar to NPS in measuring across all channels and functions vertically, but provides insight which is more easily acted on by operations. Research for BT demonstrates that Customer Effort is the number one driver of customer recommendation.  There is a 40% difference in a customer’s likelihood to move their business, between ‘difficult’ and ‘easy’ experiences. Furthermore, a 1% improvement in NetEasy for customers telephoning BT yields £000,000 savings in repeat call costs and contact centre service level is the single most important driver of NetEasy scores. 


Steve Woosey, Chief Executive of the Professional Planning Forum, is passionate about the success of this year’s winners. “This is a groundbreaking achievement. BT Retail has changed in a way many thought was impossible, believing that they could do better, for the customer and for colleagues. They realised that the customer was trying to tell them something and found a mechanism that was easy to understand, easy to make changes to processes and easy to improve the service offered. In fact they put people first.”


The winners were selected by a team which included 16 experienced industry practitioners, many of them previous winners or finalists. Judges visited each of the 17 shortlisted organisations, and then assessed them against a strict set of criteria.


“Every year judging visits exceed our expectations and amaze our external judges”, says Paul Smedley, Chair and Founder of the Professional Planning Forum.  “It is exciting to see how customer operations are developing. Significantly, these innovations challenge the way organisations work, changing the role of the support team and the Customer Service department.  In many cases the impact reaches across the entire enterprise.”


Seven further awards recognised innovation in specific areas:


The Innovation award for Customer Engagement was awarded to Charles Tyrwhitt where new ways of listening to customers has driven 60% revenue growth and 70% customer loyalty.  This has empowered advisors and given Customer Service a vital role in championing the customer in the business.


The Innovation award for Integrated Planning was won by Concentrix. Their innovative partnership with Cisco has raised FTE just 5% to handle 20% more contacts for Cisco, by developing a multi-skilled resource methodology that is rolled out across both companies and has gained significant month on month increase in customer satisfaction.


The Innovation award for Customer Analytics was gained by Experian, where insightful data, together with collaborative, customer-focused conversations and agent-empowerment have driven customer satisfaction up 11% and long-term retention up 38%.


Motability Operations swept away both the Innovation award for Culture and Quality and the Public Service Innovation award. A tangible passion for service has led to a record-breaking and remarkable 96% in their customer satisfaction index and self-awareness has enabled advisors to be responsible for their own development & gain benefit from the support on offer.


The Innovation award for Service Virtualisation was presented to Sensee whose outsourced homeworking model has raised the bar on performance and cut client’s costs by 10%-14%. They have delivered full FSA/PCI compliance and created a high performing virtual operation that has a real team spirit and outperforms clients on all behavioural quality scores by an average of 16%.


Planning Forum Hero awards were presented to five outstanding customer contact professionals, recognising their exceptional personal contribution in developing the role of planning. The 2013 Heroes are Jamie Campbell, Forecasting and Scheduling GI Sales, LV=, Dave Conway, Performance Improvement & Quality Manager, UKAR, Jonathan George, Operations Director, White Concierge, Clare McMillan, Senior Capacity Planning Analyst, Tesco Bank and Simon Butler, Resource Planning Manager, Direct Line Group.

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