10 min read

image via callcenterweek

Anyone involved in Sales and Marketing has most likely had the opportunity to showcase your company at a conference. The objective being to meet both new and existing customers, with the hope that interactions amidst the conference activities will result in increased business. While most vendors don’t have either the ability or inclination to venture too far from the exhibit floor, at LSA we try our best to attend sessions and workshops that will give us tidbits of valuable information to pass along to our customers and fellow employees.

At the 15th Annual Call Center Week conference in Las Vegas a couple weeks ago, close to 2000 people came together to discuss ways to improve call center operations, with the predominate theme being how a great customer experience can drive a business forward. We were fortunate to hear from customer service executives from Zappos, Microsoft, Amazon, HP, Time Warner, Expedia, Google and many others…some of whom are our customers like Jerry Nadel from Cirque du Soleil, Sonya Hansen from inContact, Graham Tutton from Comcast, Terry Byrnes from Caesars Entertainment and Adriana Torres from Visa.

As contact centers look to adjust to the increasing demands of customers and the various ways in which they choose to communicate, including language and culture challenges, the need for a modernized approach has never been greater. Many of the sessions focused on technology, particularly cloud solutions, unified service desks, knowledge management and the rise in multichannel communication. Discussions took place and ideas were shared with regard to……how does a company respond? What is the potential impact on productivity and customer satisfaction? How do you balance all this with cost and profit expectations? However, the overarching theme, regardless of the session topic or the company was I think best coined by Kana (a company providing customer service solutions), “Customer Experience is the New Black”. There is no doubt that we’ve not only entered but are immersed in what Forrester calls “the age of the customer” a time when focus on the customer matters more than any other strategic imperative. Research shows that 92% of companies have customer experience (CX) as a top strategic priority and 40% of companies believe CX can differentiate their products and services from the competition. Great CX leads to loyalty, recommendations and a 23% increase in wallet share. We also know that 86% of customers are willing to pay for a better CX. Customer experience is foundational for every business. Research has shown that the stock of CX leaders hugely outperforms the stock of companies that are considered CX laggards (22.5% vs. -46.3% according to Forrester).

What makes for an outstanding and consistent global customer experience? As said best by Visa, “The experience isn’t just what happens on the phones – it is multi-channel, multi-lingual, multi-generational.” A significant part of this is the concept of Omnichannel integration. It’s the idea of having a great continuous experience anyplace, anytime. It’s about knowing your customer and how to work with them so they have the same quality of outcomes on all channels (web, chat, email, text, social). It’s about seamless channel transition no matter when, where or how they are engaging us. It’s about giving our customers the right information at the right time…automatically. Encompassed within this environment we should also be focusing on:

  • Minimizing customer effort with relevant, personalized service interactions across all channels
  • Empowering our service professionals with the knowledge and tools they need to deliver great service at their fingertips…preferably from a single application
  • Decreasing service response times while increasing first contact resolution
  • Increasing customer self-service success
  • Listening to, analyzing interaction and engaging on social channels and using social data to trigger workflows to handle situations

There seemed to be agreement amongst the conference attendees about the major trends that are re-shaping the customer experience. There was much discussion about the ways in which social media is evolving and changing the CX with new channels, speeds and shifting rules of engagement. Along with the growth in the usage of mobile, tablet devices and other technology there was talk about the impact of new digital channels like video. Pegasus (a company delivering customer engagement solutions) said that predictive analytics was the way to achieve a “WIN-WIN, a happy customer and an efficient agent”. And Fonolo (a company providing this cloud based service) discussed the benefits of using call backs, suggesting that they do more than eliminate hold times. Surveys say that 75% of consumers find the option of having a call back highly appealing. They can not only smooth out call center spikes but companies using call backs have found that after adding this option they had a 32% reduction in abandoned calls, 35% lower telecom costs and a 13% reduction in handle time. And of course, the call backs can and should take place across all channels.

We all know that we truly live in a world without borders or boundaries and that people in general expect excellence in service. The most successful companies that had a voice at this year’s Call Center Week Conference believe that that they are better positioned to provide a fantastic customer experience that directly translates into a profitable business by focusing specifically on people’s happiness, to include not only their customers but also their employees. In upcoming editions of the LSA Digest, we will discuss how many companies, not only Zappos, are building a culture based on this principle. And we’ll explore the ways in which call centers are leveraging technology and language service providers to engage their multi-lingual customers across all service channels.

Please see below for a few photos from LSA at the event.