Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to speak at ICMI’s Contact Center Expo and Conference in Orlando. It was an extremely rewarding experience to interact with leaders of contact centers for some of the best brands in the world.
After the conference, several people have asked me, “What were your key takeaways?” I thought I would share some of the highlights and key conversations that emerged.
- Cloud Telephony is ubiquitous.
The expo was brimming with vendors offering cloud telephony. While they all have similar offerings, the real value comes from the functionality they provide to support the management of the center — NewVoiceMedia, LiveOps, Five9, and InContact seem to lead the pack. Be sure to talk with the vendor about their project management very early in the buying process. And, while call quality has improved dramatically in recent years, ask them to test call quality before you make a final choice. We have seen real success with our clients when they made the decision to move to the cloud. Let me know if you want to learn from their experiences.
- Omni-channel is a sizzling topic.
It seems to be the latest buzz-word in the industry. The question I get most often is, “What is omni-channel?” I like to describe it this way: Omni-channel is about providing the same experience across all channels — from the customer’s perspective, every interaction with your brand should feel consistent and intuitive.
The contact center has been making the move toward multiple channels since email became a staple in the contact center. We find that companies are investing in omni-channel for two key reasons: customer demand and customer satisfaction. While the hard ROI is often tied to improved agent efficiencies, the real impact is in the soft ROI of customer retention and customer satisfaction.
In my session on Analytics with Lori Bocklund from Strategic Contact, we talked about the many channels that exist today. Bluewolf recently worked with a client to help them go live with eight channels using Service Cloud. But, there are actually 12 channels that I can name that are possible for a contact center — and you may know of others: phone, email, fax, SMS, chat, social, web, mobile, portal/community, client app, YouTube, video.
Each on has its own set of risks and success-factors. The reality is that we do not have to offer all of them — but we do need a consistent experience for the ones we do offer.
If you're attending CCDemo in Las Vegas, don’t miss my presentation with Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection on how they went from zero to eight channels using Service Cloud. Follow me on Twitter for more consistent updates about the session and the event.
- Self-service is paramount for customer satisfaction.
Companies are quickly trying to keep-up with the high expectations of customers. In my session, I talked about the proliferation of self-service, and the expectation that companies provide a level of service that we receive when we do business with Amazon. Think about that experience. They not only provide some of the best self-service in the world, they even get their customers to help them answer questions. I am a diehard Amazon client and make three to five purchases a month. In most cases, I provide feedback about my product for other subscribers — for free. Some ask me why I do this: I guess it is a give-and-get scenario for me. I tend to use their ratings to help me make decisions on products, so providing feedback is my give-back. But I recently learned about the Amazon Vine Program, and now I have to admit, I am hoping to reach “badge” status. When someone asks Amazon a specific question about a product I have purchased, I receive an email and a link to answer the question, and nine times out of ten, I answer it. Think about it — they outsource service to their customers.
We are seeing customers do similar things through Salesforce Communities. The platform provides a powerful option for engaging customers with other customers, and with your service agents. The event was filled with customers looking to Service Cloud, Communities, and Marketing Cloud as the future platforms in their centers.
- Workforce optimization (WFO) continues to be a key area of focus.
In addition to cloud and self-service, there were also the normal standby sessions and vendors. It was great to see Roger Lee back in the business and leading the WFO charge at HP. If you are not aware, HP WFO is an iteration of the old etalk Qfiniti platform. I remember implementing Qfiniti Workforce Management and Quality Management in our contact centers at Bellsouth when the industry first started. It is a powerful platform — and I was impressed with how much it is grown through the years.
- Data-driven decisions are the future.
Contact center leaders are trying to figure out what is possible with their data. While vendors are still designing systems to bring it to the contact center world in a nice clean package, center leaders are trying figure out what is possible. In our session, Lori Bocklund described this way: Gather, structure, and relate data from multiple sources. Analyze data (for instance, handle time, first call resolution, or time to resolution) to address issues. Then act on it. We talked about the importance of only measuring on what you have the ability to change — and the will to act up on the outcome.
Bob recently spoke with SearchCRM.com on their technology podcast about his experience at CCDemo.