Notes from CCW Winter 2019 – Customer Experience is King
I recently had the opportunity to attend Contact Center Week’s Winter event in Nashville. I always enjoy the opportunity to hear from thought leaders during presentations and to connect with industry colleagues and friends.
As you may know, I am the General Manager of Cloud Call Center Search, an agency that helps contact centers find the right technology for their needs. My goal is to simplify call center software selection by maintaining a deep knowledge of the industry landscape and performing due diligence on prospective vendors. This allows me to be completely objective about tools and technology, and gives me an interesting vantage point as I attend industry events. Instead of being relegated to the role of evangelist for a single solution, I can look for trends in common conversations with both partners and end users.
I’ve noticed a common theme at industry events lately, and CCW Winter was no exception. More and more, the conversation is shifting from cost reduction to customer experience. Session presenters are focusing on how we can impact the customer journey, and this focus is echoed in show floor discussions.
Increasingly, speakers and technology companies are making the case that a focus on the agent experience and employee engagement is a critical component to the overall customer experience. I have always believed in an approach that starts with the agent, so I’m encouraged to see that this is no longer just a talking point by a few employee-focused companies. Rather, it’s becoming the new standard.
Alexis Smith gave an excellent talk at this year’s event and has some great content around diversity and how we can impact a company from the bottom up through employees. I had the honor of speaking with her a bit and I highly recommend following her on LinkedIn.
Another hot topic that has carried over from the show into subsequent conversations is speech analytics (often interchanged with voice analytics). We all are starting to recognize there is a tremendous amount of valuable unstructured data available in call recordings, and companies are becoming more strategic in their approach to extract the benefits. As demand for this technology grows, so does the number of available vendors. It is one of the most obvious ways to quickly impact your employees and customer experience, but the capabilities vary based on provider and implementation.
Do we go post call or live analysis? Is sentiment analysis accurate? Can I even implement it without a major infrastructure overhaul? These are just a few of the great questions asked of me lately, and I’m certain there are many more.
As I have written in the past, the contact center industry is going through a revolutionary change and the focus on the customer journey is driving a lot of it. The old guard and status quo will no longer be accepted from clients, and if you are not actively trying to eliminate friction in your customer journey you are getting left behind. You can start from the agent’s experience or the customer’s – I’d argue they are one in the same – but either way you’d better be working toward an effortless customer journey.
Fred Stacey has been in the contact center industry for over 20 years. He started first as an agent on the phones and moved on to the operations side, starting and recovering failing call centers. During that time, he worked in leadership capacities surrounding technology acquisitions and center build-outs, including ongoing call center management and selection of future leadership. Prior to joining Corey Kotlarz to start Cloud Call Center Search, Fred worked over the past 16 years in executive-level roles in contact center telephony and debt collections software companies. He has managed every aspect of a software company from running operations in Europe, the Middle East and Asia-Pacific to cofounding and participating as the COO in startups. Fred specializes in contact center and debt collections software, selection, business operations and strategy.