So many shows, so little time! It can be said nearly any time of the year, but the fall seems to be particularly busy for contact center professionals. Not only are we ramping up or in “all hands on deck” mode supporting holiday activities (those sales seem to happen earlier every year), there are so many important and interesting tradeshows and conferences. I’ve racked up so many frequent flier miles this fall that I could take a tropical vacation…maybe when things slow down.
I recently returned from two back-to-back shows: ICMI Contact Center Demo and Conference in Chicago and the Forrester CX West Forum in Los Angeles. Both brought together industry thought-leaders and got people talking about the future of the customer experience. And both helped reinforce what is most important to move the industry forward.
The importance of delivering great customer experiences has proven to be a critical component to a brand’s success. During the ICMI Contact Center Demo and Conference, I had the pleasure of participating in a session with Forrester’s Art Schoeller and LiveOps’ Ryan Brideau, where we discussed ways to proactively delight your customers and CEO in real time. It’s pretty clear that brands must deliver consistently great customer experiences or risk perishing. Here are three of the key takeaways from those shows that you can adopt to improve customer experiences immediately.
The Human Connection is a Key Ingredient in Customer Service
The human connection has long been essential for brands to deliver exceptional customer service. What may be surprising is that customers still want that human connection now, when it’s quicker to text someone than call. Customer connection with and loyalty to a brand likely begins with the product or service the brand offers, and is reinforced by the customer service provided. Happy, empowered agents provide better service, resulting in more satisfied customers. The opposite is also true, so it’s important for brands to keep their agents—and by extension, their customers—happy. One way to keep people happy and connected is by using humor, as brands like Southwest and Virgin Atlantic have demonstrated. It’s always good to remind customers that brands are made up of humans, just like them, and not unfeeling machines.
Companies Must Always be Looking for New Ways to Deliver Exceptional Customer Service
Have you ever taken a look at your customer’s journey and had a “What If?” moment? A moment where you ask yourself, “What if my agents had more customer-specific information to use in an interaction and could resolve an issue in half the time?” Or “What if my brand was able to offer an unexpected personalized touch like a future reminder via SMS?” Would those small changes make a difference? Absolutely, without a doubt. These questions and realizations can steer you toward more creative customer service. Seize these opportunities and use them to reinvent the way you provide customer service, helping you reach more customers and establish deeper connections. The best way to zero in on the areas in need of improvement is to perform a regular CX analysis. Analyzing data on a weekly basis can help you quickly identify where changes can be made to ensure you exceed customers’ expectations and differentiate your brand from the competition.
Contact Center Agents = Customer Advocate Warriors
Contact center agents are the connection between customers and brands. It’s their job to resolve issues and save the day. Contact center managers are responsible for leading the customer experience revolution by motivating, recognizing, teaching and connecting with their team members. This is how Customer Advocate Warriors are made – through investing in a contact center’s most valuable asset, its human capital. Why should brands care about cultivating Customer Advocate Warriors? According to the University of Michigan’s American Customer Satisfaction Index, brands that are customer experience leaders collectively outperform the S&P 500 by a large margin. What brand wouldn’t want to improve its bottom line by a large margin? Developing a solid team of Customer Advocate Warriors is the best way to become a leader in customer experience. The concept of the Customer Advocate Warrior may be unfamiliar today, but it will soon become an industry standard. Why not get ahead of the curve and embrace this new role to help your brand thrive.
On my flight home from the Forrester CX West Forum, I got to thinking…what if the Forrester CX West Forum group was able to join forces with ICMI and marry the Forrester “business perspective” with ICMI’s “contact center operational know-how?” Together, those two groups would most certainly create a truly integrated approach to enabling the delivery of exceptional customer experiences and an overall positive customer journey.
But perhaps the most important thing I took away from those shows is that it’s time to stop talking and start doing. So with that, I’ll now get back to “doing.”