contact centerWhile attending the ICMI Contact Center Expo & Conference last week in San Diego – whether it was participating in sessions, speaking on a panel, or walking the show floor with more than 1,500 attendees – the team and I took note of some interesting key takeaways from this year’s event.  So what were we hearing? Make the contact center modern with interactions that are easier and consistent across more channels – and we heard there is some great beer in San Diego.

  • The Age of the Customer is Here – According to Forrester, this is the age of the customer. We went through the age of manufacturing, the age of distribution, the age of information – and have now moved into the age of the customer.
  • Customer Expectations are Increasing – Customers expect more from the brands they interact with, particularly for real-time response. We are moving to an age where customers may well expect a literally instant answer, no matter the channel they use to contact you.  We have seen it with generation Y, expecting instant text replies, social media responses, and more support for digital channels. This immediacy is now beginning to permeate in the customer experience.
  • The Contact Center is Key to CX –  Customer experience is complex. But, the contact center remains a place of consistent  customer engagement with 77% of all customer interactions happening within the contact center, according to Ventana Research.

  • Customers Remember Bad Experiences – According to Brad Cleveland, ICMI, “Customers don’t think much about it when the channels are there—but they notice when they are not.” –

For my part, I presented a session on how reducing customer effort and delighting customers is possible! Customers are more concerned with frictionless experiences than with being delighted by extraordinary efforts. But companies that have focused exclusively on reducing customer effort often find that customers complain about the loss of a human touch. Companies can make it easy to do business with them, lessen customer effort and delight customers at the same time.

In one session I attended, the presenter asked the audience how many were using a unified agent desktop. Very few hands raised – maybe three out of a room of 100. A truly multi-channel world requires a unified desktop.   A related statistic: The average number of applications that an agent uses to manage all customer service channels is five. But according to ICMI, 10% of agents use more than 10 applications.

The idea of customer journey as business currency for the contact center was also a main topic of discussion at the event because the contact center knows so much about the interaction pieces of the customer journey, it is the hub of a knowledge store that can give and get value from other parts of the business.  Customer service executives need to fully leverage and harness the information at their disposal as key drivers to the company’s overall success.

Now, San Diego is known for their great craft beers like Green Flash.  At the conclusion of the conference we sampled a new brewery called Alesmith, which makes a truly exceptional rye beer called Rambling Rye.  It made for a better “customer journey” after a long – but very interesting – week!

See you all at next year’s ICMI Contact Center Expo & Conference in Orlando! Check out where Genesys will be next on our events page.