Last week, I joined roughly 1,300 customer experience professionals and aficionados for a few days of inspired conversation, networking, and speakers. Everyone had converged near the aquamarine Miami Beach surf, with some hailing from as far as India and Australia, to participate in G-Force 2015, the leading global CX industry event convened each year by Genesys.
Although the two main days of G-Force were packed with compelling keynote talks, panel discussions, and breakout sessions covering a vast range of CX innovations, these five moments stood out:
- Microsoft and Genesys Form a More Perfect Union
Following an impressive CX-themed slam poetry session by Sekou Andrews, the first day kicked off with an announcement by Paul Segre, President and CEO of Genesys, of the new Genesys AppFoundry, a public app store where developers have already posted more than 69 applications designed to enhance customer experience. But an upcoming app took center stage this year, as Segre engaged Zig Serafin, Microsoft Corporate VP of Skype for Business, in a dialogue on the deepening partnership now underway between their two companies. Specifically, the two revealed a plan to integrate the full potential of Skype for Business into the Genesys Customer Experience Platform, an integration that will go beyond the new Genesys/Skype Multimedia Connector app by granting customers the ability to engage with contact center agents through live video support. Microsoft itself is in the midst of deploying a cloud-based contact center through Genesys for its own company contact center. Read more about the partnership here.
Josh Linkner Issues a Call for Creative Disruption
There are successful entrepreneurs and then there’s Josh Linkner, a bestselling author, jazz guitar player, and professional speaker who built and sold four tech companies. His keynote talk at G-Force focused on arming the audience with some practical tools they could put into practice, as he has, to hone their competitive edge for the sake of their customers. “When you’re facing a challenge, big or small,” he said, “ask yourself: Is there a way you can judo flip the problem? Can you take it and flip it upside down in order to uncover a better outcome?” He shared tales of underdogs disrupting industries with their own judo-flipped business models, such as the way Dollar Shave Club threw Gillette for a loop when they appeared on the scene a few years ago. Faced with the new competition, Gillette worked for two years to come up with a response. And what did they eventually decide on? Linkner paused before unveiling Gillette’s solution: Gillette Shave Club. Not exactly innovative, Linkner observed, and a laughing audience agreed.
A.I. Is Going to Change Everything
For those who managed to shake off the previous night’s G-Force party to wake up in time for day two’s 9 AM presentation, they were in for a treat. Genesys’ EVP of Product Strategy, Merijn te Booij, brought the house down with a dynamic demonstration of “NextGen CX,” complete with an onstage living room set decorated with the latest cloud-based CX technologies. “Artificial intelligence is going to change everything,” he said, as he sat on a couch and proceeded to speak to Amazon Echo. He requested a bank balance transfer that, through an impressive connection of cloud-based services linked by Genesys and his Apple Watch, Amazon’s tabletop device was able to almost instantly fulfill. He shared stats on the exponential growth of A.I., warning of the imminent future when inanimate “things” will form their own class of customers. Walking over to a small refrigerator, te Booij informed Amazon that his beverage stock was running low with a push of a Dash button. In the Internet of Things age, he explained, home appliances will also be able to self-diagnose their own problems and alert customer service when they’re in need of repairs. His demo left little doubt that the IoT age is already here.
The Contact Center Will Be Virtualized
But if anyone remained skeptical about the reality of Merijn’s NextGen CX vision, their doubts were likely assuaged by taking a direct plunge into virtual reality. Of the many product demo booths peppered throughout the conference pavilion, perhaps none was more intriguing than the demo featuring Facebook’s Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. Everyone knows that the world’s most efficient contact centers are driven by a heavy reliance on CSAT performance metrics, but translating all those analytics into practical terms can be tricky and complex. Enter the virtual contact center, where managers can enter a room to visually engage with 3D representations of their staff, whose real-time, up-to-the-minute performance metrics are translated into a simple red-yellow-green color-coded scheme. G-Force attendees testing the Oculus Rift app smiled as they picked up low-performing CSA chairs and manually moved them to another department, or reviewed the details of their performance to see written transcripts of their current customer engagements. The usefulness of the technology for remotely managing contact centers and agents was undeniably clear.
- Sugar Ray Leonard Can’t Be Beat
Who knew that boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard appreciated a great customer experience as much as the rest of us? In a powerful keynote backed by video highlights from his beyond-successful career, the World Champion and Olympic medalist closed out the main session of this year’s conference with an impassioned call for everyone present to lead lives—and, by extension, contact centers—that are driven by a never-ambivalent determination to succeed. “During training rounds,” he said, “when my legs started to burn, I didn’t quit. I added more rounds.” It’s a message that everyone in attendance could take to heart as they left the ring of G-Force 2015, armed with new technologies, insights, partnerships, and all the inspiration they need to fight for their customers in the year ahead.
See you all at our next G-Force event!