ACCE Insider: Customer Experience Reigns Supreme
At the 10th Annual Call Center Exhibition (ACCE) show in Seattle this year – a global gathering of the call center industry – one theme stood out above the rest: a renewed focus on the customer experience.
As a speaker at this year’s conference, I asked my audience of 40-plus contact center executives and operators a simple question: Who among you would say that improving the customer experience is your number one priority? Every hand shot up. And I found this to be consistent throughout the conference.
In comparing conversations I’ve had with these industry peers in previous years, the top priority of most contact center executives and senior managers has been pure efficiency, focusing on agent productivity and “doing more with less.” I found when talking to attendees at the ACCE conference, that focus is clearly shifting from simply operating “faster, smarter and cheaper” to taking a close look at the impact agents can ultimately have on the customer experience, which in turn protects a company’s brand and drives customer retention and overall success.
Though the great call centers have understood the critical role agents play in customer satisfaction for some time, I am encouraged to see senior management across the board now paying closer attention to these frontline employees and investing in their performance with a new sense of urgency.
Emerging technologies showcased at the conference reflected the need to respond to customers in a more comprehensive way since today’s customers are better informed and more empowered than ever before. They expect speed and accuracy from their contact center interactions and when they don’t get it, they have plenty of social airways to share their feedback about a company and its brand.
Some of the most interesting technologies showcased at the conference were those designed to make sense out of disparate data sources, capturing and analyzing data on every customer interaction including not just calls into the contact center, but touch points like individual retail visits and website clicks as well.
These technologies will enable companies to see a more complete picture of their customers, which will help them determine how to best interact with individual customers to improve the customer experience.
As the focus on customer service and satisfaction finds renewed intensity, ACCE attendees acknowledged that agents play a major role in the success or failure of a company’s overall customer satisfaction program. And for agents to truly be effective, they must have the training and coaching they need to successfully engage with customers and handle their inquiries.
As companies turn their focus to improving the customer experience, they will invest in holistic solutions that help them not only provide this critical training and coaching to drive agent performance improvements but also help with improvements in other areas as well.
Looking forward, contact center professionals can expect to see a push in the industry for intraday management technologies that enable call centers to better respond to changing customer needs and fluctuations in their operations. This takes the form of a few applications. One, utilizing available time for agents to complete activities designed to improve their performance and productivity gives customers the experience they expect and deserve.
Other uses automate processes around queue management to drive customer experience improvements. These include automating skill updates to ensure the right agents are available to take customer calls as soon as they complete their training or certification and technologies that enable multi-channel centers to easily move agents from queue to queue across disparate technologies based on capacity. Automating these processes allows contact centers to be much more agile and promptly give customers the assistance and attention they deserve.
This article was originally posted on the ICMI Customer Management blog.