I was recently asked to share my thoughts on a number of questions regarding the recent past and immediate future of contact centers by Contact Center World, a global organization providing industry insights and networking opportunities. I've captured some highlights below and hope you find a useful insight or two - enjoy!Q: In your opinion, what has been the greatest challenge the contact center industry has faced in the last 12 months?
A: Dealing with all of the variables now facing contact centers and primarily the Omnichannel.
Q: Why do you believe has this been a challenge?
A: As we move into an Omnichannel world, challenged with how to be brilliant via all channels, more is being demanded of contact center leaders then ever before. We are no longer an industry focused primarily on servicing or selling on the phone - now, we need to take into account live chat, social media and mobile and continue the traditional alternatives such as e-mail. Doing so requires increased creativity, a mastery of managing multiple priorities, the ability to build a highly diverse team and technical savvy to leverage the latest cloud based technologies.
Q: In 2018, what do you think will be the top priorities in the contact center industry for each of the following (1 answer for each please): a) Contact Center Directors b) Company Executives c) IT Directors d) Human Resources Directors (please state a, b, c, d as you answer)
A: For Directors: Brand of leadership required for an Omnichannel world. B) For executives: Defining the right Omnichannel strategy combined with the justification of hiring a chief experience officer. C) IT Directors: Sourcing the right SaaS based technologies to stay current, cost effective and enable the most efficient employee and customer experience. D) HR Director: Finding the best talent - an arduous task for any contact center today.
Q: What impact have "external events" even had on your company, and how have you adapted your business?
A: I would say that the number and degree of natural disasters across the globe, including earthquakes, hurricanes and forest fires severely tested the resilience of affected companies, either for being in an affected location or for supporting those who were affected. A strong business continuity plan and owner would have been paramount.
Q: Do you feel the service you personally get as a customer is better or worse than it was a year ago? Please share some examples to illustrate your view.
A: I would say it's neither substantially better or worse. I continue to experience inconsistencies in quality of service, especially with Fortune 500 companies. I am definitely given routine pause for thought after many of my experiences as a consumer. If I were to identify one piece of advice for service executives, it would be this: "Equip your employees with the right tools and resources to deliver memorable service and equally important, make my interaction simpler and one that requires less effort - and personally engage me to see what you can do differently. I almost never hear from companies beyond routine online survey requests.
Q: What contact center technology or other innovation excites you the most right now?
A: Artificial Intelligence - the ability to predict customer behaviour based on a behavioural analysis of prior interactions and match a servicing approach accordingly is fascinating. Of course it has to be executed right.
Q: Can you share a great story of service you received when contacting a contact center in the past year? If so, please share!
A: In brief, I spoke with a large cable provider about a series of poor experiences trying to set up our service. There was a number of mistakes made involving multiple phone calls, technician visits and poor demonstrations of listening, empathy and execution. When I arrived at the President's Office to escalate my concern, I was met with the kind of employee everyone is after; someone who is genuinely kind, empathetic and willing to resolve our issue - and did she ever. Suffice it to say that she ensured they would hold onto our business for a while. And why: because in one phone call, we had the right technical solution created, generous compensation for our ordeal and everything conveyed in a quick, efficient and empathetic manner. Perfect!