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Contact Center Conference & Expo '16 Key Takeaways

Friday, July 29, 2016 - 10:00
CCW Contact Center Expo 2016

CCW Event Recap

The world’s largest Contact Center Conference & Expo took place last month at The Mirage Hotel and Conference Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. Call Center Week (CCW) hosted over 2000 attendees, from more than 1200 companies. Additionally, the event involved more than 130 speakers, sponsors, and exhibitors.

This 17th annual conference featured visionary keynote speakers and real-world case studies to help companies gain information and inspire change. The conference also included an expo to assist organizations in harnessing inspiration and turning it into action and it allowed companies to connect with solution providers in order to achieve business goals.

The event focused on being inspirational, educational, and community-oriented, centering on the service leader. Some unique aspects of this conference were that Call Center Week is vendor neutral and inclusive of every size company: small, medium, and even large Fortune 500 companies. Furthermore, case studies and general sessions weren’t vendor led, so the information discussed wasn’t biased towards one company or another. The event combined education with an expo, for attendees to gain insight and knowledge through keynote addresses and a review of new solutions available. They were able to foster connections between similar companies to gain access to appropriate solutions.

CCW also provided access to resources like Call Center IQ, touted as being the largest, most trusted global community of customer care, customer experience, and customer-centric operations professionals – a total of over 75,000 worldwide. Call Center IQ concentrates on advancing the industry by developing its members through extensive training, content, tools, and networking opportunities. Members obtain complimentary access to exclusive interviews, industry and quarterly research reports, webinars, white papers, online events and more. The membership is free to join by visiting this website.

Call Center Week 2016 Key Takeaways

Today’s typical call center customer has high expectations. They want service now – through whatever medium they choose - and they want their questions or issues handled on their terms. Armed with access to the internet and a variety of social media interfaces, consumers are savvier than ever. And living in a society that thrives on instant gratification, they want their issues resolved yesterday. So if needs are not sufficiently met (from the customer’s standpoint), oftentimes they are quick to spread negative reviews and comments regarding their interaction(s). In turn, operating costs can rise while customer opinions decline.

However, when customer interactions are positively executed through a contact center, the benefits can be many, including increased customer and employee satisfaction, as well as higher revenues and lower operating costs. In an interview with Matt Dixon - best-selling author of “The Effortless Experience: Conquering the New Battleground for Customer Loyalty” – CCW’s Hannah Hager examined how these Call Center goals can be achieved via the “Effortless Customer Experience”.

Essentially, using interviews and research, Dixon and his team have come up with a customer service game plan that includes making customers happier by limiting the number of total agent interactions. This plan includes the following:

  • Eliminating agent scripts
  • Ensuring customers don’t have to repeat themselves
  • Reducing countless transfers

Surveys conducted by Dixon and his team of researchers at the Corporate Executive Board revealed that:

  • 88% of low-effort customers increase their spending with the company contacted later on
  • 94% of low-effort customers were more likely to repurchase at a later point in time

In order to achieve an “effortless customer experience”, Dixon advises that success starts with ensuring that talented individuals will be hired to carry out these objectives through their limited customer interaction. Throughout this process considerations include looking at the type of culture that should be built to provide an effortless experience to customers, and what skills representatives need. Furthermore, management should identify how agents are developed through training and coaching. Also, managers will want to think about how agent performance should be assessed.

Research and common knowledge show that each call is getting more complex, as customers feed themselves misinformation with prior internet research. Moreover, it is easier than ever for customers to post negative feedback to multiple social networks, increasing the pressure on those first out of the gate to respond. So it becomes more vital than ever that the ideal candidates are hired for agent positions.

Making the Ideal Agent Hire in Contact Centers

To assist in hiring the right candidates, the researchers examined which personality types were the most successful in achieving an “effortless customer experience”. While ‘take charge’ types called “controllers” are not a typical initial hire for this position - oftentimes because they clash with those in management - they are actually a perfect choice to handle customer issues quickly and efficiently. When it comes down to it, customers just want someone who will take control and fix the issue. “Controllers” fit the bill. So once the right kinds of representatives have been hired, it’s time to give them the tools they need to succeed.

Helping Agents to Achieve their Core Competencies

For agents to succeed, they need a detailed knowledge of the products and/or services they are helping to support. In addition, they should learn to incorporate advocacy language, or in other words, positioning bad news in a positive way. On top of attaining these skills to succeed in providing customers an “effortless experience”, managers will need to replace traditional training with more of a coaching approach.

Replacing Agent Training with Agent Coaching

Contact centers will want to shift from efficiency-focused to effectiveness-focused customer interactions, with an emphasis on quality. Agents using this model of customer handling will benefit more from one-on-one interactions between the supervisor and agent in a customer situation and from coaches walking the floor to provide real-time feedback to the agents. Furthermore, performance evaluations will need to be redefined to reduce the focus on the number of calls handled and number of times an agent used a customer’s name, and instead evaluate agents on competencies the organization seeks to deliver - like a flexible and personalized interaction. When it comes down to it, Dixon claims that companies need to provide agents with more control to handle the issues. When they do, research shows that customers are happier and agents are more engaged.

Don’t Forget the Importance of Good Contact Center Technology

Whether creating an “effortless experience” or utilizing your own methodology, the right hiring, training, and coaching = happy employees = happy customers. Setting up the right culture and staff is an important part of the equation in a successful contact center. Another key piece of the puzzle is finding and implementing technology that meets your diverse needs.  West Unified Communications offers a complete suite of hosted and cloud contact center solutions that span small call center operations to large global enterprises with thousands of agents. These solutions round out the complete customer service package and deliver superior customer service with robust feature sets and diverse and flexible options for agents and managers alike. So go ahead and harness the knowledge and momentum from Call Center Week to get started on your new and improved contact center solution today!

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