Top CX Takeaways from the Frost and Sullivan Contact Center Conference


What a fantastic couple of days at the Arizona Biltmore. Despite a general soreness from impromptu desert hiking in the picture above, as well as a beard full of whipped topping from the “Wild West Olympics," it was a remarkable event. Naturally, Customer Experience and AI were on the tip of everyone’s tongue. There is no doubt that the contact center industry is poised for massive changes. While this evolution can be intimidating, it spells a huge opportunity for those leaders who are capable of accelerating magic. Summarized below are a few of the most popular trends coming out of the event…

Most of us are not ready for AI.

The AI revolution is truly at the doorstep of Customer Service…and it will change the face of the industry forever. Sadly, most of us are years away from being able to implement AI in a meaningful way. As Justin Robbins says, even the basic tool sets in most contact centers are broken. How can we bypass the milestones of Omnichannel and a useful knowledge base, while expecting to virtualize support? Great knowledge and harmonized service across all channels are the foundation on which AI will rest. It is not too late for contact centers to fix the core and pave the way for the future. Implementing the methodology of KCS (Knowledge Centered Support) is a likely next step.

Customer Experience is not about where, it’s about how.

There was a significant amount of dialog with regard to which area of an organization should the Customer Experience function reside. A poll of the conference audience showed a great deal of inconsistency, with many rolling it up as part of Customer Service. At the end of the day, it matters very little where you stick it. I’ve seen organizations with vibrant, meaningful CX groups modeled in all sorts of different ways. Many assume that organizations with a dedicated CX function have a massive advantage. This is not necessarily the case. Customer Experience is a philosophy that must reach every area of the business in order to be effective. Therefore, CX leaders are simply coordinators and facilitators. We cannot do the work of CX ourselves. Our job is to inspire others and compel them to deliver exceptional experiences, while modeling what these behaviors look like. This transformation can be driven from essentially any part of the organization, so long as they have the long-term appetite and the skills to navigate change. If you are waiting for someone else to take up the CX mantel, perhaps it’s time to find your inner Moana and rise to the challenge yourself!

NPS still has value.

One of my all-time favorite sessions as a presenter was “The Case Against NPS” alongside Matt Beckwith. The question on the table…does the 15-year-old metric of NPS (Net Promoter Score) still have a place on CX dashboards? We conducted it as a court-room spoof, Matt as the prosecuting attorney against NPS and myself as the defending attorney. The jury was the audience, exercising the freedom to move about the room to either the “con-NPS” or the “pro-NPS” side depending on how arguments persuaded them. As one might expect, there were passionate supporters on both sides. The room was split right down the middle, with a handful of folks that just couldn’t pick one way or the other.

NPS Pros –

  • There is no better metric for benchmarking data…across industries, historical timelines, and geographic regions.

  • There is still no better metric for the overall Customer Experience. CES or Customer Effort Score, is an emerging second, however this was designed to be focused on the customer support touch point specifically, not the overall customer journey.

NPS Cons:

  • A rising number of consumers are confused by the question. Some don't understand it's a hypothetical "would you recommend" versus actually requesting them to go out on social media and write a recommendation.

  • While NPS does correlate to customer loyalty for most, it does not for all. Many organizations have attempted to implement the metric as part of their VoC programs and have found it to be irrelevant for their demographic.

  • Some programs may find more relevance with an alternative such as CSI (Customer Sentiment Index) as introduced by Bob Hayes.

The bottom line is there is no "magic metric." CX professionals must have a well-balanced dashboard featuring a variety of perspectives to get the fullest possible picture of the customer journey. For most of us, NPS should still be one of these perspectives.

"Digital Transformation" and Customer Experience go hand-in-hand.

One of the latest trendy phrases in just about every organization is digital transformation. Often times, this digital evolution can happen in a vacuum apart from Customer Experience. This should not be, as the objectives have significant overlap and is often driven by the customers themselves. While there is no “magic bullet” for Omni-channel, we still need to keep fighting to make it happen as customers expect it. Additionally, we need to create a seamless experience between self-service automated channels and human support. While modern CX software is making this a possibility, you cannot solve this problem simply through investment. Experience design and process must guide customers to the best resolution path while anticipating their needs. By combining digital transformation with CX best practices, the organization is equipping themselves for far greater success in both.

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A huge thanks to Matt Beckwith for introducing me to such a wonderful group of people, and to Brooke Filson for giving a suspicious looking stranger a shot to present. The icing on the cake was getting to meet CX legend Matt Dixon in the flesh. It's a surreal experience to have a slide in your presentation quoting a famous author, only to have said author sitting 30 feet from you. 😄 Find out more about Frost and Sullivan Contact Center West Event HERE and I hope to see you in 2019!

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Nate Brown is the Co-founder of CX Accelerator. While Customer Service is his primary expertise, Nate is able to leverage experience in professional services, marketing, and sales to connect dots and solve the big problems. From authoring and leading a Customer Experience program, to journey mapping, to managing a complex contact center, Nate is always learning new things and sharing with the CX community. Twitter - @CustomerIsFirst LinkedIn - Nate Brown

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