Contact Center Conference Fall 2013 Re-cap

The Fall 2013 Contact Center Conference was a hit.

The Fall 2013 Contact Center Conference was a hit.

 The Fall 2013 Contact Center Conference was in Phoenix, AZ this week. Phoenix is a great city to visit and the weather was perfect. 

There are a lot of contact center conferences throughout the year so it’s impossible to attend them all. And, it can be tough to keep track of all the great content even if you do attend. That’s why I put together this short re-cap.


Conference Overview

If you didn't attend, you may want to start by familiarizing yourself with the conference:



Here are some additional resources that you can use to get even more content and perspectives from the conference.

Conference Highlights

It's impossible to attend all the sessions. There were even a few great ones scheduled at the same time I was scheduled to present The Journey to a Customer-focused Culture. However, there were three sessions that really stood out for me:

Dr. Natalie Petouhoff’s session on building a business case for multi-channel customer service. Her session took us through seven steps, but I was really impressed that step one was social listening. She suggested that businesses start by finding what their customers are saying about them on social media and where they are saying it. This in turn can provide business intelligence that can reduce contact volume, improve products, and ultimately win more business. I also found a nice YouTube video where Petouhoff explains the nuts and bolts of calculating the ROI of providing customer service via social media. 

Bruce Belfiore’s session on what agents really think. Belfiore is the CEO of Benchmark Portal, a company that specializes in benchmarking call centers.  He presented the results of a research study to find out what contact center agents are really thinking. Overall, it seemed that agents are fairly satisfied, but the survey did identify a few areas for improvement. Chief among them are the transition from training to the call center floor, providing realistic job previews during the hiring process, and senior leadership inspiring trust.

Fred Van Bennekom’s session on customer service surveys. Van Bennekom shared many examples of ways that surveys can be deliberately or inadvertently manipulated to provide false data. The biggest problem revealed is that companies get fixated on achieving a certain score rather than using the survey to drive continuous improvement. When that happens, companies start finding creative ways to get customers to give a positive rating. Van Bennekom outlined an excellent example on his blog.

If you attended the conference, what were your biggest take-aways? 

Contact Center Conference Spring 2013 Re-cap

Last week was a real treat. It was the first week this year that I didn't travel, but I still got to attend an amazing conference in my hometown of San Diego.

Here's my re-cap of Contact Center Conference Spring 2013.

Conference Overview
If you didn't attend, you may want to start by familiarizing yourself with the conference:

Conference Themes
I always look for the topics that people are buzzing about at a conference. There were at least three major themes I encountered at Contact Center Conference Spring 2013.

Theme #1: We can do much more with our quality assurance data
Contact centers generally gather a lot of quality assurance (QA) data from monitoring calls and other interactions, but several speakers made a compelling case for using this data much more wisely.

John Goodman, author of Strategic Customer Service, suggested call centers should take at least 50% of their QA staff away from monitoring calls and refocus them on analyzing the root causes of service failures so they can help prevent problems from happening. 

Rebecca Gibson, a Contact Center Solutions Consultant at Interactive Intelligence, made the case in her session that contact centers should correlate the behaviors we monitor with the results we're trying to achieve. This approach enables the QA function to focus on behaviors that actually contribute to good performance rather than a generic set of standards.

Theme #2: We're still not where we need to be with social media
This is such an interesting topic because the importance of social media is widely recognized, but best practices and standards for contact centers are still in their infancy. 

Kristyn Emenecker, VP of Product Marketing at inContact, cited a FastCompany article that estimated Dave Carroll's viral video about United Airlines breaking his guitar may have cost the airline nearly $180 million. The lesson was that today's unhappy customer has the potential ability to tell thousands or even millions of people about it, but smart companies can proactively use social media to create positive impressions with their customers.

Contact Center Consultant Michael Pace gave a nice overview of how to get started and posted his presentation on SlideShare: 5 Steps to Building a Social Customer Service Team. One particularly interesting stat was that 55% of the top 50 brands don't respond to comments on Facebook and 71% ignore compalints on Twitter. Yikes!

Theme #3: Focus on FCR, not productivity
I spoke with several contact center leaders who were trying to focus their teams on First Call Resolution (FCR) while de-emphasizing more traditional metrics like Average Handle Time (AHT).

This is a theme I've personally championed. See my article: Call Center Metrics that Can Hurt Service.

This type of initiative is not without its challenges. One call center manager told me he wanted to take down the display boards that broadcast metrics like wait times, calls in queue, etc. so his team could focus on one customer at a time. This move was vetoed by an executive who felt they had paid for the displays so they might as well use them. 

If you attended the conference, what was your biggest take-away?