Conference Re-cap: ICMI's Contact Center Demo & Conference

Last week, I attended ICMI's Contact Center Demo & Conference in Dallas, Texas. As always, the event featured exceptional site tours, keynote presentations, an expo hall, and educational breakout sessions.

Here's an overview of the conference along with some of my key take-aways from the event. 

 

Background

You might want to start by familiarizing yourself with the conference if you didn't attend.

The #CCDemo hashtag on Twitter is another great way to catch a glimpse into the proceedings. You don't even need a Twitter account. Just use this link.

 

Key Take-Aways

Customer-focus was at the top of the list. This isn't unusual, given the nature of the conference, but the message dug a bit deeper this time.

The first full day of the conference started with an impactful keynote presentation from Tom Grothues, USAA's Senior Vice President for Bank and Property & Casualty sales and service. USAA is a financial services company that's at the top of just about any list of best customer service organizations.

It's no surprise that Grothues explained much of USAA's ability to be customer-focused comes from getting employees to buy-in to its customer service vision.

It also seemed that contact center professionals are starting to get more sophisticated. For example, I was fortunate to moderate a panel discussion on first contact resolution (FCR). The experts on the panel came to the surprising consensus that FCR was a very limited metric.

Suggested alternatives included "Future Contact Resolution" (thanks, Neal Topf!), "First Conversation Resolution" (thanks, Al Hopper), or limiting FCR to situations where an agent had direct control over solving the issue on one try.

Justin Robbins, Group Community Director for ICMI and HDI, was one of the panelists. He continued the theme in his keynote the next morning where he encouraged contact center leaders to avoid broken promises.

Best-selling author Marsha Collier delivered a keynote focused on helping contact center leaders understand the impact that customer service has on marketing. 

The concept itself isn't new, but Collier revealed opportunities for companies to improve. For example, a company often has loyal customers who engage them on social media channels like Twitter. A smart marketing strategy is to follow those customers and engage with them regularly.

Customer service writing expert, Leslie O'Flahavan, followed Collier's keynote later that day with an impactful presentation on writing to customers in your brand's voice.

She encouraged contact center leaders to work with their marketing departments to identify brand language standards and translate those into guides for customer service agents to mirror the same approach.

O'Flahavan also provided this helpful list of resources for learning to write in your brand voice. 

ICMI's next conference is Contact Center Expo in Orlando, May 22 - 25. I'm already looking forward to it!


Re-Cap: 2016 Contact Center Expo & Conference

The 2016 edition of ICMI's annual Contact Center Expo & Conference took place in Long Beach, California last week. An estimated 1,500 participants were in attendance.

It's billed by ICMI as "the highest rated and most trusted Contact Center event in the industry." I've personally attended the past four years and found it to be true. 

The conference is a great opportunity to learn about some of the latest trends that are shaping the world of customer service and contact centers in particular.

This post is a re-cap of some of the conference highlights. 

Conference Overview

You may want to start by familiarizing yourself with the conference if you aren't already. 

I always enjoy reading what people have to say on the Twitter backchannel, #CCExpo16. You don't need to have a Twitter account to view this.

 

Awards

The 2016 Global Contact Center Awards were presented at the conference. This was a great opportunity to highlight top agents, leaders, and teams in the contact center industry. 

The awards were presented at a festive party that gave conference attendees a chance to mingle with the award winners and the finalists. I had a chance to chat with some of the folks from moo.com, who won awards for Best Use of Technology, Best Chat Support, and Best Small Contact Center. It was awesome to see their excitement after getting such well-deserved recognition.

ICMI is already accepting applications for the 2017 awards.

 

Video

If you'd asked me last year about video as a customer service channel, I'd say it didn't seem to have much promise. I now think I was completely wrong.

Video was a growing topic among many attendees. Here are just a few applications I learned about:

Nurses at Kaiser Permanente can use video through a secure app that lets them see patients who call in for advice.

TurboTax users are able to share their computer screen with a support agent, so the support agent can better understand where they're experiencing difficulties. 

And, thanks to video chat, visiting a bank branch may soon be a thing of the past.

The next big shift will be developing proven methods for training contact center agents on the nuances of video-based service. And, we'll need to figure out how to make customers comfortable with it too.

 

Agent Burnout

This was a big concern among contact center leaders. Perhaps it's the nature of the job, but there might be better solutions out there.

That's why I'm doing a study to assess the causes and hopefully find some cures. The survey is running now through May 31, 2016.

If you're a contact center leader, you can benchmark your agents' burnout level against the average. Just drop me a line and I'll get you set-up.

Or, if you just want to take the survey yourself, you can access it here.


Contest: Win a Two-Day Pass to the Contact Center Expo & Conference

ICMI's Contact Center Expo & Conference is one of my favorite conferences.

It has been locked onto my calendar since I first went in 2013. I also labeled this year's version one of three customer service conferences in May that you shouldn't miss.

So, it was pretty hard to resist when the organizers asked me if I'd like to give away a two-day pass (worth $1,995!) to one of my readers.

Read on to learn more about the conference, what makes this year's version so special, and how you can enter to win.

About The Conference

Contact Center Expo & Conference has something for everyone. 

They have the usual selection of keynotes, breakout sessions, and a vendor expo. (Although, their selection is quite impressive.)

What sets them apart is everything else they offer:

  • Tours of area contact centers
  • Workshops before and after the conference
  • Industry roundtable breakfasts
  • Best practice sharing
  • Global Contact Center Awards ceremony and party

You can read more on the conference's overview page.

These re-caps of past conferences will also give you a flavor of some of the key learning moments and networking opportunities:

 

This Year's Conference

The 2016 edition is particularly exciting.

Scott McKain is delivering the opening keynote on The Ultimate Customer Experience®. My friend Leslie O'Flahavan is delivering a breakout session on quality assurance for social service. And, I'm excited to see who will win the 2016 Global Contact Center Awards.

On a personal note, I'm doing a half-day workshop called How to Get Your Agents Obsessed with Service and a breakout session called Customer Service Surveys Made Easy.

Here's the rest of the conference information:

 

The Contest

I'm giving away one two-day pass to the conference. It's selling for $1,795 until March 18, and then it goes up to $1,995, so this has a pretty hefty value.

Here's what's included:

  • Conference admission May 11 - 12
  • Main sessions
  • Keynote sessions
  • Breakfasts, lunches, and receptions
  • Expo Hall entry
  • ICMI Global Contact Center Awards Party (May 12)

How to enter:

  1. Make sure you're reading this post on my website.
  2. In the comment box at the bottom of the post, answer the question, "Why do you want to attend the 2016 Contact Center Expo & Conference?"
  3. All entries must be submitted by Monday, March 28 2016 at 5:00 pm (Pacific Time).

Entries will be put in a random drawing and the winner announced on Tuesday, March 29. Good luck, and I hope I see you at the conference!


Update: We have a winner!

March 29, 2016 - The winner of the two-day pass to ICMI's 2016 Contact Center Expo and Conference is Adam Howard!

Here's why Adam said he wanted to go to the conference:

The chance to hear the latest and greatest is an amazing opportunity. Finding new ways to engage agents and help them be passionate about the work they are doing and not just about how much money they make is an ever important part of our work.

Congratulations, Adam. See you at the conference!

 

Update #2: All Contestants Get 50% off!

It seems that the folks at ICMI were so impressed with everyone's comments that they have decided to offer a 50% conference discount to each contestant. All you have to do in exchange is agree to let ICMI use your comments in the conference marketing.

Please use this form to send me your email address and I'll email you the details.


Three Customer Service Conferences You Don't Want to Miss

May is a big month for customer service.

There are three outstanding conferences on the calendar. You might consider attending at least one of them so you can capture the many benefits:

  • Attend educational sessions from industry experts
  • Network with your peers and exchange ideas
  • Learn about the latest products and services

Here's an overview of the three conferences scheduled for this May. I've included a short description along with a special discount code for each one.

Contact Center Expo & Conference

ICMI bills this conference as "the premier global gathering for the contact center industry."

Conference sessions are divided into six tracks including small contact center management, operations management, and technology. There's also a new customer experience track for 2016.

The conference also features half-day and full-day workshops on a variety of topics. (I'm doing a half-day workshop called How to Get Your Agents Obsessed with Service and a breakout session called Customer Service Surveys Made Easy.)

One of the conference's outstanding features is the site tours. You get to visit local contact centers for a behind-the-scenes look at their operations.

Conferences passes start at $1,995, but you can save $200 if you register by March 18. You can save an additional $200 if you enter this special code at checkout: JEFF200

 

THE 2016 National Customer Service Conference

This conference is hosted by the National Customer Service Association and focuses on service excellence across a wide range of industries.

This conference features keynote speakers, breakout sessions from customer service experts, and panel discussions. One highlight is a keynote presentation from Tom Knox, CEO and President of Westlake Ace Hardware. Knox's company was the focus of Shep Hyken's best selling book, Amaze Every Customer Every Time.

Conference passes start at $995 ($895 for NCSA members), but you can save $50 if you enter this special code at checkout: ICS2016

 

Customer Service Experience 2016

I love this conference for it's intimacy. There's just one track, but it's a good one.

Customer Service Experience is held simultaneously with SpeechTek and CRM Evolution, so you get the bigger conference experience for networking, keynotes, and the trade show. 

The conference itself features insights from leading analysts and customer service leaders. In just its fifth year, I've been impressed that the conference continues to draw a sophisticated audience. (I'm doing a session called How to Engage and Retain Talented Agents.)

Full conference passes start at $1,795, but you can save $200 if you register by April 22. You can save an additional $100 if you use this special code at checkout: SPK16