Formerly known as Contact Center Week, the appropriately rebranded Customer Contact Week lived up to its name by putting customers and the customer experience at the forefront of every discussion this year. The conference, which took place July 25-27 in Las Vegas with more than 2,000 attendees, emphasized the exciting transformation of the customer contact landscape through keynotes, Interactive Discussion Groups, and workshops.
A main theme of innovation and technology was woven throughout each presentation. AI and Machine Learning took the stage as necessary technologies to keep up with the pace of customer experience that is expected by customers.
However, beyond the technology talk, there still remained a strong emphasis on doing what is right for the customer, versus simply implementing a new technology for the sake of it. I found that the speakers often referred to similar characteristics when it came to customer interactions. And despite different messages and different approaches to customer care, these qualities remained constant.
The Top 3 Characteristics of a Good Customer Experience
There are many ways to approach this one, as it can refer to a wide variety of aspects in the customer experience. Overall, it’s the idea that customers’ expectations should be met consistently. That’s including everything from the quality of the actual product or service, to the quality of service that is delivered when problems arise, to employee knowledge of the company and products.
There was an interesting take on this idea that consistently having slightly-better-than-average customer service is better than having the best customer service most of the time. I’m sure you can think of a company that you can always count on for a good experience. It doesn’t mean that company is always going way above and beyond standards, but rather they are consistently delivering what you expect. And on the flip side, I’m sure you can also think of a company that sometimes offers amazing service, and other times leaves you feeling frustrated or undervalued. According to this speaker, being consistent is what is going to keep your customers happy and coming back.
Simply put, convenience is key. Customers won’t work harder than they want to. How does this translate to customer contact? It’s all about reaching your customers where they are. That means being available on as many channels as your customer may use and being available on those channels at all hours of the day.
But the interesting takeaway from this conference was the emphasis not simply on effort for customers, but also the effort for agents. In other words, less effort for agents is less effort for customers. When customer experience technology is integrated to provide a seamless experience for the agent, that will make it easier for the agent to provide an exceptional experience for the customer as well.
Last but not least, knowledgeable agents– whether human or virtual– were deemed key to a good customer experience. Knowledge of the product and the company is important so that customers feel well supported and guided through the customer care journey. If an agent that you are speaking with does not know about the product, it is frustrating. And it is even more frustrating if the agent does not know where to direct you to find the information that you are looking for.
Beyond product and company knowledge, it’s also crucial that agents are knowledgeable about the customer. Namely, they should know about the past history of the customer, if they have called before, and about what. According to a Harris Poll Survey, about half of Americans find it helpful when AI knows demographic and behavioral information, as it relates to purchase history. And more, 72% of respondents are willing to tolerate AI when it alerts them of a potential issue, it can help them resolve a problem quickly, or when it can solve a complex problem.
These characteristics were repeated over and over throughout the conference. When any company delivers an ideal customer service, you can often point to one or more of these characteristics to describe the interaction. So, as technology and innovation continue to advance the way that we can interact with our customers, let’s be sure to keep these qualities at the core of the conversation, to ensure that a good customer experience is not lost in the technology.