Industry Insiders – Innovative Insights

Industry Insiders—Innovative Insights

Forward-thinking peers on the future of customer experience and the contact center

The transformation of the modern, multi-channel contact center—from a necessary cost center to the hub of customer experience and an essential driver of business success—continues accelerating, fueled by rapidly evolving customer expectations and technological innovations. Keeping pace with this transformation remains challenging, even for the most customer-centric organizations. How do you separate fleeting fads from true trends? Where should you invest—which technologies and which strategies—in order to deliver a next-generation customer experience? What should your contact center be focused on today—in order to protect and promote your business’ success tomorrow?

To help you answer these tough questions, we asked some of the top experts, innovative thinkers and opinion leaders in the contact center and customer experience industry for their thoughts. Here’s what they had to say about the future of CX and the contact center:

THE CX REVOLUTION HAS JUST BEGUN

We’re about a decade into a massive shift, across every industry, toward elevating the customer experience (CX) as the most critical focus for any organization. Today, 9 in 10 businesses say they’re competing primarily on the basis of customer experience. But our industry influencers tell us that the CX revolution is just getting started.
Jeanne Bliss, President, Customer Bliss and co-founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association
Jeanne Bliss, President, Customer Bliss and co-founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association
Jeanne Bliss
"What we are seeing is a great deal of enthusiasm, with tactics around the mechanics of CX (journey mapping, VOC, etc.) but not always the kind of committed leadership engagement that is necessary. Customer Experience is not something that should be layered on top of the work of the organization—it is about how the company chooses to act in order to earn the right to growth. We will need to work to ensure that CX does not become its own silo.”
Paul Stockford, Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research
Paul Stockford, Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research
Paul Stockford
“We are on the cusp of major changes. Generational changes will fundamentally change the customer experience and the technologies that support it.”
Shelly Kramer, CEO, V3 Broadsuite
Shelly Kramer, CEO, V3 Broadsuite
Shelly Kramer
“Delivering an exceptional customer experience is the sole purpose of digital transformation. Businesses with a customer-centric, customer-focused mindset are the ones who will survive in an age of disruption.”

“Customer expectations will continue to change, as customers demand better experiences, faster service, and more self-service options.

– Blair Pleasant, President & Principal Analyst, COMMfusion

“We are on the cusp of major changes. Generational changes will fundamentally change the customer experience and the technologies that support it.”

– Paul Stockford, Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research

CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS DRIVE THE BIGGEST TRENDS IN CX

No huge surprise here: The continued evolution and elevation of customer expectations will shape the biggest trends and most critical focus points for tomorrow’s leading CX brands and top-performing contact centers.

HYPER-PERSONALIZATION

“Using data and AI, brands will be able to gather all information about customers in one place. That means each customer will have a profile with their past purchases and interactions with the brand, plus their preferences, demographics and life changes. These profiles will allow for a seamless experience without customers having to explain themselves and create more customized and relevant experiences.”

– Blake Morgan, Customer Experience Keynote Speaker

“Hyper-personalization will make the experience more personalized, more predictive and more trackable.”

– James Dodkins, Founder, Rockstar CX

“Some companies will collect enough data to go to the next step of personalization, which is individualization—which customers will love. They will be treated like a person—a friend. (Like from the TV show “Cheers,” where everybody knows your name.) But it will be bigger than that. If the customer lets them, the company will deliver a customized and individualized experience that will help drive customer loyalty.”

– Shep Hyken, Chief Amazement Officer, Shepard Presentations

FAST & FRICTIONLESS SELF-SERVICE

“Customers want an easier and frictionless (or less friction) experience. Companies like Amazon are teaching our customers what that looks like and the expectation will be that any and every company should do something similar.”

– Shep Hyken, Chief Amazement Officer, Shepard Presentations

“Faster response, faster service, faster delivery. We live in a time when patience is a thing of the past, and marketers and brands alike need to focus on how quickly they can serve—and deliver—to and for their customers.”

– Shelly Kramer, CEO, V3 Broadsuite

“Technology at a foundational level has the opportunity to help our customers self-serve more easily and quickly, as well as help employees handle customer inquiries more productively and efficiently. These are some of the essential building blocks of great service and experience.”

– Adrian Swinscoe, Best-selling Author, Forbes Contributor, Strategic Advisor and Aspirant CX Punk

UNLOCKING THE INTERNET OF THINGS (IoT)

“More and more companies will begin using the IoT (Internet of Things) to drive a better CX. It may be as simple as integrating with Amazon Echo, Google home, or some other smart speaker. Or it can be sensors inside of products that alert the company and the customer that they need to get service or maintenance. There will be more connectivity between products and smart devices as companies ramp up their innovative CX ideas.”

– Shep Hyken, Chief Amazement Officer, Shepard Presentations

SHIFTING CHANNEL PREFERENCES

“Messaging and other digital channels will overtake voice as the main point of interaction.”

– Blair Pleasant, President & Principal Analyst, COMMfusion

“Face-to-face (video) interaction will become the norm, and expected by customers.”

– Shelly Kramer, CEO, V3 Broadsuite

“Self-service customer support options will get better. Be it on a website, chatbot, etc., customers will start to enjoy the convenience of having control of their situations and their questions answered quickly and efficiently.”

– Shep Hyken, Chief Amazement Officer, Shepard Presentations

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI) MAKES THE CONTACT CENTER SMARTER, FASTER—BETTER

Perhaps no technological innovation holds more potential to revolutionize CX than artificial intelligence (AI). With all the buzz around artificial intelligence (AI) in the contact center, we asked our experts to cut through the hype and give honest predictions on how AI will transform the contact center in the next few years.

Shep Hyken, Chief Amazement Officer, Shepard Presentations
Shep Hyken, Chief Amazement Officer, Shepard Presentations
Shep Hyken
“We're just getting started with AI. I see growth of AI similar to the growth of the microchip. The improvement will be like night and day. Customers will get answers to their questions faster. Problems will be resolved quicker. AI will predict when maintenance is needed for certain products (cars, copy machines, computers, etc.). AI will give a better experience to the customer and create a smoother process for the company.”
Blake Morgan, Customer Experience Keynote Speaker
Blake Morgan, Customer Experience Keynote Speaker
Blake Morgan
“Brands will be able to use AI and big data to enable predictive analytics that predict what customers need before they even know they need it. This opens the door for proactive customer experience and conveniently solving customers’ needs by recommending products and services at just the right time.”
Blair Pleasant, President & Principal Analyst, COMMfusion
Blair Pleasant, President & Principal Analyst, COMMfusion
Blair Pleasant
“The use of AI is going to change the way customers interact with organizations, as well as the role of the agent. With AI, the contact center will be able to triage customer inquiries and provide faster responses—24/7—which will impact customer expectations for improved self-service options.”
Jeanne Bliss, President, Customer Bliss and co-founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association
Jeanne Bliss, President, Customer Bliss and co-founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association
Jeanne Bliss
“If done appropriately, AI can play a key role in elevating the humanity of an organization.”
Mike Aoki, Customer Experience Speaker, Trainer, Writer
Mike Aoki, Customer Experience Speaker, Trainer, Writer
Mike Aoki
“AI will get better at parsing written customer inquiries and handling accents over the phone. This will help AI handle a wider range of basic interactions."
Paul Stockford, Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research
Paul Stockford, Chief Analyst, Saddletree Research
Paul Stockford
“Automation and bots will improve the employee experience. Conversational self-service will improve the customer experience.”
Shelly Kramer, CEO, V3 Broadsuite
Shelly Kramer, CEO, V3 Broadsuite
Shelly Kramer
“AI will power robotic process automation (RPA), which will help streamline customer service operations, allow for the rapid development of chatbots that can more rapidly (and more effectively) serve customers, and AI will allow all businesses, of all sizes, to become data-driven.”
Adrian Swinscoe, Best-selling Author, Forbes Contributor, Strategic Advisor and Aspirant CX Punk
Adrian Swinscoe, Best-selling Author, Forbes Contributor, Strategic Advisor and Aspirant CX Punk
Adrian Swinscoe
“Variants of AI could be applied across the customer experience domain, including applications that cover image/facial/voice recognition, analysis of text- and voice-based feedback, finding and curating knowledge, process automation, robotics, personalization, automated text and voice-based conversation interfaces, employee coaching performance, behavioral analysis and insight, etc. Applied in the right way, there is no doubt that AI could have a profound effect on customer experience in the coming years.”

“AI isn’t magic. It is a highly sophisticated set of technologies and applications that can be used to improve and optimize the performance of customer service departments and contact centers. There are dozens of AI technologies available today, but the 3 that are at the core of service are NLU/NLP/NLG, real-time analytics and machine learning. In the next 10 – 15 years, companies will find many more uses for AI, and it is going to help revolutionize the service world.”

– Donna Fluss, CEO, DMG Consulting LLC

THERE’S NO REPLACING THE HUMAN TOUCH

While most of the trends focus on how technologies will transform the contact center, almost all of our experts stressed that live, human agents will remain critical to an exceptional CX—and that the most successful organizations will use automation, self-service and AI-driven capabilities to support and enhance their agents’ human-to-human interactions.

Click on an Icon to See What the Experts Have to Say

SAGE ADVICE ON THE ROAD AHEAD

The CX revolution puts the modern contact center in the center of a customer-centric strategy for business growth. But in this elevated role, contact centers face more pressure—and more complex challenges—than ever. We asked our experts for their parting wisdom on managing the ever-evolving road toward delivering next-generation CX.

Are You Listening? The Truth About What Customers Want in a Digital World

“Customer Experience will only thrive if leaders take hold of this work as the legacy of the organization. Without active leadership involvement, organizations will focus on the mechanics of CX, but the differentiation of a company’s purpose won’t occur. Experience is about leaders choosing how they will and will not grow – and guiding the organization to that end state.”

– Jeanne Bliss, President, Customer Bliss and co-founder of the Customer Experience Professionals Association

“Until we see CEOs getting on board and committing to designing and delivering on a customer-centric culture, organizations will struggle to transform. And while we’re talking about enriching human interactions, as they say, “charity begins at home.” Employees are humans, too! Without a great employee experience, it’s difficult to deliver a great customer experience. As such, it will be more important than ever to continuously do the work to understand employees and customers—and put them at the center of all the business does.”

Annette Franz, Founder + CEO, CX Journey Inc.

“Technology for technology’s sake will ruin a company’s customer experience. Remember: Technology is just a tool to help deliver an amazing experience—not the holy grail; not a magic bullet.”

– James Dodkins, Founder, Rockstar CX

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Are You Listening? The Truth About What Customers Want in a Digital World

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