Contact Centre Week 2017 – Key Learnings

Contact Centre Week 2017 Key Learnings

Summary of Contact Centre Week 2017

A couple of weeks ago I had the honour of co-chairing the Contact Centre Week 2017 conference on the Gold Coast.

Close to 300 attendees from contact centres all over Australia and New Zealand converged to listen and learn from over 16 speakers, interactive discussion groups, panel sessions, roundtables and even some speed networking sessions.

There was plenty to take away from the Contact Centre Week 2017 conference with a few consistent themes that came through:

  • Technology is changing the CX, and much faster than I think many of us predicted.
  • Companies caring about the CX is no longer lip service, the link between a happy customer and a strong bottom line has never been clearer
  • Some things don’t change – the key to success is still engaging your team

I’ll never be able to do justice to all the speakers and some of the amazing content, thoughts and insight they shared but I’ve done my best to provide a short recap of some of the key components that stood out.

In this article, I’’ve focussed more on the technology and some of the impacts happening now, and in the not too distant future.

How technology is changing the contact centre

Here’s a sobering fact – Jim Kraeutler, Vice President of Innovation Management for Genesys shared their latest research that indicated that 75% of customers that are phoning your contact centre are already on the web.

While you are frantically trying to find the “next available agent” your customer is already searching through the internet either still trying to find a solution (on your slow and dysfunctional website) or worse yet, looking for that solution with one of your competitors.

Steve Sammartino (whose title was easily the coolest of the conference – Futurist) provided the example of calling a rather large pay TV company in Australia trying to organise a new connection as a result of moving houses.

In the time it took to get his call answered (i.e too long!) he had managed to sign up to both Netflix and Stan!

OK, so the wait time wasn’t ideal. But that’s not necessarily the issue.

Why did Steve have to call in the first place? Customers want to be able to self-serve.

He’s already an existing customer so why is it so hard to just let them know his new address and book in a date without the need to even call anyone?

But not everything can be done online right?

If things get too hard, that’s when a voice call is still the preferred channel. But only just.

Only 51% of customers say they still prefer the voice channel for more complex issues.

What the data is suggesting is that in most instances, voice is now becoming the second entry point – only when things are either becoming too difficult to self-serve or too difficult and time-consuming to convey via chat.

Speaking of chat, it’s becoming increasingly common for contact centres to be offering Web Chat as a channel option.

A show of hands at the conference revealed that chat is becoming a lot more common across the contact centres with most members of the audience proudly raising their hands when asked if chat is a channel they offered. But guess what?

Good old live chat is becoming a little dated already. Live Chat is quickly being upgraded to Virtual Assistants/Chatbots that can automate either a significant portion of a conversation if not all of it.

Ben Foster from the ATO reported that Alex, their Virtual Assistant has handled over 1 million calls with a ‘deflection’ rate of 76% since March 2016.

The deflection rate is a bit like First Call Resolution, it essentially means that the customer received the information they were calling for with no need for follow up and without interacting with a human being.

But even Chatbots and Virtual Assistants have some competition. Turns out that customers aren’t that interested anymore in engaging with you on a Live Chat window on your website. Instead, they want to talk on a platform that’s convenient for them.

You know, the one where they are already talking to their friends and family. Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and WeChat for example. Many companies are already offering these channels and expect a lot more to follow suit very soon.

OK so head spinning yet? Let’s step it up another notch.

How can all this data we collate improve the CX?

Whereas once we used to struggle to understand much about our customers it now seems that the opposite is almost true.

We have so much data about our customers we are swimming in it.

Real innovation is in how we use that to personalise the customer experience.

So get this on your radar now: –

Forget omnichannel. Personalisation is something you are going to be hearing a lot more about.

Andy Moy, Director of Strategic Solutions, Pitney Bowes shared with us an example of how personalisation is being applied in a London insurance company, Geoffrey Insurance in a video context.

But why talk about it – just watch this:

https://videos.geoffreyinsurance.com/?uid=f4hb153zt7gay

Cool stuff right? But more than cool, its delivering results:

Source: Andy Moy, Pitney Bowes
Source: Andy Moy, Pitney Bowes

But what about the older generations, aren’t they getting lost in all this technology?

Not quite.

Technology adoption by Baby Boomers and everyone else
Source: Pew Research Centre, 2016

In fact in the video demo by Pitney Bowes we shared earlier, the age demographic that watched the videos the most until the end? The over 50’s group.

And when you dig into the data a little deeper, it turns out they also watched and rewound certain sections to make sure they took it all information.

This is consistent with the experience at the ATO. When trialling screen sharing technology, over 50% of screen share requests came from over 55’s.

So what is the most popular channel by agents demographics?

Most popular channels by age demographics
Source: KPCP Internet Trends 2016

Is there going to be more investment in the CX?

I still remember not long ago the numerous conference presentations about how we can make ‘the contact centre more important to our business’.

I recall presenting myself to hundreds of call centre leaders on “How to make the call centre more strategically important” as recently as 2014.

We were all screaming out for some recognition and investment to try and improve the customer experience.

Well, it seems for most of us, those days are now long gone.

Peter Chidiac, Managing Director of Avaya shared a recent Gartner study that suggested that:

89% of business leaders believed that customer experience will be their primary basis for competition in the future.

Gartner has also predicted that by 2020, customers will manage 85% of interactions without a human.

I’ve covered the power of Voice Authentication and Chatbots in previous articles but needless to say, these will be a big driver in transitioning customer interactions to self-service and that my friends is already well underway.

OK, so I think by now we’ve built up a strong case for getting our head around the new technology and how that to be successful in business you will need to invest in, and embrace, all the new technology options coming our way.

So let me leave you with this from Jeff Besos, Founder of Amazon:

“The best customer experience is no experience. “The best customer service is if the customer doesn’t need to call you, doesn’t’’t need to talk to you. It just works.”

Ah, my head hurts 😉

I hope you enjoyed my summary of the Contact Centre Week 2017.

To find out what events are coming up search our Events Calendar or learn more about Contact Centre Week 2019.

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Justin Tippett
About Justin Tippett 78 Articles

I'm the founder of CX Group Australia - helping businesses and customer experience professionals to source, deliver and optimise customer experience solutions to drive business outcomes and I'm available for consulting and training services.


I'm also the person responsible for the terrible memes on the Call Centre Legends page😮


When I'm not working, I enjoy pretending that 40 something isn't that old and it's still not too late for a professional sporting career.

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