Developing contact center strategies to keep your customers loyal and happy is hard work. And crafting those same strategies to support the success and growth of your entire company is even harder. Luckily, you have a contact center packed with agents to help you keep your customer promises and reach your organizational goals. But your agents will only be ready and willing to move your mission forward when they’re engaged, empowered, and connected to that mission.
Happy employees are the key to happy customers, and on our recent trip to ICMI CC Expo, we saw more contact center leaders noticing and backing this truth. As you settle back into your daily routine and define new projects for your contact center, keep agents top-of-mind.
We’re sharing a recap of all we soaked in at ICMI, so you have a summed-up version of why the employee experience matters so much to your customer experience transformation.
Here are the themes, sessions, and speakers that left quite an impression on us.
Employee experience heads to center stage.
The word is in on employee experience, and it’s a contact center game-changer. If you’re not focused on your employees’ experience, you’re missing out on a higher ROI for your contact center.
Experts shared the connection between a better employee experience and a better customer experience, and they discussed how reducing turnover matters to the contact center, too.
Dan Moross, Director of Customer Experience for Moo talked on Temkin’s Virtuous Cycle of Employee Engagement. The cycle explains that more engaged employees lead to stronger financial results and more loyal customers and employees for companies.
“You will achieve nothing, even if you have the best numbers and storytelling in the world, if your people don’t trust you,” said Moross.
On another stage, Bob Furniss, the VP of Global Customer Service Cloud Practice for Bluewolf discussed relational leadership and how contact center leaders are crucial to engaging their employees and keeping them in their seats. For Furniss, engagement comes from caring about your agents’ well-being, giving them the tools to succeed, and investing in them.
Other speakers and industry sources mirrored the agent-first sentiment throughout their presentations. ICMI’s Group Training and Content Director, Fancy Mills, shared the top contact center goals and challenges for 2019, and collectively, the goals and challenges align with the idea that we need to invest in our people.
From the list, we see an important trend emerge: People come before technology, and your people’s well-being comes before their productivity.
The masses want customer service to be more human and personal.
In line with the importance of employee experience and engagement at work, we saw sessions and themes on the crucial role that data and tools play in empowering your agents to deliver a better customer experience. Empowering agents with the right tools to do their jobs lets them work with customers on a case-by-case basis. They problem-solve for the individual and don’t cram a case into pre-defined restraints.
The conference held full-day training sessions on metrics & data, coaching, and learning from contact center masterminds.
But the emphasis in sessions we tuned into wasn’t on the data and the tools themselves.
Instead, it was on how to use technology and data to inform your decisions for more personable, streamlined customer experiences. Use data to inform how you coach your agents, not to dictate the success or failure of your contact center. And, use better technology to help your agents deliver on your service promises. The right tools arm agents with the information they need to find custom solutions for your customers.
Keynote speakers Jeff Toister and Henry Winkler both talked about working with customers to problem-solve. Toister dug in on the importance of quality agent-customer interactions but the pressure agents feel to emphasize speed, instead. Then, he talked about empathy and being inquisitive to learn more about your customers. When you know more about their problems, you can solve them to reach the best outcome. Winkler talked from a customer’s perspective and shared what he’d like to hear during service interactions.
And, ICMI Chat sessions brought important topics to light in smaller, more interactive sessions with leaders. We were big fans of Erica Mancuso’s key takeaway:
“Invest in the tools your agents need to do their jobs well! And make sure the tools you’re using provide actionable data you can use to improve performance.” – Erica Mancuso, Director, Customer Success, Straightaway Health Careers
The best part for us? Seeing our customers succeed and spreading our agent-first mission.
Besides the speaking sessions and energy we felt from so many passionate contact center leaders, we were especially excited about sharing Sharpen’s agent-first mission product with tons of new people.
Not to mention, we got to sponsor the award for 2019’s Best Contact Center Agent. Your agents drive your mission, customer loyalty, and revenue forward day after day. And they rarely get the recognition they deserve. We were honored to help give credit where credit is due to one stellar agent.
Here’s a special shout out to this year’s best contact center agent, Danielle Bronikowski of U.S. Bank Global Fund Services!
Plus, we were incredibly proud to see a few of our customers take the stage.
And John Hunt, Senior Director of Operations at onPeak took the stage and talked to a packed room about onPeak’s transition to a cloud-native, omni-channel contact center system.
onPeak embodies the employee-first mentality so many contact center leaders praise. John spearheaded a move to the cloud with a single unified system at onPeak. He wanted to provide a framework and the tools to empower agents. Now, his staff members work remotely as needed. But with a unified cloud system, they’re still connected to the same tools and resources as in-office employees. This kind of employee flexibility keeps onPeak’s CSAT at 95 percent and agent turnover at an insanely low 5 percent. John and onPeak are doing transformational work in their contact center, and he shared actionable tips for other contact center leaders to follow the same path. Read more about onPeak’s story.
All in all, ICMI put on quite the show. It was everything we hoped it would be. That’s a wrap! See you back at CC Expo 2020.