This year’s Sitel Summit welcomed more than 200 senior executives from some of the world’s best-known brands including AXA, HP and UnitedHealth Group, alongside leading industry analysts from Gartner, Frost & Sullivan and Everest Group to The EDITION Miami Beach. The event focused on understanding key trends and factors redefining the concept of customer experience.
1- Why CX as a platform is the future
For any business leader still on the fence on whether or not to optimize their approach to customer experience, the event’s opening keynote from Sitel Group founding partner, President and CEO, Laurent Uberti, should have erased any doubts.
“In an increasingly complex, busy and competitive market, CX has become the last great differentiator,” said Uberti.
The relentless push-and-pull of consumers, market forces and technology means the commercial world has arrived at a point where businesses must be 100 percent customer centric in order to thrive, boost existing customer engagement and continue attracting new people to its products or services.
But trying to stay connected to a new breed of empowered consumer – one in control of the dialog he or she has with brands and one that has never been more diverse or demanding in terms of experience and expectation – is why there is a wholesale transformation of the very essence of outsourcing.
Thanks to the complexity of the business environment and a never-before-seen need for integration and seamless continuity to serve customers, the outsourcing center of today is unrecognizable from the call center of yesterday.
In fact, to highlight just how singular this moment is, according to Uberti, the last time that nature, the markets and technology started moving and disrupting everything before them at such a rate was in 1440 with the invention of Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press.
That invention facilitated mass education, the renaissance, the age of enlightenment. But crucially, the printing press became the platform on which the modern knowledge-based economy is built.
And almost 600 years later we’re moving toward a new ‘platform age.’
“The world’s most influential companies have one thing in common: they’re all platforms” said Uberti.
Amazon is a platform for retail, Alibaba for small business and Facebook provides a platform for connecting people. Being a platform gives them a huge advantage in terms of agility, connectivity, technology and reacting to trends. And those platform-based brands must be able to access a platform for all elements of customer care.
This is why Sitel Group now stands as a platform that will be at the center of leading brands’ CX ecosystems. The group leverages more than 75,000 associates serving more than 400 clients in 25 countries to expand relationships, generate value and deliver tangible business outcomes for their clients.
“In other words, we act like an ‘API’,” said Uberti. “An interface, connecting our clients with the answer to their needs and consequently to their customers.”
As a platform, Sitel Group becomes an end-to-end solution provider, able to offer the perfect combination of expertise.
“Our subsidiaries are positioned as integrators, consultants and advisors,” said Uberti. “In short, problem solvers. We have experts in all fields: from consulting, analytics and talent management to deep and complex IT integration.”
2- Robots need training
One of the biggest challenges facing brands is how to use the right channel, at the right time, in the right way to engage with consumers. This topic was greatly explored when Gordon White, general manager of TSC Americas, gave his keynote.
Customers are migrating to social channels for every element of their increasingly connected life. As a result, according to White, over 70 percent of people want to use social messaging to interact with brands. Social messaging is a pipeline into a company that’s always open and a channel that constantly preserves conversation history and, crucially, one that is perfect for deploying chatbots, White highlighted how organizations that have their approach to this channel right are already benefiting from improvements to customer effort scores, healthier NPS and better customer win-back rates.
Yet, many firms are tripping up when it comes to getting their chatbot just so.
“Accuracy is the key driver of a good chatbot experience and one of the biggest failings of chatbots today,” he said.
Brands often look to existing Natural Language Understanding (NLU) datasets rather than developing their own language based on their customer understanding, and reflecting the brand’s tone of voice or unique attributes.
“If a customer says ‘Can I get InstantInk for my OfficeJetPro?,’ an off-the-shelf NLU engine might not know what to do,” White pointed out – and that’s going to lead to customer frustration.
White notes that firms are now solving these problems. They’re developing better internal knowledge bases and metadata specific to their products and services. Yet, they’re still viewing this as a job for developers, rather than for those teams within a company that speak the brand’s language and that constantly engage with the customers the chatbot is trying to serve.
All of which is why TSC built the Bot Trainer platform. It enables front line agents to teach any number of chatbots how to speak to customers.
“Agents use the platform during their daily routine to review, qualify, or reclassify end-customer input and feed that new data back into the chatbot,” explains White, explaining that the end result is an increasingly smarter bot who learns to model the very people it was built to exist alongside.
That accuracy pays off with higher accuracy, better resolution rates and better satisfied end-customers.
3- CX to CE: why emotion is essential
But as revolutionary as chatbots could become for CX, they will only ever support, rather than replace human interaction. Emotion is still a key tenant of optimizing customer experience.
“Emotion drives 80 percent of decision making,” said Sitel Group Global Chief Operating Officer Olivier Camino. “The customer emotional journey is the new customer journey. Therefore we must generate positive emotions to boost CX.”
During his keynote, Camino reminded the audience that no matter how well programmed a robot may one day become, it will never be able to match human levels of empathy.
That’s why the role of customer care agents is evolving to ensure that whenever possible a brand can maintain a positive emotional connection with its customers.
“The profile of the agent is changing,” said Camino. “There is a greater focus on soft skills and on being able to create an emotional interaction with the customer.”
4- A digital workforce
The innovations disrupting customer experience are also changing employee experience. Be it access to and types of digital learning and skills training, being able to delve deeper into data to optimize processes and procedures and identifying new ways of doing things and new areas of business focus.
However, according to human behavior expert and TED Talk star Claire Burge, that’s just the start. In her keynote Chaos Theory: A Future of Work View, she advocates turning office spaces into a “Children’s Playground.”
Giving the workforce an environment where they can interact, experiment and discover, but in a structured way, will lead to, “enhancing our skills in creativity and critical thinking,” Burge said.
These are skills and capabilities that will come to the forefront as innovations such as AI redefine many existing business roles.
5- Why blockchain is the internet of value
With so many issues – beyond business – that could put the world into a spin, from climate change to political upheaval, the blockchain could come into its own as the only technology that will be able to keep pace. According to Toni Lane Casserly, cryptocurrency expert and founder of CULTU.RE, “Bitcoin is the internet of money and blockchain is the internet of value.”
During her address, the BitNation partner and CoinTelegraph co-founder, outlined how the distributed ledger technology not only potentially allows cross-border access to anything from finance to voting rights – something that could become essential if natural or manmade disasters cause widespread displacement and migration – but could even bring market forces to bare on the traditional concept of government.
“People should be able to opt in and to opt out of systems of governance and the ways that they are able to provide for their people,” said Casserly. “So governments are actually – what a concept – competing to be better, to take care of their people more than any other government.”
As such it could potentially give individuals access to political and financial certainty regardless of where they were born, allowing them to adopt or align with another government’s approach. It’s a beautiful ideology at heart – whether it will fully materialize remains to be seen.
Watch this space
The Sitel Summit may be over for another year, but the themes and subjects discussed will continue to resonate, educate and guide for months to come. In the following weeks, we will shine the spotlight on a host of major topics and findings to come out of the event, from the sharing economy, to smart data and leveraging social media for brand building.