From turning your organization from disrupted to disruptor, to investing in and celebrating employees to optimize customer experience (CX), via leveraging technology to enhance the human touch, EmpowerCX 2019 Americas addressed each of the most pressing issues facing organizations that are serious about delivering a memorable and emotional CX.
The theme of this year’s event was Innovation Powered by Emotion. It brought together over 200 senior executives from well-known brands across banking, financial services, technology, media, travel, tourism and retail; with leading industry analysts from Gartner, Frost & Sullivan, Everest Group, Forrester, HfS Research and ISG at the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort for an event focused on putting customer experience (CX) with a human touch at the heart of business.
Disruption is more than a buzzword, for all organizations operating in all verticals, it’s quickly becoming a fact of life. The rate of change has never been greater and the only way to respond when a business finds itself in this environment is, according to Sitel Group President, CEO and founding partner Laurent Uberti, to become ‘Antifragile.’
“It’s developing the skills and capacities that mean the more pressure you’re under, the stronger you become,” he said, giving the example of the reed that bends and flexes but never breaks, no matter how strong the wind becomes.
In real terms it means staying ahead of the curve and being ready to adapt, whether the change required is centered around innovation and technological breakthroughs or approach to leadership and employee engagement.
It was a point echoed by Daniel Newman, Principal Analyst and Founding partner of Futurum Research + Analytics, in his keynote.
“We’re dealing with an unprecedented rate of change. The time we have between change and the requirements for change is growing shorter and shorter,” he said. “Whatever you’re doing today you cannot get too comfortable because you have to change faster because it’s the only way to thrive.”
Therefore, companies need to learn to adapt to this change so they can innovate and in doing so start disrupting.
“Every company can look at how they use technology; how they create experiences; how they drive the ability to change; to adopt new things; to build new revenue streams,” he continued. “But then they have to look at how they do all these things over and over again because when you reinvent yourself it’s only the beginning of the next reinvention to come.”
But to more to the point where you’re disrupting, rather than being disrupted, you need to focus on your people.
Putting people first
Your people are what defines your business culture and its ability to deliver, whether it’s the CX or a successful business transformation. And like the economic and technological environment, the working environment has never been so diverse with four very different generations all working together in the same organizations but with very different needs, outlooks and expectations.
“One size does not fit all,” said Karen McCullough, during her keynote presentation on harnessing the generational advantage. “The days of treat everyone the same are gone.”
McCullough broke down the key attributes of each generation from baby boomers to millennials and beyond and examined how, for instance, the independence and resilience that many in Generation X experienced as children means that today they have all of the tools needed to take on leadership positions in a time when disruptive thinking is crucial.
During his first keynote as Sitel Group’s CEO – Americas, Mike Small took the idea of recognition and reward much further by inviting three Sitel customer service associates on stage to be recognized for outstanding customer experience as “CXperts.”
“Sitel Group is about finding your voice,” he said. “The associate experience is the customer experience. If you focus on your associate experience, you will have a multiplier effect on the customer.”
Embracing technology, enhancing emotion
In an age of innovation where artificial intelligence (AI) is already having a measurable impact on how we deliver CX, it’s only right that technology was put under the microscope as part of EmpowerCX. However, in every example across every keynote and breakout session, the focus was on how technological change can continue to enhance human performance.
“We are human and emotion comes into play. We see technology being complementary to human emotion,” said Mike Small. “We need to embrace both. Technology to enhance productivity and enable human connection.”
For example, Aaron Schwarzberg, Chief Operating Officer of Learning Tribes, Sitel Group’s learning and development experts, alongside Melissa O’Brien Research VP for HfS Research, demonstrated how using a digital platform can revolutionize learning in an organization, giving employees 24/7 access to skills and training they really want in a format that’s most suitable.
What’s more, with AI running in the background, the platform can begin to learn which units are the most impactful and which learning paths lead to the best results and can therefore be offered to other learners to signpost their progression.
“It augments any traditional approach to learning,” explained Schwarzberg. “It ensures your employees are engaged and fulfilled by creating a culture of lifelong learning.”
Getting closer to your customers
The key to building lasting bonds with your customer base at a time where Netflix and Amazon are rewriting the script to CX can be summed up in one acronym – F.A.C.E. That’s according to Joey Coleman, Chief Experience Composer for Design Symphony and the co-host of leading CX podcast Experience This!
“Familiarity, anticipation, convenience and experience,” explained Coleman. “These are the key steps to taking a more holistic approach.”
Customers expect businesses to know them and the easiest way to get to know them is to be where they are, and that place is increasingly on social media.
“The influence Facebook has on your customers’ lives is greater than any other entity,” he pointed out. “Your customers are on social media every day, giving you the information you need. You can either get on the train or stay on the tracks.”
With this greater understanding it becomes easier to build anticipatory systems into a business and together they will enable you to deliver convenience – the easier it is for a customer to interact with an organization, the more likely they are to continue doing so.
However, the biggest differentiator is experience. How it makes your customer feel.
“What if every one of your everyday transactions could be made into an experience?” Coleman asked. “We have to create a feeling for our customers. We have to engage them emotionally.”
Watch this space
EmpowerCX 2019 Americas may be over officially, but the themes, trends and subjects discussed will continue to resonate, educate and guide for months to come. So in the following weeks we will shine the spotlight on a number of major event topics form digital business transformation to leveraging social media and the future of data analytics in the contact center.