Revolutionise Your CX Strategy Using Insights from Our Conference
Our first event of 2024, the Future of Customer Contact Conference, took place on the 8th of February and brought together more than 450 people interested in learning from and networking with industry experts. Our speakers covered a wide breadth of subjects, exploring all aspects of customer service and experience; they looked back at what happened in 2023, presented a clear picture of the current landscape, and explained how we can overcome today’s challenges while making use of the present opportunities to drive future growth. Some of the brands our attendees had the chance to learn from included Belron International, Bupa, Citi Global Insights, Davies Hickman, E. ON, Financial Times, Forrester, Freshworks, Halfords, Maersk, Naked Wines, Panasonic, Sky, Sprinklr, and Zurich Insurance Company.
WHERE ARE WE NOW?
Before diving into an exploration of ‘the future of customer contact’, it is crucial to gain a clear understanding of the forces shaping the present. For this reason, the conference began with presentations by the research companies Davies Hickman and Forrester.
Jo Davies and Marcus Hickman, Global Director of Market Research and Managing Director at Davies Hickman, presented the findings they conducted alongside Engage Customer exploring how Gen Z feel about customer service. After surveying 500 Gen Z and 500 national representatives to find out what they want from customer experience, Jo and Marcus discussed how the new generation is different.
According to our joint research, Gen Z want the same customer service hygiene factors as the nationally representative sample but value ESG more. Interestingly, these ‘digital natives’ also make use of Generative AI, using ChatGPT for research into their customer rights, advice, and complaints.
The presenters stressed this point, revealing that “almost in 1 in 2 use ChatGPT for complaints and queries”. It follows then that organisations must now learn how to handle ChatGPT-enabled complaints – something that they have not previously encountered.
HOW TO CREATE VALUE
Davies Hickman’s research was followed by a 20-minute presentation on customer obsession by Michelle Beeson, Senior Analyst at Forrester. Michelle began by explaining that customer obsession starts with a deep understanding of customers’ needs and flows through to putting these needs at the heart of leadership, strategy and operations. Presenting the benefits of being customer-obsessed, she revealed that companies who focus on customer needs instead of short-term gains tend to have 1.7 times higher profit growth, 1.6 times higher revenue growth, and 1.6 times better customer retention.
Expanding on customer obsession, Michelle shared that it is really about ‘maximising value for customers’. To do so, organisations must first understand that value cannot be delivered but that it is co-created and four-dimensional (economic, functional, experiential, and symbolic).
So, how can we create value?
Michelle suggests three things:
- Finding your sweet spot, noting that you can’t be everything to everyone.
- Focusing on long-term value.
- Empowering employees to create value for customers.
“Great employee experience drives better CX,” Michelle stressed.
ACTS OF KINDNESS ON THE FRONTLINE
A fireside chat with Bupa’s Head of Customer Experience Anna Wilcox supported Michelle’s argument, proving how frontline agents can deliver unparalleled value. Speaking to our chair Brian Manusama, Anna introduced Bupa’s ‘Acts of Kindness’ programme, which empowers agents to identify customers who have unusual circumstances and send them gifts.
As part of this programme, Bupa shows that they are ‘not just processing a claim’ when they speak to customers but actively listening to and caring about them. Since the launch of this programme in 2018, Bupa’s agents have sent over 5,000 gifts (such as flowers or bespoke items), packaged in Bupa wrapping and featuring a personal note.
When asked about the impact of this programme, Anna shared that it not only delivers value to customers but also contributes to employee wellbeing and engagement. In other words, these acts of kindness remind agents that they are making a difference.
WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF CUSTOMER CONTACT?
With the transformation we have seen in 2023, it is not surprising that the future of customer contact is AI and technology. For this reason, our conference featured several presentations exploring AI solutions and how you can get started with AI.
One such presentation was held by the CEO of CommBox, Dvir Hoffman, who captured the audience by promising to help them get started ‘in 5 simple steps’. According to Dvir, the first thing an organisation must do is define their top business needs. Then, they should look at the different AI models that are available and choose the right platform.
The third step is to build your AI model with quality data. Dvir emphasised the significance of having quality data, explaining that the output of your AI tools can be flawed if your input is not carefully reviewed.
Once you have built your model, you must choose the right KPIs. While this step is simple, it is of crucial importance. Demonstrating this, Dvir asked the audience: “What is worse? Having a horse that is going nowhere or having a horse that is running quickly in the wrong direction?”
Dvir’s final piece of advice and step five to adopting AI is to simply start small.
YOU WANT TO ADOPT AI – BUT WHAT FOR?
Once you have done the work and adopted AI, you have to choose how to use it. Over the past year, there have been countless examples of chatbots making errors – some of which have gone viral, damaging the reputation of brands. To avoid this, Freshworks' Senior Solutions Engineer Matt Bramley shared 5 Gen AI uses you can trial in 2024.
For those who want to keep their use of AI away from customers, Matt suggested agent efficiency tools, post-interactional quality review or coaching, and a conversational platform interface. You can then use GenAI for rethinking automation and finally, customer-facing LLMs.
Matt’s presentation seemed to offer the same advice as Dvir’s – that is, be cautious and start slow.
Over the coming days and weeks, we will delve deeper into the topics discussed at this event, publishing post-event interviews, audio recordings of panel discussions and fireside chat sessions, as well as on-demand videos from case studies.
You can also now download our February issue of the Engage Magazine.
If you enjoyed this conference or could not attend and don’t want to miss our next event, add our Customer Engagement Transformation Conference (12th June) and Customer Engagement Summit (26th November) to your diary today!