Customer Experience Leaders Share Challenges at Call Center Week

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Last week's Call Center Week event brought together more than 1,000 practitioners, technology providers, and other customer experience experts to discuss the latest trends in customer experience and the contact center.

Leaders from the strategy, technology, and operations groups at TeleTech led a workshop about the top 10 barriers to customer experience success faced by today's contact center leaders. The program fostered discussion among attendees along diverse topics, including legacy systems challenges, aligning the contact center to other departments to fight customer attrition, and focusing on customer-based metrics when measuring output and success.

Presenting the workshop were Macario Gallegos, vice president of technical project management, Matt Trebb, executive director of program operations, and Jim Dickey, vice president of TeleTech's strategy practice Peppers & Rogers Group (pictured above). After the workshop, they talked about what they considered to be some of the most important takeaways of the day. Below is a Q&A of our conversation.

Liz Glagowski: Today you three led a workshop around customer experience barriers by contact center leaders. What were some of the key themes that emerged?

Jim Dickey: From a strategy vantage point I think there were really a couple of things that came out. One is that while there is a lot of understanding and agreement that segmentation and how we treat customers differently is key, how we pull that together is really a gap that organizations are struggling to figure out. The other is that companies are trying to understand out how that segmentation and deeper customer knowledge fits in their overarching strategy around customer service.

Macario Gallegos: I think the key barrier that we heard today from a technology perspective is that the contact center of today does actually require multi-channels to interact and engage with their clients. Very interesting dialogue and discussion centered on the fact that a short five years ago consumers and the industry overall were used to dialogues using voice, email, and a reasonable amount of cell service. What we are seeing now is just a huge shift and a huge change in behaviors, where more and more people come to expect FAQs, videos, cell service, and multi-channel engagement opportunities with regards to the companies they do business with.

Matt Trebb: From an operations perspective, a key barrier that came up was the fact that clients really struggle with building a case for customer centricity. Internally in their organization they are still perceived as a cost center and they struggle to get the tools and resources they need in order to build that customer experience, supporting the strategic initiatives of the company.

LG: Do you feel the atmosphere was one of hope and positivity, or do you feel like there is still a lot that needs to be done before people really feel like they can make that move to be more focused on the customer?

MG: What I found very interesting is the wide maturities in the contact center that were present, which is pretty understandable. In the discussion we talked about multi channel and the need for multiple threads to engage with the clients. I think we have seen a continuum of understanding -- some people get it, others just don't have the clue yet of why they are still primarily using voice. So, I guess the natural theme was it was both positive and there was a wide spectrum of maturity in the contact center.

JD: I agree, I think it was very positive from the standpoint that they all agreed with the concepts and the barriers. The challenge for a lot of organizations is where do I go? How do I get started? What do I do? I think that is the challenge we have to help them figure out over the course of time.

Common barriers
At the workshop, more than 150 attendees voted on customer experience barriers they considered to be most important to their company. The top vote getters were:
  1. My organization says our technology isn't flexible enough to meet customer needs.
  2. My organization doesn't have the strategic or technological capabilities to treat customers as individuals.
  3. My organization can't provide the needed information to customers and associates accurately or fast enough.

What is the common thread through each of these barriers? Understanding and treating customers better to deliver a more positive and beneficial experience. Many cost discussions are being overtaken by the need for improved customer interactions, which drive long-term relationship strength.

Of course, each organization faces its own unique challenges and opportunities regarding customer experience. Some issues are strategic, some are cultural, some are technical, and some are operational, yet all are essential to take action on to improve the customer experience. Each day your customer experience is not optimized is another day you may be vulnerable to lost revenue, customer attrition, and competitive pressure. It's imperative that to take steps to improve the customer experience, and not to let common barriers prevent the contact center from providing real value to the organization.

What is your top customer experience barrier?