PACE National Convention & Expo Summary

PACE, the Professional Association for Customer Engagement, is a non-profit industry trade organization dedicated to helping companies that take a multi-channel approach in engaging their B-to-B and B-to-C customers. PACE held its annual national convention and expo at the Atlanta (GA) Marriott Marquis from April 19-22, 2015. Delegates from the full spectrum of contact center operations and businesses turned out to gain insight on the latest evolving technologies, and to stay on top of increasingly complex compliance regulations. CRMXchange spoke with several key exhibitors to get a better understanding of the most important changes in the marketplace.

What are the most significant recent developments that enable businesses to create effortless customer experiences and build loyalty?

Ryan Thurman, Director of Sales and Marketing, Contact Center Compliance Companies have embraced technology that enables them to deploy more remote-based virtual agents as part of their contact center workforce. This has opened the way for organizations such as Virgin America to locate people with talents that can contribute to improving the customer experience. In addition, the improvement of speech analytics technology allows companies to quickly identify and pinpoint situations where they can shore up potential problem areas. The growth of social media monitoring and tracking tools helps businesses to know what complaints are being registered and the ability to respond to them quickly.

Bob Kobek, President, CustomerCount The most recent developments surround customer preferences: how they wish to be reached, when they wish to be reached and why it must be germane. At CustomerCount, we’ve developed Device Recognition technology so our surveys are easy to respond to, regardless of the device being used. We also find that most of our clients are gathering their customers’ preferences to better the customer experience and, therefore, our survey development generally includes these questions.

Ted Nardin, President, Ideal Dialogue Over the last several years, technology for connecting with customers has become much less of a barrier in both cost and speed of implementation. Businesses now have the ability to engage with customers on multiple channels, making the act of initiating a conversation with a company representative easier and on the customer’s terms.

Mitchell Young, Senior Director, Neustar One of the key factors we see businesses struggle with is maintaining one view of the customer across all platforms and channels. But more important is maintaining an accurate view. Studies have shown that most marketers can only identify 40% of their customers and high-value prospects across channels. Without a single, comprehensive view, marketers are creating dialogues with prospects that are neither personalized nor relevant.

To compound the problem, marketers are inundated with droves of customer data, which they must constantly update and validate. Neustar can help marketers deliver a superior customer experience with an integrated, cloud-based marketing platform that delivers precision marketing in real-time.

We offer marketers a reliable approach to collect, corroborate and validate consumer and business identity data. Identity data is continuously corroborated to ensure it keeps up with consumer trends and provides the freshest audience information.

It is estimated that over $6.6 billion will be spent globally on customer experience in 2015. In order for marketers to build and maintain personalized conversations with their target audiences; they must focus on creating and preserving a complete portrait of their audiences.

Rob Tate, VP of Sales, PossibleNOW Availability of data and platforms to drive engagement are significant developments that enable business to create great customer experiences leading to loyalty.  Companies have increased data on customers and prospects, and platforms that allow them to use this data to create a personalized and automated customer journey.  With so much data and so many tools, businesses must be careful, since small mistakes are made at large scale.  It is imperative that they give customers the ability to correct the conversation with preference management when they get it wrong.

In what ways can organizations empower agents with the right tools and information to provide better customer support?

Bob Kobek, CustomerCount From our standpoint, there are several ways to empower agents including sharing the agent’s relevant KPI scores. Sharing these scores with them daily helps them see where their strenths are, and where they need improvement.

In addition, sharing Net Promoter and Customer Effort scores with agents on a daily basis helps create a “rallying” point for improvement.

Ted Nardin, Ideal Dialogue While engaging a company representative may be much easier now, the industry has spent the last 25 years working to provide agents with tools to answer questions more effectively and efficiently. Advances in CRM and knowledge bases have been dramatic, yet we still work with companies struggling to convert from “green screen” technology to dynamic CRM interfaces. But there is one way to empower agents that doesn’t require an upgrade of technology, nor any other capital investment: simply help them develop their communication skills. All things remaining equal — given the same knowledge, the same tools, and the same customer question– the agent who has professional communication skills will far outperform (in the customer’s eyes) the agent who is less skilled in communicating.

Mitchell Young, Neustar We offer solutions to improve inbound and outbound call center efficiencies.

Inbound: Customer interaction management capabilities enable call centers to create the foundation for more effective and personal interaction and marketing.  This includes

  • Knowing who is at the other end of an inbound request.
  • Querying in real-time for a complete picture of a customer.
  • Moving from fractional to complete customer information.
  • Following up on abandoned calls or shopping carts with personalized offers.

Outbound: In addition to saving organizations time and money, we help them avoid major regulatory penalties by:

  • Mitigating the risk of violating the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and increasing right-party contact rates by confirming the customer data is accurate and the customer is contactable.
  • Instantly verifying whether a specific phone number is wireless or wireline to learn if TCPA regulations apply.
  • Verifying the identity of the current subscriber to determine if they are the same party who provided you with consent.

What do see you as the difference between multi-channel and omni-channel service? How do your solutions help enable companies to more effectively engage customers across multiple touch points?

Rob Tate, PossibleNOW  Multi-channel is the outbound communications mediums that companies use to connect with customers – things like email, call center, SMS text, social media, etc. Omni-channel is more device-specific touch points that consumers use to engage brands – things like web, mobile device, eCommerce, etc.  MyPreferences takes the guessing out of determining which of these channels is most effective from one customer to the next by asking what they want, and giving companies the ability to make that information actionable in holding up their end of the bargain.

Mitchell Young, Neustar Delivering targeted customer experiences that are contextually relevant is the key to success in omni-channel marketing. Most retailers, however, are falling short as they try to reach shoppers on every channel and device.

Targeted experiences offer the biggest rewards, such as higher sales, more conversions, and greater customer lifetime value. Today’s buyer journey is baffling, with blurred lines between physical and digital channels.

According to Deloitte, customer loyalty among omni-channel shoppers is at an all-time low, averaging 58% and dropping. Other studies show that over 80% of shoppers research a product, brand and retailer online, peruse ratings and reviews, and check social media sites. To engage customers with targeted offers and relevant experiences, retailers need to up their game in five key ways. Each involves fixing an omni-channel “blind spot.”

  1. Maintain accurate cross-channel and cross-device identity data.
  2. Use rich insights to make a personal connection.
  3. Ignite your CRM data.
  4. Create a single view across channels.
  5. Attribute digital influence to the right channel.

What specific benefits does your solution deliver that differentiates it from other offerings in the marketplace?

Ryan Thurman, Contact Center Compliance Experience. We’re dedicated to the space and have been delivering compliance services for 10 years. We don’t do anything else; we can proudly state that none of our clients have been cited for violations, have been fined for non-compliance or had to turn over a settlement. We also have valued partnerships with companies such as Five9. Interactive Intelligence and ConnectFirst and provide strong APIs that provide value for users.

Bob Kobek, CustomerCount It begins with the way our solution is specifically designed to measure customer experience by customer experience professionals. It requires a very short learning curve, bringing the survey to market much quicker than most. Differentiation factors include:

  • There is no cost for changes, which typically take no more than 24 business hours.
  • We are a full service SaaS based system, keeping Cap X at a minimum with nothing to install.
  • Device Recognition Technology makes is possible that our surveys can be responded to conveniently regardless of device.
  • An understanding of how the CES impacts overall call center performance.
  • Complete comprehension of internal measurement vehicles including technology (switch, etc.) reports and how agent call disposition is interpreted.

Ted Nardin, Ideal Dialogue As a matter of background, we are different from the beginning because we are specifically focused on optimizing conversations between two humans. We believe that once  customers have decided they want to speak with a live human, there is a massive opportunity to maximize thus outcome. Though we are experts in social media, IVRs, and web-based solutions for self-service, we are a group of highly motivated experts in human communication who seek to change the world by having impactful, beneficial, uplifting conversations with other humans. The benefits are stark in comparison to other approaches. Agents share cheer and good will, they boost brand affinity and build customer loyalty, secure lasting sales, and most of all, they find joy in their work that keeps them coming back every day. The benefits then are realized by customers, the company, and the agents themselves.

Mitchell Young, Neustar Our identity solution gives marketers a complete portrait of their customers allowing them to accurately identify, verify and target their customers. This allows brands to optimize their offline and online media campaigns and audience profiles to maximize reach and drive greater engagement with their best customers and prospects across all touch points – ultimately increasing sales.

Rob Tate, Possible NOW MyPreferences is one-of-a-kind since it is the only solution that delivers true enterprise preference management capabilities.  Specifically, it provides organizations with functionality to deliver an enhanced customer experience, increased marketing effectiveness, reduced costs, and mitigated compliance risk while remaining technology and vendor agnostic.  We integrate seamlessly with internal and third party tools such as data warehouses, CRM, and fulfillment platforms

In what ways does your organization help businesses minimize compliance complexity?

Ryan Thurman, Contact Center Compliance We consolidate a company’s ability to have one simple solution to state and federal regulations available, all under one roof. We also have a unique application that scrubs the records of known litigators – both legal agitators and what we call “professional plaintiffs”. We offer a database of 70,000 names that we update monthly. We use both case management and crowdsourcing to compile this list and perform due diligence to review records before they are added. This helps companies who are truly interested in remaining in compliance and avoid unscrupulous individuals interested in creating class actions. It helps keep the legitimate players safe and while it’s not bulletproof, we find quite a bit of anecdotal evidence of its efficacy. One company reported that they found the records of a litigious individual on their list for both wireless communications and texting and were able to eliminate it in time to prevent problems.

Rob Tate, PossibleNOW First, we help businesses understand the global rules around direct marketing compliance and consumer privacy.  This means evaluating the business, and how the laws apply specifically to their operations.  It should also be considered that these rules change constantly, and there is a lot of gray area.  From there, we provide technology in MyPreferences that centralizes permission and consent data across touch points, provides configurability around business rules, and record keeping and reporting to build a defendable due diligence position.

How can improved compliance training enable agents and supervisors to both better understand changing regulations while maintaining optimal performance?

Ryan Thurman, Contact Center Compliance We provide cloud-based training videos for supervisors and agents and also offer customizable online training and testing programs We can also provide certificates of each course completed to offer proof that personnel have been trained, which can help reduce legal expenses. One common problem in contact centers is turnover and we make it easy for companies to onboard and train new personnel in these areas. One potential growth area we see is to train in-house legal and compliance officers.

How do you meet the diverse needs of organizations of different sizes and business types?

Ryan Thurman, Contact Center Compliance Since our solutions are cloud-based, we can easily scale them to the size and volume needs of a specific organization, based on the size of their outbound operation or the scope of their call volume. We perform needs assessments and can set up accounts for outsourcers, small and medium contact centers, collection agencies… the entire spectrum.

How does obtaining relevant customer feedback help contact centers increase accountability while improving the internal process?

Bob Kobek, CustomerCount In many ways accountability and process improvement are synonymous. For example, the “right” feedback system should have the capability to “drill down” to the agent level as a customer experience measurement. Tracking certain Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) QA and or training will know precisely what KPI(s) are necessary to train/retrain agents. This minimizes turnover thereby increasing both process improvement and profitability.

How do your customized surveys make it easier for companies to gain real-time insight that can materially impact customer satisfaction?  

Bob Kobek, CustomerCount The easy answer lies in our real-time reporting that incudes opportunities to fix both internal and external issues. For example, one template (from our 70+ report options) is the Drill Down report. Given that a respondent may score an experience below a pre-set threshold, an email alert is immediately deployed and a problem resolution report is generated, giving an assigned individual the opportunity to contact that respondent immediately upon submission. Being immediately alerted to a potential problem enables an organization to handle it quickly, thereby increasing their customer experience. We also offer other unique real-time insights, including:

  • 24/7 access to reports
  • Dynamic real time reporting
  • 40+ languages
  • Device recognition
  • Immediate feedback deployment
  • Net Promoter Score capture and reporting
  • Customer Effort Score capture and reporting

How does Dialogue Diagnostics and Dialogue 180 help organizations evaluate all facets of agent behavior and improve outcomes?

Ted Nardin, Ideal Dialogue The diagnostic is a proprietary approach based upon years of research into the connection between agent behavior (observable actions they take during a conversation) and customer behavior. Our science lab has been able to statistically connect outcomes from customer actions such as buying behavior, payment behavior (for collections debt), and rating behavior (CSAT scores, etc.) to details that occurred during the conversation (including voice, chat, email, and social media) with pinpoint precision. In fact, they have built models to predict customer behavior based upon agent behaviors and can therefore determine what changing those agent behaviors means for improving customer outcomes

Can you briefly explain the scientific process that drives customer perception and how it relates to measuring the right metrics to increase sales and improve satisfaction?

Ted Nardin, Ideal Dialogue We are evolving in our recognition that authenticity is key when two humans engage. Authentic engagement leads to a unique connection, and when connection occurs (however brief and fleeting it may seem), humans are left changed. Yet, humans are built to detect manufactured connection. When authenticity is lacking, trust is not achieved, and customers, are not as likely to purchase, nor score their experience at a rate they would if they felt a moment of authentic engagement with a company representative

How does Neustar Customer Intelligence help companies connect data to activities in real time?

Mitchell Young, Neustar Unlocking the value of the data businesses maintain about their customers results in actionable insights that can really move the needle. We helped TicketMaster provide a superior customer experience to their customers by implementing our Identification solution, which accurately identifies caller contact information and lets customers buy using an automated menu. Using a speech-capture application (or IVR), the solution pinpoints a caller’s name and address, reducing call times by more than a minute. TicketMaster was able to boost their order conversions, shorten wait and call times since customer can buy tickets without an agent’s assistance, reduce the return mail rate caused by live agent errors, and free up live agents for special requests.

In addition, we offer market analytics and segmentation capabilities, which help brands formulate their marketing strategy with precise customer, geographic and market data. Neustar’s Lead Intelligence solution allows brands to verify, identify and score prospect information in real time to shorten the sales cycle and deliver highly relevant and targeted offers to their customers or prospects.

How does Preference Management not only give customers a voice but allow companies to understand their preferences and provide a more personalized customer experience?

Rob Tate, PossibleNOW  According to Forrester Research, 77% of consumers want choice when engaging with brands they trust.  When companies listen to their customers’ voice they are able to better understand who they are and how to engage them more effectively.  Enterprise Preference Management means connecting that voice across the company via a unifying technology that helps complete the customer profile, which provides valuable insights to deliver on a more relevant and personalized customer experience that creates a real competitive advantage.

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