Last week marked EdgeTier's first time attending the CCMA awards and I was lucky enough to be in attendance with our partners CarTrawler. The awards evening is a night of celebration for all things contact centre, and a number of things struck me as the awards were being handed out and as the party continued into the night...
Scale & Diversity
The first thing you notice as soon as you walk into the room is the scale of the awards, and the size of the CCMA community in general. It’s a huge, and very enthusiastic, community. So enthusiastic that the MC had to employ half the crowd as ‘sushers’ throughout the night to keep the speakers audible! It’s obvious from the level of attendance at the awards that there is a real desire within the customer service community to excel, as well as to enjoy themselves!
The mix of contact centres was impressive, from the very big to the very small, from worldwide multi-nationals to companies with a handful of advisors supporting a local customer base. All have their own approaches and challenges, but a number of the themes were common across the room.
Progress, Progress, Progress
It was plain to see the progressive approach of many companies have to customer service. Indeed, many of the category winners won their awards based on technology enhancements or new innovative approaches to delivering customer care. The use of AI, for example, is growing and many contact centres are figuring out the gains that can be had through intelligent use of AI in customer care.
EdgeTier made it up to the winners podium for ‘Best Use of Technology’ for our AI-enabled agent-assist work with CarTrawler’s customer support team, but there were also big wins on the night for Sky (for using bots to assist their care team), AA Ireland and ServisBot (for using chatbots to increase sales conversion). It’s clear from the winners list, that AI and automation have a huge role to play in many different points in the customer care journey and companies are exploring where AI can benefit them most. It feels like we are at a tipping point where companies who embrace this technology are accelerating with regards to efficiency improvements and increasing sales.
Pursuit of Excellence
Training and human resourcing was also immediately apparent with the ‘Small/Medium/Large Contact Centre of the Year’ winners all having invested heavily in staff retention and training plans. Creating a culture of excellence is no mean feat, but for companies like PayPal, Avantcard and New Ireland, this culture of excellence has paid off with more loyal customers and higher staff retention rates.
Additionally, many of the winners on the night focused on upskilling their team, both in terms of training and technology. This upskilling is primarily to handle more complex queries, or more difficult customers, as the majority of simple queries are now handled though self-service websites, portals or apps.
The Human Element
As I stumbled off home late into the night, the party was well and truly continuing. The winners were clutching tightly to their trophies, while others celebrated just getting nominated at all. I'm pretty sure that a trophy or two didn't make it home at all!
Given the nature of the customer care industry, it’s not surprising that most of the people in attendance were outgoing, social people who love interacting with others. For Ireland to act as a centre of excellence for customer care, we need to remember that people crave this human touch. More and more, people only contact customer care teams when they are confused, angry or in need of assistance. More progressive companies are already building a future of customer care where emotional intelligence and other soft skills are the most valuable asset in a customer care organisation. Processes, training, and, most importantly, technology should all be built around enabling these people shine.