5 Themes from CX Summit SF 2016!

What do you get when you bring together some of the world's most creative and innovative minds in one location to learn, discuss and share insights about service? You get CX Summit! TaskUs hosted this semi-annual event for the third time in San Francisco, California from October 27-28, 2016.

Over the course of 18 presentations, panels and roundtables, attendees explored the current state of CX (AKA customer experiences). By the end of its second day, themes had emerged for guests to ponder and take with them back to their respective organizations as each continues to elevate the CX experience for the consumers under each's care.

Theme #1: CX Delivers Value

In the not-so-distant past, business leaders focused on the cost of CX. This concern is certainly understandable as every organization has limited financial resources. The desire to control operating expenses is a reality in most businesses.

Over time, though, a funny thing happened: Thought leaders began to understand CX's implications better over time. Hard data led to the realization that a tight focus on CX - rather than cost reduction - delivers higher ROI. Progressive leaders now know that CX is anything but a "soft offering."

HotelTonight's Head of Customer Experience Kalpana Chandrasekhar informed attendees that her organization's tight focus on CX (and its associated costs) have helped it to drive repeat business and customer loyalty. The CX investment behind such results helps to secure the stability of an organization over time. HotelTonight gets it!

Theme #2: CX Protects Consumers

If you have been on the internet for more than 30 seconds over the course of your life, you know that some of its content can shock, offend and in some instances threaten. For the average internet user, it can feel as if the problem is getting worse and worse each day with no end in sight.

Consumer safety and protection was one of the themes that emerged from CX Summit. In fact, it would be more appropriate to call this issue a priority focus amongst attendees and speakers.

One tactic for accomplishing this is through content moderation. Businesses that utilize content moderation apply a set of rules and standards for what is and what is not allowed on their services. User Generated Content (UGC) that does meet such standards are removed. Users that repeatedly violate such rules or grotesquely overstep such boundaries are banned to protect other users from unsavory, abusive and harmful content.

Theme #3: CX Matters to Millennials

One of the hallmarks of the Millennial generation is that it does not like to wait. Cohort members have lived most of their lives online and expect answers to questions at a rapid-fire pace. They do not value "gatekeepers" to information. Rather Millennials view gatekeepers are silly, unnecessary barriers. They want immediate access to information without restrictions.

In his "Managing a Millennial Workforce" presentation, TaskUs President Jaspar Weir noted that CX technology offers the answer to this generation's concern. CX support channels - such as self-service, chat and SMS text - provide lightning fast answers to almost everything and aligns with Millennial members' expectation that businesses provide customer support channels that meet their service requirements when and where they want it.

Theme #4: CX Has Moved Toward Multi-Channel Support

Effective CX has increasingly moved away from providing a single point of support as organizations strive to reach and exceed the expectations of their rapidly evolving users. While Baby Boomers might have been satisfied with relying on voice customer support to address their concerns, Generation X and Millennials demand more. These two cohorts grew up in a transformational era that realized technology embedding roots into every aspect of their lives.

Simply put: Generation X and Millennial group members expect technology to play a significant role in their customer experiences and support functions.

HootSuite's Head of Customer Experience Kirsty Traill drove this point home for every attendee during her very well received "The Digital Transformation of Customer Service" presentation.

She noted that the pace of technology acceptance is accelerating. While telephones and televisions took roughly 75 and 13 years respectively to reach 50 million users, social media giants Facebook and Instagram needed only a scant 3 and 1.7 years to do the same!

Further, she informed attendees that by 2026, all American workers will have been born into the world always having social media as part of their lives. Simply put: this is both transformational and provides an opportunity for progressive organizations to provide additional CX support channels to align with consumers' expectations.

Kirsty is a huge advocate for adding social media to the CX support mix. Why? Social media support lowers support costs, drives higher CSAT scores, provides faster response times, closes gaps in CX resulting in seamless support across channels, reduces duplicate work and helps to increase customer loyalty.

The point? The more CX support channels that an organization offers its users, the more likely it will be able to provide the right channel, at the right time, for the right customer - and transform customer satisfaction into customer delight.

Theme #5: The Future of CX Is Here

For many outside of Silicon Valley's bubble, AI (AKA artificial intelligence and machine learning) can feel intimidating, if not downright scary. Much of the fear stems from the belief that AI automation will eliminate jobs for humans.

In the "Artificial Intelligence and CX" presentation, attendees were reminded that AI mimics the best customer support agents, so they can focus on delivering higher value work, instead of focusing on repeatable work that has solved a million times before.

In a sense, AI is not replacing humans; AI is an add-on support tool that enables workers to address customer concerns more efficiently while providing businesses with the ability to scale simultaneously. Chief among reasons that AI will likely never drive an intention to replace workers? Machines lack empathy - a human skill that is impossible to program into AI with currently available technology.

If you did not have an opportunity to attend the CX Summit in San Francisco, be sure to pencil in April 20, 2017, when TaskUs will host the 4th semi-annual CX Summit in iconic New York City!

For more information, go to summit.cx.

Michael Buenaventura

November 17, 2016