5 Takeaways from CCW Vegas 2021

Cresta recently attended Customer Contact Week’s (CCW) annual conference in Las Vegas. After a year and a half of virtual webinars and Zoom calls, it was refreshing and energizing to finally meet customers, prospects, and peers face-to-face. While the last 18 months have undoubtedly been challenging, conference-goers were enthusiastic and eager to share their progress, challenges and aspirations. 

Coming away from the conference, one thing was clear – the contact center industry has transformed over the last 18 months, and the pace of innovation is showing no signs of slowing down. 

Here are a few of our key takeaways from the conference:

1. Remote is Here to Stay

First and foremost, it was clear that remote operations are here to stay. While remote contact centers introduced new challenges like remote hiring, onboarding and training, contact centers have clearly adapted and are already looking to optimize their new normal. A recent survey indicates 89% of CX and contact center leaders say remote or hybrid will be a permanent option for at least some employees.

2. A Focus on Results Over Infrastructure

Unlike years past where cloud, CCaaS, and UCaaS stole the show, this year, much of the talk track was focussed on driving measurable results. No matter the vendor or type of product, everyone was tying their message to business KPIs like cost, revenue and CSAT. It was great to see vendors and contact center operators speaking a common language. 

Despite the fact that analysts report that roughly 85% of contact center agent seats are still supported by premises-based solutions, absent was the discussion about cloud transformation. Given 55% of contact center end-user spending in 2020 was associated with CCaaS, a number that’s expected to grow 80% by 2023, maybe contact centers have gotten the “cloud” message loud and clear? Perhaps leaders have realized the shift to cloud will take time and have set their eyes on new opportunities for optimization?

CCW Las Vegas

3. A Hunger for Improving Performance with AI-Driven Insights

Judging by attendee interactions at CCW Vegas, it was clear that complete visibility into 100% of conversations has become table stakes. Using AI to get visibility into conversations no longer suffices. The next wave of AI solutions are using AI to evaluate agent performance and surface actionable insights to managers and executives. This trend is particularly apparent in quality assurance (QA), where solutions are leveraging AI to enhance, accelerate, and in some cases, completely automate the QA process. Even more interesting, some contact centers are rethinking the role of QA altogether.

Rather than batch evaluate performance, many operators are looking to continuously evaluate agent performance and surface coaching opportunities to both managers and agents. Going a step further, several sessions at CCW discussed tools and processes that help contact centers tie individual agent performance to topline business metrics like FCR, CSAT and revenue targets. This is something we focus on deeply at Cresta.

4. Agent Experience Matters

Following the trials and tribulations of COVID, contact center leaders were clearly focused on agent experience. From gamification to real-time coaching to learning and development programs, it was clear organizations are heavily investing in their people. This should come as no surprise. Happy employees = happy customers. A recent Gartner study showed organizations that focus on both employee experience and customer experience see that agent satisfaction increases by almost 20%, along with a 10%+ increase in customer satisfaction.

5. AI Moving from Automation to Assistance

Last but certainly not least, it seems the industry has a better understanding of AI’s applications and potential benefits. Rather than the traditional discussion of AI as a means for automation and deflection (e.g., chatbots and voicebots), there was healthy discussion about opportunities for AI to supplement human-led workflows. For example, using AI to help managers surface customer insights, to help coaches manage agent performance, and even helping agents with real-time guidance.

In all, our team left CCW Las Vegas feeling energized and opportunistic. The last two years have clearly accelerated the pace of innovation. A silver lining of sorts. 

Unsurprisingly, hurdles to innovation still exist. In one session about AI-driven QA, a presenter asked the audience “If you all believe this is the right thing to do, what would stop you from investing in this solution?” Lots of hands went up. The top two reasons – change management and the time and money already invested in the status quo. 

As they say, fortune favors the bold. The winning teams will be those ambitious enough to innovate and rethink their status quo. To accomplish this, both operators and solution providers will need to build programs that offer clear ROI and demonstrate fast time-to-value. 

As always, we love hearing about your bold and ambitious plans for transformation. If you’re interested in exchanging notes, reach out at [email protected]!