2014: A Year in Review

I’m not sure how 2014 went from your perspective, but here at ICMI we were witness to many amazing things over the course of the past 12 months.  As a tribute to the year behind us and, in preparation for the year ahead, here are a few of my favorite moments from the past year:

The Events

Our US team rebranded our conferences this year to ICMI’s Contact Center Expo and Conference, and ICMI’s Contact Center Demo and Conference. The changes come as our industry shifts to further embrace the importance of new and emerging channels in providing great customer experiences. Both events were a great celebration of the contact center industry and included amazing keynotes, workshops, networking, technologies and solutions and, of course, a few parties.  In addition, we held three training symposiums across the US that featured our industry leading course that ranged from topics including workforce management boot camp, essential skills and knowledge for effective contact center management, contact center strategy, coaching and monitoring, and much more!

In addition to our events in the US, I had the pleasure of joining our UK team for the ICMI Customer Contact Conference , held in London annually.  Their event had an exciting exhibition hall and a great variety of keynotes and sessions held over the course of two days.  You may have also seen me or other members of the ICMI team at events throughout the year, as we attended many of them ourselves! As always, these events are a great opportunity to meet peers, learn best practices, and gain a renewed excitement and invigoration for our amazing industry.

I’m already looking forward to attending many of these events in 2015 and hope to see you at one of them!

The Conversations

The ICMI community talked about a lot in 2015 through a variety of blogs, articles, webinars, and perhaps most notably, the weekly #ICMIchat on Twitter.  Every Tuesday at 1pm ET we gather as a community for a fun hour of contact center networking and learning.  The topics are always changing and the dialogue engaging.  In addition to this weekly event, we introduced ICMI’s Top 50 Contact Center Thought Leaders on Twitter. This is a great list of industry minds that share useful content, provide thoughtful perspective, and positively contribute to the advancement of the contact center industry.

We’ve already released our editorial calendar for 2015 and hope that you’ll take some time to review it and maybe even consider becoming a contributor! We’d love to include you as a part of our ongoing conversations.  If you haven’t already, I also highly recommend viewing some of our most beloved articles of 2014.

The Topics

There were a number of things at the top of our community’s mind in 2014, but here are a few that stood out to me:

Omnichannel vs Multichannel – The buzzword of the year seemed to be around multichannel and, like all good buzzwords, you can ask three people to define or explain it and somehow manage to get five different answers.  I expect our industry to dive deeper into the topic in 2015 to get a better grasp on what it all really means and how we can continue to successfully deliver on customer expectations.

Self-Service – As ICMI predicted, self-service is king and continues to show its value from both the organization’s and the customer’s perspective. (At least, when it’s done appropriately.) I fully expect us to see organizations continuing to embrace self-service options and to hear customers asking for and preferring them whenever they can.  This is no indication that the role of the contact center agent is going away or diminishing in importance.  In all actuality, it is quite the opposite.  I expect us to see a shift in how the agent’s skills and abilities are elevated in value and importance, as they will now be at the epicenter of a contact center handling interactions of higher value and increased complexity.

Mobile – We’re a society on the move and customers expect us to be at their fingertips.  From basics like having a mobile app to technologies such as Web-RTC, our organizations must embrace the tools and technologies that will enable us to serve a customer with little time to spare and distractions around every corner.

What’s Next

2015 is certain to be an exciting year filled with many more engaging dialogues, exciting events, and topics to be explored.  In addition to the topics mentioned, I’m planning to keep my eyes and ears on the following in the coming year:

Wearable technologies: As the mobile consumer becomes the connected consumer, organizations will need to look to innovative tools, technologies and resources to successfully fulfill the needs of their customers. Will such trends finally lead the US to embrace SMS in the ways that many other parts of the world already have?

Data Security: We’ve all read the headlines on the breaches in security over the past year and I know that some of ICMI’s community has been impacted by them first hand. What implications will these breaches have on the contact center and how we collect and utilize data? Especially since we know our customer’s desire personalized service that is relevant to their individual preferences.

The Role of the Agent: I alluded to this earlier, but I fully expect to see some major shifts in how organizations recruit, train, and utilize their agents.  While many of us have been saying this for years now, the role of the agent is truly no longer an entry level job.  It’s a specialized craft that is growing in importance as customer needs and expectations shift to needing timely service that requires minimal effort on their behalf.  A majority of contact centers that we survey and speak with are preventing this from happening in some way, shape, or form today.  If we don’t see organizations elevating the role of the agent and empowering them further, I fear that many customers are going to choose to leave such organizations in the dust.

So, what’s really going to happen in 2015? Well, there’s only one way to find out! Stay tuned in here to and consider joining us during one of our events next year.  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and take the opportunity to reflect and recharge for the coming year!


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