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May 12 2018 Aspect Ace 2017 – Faster Forward

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aspectace2017.jpgAfter attending the Aspect ACE event and speaking to hundreds of the attendees, I thought I would share my perspective on the event. In full disclosure, MicroAutomation has a product – OmniEngage – that Aspect cloud and premise customers using Aspect CXP leverage to power customer engagement across any channel. That said, we maintain a vendor agnostic approach to best serve our customers and work with a wide range of vendors in the contact center industry. I had a great time at the event and enjoyed speaking to a lot of professionals that are on the front lines of customer service everyday.

Digital Transformation

A primary theme from Aspect centered on the impact of digital transformation on self-service, agents, customer experience, and the opportunity to leverage digital to disrupt your industry. When hearing about this subject in detail by the Aspect CEO, Stew Bloom, and GE Digital Chief Product Officer, Brad Surak, it reminded me of a Forbes article I head read – Top 10 Trends For Digital Transformation In 2017 – notably the following 3 items:

  1. importance of the user experience: The customer experience, which should include your employee experience, is the end goal of a digital transformation strategy – ask yourself how to remove friction for every customer interaction
  2. Innovation must happen rapidly: Proactive innovation is one of the best ways to stay competitive in an evolving marketplace – the faster your organization can go from idea to implementation the more it can embrace opportunities to transform and disrupt markets
  3. Smart machines and artificial intelligence (AI) are taking off in a big way: AI has long been considered the realm of science fiction, but as technology improves, AI becomes a reality – AI stands to become one of the most disruptive forces in the IT world

For the past half decade, I have been working with our customers on digital business transformation and especially on removing friction through reduced customer effort. To create a great customer experience, I focus on 3 key areas:

  1. Value your customers time – guide customers to the fastest way to resolve an issue or answer a question
  2. Engage your customers – be proactive, contact your customers before they reach out to you
  3. Know your customers – use your data to predict why they are engaging you, personalize the experience

If you do one thing different on all future projects – discuss with your team and challenge them to always find ways to value a customer’s time.

Aspect Product Portfolio

The various teams at Aspect did a great job in describing the use of their products to take advantage of the digital transformation. I took away from the event that a lot of focus on item #2 “Innovation must happen rapidly” now exists across the all product lines, especially within Aspect Via. The time and cost of implementing a new solution, or upgrading an existing one, continues to decline while the range of functionality continues to expand. This concept was further supported by the large number of Aspect customer use cases presented at the event.

During the event, I had the opportunity to introduce our OmniEngage product to hundreds of attendees. From a self-service perspective, I was asking the attendees if they had projects lined up or already in production with customer service items that would fit into the broad definition of digital transformation:

  • ITR – Interactive Text Response: While about 25% knew the term, only 1 company told me that customers could interact with text messages.
  • Modern IVR: About 40% knew an alternative to the disliked menu design that existed, only 2 companies said they either personalized the IVR, had a natural main menu ‘how can I help…’, or predicted why a customer called.
  • True Omnichannel: Maintain customer context when they move between channels, 3-4 companies said it was on the roadmap of projects but not a single company had it implemented today.

Conclusion

Trend Hunter CEO, Jeremy Gutsche, provided an excellent keynote on innovation. I had the in the past read Jeremy’s book and seen him on YouTube. Whether we take the nod from Jeremy on better and faster or from Stew/Brad on digital transformation, companies need to look both at self-service and agent channels for innovation. Whether you start with next generation IVR, ITR, Omnichannel or chatbot – time to innovate