6 Notes from SDX 2018

This article was originally published on July 11, 2018 on the FCR blog. Click here for the original.

As a semi-active participant in the Support Driven Slack community I was thrilled to spend a day at the recent SDX conference in Portland. In comparison to last year’s event, they took a nice step forward with more excellent sessions, more attendees, and more vendors. And for those of you looking for a great conference for you and your team, this is a very “unsalesy” event that’s focused on giving support professionals the tools to do their jobs better and grow in their careers. I highly recommend.

As is the case with most conferences I attend, I have a notepad with several pages of insights gained and wanted to take a few moments to list them. Here they are in bullet point format:

  • Dialpad has a phone product for contact centers now that I’m looking forward to learning more about. While chatting with them I learned that they acquired TalkIQ which is an impressive AI-driven quality tool for transcribing phone conversations and analyzing the text for customer sentiment and customer experience trends.  
  • Charles Myers from AnswerIQ led a session on writing for customer service that turned into a wonderful collaboration on the key elements of great written communication. Some of these included the importance of showing empathy without pandering, showing gratitude to customers for the role they play in the success of our business, personalizing wherever possible, setting clear expectations about resolution time, and paying close attention to any customer feedback. We even talked about my least favorite customer service word, unfortunately, and someone suggested using “as it turns out” instead. I like that alternative.
  • Intercom helped me understand the difference between synchronous and asynchronous chat platforms. Most chat platforms are synchronous which means there’s a start and an end to a conversation. For support teams, this means we need a process for ending a chat when a customer has gone quiet for more than a few minutes. Does this style really jive with our more mobile, social, text messaging culture? Asynchronous chat allows the conversation to carry on indefinitely at the customer’s pace.
  • Craig Stoss gave a talk about Knowledge Centered Support (KCS) which, put very simply, is a process for entire support organizations to work together to keep the company knowledge base current so as to provide the most robust self help possible. During the session he said, “No one in the company should answer the same question twice.” KCS might sound simple but it’s a major campaign that should permeate the culture of your organization. Core to KCS is having members of the support team write, use, and update knowledge articles and then monitoring the usage and demand for articles, removing irrelevant content and keeping the highest demand content up to date.

  • Brandon McFadden from Kustomer spoke on Customer Effort Score which is a metric where companies ask customers how easy it was for them to solve their problem. The idea is that the easier or more effortless it was, the better the customer feels about the company and more likely they are to return. In the talk he showed a graphic (pictured above) where he correlated CES to different issue types, average handle time, first contact resolution, and other key metrics. This is a great way to show which support issues require the most effort and target those areas for improvement.
  • I met Martin Kõiva, Co-Founder of Qualitista who’s rethinking contact center quality assurance. They’ve built a system that integrates with platforms like Zendesk and allows support teams to do peer to peer quality reviews. Quality assurance is a huge but necessary undertaking that takes of a lot of time and resources so allowing agents to review each other could very well be a more sustainable model. Obviously you’d want to think through this so quality standards are upheld. Many support teams also have processes in place for new hires where all emails are reviewed before they go out to customers. This can be difficult to track agent proficiency and Qualitista can help. I’m very intrigued about this one.

Again, it was a fantastic conference and I wish could have made it to more sessions. If you were in attendance, please leave a comment with some of your favorite learnings.

Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is co-founder of the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

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