Last week, over 100 customer leaders from nearly 60 companies gathered at the Trump National Doral in Miami for our Nuance Customer Experience Summit (CES). This was our third major CES event of 2014 – following our events in London and Palm Springs earlier in the year – and was our best one yet! Attendees left with new insights into the rapidly changing customer service landscape and energized to capitalize on new opportunities created by intelligent self-service.
Robert Weideman, EVP and general manager for Nuance Enterprise (and my boss), kicked off the event with his observation that every aspect of customer service has changed in the last five years and that the rate of change in the industry will only accelerate in the years to come. These extraordinary changes have been driven by four fundamental shifts in the market: (1) the rise and adoption of self-service among consumers, (2) the importance of cross-channel customer experiences, (3) the pervasiveness of mobile devices, and (4) the enabling power of cloud-based platforms and architectures. It is our vision as a division that Nuance Enterprise will usher in the day when nearly all customer service is automated and consumers will prefer it. That last part is especially important. What we’ve overwhelmingly found in our research and experience – and it’s been supported by other studies – is that consumers prefer and embrace self-service when it works and provides an effortless customer experience. This creates a win-win for both the consumer and the company in that the consumer gets their question answered or task completed easily and on their own terms and the company can support those increasing customer requests in a more scalable and cost-effective manner.
A number of our other presenters, including executives from Tangerine, USAA, and BMW Financial, picked up on this theme of change and emphasized the importance of rapid innovation as a way to create competitive differentiation and advantage for their businesses. Each of these companies has created a culture of innovation – sourcing ideas from throughout the organization, not just a single “innovation team” – and an acceptance of failing forward and learning from controlled experiments. On that latter point, many attendees commented that their companies are more conservative – and somewhat outdated – in their approach to new technology. For example, if individuals are evaluated only based on the success of individual projects (rather than a portfolio of projects), they will have a natural incentive to only want to pursue projects that have very certain outcomes and returns. While this may be a prudent strategy for managing individual projects, it leads to suboptimal results for the company as a whole as competitors (and companies in other industries) implement new game-changing technologies and experiences that shift customer expectations for everyone. As one attendee said to me in conversation, “it’s no longer about big vs. small, it’s about fast vs. slow.”
In the face of all of this change in our industry and the threats and opportunities it creates, in my one-hour presentation, I delved into the power of connections – among people (for collaboration), among diverse disciplines and technologies (for innovation), and among multi-channel (for customer service). One historical example I offered to set the tone in this regard was the work that Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage did – including the connection they made between Babbage’s Difference Engine and Joseph Marie Jacquard’s automated loom – which ultimately led to the invention of the computer. Similarly, in our day, the emergence of intelligent self-service creates opportunities for companies to think differently – and make new connections – regarding how they deliver solutions that can reduce operating costs, increase conversion rates, deliver brand-differentiated customer experiences, simplify operations, and increase customer insight. For more on how to unlock the power of intelligent self-service, check out the recorded webinar below.
I was so psyched by all of the great feedback we got from attendees on the event. Can’t wait to get back together with our customers to see how they put everything that they heard into action!