Contact Center Predictions for 2021 w/ Leslie O'Flahavan, Dan Miller, and Neal Topf

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Contact centers have faced a tumultuous 2020 similar to most industries.

This begs the question, “Is 2021 going to be any better?”

Lucky for us, I caught up Leslie O'Flahavan, Principal of E-WRITE, Neal Topf, President of Callzilla, and Dan Miller, Founder and Lead Analyst of Opus Research, to create an expert panel on what contact center predictions there are for 2021.

We talked about:

  • What is going to change within the CX space between 2020 and 2021?
  • How can companies keep employees motivated?
  • What skills are essential in a remote contact center world?
  • What tools will appear in 2021 that will help collaboration and engagement grow?

For the entire interview, you can listen to Conversations That Matter on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and more!

I'm gonna tell you that's not the solution for us. We're not investing in real estate when I'm resting in brick and Morn and that, I think, really one of the worst investments that someone in my particular position could make. Why invest in this amount of space that you can only use half of it for? Because of social distancing? I don't think social distancing is going away for a while, not until we're far out of the woods of what's going on right now. Welcome to the conversations that matter podcast from uniform, the podcast that dives into real conversations that are happening in contact centers around the world. Here you'll experience exciting interviews with wellknown thought leaders. Here, compelling stories from industry experts gained fresh insights on context and our best practices. In more so, grab a divirgin tune in as we get real with conversations that matter. Welcome everyone to the UN force Linkedin company page. My name is Randick SAR and I'm the host of today's conversation that matters, and we are talking about two thousand and twenty one contact center predictions. So we've compiled some great guests for you and let's bring them onto the show. Here we go. Hello everyone, my fabulous, sensational guests. We have three amazing paleacets that are going to share their views on what the context center is going to be like. So let's introduce everyone. So, Leslie, Oh flavon from e right. Leslie, welcome. How are you doing, randy? How's it going? Doing great today, it's beautiful day and we are excited to talk. So let's get into who you are and what expertise do you bring to this conversation. Well, hi, I'm Leslie O for the Haven of e right. My company's business is to help people learn to write well at work, and we focus on helping frontline customer service agents write better email, chat, social media, text and whatever else is coming down the way. So I'm coming here today full of predictions about the Daytoday, work life of frontline customer service agents. That's my little slice of this conversation. Awesome, awesome. Well, thanks for joining us, right, Neil. Let's start with you. Tell people who cause Zilla is and what expertise do you bring to this conversation? Thank you ready. Really appreciate you having me on and thank you to you know for for let me to participate. Me On this panel some really smart people. So I am the president cofounder of call Zilla. We are an outsource contact center, also known as MEPO or business process outsourcer. We've been in business fifteen years. We combine all the latest and greatest in terms of technology and we prove that in outsourcing relationships you can achieve multiple things. You can achieve my performance, like quality, custom resolution hopefully call savings. We check all the boxes and the lew you the full lap around the basis and come out of head. I have a side hustle which I started at the thinning of Covid with a hosting co Creator, all Cathitral. We host a customer experience podcast called fireside chats about the fires and a lot of fun doing that. And I get this. Yeah, it's a few MOS episodes. Yeah, we've had a lot of fun. Get to talk to a lot of really great thought leaders, authors, practitioners, but the topics of the day, lots of different topics. I learned a lot. We get to ask a lot of questions. I get to be the loud one on the podcast. I say that will, I think, fairly well. I'll be living a little the lot one on this one today, just slightly, and I did, some of you know, before in some figure waging and promise to do a little bit of finger wagging today, but it's it's all in good fun and hopefully s present some interesting ideas and challenging ideas. Definitely no, I appreciate that. And last but not least, Dan, coming in from New York, tell us a little bit about yourself and opus research and what expertise you bring to this conversation. Sure so, I'm getting Miller. I'm the lead in list, next to the founder of Opus Research, which I found it back in one thousand nine hundred and eighty six to look at. We didn't call it this back then. Both forever now we've been calling a conversational technologies or conversational service, automation and that sort of stuff, because back then contact centers were like the first place where phone lines and computers were in the same place, connected to networks, and we saw some of the big leading edge technology. So I think, although I was...

...in English and history major and think I write really well for to you know, this conversation going on, I'm kind of a resident nerd here and yeah, so here we go, here we go. All right. Well, thank you for being the resident nerd. I am the chief Gadget Officer at my household as well, so I usually get the phone call whenever something's not working. So let's kind of move on from that to start off, and we'll get to the predictions and kind of the you know what's happened in two thousand and twenty. But to have a little fun, let's just do a little rapid fire and you know this is short, quick answers and I think what we'll do is start off with a really simple one for two thousand and twenty. And what has been your favorite takeout in two thousand and Tweter, because all of us are working at home and maybe you've gone outside for dinner and being safe and healthy. But what's been your favorite take out in two thousand and twenty? In yours got I gotta go with Egg Rolls. Chinese is, you know, go to and classic and Egg Rolls Are Finger Food and you know you now check a box on your smartphone. Hey, yeah, I mean the door FPO just happened. So I mean a good job where there. I've used of the quite a bit this year I'll go with myself. My favorite takeout has been from a restaurant called Lost Alto Scrill, and they have an amazing fresh rotistrie chicken with some corn bread croutons to go with it and some dates on it. It's like I never fell in love with a salad, but that's the cell that fell in love with, so that's me. Neil, go for it. The best takeout is the latest take I literally, just before I jumped on the call, I had this and what was in here was all lots of all soup, lots the lot. Does you know USN right, lock this tonight it. I mean, what better way to wait? Write time they visit take down. They did take out lockcons. Oh Yeah, you don't take out lockers, you make them yourself. I do have this. That's my job tonight. And Yeah, it was a jelly donuts that we did store bought, but they don't pancakes at home. All Right, Leslie from your perspective, tell us your favorite took out, keeping it real, and my favorite is always pizza. And I'll eat good pizza or bad pizza as long as there's cold beer and it can to go with it. And when I don't have to make dinner or clean it up. That's my favorite take up. Awesome Chicago or New York Pizza? Well, I'm a Chicago and by birth, but I live in Maryland, which is kind of a pizza wasteland, so I eat the least Yucky pizza I can order. But if I were back in Chicago where I grew up, well, of course it would be Chicago Pizza. I don't know what that thin stuff in New York's all about. Oh that's should be good for some good commentary. All right. So for those of you that are joining us, thanks everyone for that quick little rapid fire. It's all as fun. So everyone that's joining us, let's know where you're from, common below lessen, where you're tuning in from. If you have a favorite take out for two thousand and twenty, that's great and we'll start getting right into the conversation. Hello all, hello linkedin user, hello all, and then we have also Josh Halesley. Great to see you, guys. Awesome. Thank you, Josh, for tuning in so great to see you. A good guy, good guy, awesome. All right, so the first question of the day is around the CX priorities. That context, centers have had to juggle and then maybe adapt in two thousand and twenty. You know, before we get to the predictions, you know what is actually, you think, going to change between what's happened in two thousand and twenty and what's going to happen in two thousand and twenty one. We'll start with anil start with you, everect. Okay, so here's where the finger wagon comes in. I think if I were to predict that most people in the audience, most people in Linkedin, most people in our community perhaps get their steam. Colleagues on the panel here with talk about some really hot button important issues. Were to talk about employee experience, we're going to talk about automation, we're going to talk about engagement, we're going to talk about see said, we're going to like the things that I think in our community that are so important and critical, that we all know about ready. But I'm going to go off the board on this one a little bit, and Here'esn't again the finger where. Here it comes for those those that like a very simple, easy takeaway, here it is. It starts with the letter K and there's...

...also a number one B here. It is okay, the K is for customer. The number one B is one billion, and the reason I mentioned these things is for those of us that are in the customer care word, whether you're a brand, you're an outsourced contact center, you're a technology provider. What's going to happen is, as a result of the recent news that facebook is acquiring customer. Yeah, a context in a platform starts before one billion dollars, and assuming that acquisition goes through, that is going to revolutionize our industry even more so than what's going on today. Those of us that don't know what that means better start finding out what it means. And that means it. In my opinion, it's going to spur massive consolidation at every level, up technology providers, among bpos. Those tools that facebook is a quandering through this platform are going to massively push automation, also coming on as Bots, and it's going to significantly change our industry and with those of us that don't understand it need to start to understand what that means. We should be not scared of it, but scared because we need to energize and get our hands around what the next steps are. What is it that customers are going to want and need as a result of this and what's going to happen in our littany and portfolio of business partners and vendors from technology and from live age, and I would just closed with this. I am for the live agent world. My business process outsourcing company calls a look this. Fundamentally, live agents, those of us that are in the live agent business, need to get our act together and introduce automation, not because someone's telling us to, but when facebook plops down one billion dollars, they're not investing in live agents, they're investing in tools for automation. That's not because I want it, but I think that's what's going to happen. We long to have to swim up that stream, for better for worse. Any comments from Leslie or Don on that one? For at the again, so that that is the high hard one, not the softball. I'll puts back a little bit because I would say yes, the customer acquisition is going to get people starting to think about what you do and for those who aren't really familiar with customers, core business there really is aggregating personal data about individuals and then putting tools in front of it to the point, you know, to help agents become more productive, theoretically, to do better customer care in that sort of thing. But I was going to say, as you look forward, you know, the major prediction coming in two thousand and twenty one has to do with what we call conversational service automation, with what amounts to in this doing better listening. And if you're going to put it in the context of the customer acquisition better listening might just mean better, you know, sort of capture and aggregation of, you know, data about the individuals that are your customers or prospects. But look at what's happening to Ducker burn right now. They're just about those sort of break up the company and there's just concern about, you know, all of the personal data that they're aggregating, to which my point is, better listening really does mean doing more capture of the conversations that originate from an individual and that could be your agent or that could be your customer, but doing a better job of using the automation tools that are out there to understand their intent, predict their intent and do a better job of serving them. So so that's what that that's, yes, an efficiency play. It's an automation to augment your agents, augment people, as opposed to hey, this could be affect to your business. Hopefully it reframes how we how we look at you know how important what we say and do, including finger wagon, because they're going to cut your gesture on these videos and totally. I do the finger wagon with love, I promises for long Leslie. From your perspective, you know you work with a frontline customer service agents quite a bit.

How you seeing their priorities change over the past, say, twelve months? Well, I have my prediction to offer, but to comment very, very briefly on Neil's comments about customer and then Dan's comments that customers yet another tool that's supposed to help agents do better work, to augment their abilities to do better work. For me, my perspective that the last nine months has been a thinning of the middle companies that were doing an average, okayish job at customer experience and at customer service and who were enabling their frontline customer service agents to do an average and O Kayish job. They've kind of disappeared. In my opinion, everybody. In my opinion, this emergency of the last nine years everybody's been pushed to the outer edges of the bell curved. So some companies are doing great and is an itinerant in delivering excellent, flexible ai supported or human agent only supported customer care. And as an itinerant person, as a consultant who comes and goes a lot of places, I see quickly whether things are working well or things are working poorly. And when I hear about a gigantic purchase of software, I always wonder, is the employee experience? Is the setup for the human people to do the job, either as humans alone or humans interacting with Ai, is acceptable? Is it adequate? And in these day and age, when the companies that are struggling, they are way down at the bottom far end, and the companies that are succeeding our way up at the high end here, and I don't see how the software really helps very much in the middle. Very true, I mean I think it's it's still yet to be see how it plays out in two thousand and twenty one, but it's definitely a consolidation, I think, as what what we're seeing. All right, Leslie, I mean you just talked about employee experience and I think that is been a key topic of contact centers. In Two thousand and twenty other ones gone working from home. And we're not talking about the work from hope phenomenon, because that's been done an audium, but from a motivational standpoint to helping agents, where do you see that changing in two thousand and twenty one? How our agents, you know this, they still need to work from home from most places in the world. How are they still going to be ket motivated? So if you could comment on that and kind of tied into the employee experience conversation, that we awesome. I think motivations going to be a real concern because I think even as we talk, when I talk with my colleagues, when I talk with my clients, I feel like we've been living the last nine months on the fumes of the relationships we built in person before the last nine months. And though many, many employees are glad to be working from home and many companies handle work from home very well, they handle it very well in and and Universe where they could join together physically if they wanted to. And when that universe doesn't exist, it really is hard to keep employees motivated and connected and it gets very amy and, I don't know, trickster e to keep people connected, but it is possible. More than motivation, though, the thing I think is going to describe employees greatest concerns in the next six or eight months or so is their rights to determine what happens to their own bodies via vaccine. I think this is going to be it's an issue we haven't faced in our world before. Is, will you take a rather untested inoculation in order to retain your job? And I think that worry blows all the other ones out of the water. Like, am I motivated? Do I like work from home? Are you attending to my wellness or are you you know, are you going to require that that I get vaccinated, and what level of risk am I to absorb inm how about you, my employer? Yeah, that...

...brings up a whole other conversation, but I think you're right that the questions of motivation are not what they used to be and that it's a reality that that companies need to work with our employees and to be transparent about those decisions that they have to make in their personal life. Right. So, yeah, Neil, talk to us about your company and how you guys are are working on keeping your agents motivated and keeping them super positive when they're talking to customers. What have you done in two thousand and twenty? That will carry over into two thousand and twenty one. It's a really timely question. So we've always been a brick and mortar facility. We also happen to operate near shore. It's that introduces some some interesting dynamics, a little bit different than what happens on shore here in the US. Reason I mentioned this is that prior to Covid, I would have never ever wanted to do a work from home model in that particular region we operate. I didn't believe in it. Well, never say never, right. Covid came and we had we had no choice. So we moved to an exclusive work from home strategy because we had to. Now we are able to bring some of the workforce back if we want, but just because we want doesn't mean we should. I'm faced with an interesting series of decisions. Or Business Force. These growing, expanding. What does that mean in a BPO where we typically you grow the number of you had an additional site, you had a new floor. You had to but I gotta tell you that's not the solution for us. We're not investing in real estate. When I'm investing in brick and mortan. That would be, I think, really one of the worst investments that someone in my per the position could make. Why invest in this amount of space that you can only use half of it for? Because of social distancing? I don't think social distancing is going away for a while, not until we're far out of the woods of what's going on right now. The reason I mention all this is that we are here. We are. I never said never right. Well, here we are. I'm not investing in sights. We are investing in work from home. We are optimistic about it. We've had to change some of the operating philosophies of the technology. All that for the better. We've tightened up our tools and really have our finger, hopefully, on how to measure productivity and we have to be very clear on our compliance. All of that means that while we're offering an opportunity to in theory, be more comfortable, more convenient not have to commute work from home, there's a whole nother series of things that come along with them, just in how we engage our workforce. There's another interesting thing. So you know, I like the again, I'm going to wag my finger is a little bit and challenge some of these thoughts. Pre covid when the labor market was really, really, really tight, companies had to be very careful with how we treated employees and offering, you know, perks and benefits, and many companies just spent over absolute backwards to retain their employees and keep them engaged. What's going to be interesting to see is that if the labor markets continue kind of soft, what does that mean that companies are going to do? Are Going to company's going to continue to bend over backwards? They no longer, in theory, have to, and I like to see, you know, kind of where the rubber it's through. Our companies really going to continue to support this thing some people call a myth of employee engagement and motivating employees in a tight labor market? You have to now that the labor market isn't so tight, out curious to see whether that's really going to happen. The only thing I want to add, totally separate, is that there's no easy button towards it and, you know, maintain your employee motivated used to be the pizza party, but I think we all probably know that the Pizza Party, it's smoking mirrors, it doesn't really do much. It keeps people happy for a minute. I'd like Leslie, I love, you know, pizza more than anybody and a cold can of beer. Leslie and I have debated about local pizza and Washington DC. We've done a very funny social media thing about a particular restaurant. But Anyway, we all love pizza parties, but I don't think pizza moves the needle and employee engagement. It's up to us to figure out what really does and I think that just depends on your geographic market, where you're located, in the age group of your employees, the type of service that you're, you know, providing it it there's no clear cut recipe to this. I wish it were. I wish it was just a pizza. Throw me a piece of pizza because I'm really simple, but I think the work coorse is not that simple. Yeah, that's great points. So thank you everyone for all the comments. Are Coming in, some great stuff. I got some great questions. Be Answering those in probably about five d eight minutes and then we will start just debating even more. So this is a great...

...stuff. So, Dan, one of the things that you talked about is around Ai and automation and conversational service automation. Tell us from your perspective how you've seen the contact centers adopt AI and automation in two thousand and twenty one, and do you see that as a well, I don't think two thousand and twenty one. Yeah, I know, you can see the Fort I love it. You could see the sure. I mean it's in controvertible that we've seen an acceleration of the adoption of new technologies in supportive work from home so that you know the context under supervisor in a brick and mortar situation, in addition to showing where the pizza is or lobbying on behalf of you know, bringing in the keg or whatever. You know, they've become really concerned that, you know, there isn't the person to person sort of oversight and there it's been an accelerated deployment of technologies that use ai to sort of rapidly understand the intent of a call or a contact. Because the other thing that's happening with the contact center is that, you know, it's part of a digital mix, so that you know from the point of view of agent and I guess as a technology is I'm going to say, I'm gonna Im cute. Yeah, I'm going to infer from what, from the changes we've seen in the agent workstation and what gets to display, what shows up in screen POPs, how they become more dynamic, how next best action as sort of become important. I think the idea is twofold. In in this distributed environment, you want agents to succeed and in some cases you want to use technology to do the stuff that they find really boring. So that's it's you know, it's sort of like into recognizing the purpose of repetitive calls and trying to do that in automation or some arising the purpose of a call at the end of the call so that somebody isn't just sort of going through the motion of yeah, this was about that or that, so that you get more insights about the call without burdening the agent with the stuff that they're not trained. I shouldn't say not trained to do, but it's not first nature. If you if you do hire the right people and you train them correctly. They're there to help the customers. They're not there to like summarize the purpose of a call afterward and they're not there to just sort of help them authenticate themselves or, you know answer like something that they could have found on the website. So that was my long winded way of saying we've seen the rapid adoption and actually acceptance, and I'm interested in Leslie's point of view about this, is that some of these actually improve an agents experience, you know, by removing some of the stuff that they really don't like. And in some of the cases where we interviewed customers of companies that are bringing automation into answer customer questions or, you know, offer you know, it could have been like clippy, it could have say, Oh, I see you're trying to do such and such and shouldn't you do it this way? They're actually saying, you know, I liked it, I like that they're doing the stuff I don't want to do and I wouldn't have thought of such and such, and so I'm encouraged by how I see technology being adopted. Doles, Ye, any consult yeah, I'm with you a hundred percent. Some automation makes agents life so much better. With whoever works in tech support? Who wants to answer how to reset the Password again? Nobody. But there's a couple things I have been watching out for behind my shoulder, many, many years behind and I'm still watching out for it, and that is when the automation drops out those easy, repetitive questions. Are agents given time to handle the more difficult questions? Because when they're, the more difficult questions are slower to handle, and when they're not given enough time, when the expectation is you answer those difficult questions as rapidly as you answered the easy ones, that's a horrible agent experience and the automation is essentially punishing the agent. Also seeing the world's raggediest implementation of agents it. Just today I was trying to buy some flowers...

...from my friend who lives in Utah, and so I think a lot of florist that I worked with today had chat bots implemented well, I mean broken would have been a flattering comment. They were worse than broken. They were incoherent. One the the opening message from the chat bought was how can I offer you information about our firm? Yeah, that's ridiculous, and the other one allowed me to interact a couple times. Then it requested my email address and then it said it would email me within twenty four hours. Now I'm on an e commerce site. What do I need? A twenty four hour communication? So, from an agent experience stamp point, now the agents are handling people who technology have made angry, and that's not that's a terrible agent experience in the terrible customer experience. Yet those emotions tend to kind of go crazy when I've experienced as well. I mean I was on a chat, out of all companies, with apple, through about five different chats, we explaining my situation over and over again. Now for a short break. Let's learn more about uniform. Uniform is a global leader and conversational service automation companies vision is to disrupt an outdated customer service model by ridging the gap between human and machine using voice, ai and automation, so that every voice on every call is truly heard. For more information about uniform, go to www dot unifordcom, email podcast at uniforcom or tweet at uniform. And now back to the podcast. Luckily, I got my I got a new phone which is good. Thank you, Apple Care, but but it was a long experience. Yeah, all right. Let's get into one of the questions. That relates some one question that we already we were going to cover, but it was around skill. So let me just bring this up right. This gentleman here wanting to have panel can talk about what's next. Gent skills of a remote human that needs to be built, how much it has impact on this experience versus price play going forward. Would like to challenge that one. Let's go. There's a lot out in this question. It's a good one. This is my paraphrase of what I think is person wants to know, Sree so, what I think street is asking is what is the frontline employee like in increasingly automated world? I think that's how I interpreted, isn't does it? Everyone agree that the question and I think that's you know, we can say the conversation around kind of skills that people are that need in two thousand and twenty one and relation to keeping a remote work for US kind of I've been going. So that's how we can get it. Leslie, I was at that was my interpretation. I ask you. Shake your head, yeah, and maybe equally off on this one. You read it differently, but but having listened to you paraphrase it as you did now, I'm really curious for your answer. Go ahead, I want to know what you have to say. You know people. It is a tough one. I don't think it's a clear cut answer. And I think so if we go with the idea that we're going to take away, we're going to skim off the repetitive, monotonous, boring work for the agent. Right, we're going to give the agent. The trickier question is the ones that aren't so clear cut, that want the ones that can't be automated, at least here in two thousand and Twenty Alos Two thousand and twenty one. So that, in theory then means that the new agent has to be a bit higher skill, maybe has more experience, more adept at what he or she does, and the level of training that that person has to have received can no longer be ragging. Yeah, to quote Leslie on that one where I think that's the common knowledge. Just the easy answer was a portion of question had to do with, like you know, the skills are working remotely from home. Money collects right now. There was a concept of a remote human all right, yeah, here's a here's another question from Guaramo way very similar to that. Okay, I can jump in. Yep, I can jump in it. Of the...

...new skills expected or desired to secure success for the business. I want to give this answer with, you know, the theme Randy asked us to address, which is the near future. Predictions for the near future. I think that agents are going to have to learn to answer questions that they have never been asked before and that are really extremely difficult to answer. So back a couple years ago, I used to I was working with a lot of air lines. This happened over the last couple of years and sometimes customers would ask really difficult questions. And here's an example. Why was the fair I found online less expensive than the Bereavement Fair you offered me so that I could travel to my father's funeral? That's a difficult question to answer. That's embarrassing for the airline, but I think that is nothing compared to what's coming in the early part of two thousand and twenty one, and that is customers are going to ask. They are asking to be provided services they can no longer pay for at all, and I'm thinking of credit card balance. Can't pay it, mortgage, cannot pay it, my rent cannot pay it, my health insurance can't pay it, can't pay my medical bills, I have no money, I've been out of work and I think frontline customer service agents and companies are going to have to figure out how to answer these extraordinarily difficult questions with poise, because those questions were off the table in the past. If you don't have the money, you can't have the service. But in this emergency year, and I think two thousand and twenty one will mostly be an emergency year, they will have to figure out how to answer the most difficult questions they have ever heard. Well, and let me chime in with something that may shock you, but one of the things we learned because in the old world and of bpos, there was a category of service wrider that were the skip tracers and collections and they were the king about bound and they were finding that individuals who were in sensitive financial situations preferred to talk to bots rather than talk to a bird. And you know that it's Orthogonal to your discussion of the skills that an individual might have, because one of the things we discovered in the rush to sort of get things done, because I was going to argue that one of the things you look for in two thousand and twenty one is a retooling of what the KPIS are for the contact center, for the BPOS, that gets more and more oriented towards task completion. Now, among those tasks maybe renegotiating how much you can pay and that sort word of thing, but the skills that you may want to train. Well, one of the things that they were finding is they put test completion in is that. Hey, there's a whole generation of customers that don't think automated handling of their problem is a bad thing. Some cases they'd like to complete these tasks without involving a person, and that may speak to what the past training of customer care agents were, how their performance was measured, what they were trained to do and how empathetic. I was going to be the first one to use that word. Today it may turn out to be. That's funny. I asked a question on Linkedin what was the most overused word in the contact center in two thousand and twenty and I think it's either empowered or empathetic. Yep, I'm with the two. I don't use empowered. I know, I know. It's not because it's played out, it's because it's UNMEASURABLE. What does that mean? Yeah, I don't use PROA. Use It because I think it's overblown, said the nicest guy we know. Actually, we figure where this gentleman, Chris pattent what toold you think we'll appear in the future? That will help collaboration and engagement. I open this up to probably Dan and Neil, probably here. Let's program that. owner. Yeah, and if still see if you have any continent. But good. So it's really fascinating. You know, going back two years, the platforms for customer engagement...

...and added the word collaboration, so it was customer care and collaboration. And you know, we've seen an evolution of the core technologies towards what amounts to code browsing. So you sort of assume that it made the only the sophisticated customers now, but you have to start thinking that all customers have access to this same information that an agent has, that this what some people call customer journey. That would that we call these asynchronous conversations between brands and their customers start with a google search and everybody can do that. Really land on the businesses website and they can find most of the stuff. So the tools that help agents gain access through their workstation to the at least the same information, or sometimes better than a customer and sort of makes the assumption that, you know, they've done a lot of the search and qualification and decision making and stuff and they have pretty specific question by the time they're engaging a live agent, you know. So it's you know, we're far beyond hey, you shouldn't have to repeat yourself. If you're calling out to get a phone, the information about the call travels with the call. Along with that as the information about the individual that is, the customer. There's the matching of the customer with what you know about the agent and their background, his or her background, all that sort of thing. It's all possible. We've seen it demployed and just sort of hope that it expands it. It's deployment that let's get on to the next question. Actually, one quick comment. Leslie had some good comments there. It's going to be about empathy, the motion that humans walls have. All's be best at delivering and then our next question comes from Kimberly. What does the panel think is the right training environment and what does that look like when it is potentially all virtual? It's long question but Neil, I think you'd probably the most for good person to talk about virtual training and that's going for you and what you think needs to change in two thousand and twenty one. Thank you. Yeah, training is critical. I again we'll go back to Leslieo so eloquently said. Training can no longer be raggedy. We've got away the raggedy for too long. It can't be raggedy. Le Better tools. So for us, at natural progression is he learning tools that are no longer based in a classroom, that are no longer powerpoint based, that are no longer feel like you're sitting in second grade and having the teacher mark at you. Those don't work, especially in the remote environment. You have to have tools that allowed collaboration, interaction that I believe, are on demand. So it's people are at home, they can flip on the screen where they're taking a call or they're not taking a call. There in the break they they're learning. You can you first play and the learning is available. Just look at you know what linkedin learning has done. It's there, it's on demand, but put in terms of context on our customer care, it's got to be delivered to the desktop. It's got to be able you could press play whenever you want on demand, and it's got to be a greeve interactive it's got to be multi media with a special emphasis on the video and we'll playing in situations and no longer the old way. We figured out this up the hard way for years. We're putting up, slapping up power points and putting up but, you know, throwing up on the overhead projector and doing this and wagging finger in right writing, the finger at the students in the classroom and trying to push content into their head and expect them to remember it. That's just that's ridiculous. That shooting yourself on the foot. Training by example, giving real life examples, showing them how to handle when, again to Leslie's example, when the customer calls in and says I can't pay for this and sits there like this and awkward silence takes place, what do you do? Real life examples. Yeah, that, for me, is that is a critical piece and those students are no longer come with going to come back into the classroom. You got to be able to deliver that remotely to whether they're sitting in the living room, their bedroom, the toilet, wherever it is that they're sitting. They've got to be able to consume the training content. I really liked Kimberly's question and I think there's one part that, as an educator, I want to answer a little bit differently. Virtual Training has all the advantages and Neil listed. Of course you can invoke it at any time, you can learn in shorter periods. Training...

...developer can develop elaborate scenarios and offer all the collateral that a learner might have to use to watch for all of them. But Practice is social and coaching is social and coaching happens during training, so I think. And when you are physically together during training, the practice, the coaching and the feedback is ad Hac because social settings allow for it. When the learning situation does not allow for connection, for engagement, live, real time engagement between human learners, you have to budget time for it. You have to add that on and virtual meetings are an acceptable way to do it, but you cannot I have a formula in my head. Let's say for thirty minutes of virtual learning worthy of the learner and the screen only. We should probably budget ten minutes of conversation, like thirty minutes to ten minutes, because without the conversation and the practice the learning does not stick. And also learning in isolation is isolating and we know that when you're working remotely, the last thing we want to add is deeper isolation. Yeah, that's very true. All right. So we're coming up on time here, I think. Everyone for all your questions. Any last minute one's definitely comment now. But let's start with some closing thoughts. You know, the point of this was around predictions. If you guys just want to share your closing comments on the predictions for next year from context, in our perspective. So, Dan, I see you're chuckling there freaking well, clearly we're going to come full circle and say the secret to good training is, well, the secret to success. Let's assume we are going to be working remotely for the time being. I think you know the way the vaccine is being distributed as going to moot what Leslie would say, believe, the first half of the year and then we can figure that out. So it all gets down to how quickly you can deliver pizza to the people that are working remotely as sort of incentives for behaving correctly. But shy of that wasn't a great laugh line. I'm going to modify what I had said initially. I you know, I think that a lot of attention will have to be paid to technologies that support what's impolitely called on boarding and training and make that follow an engagement model that uses sort of conversational technologies to just sort of keep people in the flow and, you know, sort of recognize that we all have to just collaborate better, even though we are remotely and and we're learning that, you know, with every family's zoom occasion. YEA, will be lighting the candles tonight and all that sort of stuffs. How some of that will happen organically. So, Neil, closing comments perfect. So I think you know, I made my feelings, felt feelings like maybe express them about where I think the industry is going. Yeah, consolidation, with a very strong push towards automation. By the way, this acquisition by facebook of customer is just one. Remember there's another big one called Google that's out there and there's Amazon and each other products, and I don't think either we're going to sit by and watch facebook with a land graph. My expectation is that these land grabs are going to continue with and that's for the consolidation will happen. It's going to affect all of us. We're going with this is, I think that, for better worse, there's going to be a massive push towards automation, and either you embrace it or you don't embrace it, not because I love it or hate it, I just think that's the direction things are going and I think that you can either jump on or not be part of it, and I think we have to be part of it. That's where the industry is headed, and so therefore, we need to no longer be raggedy and how we design experiences, how we designed the journey, making sure that we get better, cheaper, faster, which includes resolution, little to no weight times, but most importantly, resolution, and that will lead to satisfaction. That, for me, encapsulates where I think the industry is going from the next year. Awesome, great insight, and I...

...believe Leslie your next in terms of your cooling Commons. Okay, I've got two predictions. One is about employee experience and the other one is about customer experience. Here's my employee experience prediction. In March and April, employees saw their companies rapidly move them from working on site to working at home. Companies have been talking about doing this for years. They had been doling out permission to work at home very parsimoniously for months and years, but when everything came down, they decided in a week to send everyone home and make it work. So employees now know that their employers can be very flexible when called upon and they are not going to tolerate other kinds of nonsense. I don't think they should. So Neil's comments are important in this light. The job market is rather soft. We don't know how much power employees can wield, but we do know that employees notice when employers are hypocritical and if they say, you know, put your comments in the comments box. We're taking it under advisement, we're thinking about it, we're planning for it, we're considering it. Employees will know that in April two thousand and twenty, everyone worked at home when they hadn't been working at home before. So in my opinion. My prediction is employees won't tolerate this kind of we're thinking about it behavior from employers anymore now. My second one is customers expectation for a great customer experience are going to change. We all know that customers expectations continue to grow and we are kind of running to catch up. But customers have had incredibly intimate customer service with healthcare providers over the last six months and they have the experience that the very thing they thought could only happen in an office, namely that a physician would examine them when they're ill, can happen virtually. And if that can happen virtually, then I shouldn't have to repeat my account number six times to have you check my bill. So they've seen how, you know, something that was considered impossible as a customer and a client interaction can be possible and they will not accept the idea that they have to have a tiresome old school experience anymore. Very well said, and in the words of one of our users that's commenting in Raggedy, where the year for twenty one, I thought. Anything you remember from this conversation, raggedy is the word right now. Thank you, Leslie. I appreciate those comments and definitely employee experience, you know, more human more compassion. It just needs to happen and there shouldn't be any pressure for that to happen. It just be just happen. What you know, easier southern done. Who Am I? I'm just a moderator. anyways, the next go through a few more comments and then we'll just say our goodbyes. So Paul was saying thanks, guys, great discussion. You know, you know Paul. He's your cohost on fireside chat up, Paul, Paul, much funny. We Got Mike Cooke, wonderful twound and twenty one three. Love the conversation and starts a wonderful and digital adoption is real for all of us. And GARAMO, excellent conversation was coming next. Big Challenges on for this industry indeed. Yeah, Kimberly, I want to just say thank you to Leslie and Neil. Actually appreciate the insight. I'm sure you too. Dan Door, let's say thank you for this just the form of those really good information to have. Thought's awesome, and Pete is saying thank you, awesome. And then Kimberly, last one. Thank you all so much to appreciate the conversation, knowledge sharing and insights. You welcome them. Awesome. Well, thank you all for this amazing lue at Fifty two minutes right now. So got a little longer than we wanted, but I think it was super valuable and I appreciate all the honesty in the transparency and just the humor that actually help kind of guide this conversation. So if you guys the air way of just tell people how they can find out more about you. So, Leslie, why you start off and they'll...

...go to Dan after that. Sure, you can visit me at my website. You Right Onlinecom or follow me on twitter at Leslie, Oh, not Leslie Zero, Leslie, letter, Oh Leslie, are good. And on twitter I am at D nm four and most of our stuff is on the opens research website, which is www opus research. Donet not okay, and I will put all these we're going to do a blog post of all this and we'll put all the links in there. So that's very good. And then, Neil, go ahead. Thank you. It just twitter handle at first name, last name all together. Neal. Tough. And you know, if I can put a shameless plug in for the podcast fireside chats with all the fires. There's some amazing guests, fought leaders on there and contents it's generated. And the other thing I just like to mention to to the audience. Thank you, especially a couple of you that dissented. I love the scent. Let's chat, let's cop that's how a conversation is. Is Great. This is what's fun about this community is it's mostly welcoming to different opinions. I think, especially Robert Wainwright, love that you disagree with it. Like let's talk, let's chat, let's figure stuck out on the podcast at some point. You it's amazing. Descent. There's a good thing, and thank you to uniform randy, to you as well for having me and all of us all this panel together. Yea, thank you, Randy. Thanks for your empathy. Come on, guys, we don't want to make empathy like an empathy. Now. I appreciate all you guys. You guys are great to the contact center and cxcommunity. So this is part of multiple different types of conversations that we're going to be having on Linkedin. So make sure to follow the uniform linkedin page. Will be doing one next week with our CO founder and CEO, Mesh Sash Dev. He'll be sharing his predictions on the contact center in two thousand and twenty one, so make sure to tune into that and stay tuned to the Linkedin company page for all those details. And that's all for today. Stay healthy, have a great rest of your day and happy holidays. Bye, bye. Thank you so much for thank you, Randy. Great job of Lesliean Dan Miller. Thank you. See you soon. I hope you've been listening to the conversations that matter, podcast by uniform. Make sure you subscribe to our podcast on your favorite podcast player and rate and review to enable us to create relevant and valuable content for your business. If you'd like to learn more about conversational service automation is uniformcom. Have a great day.

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