Carly Kontra

“Regardless of whether you’re harnessing people or technology, it’s in service of customer experience.”
    –    Julio Hernandez, Head of Global Customer Center of Excellence, KPMG
Attendees of the annual Forrester conference in San Francisco are passionate about providing great customer experiences. They came together last week at CXSF 2017 to hear from leaders like Amazon, IBM, and Slack and to discuss the tension between human + machine solutions.
Three key takeaways that resonated throughout the conference:
1) Be aspirational: get out of fix mode and start with knowing what you’re solving for.
“Let’s dream big: we want people to feel thrilled, excited, gobsmacked, rescued.”
    –    Rik Reppe, Advisory Partner, PwC
In other words, don’t just look for ways to use the cool new technology. Start with a specific customer problem or vision for what you want experiences to look like for your brand, and choose the best path to get you there.
“Go beyond fixing to innovate around those critical moments.”
    –    Jessica Westley, Director of Guest Experience, Target
2) Design hybrid human + machine solutions based on the strengths of each:
a) humans excel at compassion and imagination
b) machines excel at pattern recognition and endless capacity
Humans aren’t a magic elixir, and machines can’t solve all of our problems. Michelle Yaiser, a Principal Analyst at Forrester, shared the results from a 2017 analysis which shows that mixed experiences (vs. digital or non-digital alone) elicit the most positive customer emotions during experiences across industries.
The holy grail: humans + machines bring out the best in each other.
3) Customer and employee experiences are inextricably linked.
“Our approach to CX is an extension of how we think about the employee experience.
    –    Karen Van Kirk, VP Viewer Experience, Hulu
Being thoughtful about automating the tasks at which machines excel—like order status updates—can empower employees to make the right choice in the moment for more complex situations.
When asked about customer service agents’ reaction to chatbots, Head of Product Operations Dana Lindsay shared that at Eero, “there’s more honor to the job when it requires expertise – then they’re there for a reason. Nobody likes to give the same answer over and over again.” Eero also designs project time for their agents to keep busy between support calls – they review customer feedback and help to identify trends, which improves both customer and employee experiences in parallel.
Overall I was inspired by the aspirations of these leading companies, and energized by their ongoing commitment to customer experience. In a world where the most customer-obsessed companies win, it’s vital to stay focused on customer-centric innovation.