The Top 5 Contact Center Takeaways from SXSW 2012 Relating to the Customer Experience


The interactive portion of SXSW 2012 attracted a growing audience of more than 20K+ community-driven tech lovers from multiple industries including: social media, mobile, IT development, graphic design, marketing, PR, and yes customer service! During the conference, there was a Customer Experience Meet Up which had well-over 60+ individuals participating. This diverse group of attendees included small startups to big brands such as Apple, Lego, and Rosetta Stone who united to discuss new ways to enhance the overall customer experience.

Below are my Top 5 Contact Center Key Takeaways from the meet up:

1. Customer Experience Department …..or a Culture?

 There was a big debate on whether the customer experience should be “owned” by a department or instilled in the culture of the organization? Could a department of 10 people really change the minds of hundreds or thousands of colleagues? We are seeing a lot of “Customer Experience Departments” pop up these days. The reason is because social media has helped advance the Digital Word of Mouth of customers. If customers have a bad experience with a brand, they are going to tell their 500 Facebook friends with a single post. The brand is no longer in the hands of the marketer; it’s in the hands of the customer. Of course, how could you have a customer experience meet up without bringing up Zappos, the company that grew to become a billion dollar business in 10 years by focusing on supplying the very best customer experience? Zappos didn’t have a department; instead they created a culture which every employee knew the importance of providing the very best customer experience. The final answer? The group agreed that departments make great stepping stones in the right direction, but a culture focused on the customer experience is absolutely critical!

2. Customer Service = small piece of the overall customer experience.

How does one define customer experience? Most people think it is something controlled by customer service teams. The reason is simple. If a customer purchases a product from your organization and doesn’t experience any problems, they would typically rate the company an 8 on a 10 scale in satisfaction. However, if someone has a bad experience and interacts with customer service, who helps to rectified the problem and make it into a great experience, the customer would typically rate the company with a 10 in overall satisfaction and loyalty. Normally it is customer service who handles “the bad experiences”. However, even though customer service is critical in the overall customer experience, it still only represents a small piece. Other important pieces include: packaging, ambience of the store, warranty and return policies, billing and ordering processes, product innovation, and anything else that makes the experience fast, efficient, hassle-free and a time saver.

3. In a Web 2.0 Era address what customers want, but don’t forget to innovate.

If your organization is looking to enhance the customer experience, first start with the basics by asking customers how can your company can enhance the overall customer experience? You can conduct this type of research by using traditional surveys, in person interviews, or better yet use social media. Set up a crowdsource community where your customers can post their ideas and the rest of the community can vote on the ideas submitted. Good ideas rise to the top, bad ideas surface to the bottom. The debate at SXSW was that it’s great to gather feedback from your customers, but in the words of Henry Ford “My customers would have asked for a faster horse”. You can’t solely depend on customer feedback if your company is looking to innovate and invent the next big thing.

 4. Hire Your Haters.

The single best way to enhance your customer experience is to hire your haters. Your haters have lots of ideas for areas of improvement within your organization, and believe me they love to vocalize them on social media sites. If your brand really wants to enhance the overall customer experience, hire the haters and make it their job to help the organization fix its bad habits. These haters would also make great customer service representatives because they know and expect good customer service.

5. FORMULA FOR SUCCESS: Customer Experience = Reality – Customer Expectations Last but not least….

to have the very best customer experience in an organization focus on exceeding each customer’s expectations. This is something Zappos does very well with tactics such as surprise overnight shipping and pointing customers to the competition if they don’t have the shoes the customer is looking for. These little acts of kindness will go a long way in exceeding a customer’s expectation of a brand.


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