Despite the fact that virtually every organization in existence has an entire department dedicated to customer care, the global community of customer care leaders is a small and familiar group of folks. This community is well supported by a calendar jam-packed with conferences, summits and seminars. From massive spectacles (think Customer Contact Week) to cozy, hosted dinners, industry-specific gatherings have a lot to offer. They provide a time and opportunity to network, to connect (or reconnect) and, most importantly, to learn from a group of peers who are all striving to accomplish a common set of goals. Although there are many organizations putting on events, not all communities are the same.
From February 4 – 6, a group from COPC Inc. had the pleasure of attending, sponsoring, and speaking at a special event, participating alongside a unique community. The event, called the Customer Response Summit (CRS) New Orleans, was presented by Execs In The Know, a company that has been bringing CX executives together for more than a decade. COPC Inc. has a long-standing research partnership with Execs In The Know, jointly producing the Customer Experience Management Benchmark (CXMB) Series of reports, published biannually. These reports are released at each of Execs In The Know’s two annual summits, one in the summer/fall and another in winter/spring. The most recent event, which saw the release of the 2018 CXMB Series Corporate Edition report, took place at The Roosevelt New Orleans, a luxurious and iconic hotel located in downtown New Orleans.
Execs In The Know events have a deceptively simple formula: pack the agenda with some of the brightest minds in the industry, provide an abundance of good food and drink, and get everyone talking about their biggest challenges and greatest successes. It’s a formula that works, and it’s one of the reasons why it’s not uncommon to bump into people who are attending their fifth, sixth or even tenth Execs In The Know event.
Turnout (for Execs In The Know events) averages right around 170 attendees, mostly made up of brand partners. To that end, two of the most powerful aspects of the Execs In The Know community are the caliber of brands in the room and the willingness of attendees to have an honest dialogue – one without pretenses. There is an overwhelming sense of common interest and purpose, like the entire room is working together to solve the same giant jigsaw puzzle. Often times, fierce competitors can be seen sitting at the same table or chatting during networking breaks. Chad and Susan McDaniel, Execs In The Know’s founders, have simply managed to build that type of community. Furthermore, the community is strongly supported by Execs In The Know’s highly active and engaged Advisory Board, featuring executive leaders from such brands as Hyatt Hotels, Target, Microsoft, Amazon, Groupon and Indeed.
At this year’s event, there was a lot of conversation about company culture and, more precisely, transforming culture into action. Leaders from Marriott and Quicken Loans spoke about company culture as a part of the CXMB Series panel which was moderated by COPC Inc. VP James Cammareri. The conversation about culture culminated in a powerful keynote presentation by Children’s Hospital of New Orleans, an organization that, incidentally, also hosted an offsite tour to conclude the three-day event. In every discussion about culture, one theme permeated: a customer-centric culture wasn’t an endpoint but was, instead, a foundation which brands could rally and build upon. This was true of J.W. Marriott’s notion that companies perform best when they treat employees well. He preached that when employees are taken care of, they, in turn, take care of the customer, which will have customers coming back again and again. It was also true of Quicken Loans’ ISMs, a set of statements that promote the ideals of creativity, enthusiasm and passion within the organization. And it was most certainly true of Children’s Hospital’s culture of inspired excellence.
For more than 20 years, COPC Inc. has been helping clients improve the experience they provide to their customers. In that time, the value a cohesive culture can bring to a company has been apparent, particularly if a company’s culture is aligned behind a strategic, customer-first vision. Cultural alignment is a point COPC Inc. stresses with all of our clients, and we hold the belief that a company’s culture, if focused on the right things, can be one of the most powerful enablers of transformative change and operational improvement.
Culture wasn’t the only hot topic at CRS New Orleans. Artificial intelligence (AI) in the contact center space, the gig economy, frictionless channel management, digital transformation and industry disruption were also widely discussed. These topics were not only discussed in keynotes during the main sessions, they were also covered in greater detail during Customer Shop Talk breakout sessions. Customer Shop Talk breakouts are a unique format that let attendees elect to attend small, more intimate discussions about the topics that matter most to them. Shop Talks often have a workshop feel with lots of audience participation and discussion.
Networking opportunities are also a noteworthy feature of Execs In The Know’s CRS events. Join the Day 1 Welcome Reception, the networking breaks throughout the daily sessions, the Day 2 evening event, and the Innovation Lab & Cocktail Hour where you can learn about the latest industry tools while sipping a martini. There are plenty of opportunities to make new connections, catch up with established ones, and have candid discussions about the day’s learnings. In the CX industry, relationships are a resource. Time and again, CRS networking opportunities have led to connections that prove invaluable down the road.
Certainly, the Execs In The Know community can be defined as exceptional — unlike any other, in fact. At the same time, it’s one of many organizations looking to help strengthen and inform the CX community. Whether CX professionals get involved with Execs In The Know or another CX-focused community, the importance of getting out of the office and rubbing elbows with fellow CX professionals cannot be overstated. There are a lot of resources for finding the next great event, including the Call Center Conference & Tradeshows group on LinkedIn. And if schedules or finances don’t allow for in-person involvement, there are plenty of valuable and supportive online groups, like Execs In The Know’s Worldwide Contact Center Professionals group or COPC Inc.’s own Official Forum, both on LinkedIn. It’s vital to get connected, get involved and build relationships, especially those that can add value when it comes to the task of creating an improved customer experience.