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Insights from a Customer Care (SOCAP) and Knowledge Management (KMWorld) Conference

Posted by on October 22, 2012

I spent this week traveling to San Diego where I spoke at the SOCAP conference and D.C where I spoke at KMWorld (the week before that I was at CMMA for media professionals in Florida).  SOCAP is primarily focused on customer care, customer insight, and customer service professionals (including call centers) whereas KMWorld is primarily focused on knowledge managers and collaboration practitioners.  I learned a few interesting things from the dozens of conversations I had at both of these events.

  • Customer care professionals are not very aware of enterprise collaboration or what it even entails, let alone how emoloyee collaboration can impact the customer in a positive way.  I was actually one of the first people to talk about employee collaboration at a SOCAP conference!
  • Contact centers desperately need a knowledge repository or knowledge management solution for customer service representatives who are answering the same questions over and over.  However, many of these contact centers don’t connect the dots between managing information and allowing reps to collaborate internally to solve customer problems.  They see this primarily as an information problem not as a collaboration problem; a huge disconnect!
  • Very few contact centers are starting to explore collaboration solutions internally and I suspect these few will be leaders in their industry.
  • Vendors such as GetSatisfaction have a tremendous opportunity to work with call centers to provide knowledge management and community solutions yet I find that these conversations between customer engagement solutions and call-centers are not taking place.
  • Most of the conversations around customer service are still focused on the basics such as creating Twitter accounts or Facebook pages.  These are the same conversations we had at SOCAP two years ago there hasn’t been much forward movement.
From KMWorld
  • Conversations around “what is the best tool to use” are still dominant.  Not enough attention is being paid to what the problems are or why the tools are even needed.  Many companies are still not spending the time to define their use cases.
  • I get the sense that many organizations are still not “all-in” when it comes to collaboration.  Many deployments are still being focused around smaller areas without much support in terms of internal marketing, adoption strategy, ongoing education, or any type of deep company changes around collaboration.
  • Knowledge management and collaboration is starting to blur but the roles are still clearly different inside of many companies.
  • Two of the more common challenges are around executive support and deep cultural change.
  • Some companies are looking for the perfect solution and the perfect strategy before they get involved in collaboration, none exist, so they will be waiting for a long time.
  • Much of the same conversations around external social media are being repeated around internal collaboration.  For example, “we want our employees to only stay focused on work, why should we give them an opportunity to do non-work related things, we don’t want to lose control.”  As in the external world, just because you don’t have a presence doesn’t mean your customers won’t talk about you.  Internally, just because you don’t give employees a collaboration platform doesn’t mean they won’t send jokes or non-work related content to each other via email, have non-work related discussions at lunch, or have non-work related conversations via phone or messenger.  The notion of sticking blinders on employees so that they can only stare in one direction is scary and completely off the mark!

Overall I had a great time at both events but it definitely made me realize that there is still a long way to go for many companies.  Some companies however are well on their way in both customer and employee collaboration, so that is always exciting to see.  Next I’m off to Arizona, Australia, and the Brazil.  I’ll share more insights and ideas as Chess keeps working with more clients and as I keep having more conversations with companies around the world.