customer support

Five Takeaways from Support Driven Expo 2018

Sunny Manivannan
June 25, 2018
Read Time: 4 mins

The Guru team had an awesome time at Support Driven Expo (SDX) 2018. Located in the heart of Portland, Oregon, SDX was an action-packed two-day event. Special thanks to the organizers, Support Driven, led by Scott Tran.

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Convergence of Support, Success, and (gasp!) even Sales

In several talks, the speakers spoke about Support and Success as the same function. In fact, many leaders in attendance were responsible for leading both teams at their companies, all with the goal of ensuring customer success and providing a consistent customer experience. We believe this is a growing trend. In fact, in B2C and B2B companies that focus on selling to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), the revenue team is increasingly defined as Sales + Success + Support, all integrated into one combined team and led by a single leader. It makes sense from the customer’s perspective – one unified team to provide a delightful customer experience from Day 1 to Day 10,000.

Customer Experience, not Support

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Speaking of customer experience, at SDX there existed a very clear departure from what I am used to referring to as “support.” Everywhere I went and every conversation emphasized putting the customer first. The shift from support → experience is an important one, and is more than just a difference in diction. In this world of a million competitors and instant gratification, it’s all the more important we find ways to deliver amazing customer experiences. Yet, we can’t expect to do so if we don’t deeply understand and emphasize our customers’ overall experience to begin with.

Support is part of the Revenue Team, not a cost center

Marlene Summers at Zuora led a terrific workshop on using storytelling to drive more C-level investment into Customer Experience as an organization scales. Many other sessions covered topics like ‘making the business case for more headcount’ and ‘going beyond measuring CSAT and cost per ticket.’ Our observation across our hundreds of customers is similar – CX is not a cost center. Rather, it’s a meaningful driver of revenue and a brand differentiator.

Death of AI hype, birth of AI-driven measurable results

“Word vectors,” “answer graphs,” and deep neural networks. According to the Gartner Hype Cycle, AI is at peak hype right now. Guru’s CEO, Rick Nucci, demonstrated just how out of control the hype is right now, with the media even claiming that AI will soon write better novels than humans. But with this hype, Rick explained in his talk, comes a real opportunity.

In this world of hype, it’s important to understand which type of AI product is a good fit for your CX solution stack, from deflection to workflow optimization to agent coaching. Equally important, however, is knowing which questions to ask vendors, whose marketing fluff around AI can make it difficult to separate hype from reality. Rick suggested these five tips:

  1. Be aware of the Jack of All Trades. AI is only as good as the data it can learn from, so if products are claiming to solve multiple problems using AI, proceed with caution! Ensure products are focused on solving clear and specific problems and have access to valuable data to train from.
  2. AI is a long way from understanding empathy. Be careful what you are putting in front of your customers and ensure it’s clear to them what is human and what is artificial.
  3. Transparency is more important than ever. Vendors should be clear and direct about exactly what data they gather and why!
  4. AI for CX will fail without knowledge management, but AI + KM can amplify the collective intelligence of your entire company. For that to work, there must be a solid foundation for capturing and sharing knowledge and expertise across the company.
  5. Let the customers tell the story. In this world of hype, the best way to cut through the noise is to have an actual customer share their successes and challenges with the offering.
  6. Leverage AI to give you White Gloves, not replace staff. Think of AI as a way to deliver amazing customer experiences at scale, not a way to deflect a bunch of quick wins. Allow your content and subject matter experts to train your models, not your customers.

A passionate, humble community

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Though I am new to Guru, one of the things that has become very evident to me is that our team believes strongly in community. After only a few days with the Support Driven community, I’m so proud to be able to call ourselves partners with this amazing ecosystem of thought leaders. The energy was palpable, the conversations and connections were meaningful and authentic, and the content well curated.

A special thanks to Scott, Andrea, and the team at Support Driven for cultivating such an inclusive and welcoming group of customer experience professionals. I learned so much during my trip to SDX and, even though I’m a marketer, had no shortage of fascinating conversations with open-minded and curious people. Check out all of the photos and presentation decks here.

(bonus) Arcades are awesome!

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We at Guru had the pleasure of hosting the SDX party Thursday night at Ground Kontrol, a retro arcade and bar in Portland. We had upwards of 150 folks from the community join us for some free play time, with DJ Ambush setting the mood with some killer tunes! Though we collectively came up just short of beating Turtles in Time, it was a great way to close out an amazing first day and celebrate an incredible community.

We hope to see everyone again next year. Next time, I’m jumping on the sticks to ensure Turtles in Time victory!