Transcript EP10

Reflect and Predict: A Look Back at 2022, a Look Ahead to 2023

Episode 10

Vanessa Gates 0:14

Hey everyone. Welcome back to Masters of Support. I am your host Vanessa Gates. And today I have with me a guest that you have may been familiar with on our first episode, Miss Kristyn Emenecker. Kristyn, welcome back.

Kristyn Emenecker 0:28

Vanessa, I can’t believe it. I can’t believe we’ve like launched Masters of Support. And we’ve, you know, had all these great episodes and, and now we’re thinking about, you know, into next year 2023. What an awesome sort of launch for this podcast. Thank you for having me back.

Vanessa Gates 0:46

Absolutely. Just seems like yesterday, we were meeting recording that episode with Louis. And here we are. Months later wrapping up season one, I seriously feel like I blinked. And here we are. I’m so excited to have you here again today. So we’re going to talk about some wonderful things about how 2022 has played out and what your expectations are for 2023. But before we do get started, we had a tremendous successful year here on the Playvox world want to share with us kind of what our milestones have been since this new year has started and now we’re ending it.

Kristyn Emenecker 1:23

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, you know, in addition to right, the big milestone of this podcast. Yeah, I mean, it’s been a record year for Playvox yet again, which is amazing, because it’s been kind of a, it’s been a crazy year out there the world is, the world is kind of nuts right now. But it’s, you know, we’ve had yet again, we’ve we’ve, you know, sort of had a record breaking year. And that’s been super exciting. We acquired a company called Prodsight at the beginning of the year, as you remember, that is an AI company that uses natural language processing to understand interactions and tickets and cases. And, and we were able to not only acquire them at the beginning of the year, but work all year behind the scenes to leverage that technology to introduce our beta version that are some of our customers are starting to experience right now have our first version of Automated Quality and we have lots more planned for that. So Automated Quality, really big milestone for, for Playvox being able to leverage AI and make the experience of quality, not only more efficient, but also more insightful for our customers. And and you know, sort of be able to move toward some really exciting things coming next year in, in automated quality, like, right now we’re we’re doing sentiment scoring. Next year, we’re gonna bring out some topics that can be, you know, tagged in quality, so that you could do focused quality, focus on specific topics of interest. And in addition, maybe to your random sample, and then we also will be doing some auto scoring. So we’re excited about what’s to come there. And then what else we did so many things this year, Vanessa, we launched capacity planner, on the workforce management side as our WFM customers will know so that we had many customers who had such a strong voice in that. And we thank them for that we really had this concept. And really Alex, who’s some people here know Alex Bowen, who is our VP of product for workforce management had this concept of operationalizing capacity planning. So capacity planning is one of those things that everybody’s familiar with, even if you’re not a WFM person where you’re doing, you know, you’re planning what are the headcount that you need for the next year? What do you expect the business to do? And a lot of times, that’s something that sort of is a one and done and sits in you know, in a filing cabinet and finance somewhere and if there’s one thing this year has taught us, for sure, is that we can’t predict what’s going to happen and we need to be more agile and flexible than that. And in in most companies within customer service and customer support, workforce managers are sort of the the keepers of key attaining service levels and making sure that the company has the right staff in the right place at the right time to meet the needs of customers. And so, when the world changes when it takes longer to hire someone when, you know onboarding takes longer when You know, we, you know, we’re not hiring maybe as many people as we thought we would be hiring because of, you know, efficiency and budget changes, it, it, it impacts that workforce manager. And so we had this concept that if we could bring all of that insight from, you know, that long term planning exercise into the everyday world, of the workforce manager so that they could see it, so that they could, it could automatically sort of provide some insights, they could do some “What if…?” planning, as things change, and they could really have a seat at that table and a voice in that conversation, because they are, you know, experiencing the effects of whether or not we have the right number of FTE as per the the customer responsiveness that we need to, we need to supply so, so that’s been really exciting, very, very different. I’ve been, as you know, in, you know, sort of the workforce engagement management, we call it now, but the quality and the workforce management planning world for like 25 years, and it is the sort of most change I’ve ever seen in that long term scheduling piece of the world. So really, really excited and have gotten great feedback from our customers. So yeah, that’s I mean, those are just a few things, but it’s been a banner year, we’re excited about it.

Vanessa Gates 6:30

We have a lot to say grace over here in the Playvox world. And we’re just getting started.

Vanessa Gates 6:39

So I, we have you here to talk about kind of a new, you’ve already kind of introduced that already. But kind of what your predictions were in 2022. This time last year, you we all had a webinar, where a couple of industry experts from playbooks came together to give their predictions, take out their crystal ball and kind of share what they thought the industry was going to trend. We can talk about that really quick, you know, a couple of key bullets that you spoke about, on that webinar was the consumer tolerance, hybrid word, employer of choice, Gen Z, and the digital expectations, these were the bullets of items, we’re going to switch. So that’s high level, give a recap, because I feel like these two topics have been in the forefront of all of our assets. Every time we’ve done a lot of webinars has been around these two topics, and that is the employer of choice. And we’ll lump that in with the hybrid work, and the dictation want to share with us, you know, what were your expectation that you what were your predictions with that and let us know what you got wrong? What you may have gotten right about that?

7:54

Yeah, so I so I’m a big believer in accountability. So thank you for holding me accountable, always, uh, always tricky to, you know, to predict the future. But But I, you know, I love to sort of take a look back here at the end of the year. So, certainly, I think 2022 threw us a lot of curveballs, right, there was, you know, a war in Europe, that was not that none of us could have seen coming at the beginning of the year that a lot of sort of changes in the capital markets globally, that have driven some changes in terms of the way companies operate. We’ve seen these big tech companies with these huge layoffs that we’re all kind of talking about. And so there were a lot of things that we could not have predicted, however, I think, I think we mostly got it right. So so one of the things we were we were discussing, coming into 2022 was that, you know, coming out of 2021, 2020, definitely big pandemic year. 2021 was this, you know, resurgence and and coming out of COVID, but also trying to figure out, was it? Was it going to be a post-COVID error? Or was it going to be living with COVID? And sort of how did we what was there a new normal? And how do we get back there? And so one of the one of the things that we had noted was that there were a lot of companies still and actually, I still see some of them who were sort of, you know, had gotten a big pass from all of us as humans and as consumers for, you know, being short staffed not being able to provide the service that they could, when the pandemic hit, right, it was a global pandemic. So, if you, you know, had to wait for a long time to talk to a customer service rep. You know, you sort of understood that if you had to wait for a long time, you know, at a store or you know, even when, you know, when we started reopening restaurants, right, it was, it was sort of understandable. And one of the things that I had hypothesized was that there was going to be a point where consumers became less tolerant of that, particularly as companies were, you know, were slow to, in some cases, move to, you know, other channels, right. So maybe they didn’t have phone people anymore. I don’t really like to call companies on the phone anyway, you know, but I wanted their chat to be available, I wanted them to give me digital options. And we saw sort of, you know, I would say, a movement there, not just in 2021, but we really did see it in 2022. So I think, while we did not necessarily predict everything that has happened this year, I think in terms of that consumer tolerance committee is doing a better job of providing channels that consumers want. And and, you know, maybe shifting right, creating a new, normal, but also focusing on the quality and the effectiveness of those digital channels. It used to be that, you know, if you reached out by email, or by chat, it was, that was sort of a secondary, it didn’t get all the, the quality monitoring, and the training and the, you know, surveys afterward all the focus that maybe the voice channel got, and, you know, I think, I think we’ve gotten more companies that are doing a good job on that. But I do think it’s something to watch going into 2023. So I’ll give, I’ll give us, you know, I’ll give myself 60 to 70%, correct on that didn’t predict some of the things that happened in the world, but, but I do think we’ve continued for sure to see, to see companies adjust, but also realize that customer service is important for the most part, and that they need to that they can’t just expect to still say COVID, COVID, COVID. And, and everybody’s okay with it, that they need to really focus there. I would say in terms of being an employer of choice and hybrid work. And I mean, we were we were right, for the first half of the year, for sure. Right. So that was what everyone was talking about the first half of 2022, it was, you know, so hard to hire people, you know, hiring cycles were long people made offers, and then would, you know, lose people, we saw a lot of, sort of these new concepts like quiet quitting, and a lot of as Gen Z came in which we talked about a little bit, you know, these new concepts about about, about work, and it was really an employer’s market, right? And so it was like, No, I’m never going back to an office. And if you tell me, I have to, I’m going to go work somewhere else. And maybe I’m going to go work somewhere else, while I’m at home. And maybe I’ll have a couple of, you know, side gigs, or I’ll sort of do less work for you, which was that quiet quitting concept. And we, what’s interesting about the second half of the year is we do still see those things. But we’ve also seen layoffs, and companies, you know, saying, you know, some companies saying you do need to come back to the office, and we’ve seen a little bit, but not as much as you would expect, in other sort of times of economic crisis, a little bit of a shift back to employers and employees equally, holding the power when it comes to hiring right employers felt have felt people are being laid off, you know, now, I’m going to say you need to come back, and I’m not going to tolerate, you know, some of these, you know, side gigs, or you’re working multiple jobs, but it’s been very mixed. So while the conversation has started to change in the second half of the year, based on, you know, sort of some changes that have happened in the economic environment, interestingly, we’ve got these, you know, high inflation signs of global recession at the same time as still really high employment, really low jobless numbers, and we’re seeing that all over. So it’s a it’s an interesting economy. It’s unlike any we’ve ever seen before. I think, you know, COVID really shook the world up and shook everything up, in many ways. But, you know, I do think that there are, I think that there are pieces of that that go into 2023. And I think it’s going to I think 2023 is going to have some differences in terms of redefining the relationship between employers and employees. And I think we’re going to continue to see that be different. I don’t think we’re ever going to go back to sort of where we were in 2019. So I would think that we got that one right for the first half of the year and then the second half of the year. There were some other things that happen. So continues to be a theme. But but some of the power shift that that completely employees call all the shots has started to change. And we have seen some people who, you know, sort of in the great resignation, right, left their jobs and have kind of regretted it or have gone back. So so it’s been a mixed bag.

Vanessa Gates 15:21

And I think, like you said, the quiet quitting, we go from the Great Resignation to now the Quiet Quitting era, when I can’t agree with you more, I think as we go into 2023, we’re just gonna keep seeing more of that. I mean, I see it talking to my friends in the tech industry, you know, where they were remotes, and now they’re being asked to come into the office. So it’s like, Whoa, now,

Kristyn Emenecker 15:46

Which shows that power shift a little.

Vanessa Gates 15:50

So, you know, I, unfortunately, in this uncertain time that we’re in economy wise, I just think a lot of things are still very unpredictable. And I think a lot of the time, and we’ll talk more about 2023, in just a few, but I, it’s interesting times for sure. So as far as the digital expectations, really quick, two bullets as to what you shared about the expectation, what did that mean, when you shared that?

Kristyn Emenecker 16:20

around digital expectation, it was really that it was more of that, that concept of, you know, consumers were tolerant with companies during COVID. But coming out of COVID, there is, you know, an expectation, and I think we have seen this, that, you know, the companies come back to a focus on service and on support, and some of them, you know, sort of left it for a little while, and, and some of that couldn’t be helped. But, you know, in 2022, we have really seen consumers expect companies to come back, maybe not in the same way they were in 2019, because, like I said, I don’t necessarily want to call them on the phone, but I want them to have, you know, to sort of meet me where I’m at, right? So so on my phone in the app, make it easy, when I have a problem with an order, make it easy for me to reach you and take those channels seriously. Because, you know, now my relationship with you, as accompany me as a consumer, maybe completely through your app, I might never talk to someone, and in 2019, we sell some of that, but much, much less. And so if your brand and your relationship with me is dependent on, you know, newer channels of communication and support, you know, you better be focused there better make sure that you’ve got, you know, not just sort of, you know, chatbots and self service, but that when I have a problem, I can within the same channel very easily without having to go try to find any 100 Number, I can reach you, I can reach a live human, I can ask my complex question. And I can get a response and that companies are taking the service they provide on those channels seriously. So all of the sort of things that the voice world, you know, that we used to do, like, like, you know, all of the focus on quality and training and, and ensuring positive experiences, all of that needs to be done, and then some across channels, so being able to meet me in this digital world where I live now. And to provide really high quality service there and to take it seriously to make sure that live agents are scheduled appropriately are available when I need them, where I need them. And to make sure that those handoffs between cell service via you know, a website or a chat bot and a live person, I don’t want to repeat everything, I want you to understand where I’ve been and I want you to take it seriously and provide me with high quality service. So I still think I think some companies are doing a great job of that. I think some still have a ways to go. But I think that that is a trend that we got absolutely right. I have seen this is a slow growing market normally or a slow to change market. Right. I’ve been in it for a long time. I have seen more change, I would say you know since 2020, but really on the digital side almost almost more in terms of taking it seriously not just an emergency like, you know, we quickly had to shut down our call centers and we’ve got this other thing set up like we saw in 2020. But really making it strategic taking it seriously. I’ve seen more shift in that in 2022 than I’ve ever seen before and I think the Here’s a long way to go still, I think we’ll continue to see that.

Vanessa Gates 20:04

It’s funny you mentioned the part about how the consumers are expecting to you know, be reached in a are still expecting to be reached reached the brand via digital, actually had a podcast recording that episode is actually going to be a release after this one. But I’m with Gabe Larson, he is with Kustomer. And we talked about they have a recent research about the modern age of messaging. And I pulled it up when you’re talking to give you the exact stat he has said in there that 83% of consumers think that they should be able to contact customer service on any channel they want, as research was conducted, you know, this year post pandemic era, whatever area you want to call this right now that we’re in, so it’s it’s there that the numbers speak for their for their selves, essentially.

Kristyn Emenecker 20:52

Yeah. And and it should be made easy, right? So so, you know, I think that there was a, there was a feeling for a while, kind of before the pandemic of, you know, we’re if we’re, if we’re going to be an early adopter of sort of digital, we’re going to make it really hard for people to reach a live person, we’re going to do everything through self service. And I think that what we’ve seen is that companies that have positive brand experiences really are, again, are looking to make it easy to reach a live person in all of those channels, not just Yes, it’s great, I love to be able to sell serve. But I also want to be able to have more complex issues resolved sometimes hopefully, that doesn’t happen often. But when it does, that’s the moment of truth with a company and when I have to fight to, you know, find a way to reach you people in the app, because I you know, this order did not come in correctly, and I or I need to make a change. And the order has already been placed. And I can’t find a way to do it. It’s critically important that yeah, that they have live agents on those channels, and that they are taking them, like I said that they’re taking them seriously, as you know that as a singular path to to building a relationship with consumers.

Vanessa Gates 22:19

Yeah. And I think one last thing to mention about that research and what the discussion him and I heard was that, on top of that 83% of these consumers are expecting to be able to reach these brands, via channels that they already speak to friends and families on. So like, there’s more that we talked about was you know, Facebook, and it was No, it wasn’t a shameless plug on Meta and, and Kustomer. I use it as an example. You know, for me, I’m always on Messenger. So if a brand has Facebook Messenger for me, I personally love that. Let me go in there. Let’s get this done. Answer my question. And let’s be let’s be through with it. So, yeah, it’s there. And I’m gonna give you a gold star for your prediction.

Kristyn Emenecker 23:04

All right, excellent. Excellent. I love I was that kid in school, I love getting getting the gold.

Vanessa Gates 23:11

But enough for 2022. Let’s talk 2023. What are some of your predictions that you anticipate? Yeah,

23:19

so you know, it’s interesting, I think that I think that those same sort of themes show up in an evolved way in 2023. So for example, the one that we were just talking about was, you know, this concept of, you know, of really taking all channels seriously and realizing that and by the way, I misspoke a moment ago, I didn’t mean to say that, you know, it would be singularly meaning you can never reach anybody on any other channel, but then this chat to your point. It’s, it should be across all channels, I guess what I was saying was having been in this space for a long time, there were a lot of companies who felt that, again, they would always have an opportunity to build a relationship, even if the, you know, digital experiences weren’t great. You could always call and they have these great agents, and they’re going to talk to you and they’re going to build the relationship there. And my point is, I think that’s no longer the case. You can no longer assume that with consumers, as Gen Z comes in, but frankly, for all of us, I’m certainly nowhere close to Gen Z. And I my exclusive loyalty and relationship with many companies is built solely through through through digital and and knowing that I can get a live agent who can resolve my issue through messenger through chat through other things, right. So when we think about that, I think that going into 2023 We, you know, we’ve we’ve sort of we’ve made some progress, but I think we really start to think about this. A shift To back to loyalty, and to building loyalty and to creating emotional connections, and the challenge of creating emotional connections in new ways. So, you know, it’s interesting, I think that sometimes when I speak to, you know, sort of people in the corporate management side, right, they, they find it strange that, that emotional connections could be made without voice face, right. And you can have those things in any, you know, in any relationship and conversation with consumers. But what we all know is that many, many, I have two teenagers, right? Many emotional connections, and relationships nowadays are made and the entire relationship carried out. And there may be, you know, no voice or almost no voice. And so, you know, I think companies need to get wise to that and realize that what the, what they can get through emotional connectedness, from a loyalty standpoint, is, is huge. And so, again, you know, there’s this new thinking that needs to be applied to how do we create delighted experiences, emotionally connected experiences, via these, these newer channels that we use to support, it doesn’t mean that we need to be, you know, overly sappy and emotional in every exchange, I want things to be efficient and quick, but it means that when I have a problem, and I say, you know, I need this account, because, you know, this, this issue has happened, and I’m super frustrated, and I’m really upset, and I need, you know, I need this account to be straightened out. I expect the same level of sort of empathy and apology and in responsiveness that, you know, maybe I would have gotten at once upon a time from walking into the store and having a conversation face to face with someone. So I think that, and we’ll, we’ll talk about this more, I know, we’re going to have sort of a whole panel conversation about 2023, shameless plug for our webinar that’s coming up. But I, you know, I think that there is this shift back to loyalty, as we see the capital markets change, as we see the layoffs, as we see less focus for some tech driven companies, SaaS companies in, you know, just growth at any, at any cost. And we see a shift back to what some industries say, We’ve been sitting here and focusing on all along, which is, you know, loyalty and retention, I think, the the sort of the new, the new era of that, you know, digital connectedness conundrum is, is how do you create emotional loyalty? How do you really tap into emotional connectedness and those moments that change a consumers thought from this is one of many companies I could do business with to, I really want to be loyal to this company. And I like the way they made me feel in that moment. So I think there’s lots more we can talk about there, but I think it’s going to be, it’s really going to be a big theme within 2023 I think we’re gonna see a lot of focus on that. So that will be one. I would say that, you know, obviously, we’re seeing, you know, the global economy potentially going into recession, mixed signals, like we talked about, but we’re seeing across the board, that efficiency is king. And so that is for sure, probably going to be the headline trend, right, which is how do I do more with less? How do I you know, potentially we’re not hiring tons of people like we were in past years, how do I you know, how do I create great experiences for my customers, when I can’t add the 30% new heads that I want to add to my support organization, maybe where we’re more focused on you know, being more efficient and so I think we’re gonna see a lot more you know, not just talk but actual application of and and execution of AI and automation within our service and support organizations. You know, all of those little repetitive things that we do I say we because I’ve started out in you know, in in customer service, but you know, there’s a lot of repetitive work still in 2022 There’s a lot of like, things that are you know, let me now pull this drag drop down and tag this you know, ticket even though I just had the entire conversation so simple applications of AI can be just, you know, one of the things we do with customer AI is we, you know, take all that conversation, understand the theme, understand what tags the company is looking for, and automatically tag it. So it’s one less thing that my support rep has to do. So my support rep can go on to, you know, handle the next customer, and I don’t need as many people, that’s a very simple example. But I would say, you know, spreadsheets, and trying to juggle and manage, you know, forecasting what kind of, you know, customer demand is going to come in and, and scheduling my employees and, you know, managing quality and trying to juggle old school sort of manual training, I think a lot of that those companies who are still doing that are going to have to get rid of it. Because what they can’t do, because of the emotional loyalty trend is just say, Oh, well, we don’t have enough staff. So we just won’t worry about how those, you know, how those support tickets go, how those interactions go, they have to still be focused on it. So it’s about how do I provide this really, you know, loyalty earning experience, and do it with less people? So, you know, again, I think we’re gonna have a lot of conversations on that. But efficiency is king. That’s my big headline for 2023. I would say, you know, the other one, sorry, just I’ll say them all, and then I’ll let you comment. And Vanessa, how about that? We’ll just we’ll go through, tease out a couple of them. And then I’ll let you tell me, you know, what your thoughts are, you see different things for 2023. But the other, you know, the other sort of thing that I’ve been thinking about, and I touched on a little bit earlier is this redefined relationship between employers and employees. So even as the economy and layoffs and you know, battles over, you know, work from home, or come back to the office, even as those things play out and shift, and I think they will still keep kind of shifting a little bit, I think that what we have to realize is that that relationship has changed forever. There has been, I think, we’re seeing a breakdown of trust, trust, from employers, to employees, right, so this whole like, reactive thing to the quiet quitting this whole, you know, you have to come back to the office, this, you know, reactionary, I need to see what you’re doing, I need to know that, you know, you’re focused on, on on your work on doing what you should do, I think is, is dangerous for employers, I think that they should not count too much on, you know, this new new power because of the economy, because, again, jobless numbers are super low. And there are lots of new opportunities out there, for every single employee. And so they need to demonstrate more trust and more empowerment, I think that, you know, sort of the, again, the workforce today is looking for more autonomy, more work life balance, more trust.

Kristyn Emenecker 33:15

I also think, though, that all of those things in you know, all the way back, right, have created a lack of trust from employees, to their employer, right, they see these actions, and they say, you know, what, the world is different. So if you’re gonna, you know, be so silly about I, you know, I needed to leave it for, because something was going on, and you said, my work hours or until five? Now, I’m wishing back with this quiet quitting thing and saying, fine, 501 you need me, guess what? I’m gone. Right. So there’s this, there’s this breakdown of trust in both areas. And I think that for those of us in customer service, and customer support, a breakdown in that relationship translates to a breakdown in the relationship between the company and the customers, because customer service is, is the heart of that relationship between a brand and their consumers. And so I think, you know, we can talk about a whole bunch of ways that that relationship gets redefined. But I think that’s going to be a big part of, you know, sort of the resetting the new normal in 2023. But I’m curious what your, what your predictions are, what your thoughts are,

Vanessa Gates 34:28

you know, I will have to leave them for the webinar that we’re going to be joining you all on the on the webinar as far as the aspect of it of helping facilitated and excetera so, I’ll be putting in some of my predictions in there, and I hope that everyone, but my thoughts though, really is, as you were mentioning the loyalty and the emotional intelligence part. I was kind of laughing inside because I’m like, huh, play Max is kind of ahead of that, you know, we’ve had a great series of emotional intelligence and webinars about that and assets that we put out. I encourage all of our, our listeners to get back to that. And I will make sure that we pin those at the bottom of this podcast episode as resources so that you can see, you know, what our suggestions have been when it comes to the multi generations and the emotional intelligence on that? How do you operate as a consumer with a brand and vice versa? A brand with a with a consumer on these different generations? And how do you bring in those emotional intelligence, etc, to help with a seamless customer service experience? So yes, I bet I am definitely going to be bringing my predictions to this lovely webinar that we will be having at a link to that webinar will also be linked to the bottom of this page. So if you’re not able to join, you’ll at least be able to see the on demand and get a little bit more details. As far as what Kristin and a couple of other the industry experts have to say about what they predict for 2023. Kristyn, this has been amazing. We could probably keep talking and I don’t know. All the things that you know, we predicted in 2023. I’m very excited to see how it kind of pans out and then maybe this time next year, we’ll be getting together again to talk about which ones you get A’s and gold stars and which ones you’ll just get, you know, maybe a serious happy face, you know, try again next year.

Kristyn Emenecker 36:36

Okay, all right. I told you accountability is is important. And yeah, I love that you’re I love that you’re keeping keeping me guessing now I can’t I can’t really even more can’t wait for the webinars. Your your thoughts? And also, Vanessa, how awesome is it that all women in tech women in customer support and tech on that panel? So yeah, I love I love to see that. I want to hear everyone’s voices of course. You know, men, I love to hear your voices as well. But I do think that it’s kind of cool that it just worked out that way that that all of our panel experts will be women this year and i i As a mom of two daughters I that makes me so happy to see sort of the tech world continuing to change. So love that.

Vanessa Gates 37:24

Now we are here closing out the season with episode 10 with Kristen, I’m looking forward to launching Season Two if you’ve loved our content now it’s just gonna get even more amazing. So thank you, thank you. Thank you everyone and as always be good human and I’ll see you next time.

Kristyn Emenecker 37:43

Hey, and Vanessa, congrats to you like amazing job on this so that you need that shout out as well. You’ve done an awesome job and and I’m gonna be continuing to listen