Meet The Members: Annette Miesbach, inContact
This month we’re taking this feature in a different direction and meeting Annette Miesbach, who is the Product Marketing Manager with inContact in Salt Lake City, UT. Although Annette is not technically an NACC member since only those who work in a management position in a contact center can be members, the company she works for, inContact, is a supporter of the NACC. That’s why we thought we would take a detour off our usual interview route this month to chat with Annette.
NACC: Although our readers won’t know this, I detect a distinct German accent as we speak. Tell us a little about where you’re from originally.
AM: I was born and raised in Germany, in the Munich area, with the exception of a year in the US while in high school and another year in Spain while in University. I moved to Canada with my husband almost 15 years ago. What was meant to be a temporary assignment with a contact center company in the Toronto area ended up in our getting settled down and deciding to stay in Toronto. I joined inContact almost 2 years ago as a Product Marketing Manager. I do work from the home office most of the time, with travel to our headquarters in Salt Lake City and Marketing related activities across the US thrown in for good measure. The setup suits me to a T.
NACC: How and when did you find your way into the contact center business?
AM: While studying languages (French and Spanish) at the University in Munich, I branched off into Web Marketing and Web Content Management early on with a part time job for a large German communications company in Munich. After graduating from University, I found that I enjoyed my part time job enough to make it my full time calling. When moving to Canada, I transferred to a contact center company, initially as a web content manager. What I learned about contact centers intrigued me (and it still does!), so I dug deeper and started understanding more and more about them, until I eventually took on a Contact Center Product Marketing role. And I’ve never regretted it in the last almost 15 years… There’s so much going on, there’s constant change and growth, new ideas, new approaches – the contact center industry has yet to have a dull moment!
NACC: What is your role at inContact?
AM: I’m a Product Marketing Manager, responsible for product related marketing activities of inContact’s cloud-based contact center solutions. My focus is on multi-channel and omni-channel routing, reporting and contact handling, as well as published programming interfaces and packaged integrations.
NACC: You and I recently did a podcast covering the topic of omni-channel customer communications in the customer care center. Why is inContact throwing its weight behind this particular contact center solution?
AM: At inContact we are convinced that the ability to support omni-channel customer communications is one of the cornerstones of improving the customer journey. Analysts, customers, contact center professionals and suppliers all agree: we are in the Age of the Customer. And this Age of the Customer is characterized by rising customer expectations, and ubiquitous interactions, certainly fuelled by the proliferation of mobile devices. Consumer brands such as Starbucks, Amazon or Apple breed higher customer expectations – and those expectations are in the process of being applied to the customer service customers anticipate when getting into touch with a contact center. They want to interact with you anytime, anywhere, using the channel best suited to their issue and current situation. We talked about this, and how contact center managers can best understand and then address those expectations, in our podcast some weeks ago.
NACC: I should mention that our podcast is available for download on the NACC website (www.nationalcallcenters.org). Besides omni-channel, what other interesting developments do you see down the road for the contact center industry?
AM: There are many topics that come to mind… but to name just the ones that come to mind first:
We strongly believe that we will see more, and more diverse channels handled in the contact center in the future. New inContact research, conducted online by Harris Poll, reveals that the majority of U.S. adults expect companies and ecommerce sites to support at least six of the tested methods of communication during a buying cycle. Channels of course include phone, email and web chat, but we found that today’s customers increasingly also demand SMS / text, Social and video chat. (http://goo.gl/QtGcnH)
Customer service will become more integrated into the fabric of the Enterprise. Agents will be able to provide more personalized service through integrated access to customer data in Enterprise systems such as CRM, ticketing or other customer data systems. The agent interface will evolve to become the streamlined, optimized tool helping agents to optimize the customer experience by allowing them to concentrate on the customer, not on the tool.
We see contact center solutions becoming more integrated. It is a concept that we at inContact call the Workforce Intelligent Contact Center – it will eliminate manual interventions and inefficient processes by tightly integrating contact center infrastructure and Workforce Optimization (WFO) systems, so that WFO performance data drives ACD and IVR processes, so your team spends less time manually checking agent performance and adjusting assignments.
Lastly, not surprising from someone working for a cloud company, the trend to the cloud will continue – for all types and sizes of contact centers. A SaaS contact center allows you to easily add functionality as you need it. You don’t need to buy, maintain or upgrade hardware, and you only pay for what you use. As an added bonus, supporting multiple contact centers or locations is easy. And that includes work-at-home agents – another trend we see going strong in the long term, because it allows contact center to flexibly hire the best agent resources, regardless of where they are located, and achieve higher agent retention rates with more content agents.
NACC: What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
AM: That’s easy: I love spending time with my family, especially my 6 year old daughter. I play the piano, and I try to make it to the barn at least 3 times a week to hop on my 4-legged friend named Irish. To me, nothing is quite as relaxing as horseback riding – negotiating with a 1,200 pounds animal is so “in the moment”… You have to feel it right then and there.
NACC: What is your most memorable experience, good or bad, concerning your experience in the contact center industry?
AM: One of the worst was definitely January two years ago. Our furnace had broken down in the dead of Canadian winter. Service had told us that the spare part required to fix it had to be shipped. Sitting in a frigid house with electrical heaters and an open fireplace three days into this ordeal, I called the customer service center to get an update on when the spare part would finally arrive. The agent answering the call greeted me with a sunny hello and enquired in a very sprightly voice how he could help me today. Working in the industry I understood that he did not have access to any of my customer data, and had no idea about our situation – he handled the call as per protocol. But it certainly taught me a thing or two about the importance of understanding customer history and background when handling interactions.
My absolutely best experience was calling the CAA (the Canadian equivalent of AAA) when I had a flat tire with my then 2 year old daughter in the back of the car on the side of a busy highway. Not only did they get help to me quickly, but after the initial call to the contact center describing my plight, they called me back multiple times: first, letting me know that help was dispatched and on its way, and then giving me frequent updates on when the tow truck would arrive at my location. Stellar service in a very uncomfortable situation.
NACC: Any advice for someone considering or just starting a career with a solutions supplier in the contact center industry?
AM: Observe, listen and learn. Then put your thinking cap on, and keep an open mind. As in most other industries, employers will look for drivers and innovators, not followers. Contact center, and in particular cloud contact center is a fast growing, global market, so you need to be able to pivot on a dime, execute on great ideas, and be valued members of the team. Customer service should be part of your DNA, because it's highly valued – both by our customers, as well as by our customer’s customers.