With just days to go before the start of CCA’s 19th Convention in Edinburgh I can really sense the rising excitement among members shortlisted for this year’s Excellence Awards. I was privileged to read some of our judges comments on the award submissions and you can’t help but emerge with a strong sense of optimism about the future of customer service.

Amid the daily negative headlines on customer complaints and poor service, it should be remembered that every day in every sector there are countless customer service teams getting it right and doing their job with a passion and commitment that comes across to the customers they serve.

A culture of continuous improvement and continuous learning is now the norm among enlightened customer service practitioners who understand that complaints represent a golden opportunity to derive insight from what has gone wrong in order to drive improvements in future.

Our resolve is to relay this message to the wider public so that CCA members become more widely recognised as organisations which are a barometer for excellence in customer service delivery.

We know that considerable barriers still exist that prevent businesses from delivering the quality of service they want in every single customer transaction. We also recognise that many organisations are in the midst of a difficult transitional phase in the evolution of their service strategy, implementing new channel strategies and new systems which will make the customer journey easier to navigate, smoother and more pleasurable.

There is inevitably a time lag between the current transitional phase and the point at which organisations and their customers will reap the full rewards of investment and change programmes being implemented today. Wider recognition of that fact would make the journey easier.

Look at stock markets, which conventional wisdom dictates, anticipate events 18 months in advance. This week Twitter’s historic IPO provided the latest example of a multi-billion dollar valuation based on a belief in future success - the company, while hugely influential, has yet to turn a profit in the seven years since it was founded.

Ironically, investment in new processes and systems and in some cases new teams, to cope with rising volumes of customer contact via Twitter, is part of the transition underway currently in customer contact operations. Making a case for this kind of investment can be hard. I sometimes wonder whether an argument predicated on the cost of not investing might be more persuasive?

We are entering a new and challenging era in customer contact in which providing seamless and consistently high quality service across every channel is fast-becoming not just an aspiration but a necessity. It is not a far-off prospect and we see many encouraging signs of members who are well advanced on a journey towards achieving this. 

Those who have made most progress have learned to speak the language of the board room, have a lateral view of their own organisations and have moved the conversations they have from operational and transactional issues to strategic concerns. There is a new sense of alignment and shared goals in these organisations and a truly customer-centric vision at the heart of every business decision they take.

We are bringing together the smartest minds in customer service and the best practitioners to share their wisdom at Convention and we are delighted that it is a sell-out event. The good news for those of you unable to attend is that we have devised an easy way for you to access the highlights of Convention and much more besides via CCA Convention Resource Pack 2013.

The pack, which will be available to download via CCA website, includes our new Research Compendium with a digest of all of our 2012/13 research; our hot-off-the-press Customer Service Blueprint which we’ll be co-creating at Convention; and the answers to 20 Critical Questions we’ll be tackling next week. 
Click here for more information.

I’ll be Tweeting from Convention in Edinburgh next week - I hope you’ll take part in what is set to be a lively debate.