Here’s a summer challenge for those of you with good memories (and maybe a few grey hairs) - cast your mind back 20 years ago and see if you can recall the summer of 1994 (and no cracks about if you can remember it, you weren’t there!).
Here are a few reminders to jog your memory: Brazil beat Italy in a penalty shoot-out in the World Cup final, the Channel Tunnel was officially opened, Tony Blair won the Labour Party leadership election and Wet Wet Wet ruled the airwaves with ‘Love is All Around.’
As our 20th anniversary Convention approaches, we can’t help but feel a little nostalgic as more than a few of the names coming along were with us right at the beginning in 1994 when not only call centres, but the world at large, was a very different place.
We’ve lived through remarkable times and been part of a technology revolution that has radically changed the way organisations interact with customers and also the kinds of service expectations customers place on us all day, every day.
It’s amazing to think that the first web servers outside CERN (European Organisation for Nuclear Research) were only switched on in 1991 which means global internet communication was in its infancy when we gathered for the first CCA Convention in 1994.
It was the 2G telecoms era and Nokia was king of the mobile world, having released its first commercial mobile just two years earlier. Mobile ownership was far from commonplace, in fact in 1994 there were just 67 mobiles for every 1,000 people in the UK. Within a decade there would be more mobiles than people in the UK, while today there are more mobiles than toothbrushes in the world. Who could have foreseen that ?
Email had only really been in public use for a year by 1994 yet within three years the volume of business email traffic had surpassed that of regular email. If you think your email inbox is heaving today, spare a thought for those who dismissed it as a techy gimmick that would never take off.
Public internet access was limited 20 years ago, and only really began to improve significantly with the rollout of broadband to UK homes in the late 90s. It marked the start of consumers’ realisation that they could get in touch with organisations online as well as via the phone, whenever and from wherever they wished, presaging the dawn of the mobile ‘always-on’ consumer (although it took the smartphone to kickstart the mobile age as we think of it today).
In terms of companies that dominate our world, so many were not around or just getting started 20 years ago, think of a world with no Google, no Hotmail, no Amazon, no Facebook, no YouTube, no Twitter and no Skype. All of these businesses now in some way present either challenges, or represent examplars, when it comes to the models we use today for customer contact and service delivery.
With the technology revolution raging for two decades, we in the contact centre world have most emphatically not stood still. We have morphed and adapted to a new service landscape, with some of us moving in line with changes, others cleverly anticipating them, and some inevitably trailing in their wake.
We have an excellent opportunity at Convention to consider how far we’ve come in 20 years, to ponder what we might have done differently with the benefit of hindsight and to don our Google glasses and look boldly into the future and shape our new strategies accordingly.
People often talk about 20/20 vision without knowing what it means - it doesn’t actually mean perfect vision, it refers to normal vision measured at a distance of 20 feet. Accurately assessing visual strength requires consideration of other factors such as peripheral awareness, depth perception, co-ordination and an ability to focus. These factors are as important for business success as for visual function.
As we look ahead to an exciting agenda for Convention 2014, we hope as many of you as possible will come along not only to test your own visionary powers but to share in the wisdom of those who were there right at the start.