“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” – AristotleOur deepest condolences for all those affected by the senseless tragedy in Las Vegas.Have you ever found something so intriguing that it consumes you? That’s exactly how I felt after the ICMI Contact Center Demo last week. More specifically, I find myself putting much more thought into the words I use in everyday conversations. Why? Because of something Jim Knight said. But I’ll get to that a little later. First, let’s look back at a first-class event…Last week I had the honor and pleasure of attending my first ICMI event. The incredible event staff coordinated seven local contact center tours, six brilliant learning tracks, four insightful keynotes, more than 50 knowledgeable thought leaders, and dozens of cutting-edge exhibitors – all aligned around the objective of advancing the Contact Center industry. The welcome keynote came with a power packed lineup including Gadi Shamia, COO of Talkdesk, Brad Cleveland, Co-Founder of ICMI, and Jim Knight, Former Head of “School of Hard Rocks”. Gadi Shamia shocked us all when he alluded to the death of the IVR. He’s right you know. “Customers live in a world of rich data.” How are you empowering your agents to use it? Does the thought of changing your customer’s journey put a knot in your stomach? According to Brad Cleveland “If something on your to-do list puts a knot in your stomach, that’s probably the most important thing.” You’ll have to continue reading just a bit more for my thoughts on Jim Knight.We kicked off the expert speaker tracks with MetricNet’s own Jeff Rumburg in session 102. Jeff revealed how one contact center slashed costs and dramatically improved customer satisfaction through benchmarking – a diagnostic and prescriptive tool that doesn’t take a lot of time or cost a lot of money. A copy of the slides can be found here.Justin Robbins was next on our agenda. He gave the audience actionable insight on customer lifetime value and provided empirical evidence to support the fact that “There is no one size fits all when it comes to customer lifetime value“. If you still believe all customers are created equal, I urge you to review Session 206.Are you prepared for the “tsunami of new interactions coming toward us”? If you attended session 305 with Davy Kestens, I’d venture to guess that you’re more prepared than before. Just for a moment, think about how your children are communicating. Does it even remotely resemble how we used to communicate? Do you find yourself mimicking their communication habits? I sure do! Now, think about the level of effort of these modern communication habits. They require next to none! Effortlessness is now the gold standard. How does your contact center stack up?Like bookends on day one, we wrapped up the expert speaker blocks with Jeff Rumburg. Is there someone in your contact center that is obsessed with metrics? I’d recommend you present them with the slides to session 406. If it moves, contact centers measure it. But, as Jeff pointed out, “only 5% of contact centers report achieving business results using KPIs”. Would it surprise you to know that is where the real value is? Jeff illustrated how business results can be measured through ROI, increased profits, growing market share, customer loyalty, and greater product count per customer.Another all star lineup was waiting in the general session ballroom the next morning including Mark Bloom, Sr. Director of Strategy & Operations Service Cloud at Salesforce, and John Rossman, Former Amazon Executive. Mark Bloom urged the audience to be a beacon to their customers and reminded us that “disruptive companies use service to transform the customer experience”! Are you proactive in serving your customers? It’s really not “George Jetson stuff”.Are you obsessing over the competition? Stop it and take a page from this luminary’s playbook. John Rossman gave some excellent advice – “Pay attention to competition. Obsess about customers.” In case you missed it, building product the Amazon way includes 4 points. 1) No PowerPoint! Instead, write narratives. 2) Write a future press release. 3) Create what you believe will be the frequently asked questions. 4) Write out a user manual. Who else Googled relentless.com?Our afternoon began with a compelling conversation about ROI in session 503. One key takeaway – “Without the ability to show executive leaders the value of your contact center, they may always question the virtue of investing in it”. How incredibly true!We couldn’t leave without seeing Sean Hawkins. Sean’s session was all about metrics that matter. A topic I’m sure you all know is right up our alley! Heads were nodding all over the room when Sean said – “Don’t tell the story of the data. Let data tell the story.” Are you making this critical mistake when it comes to communicating metrics?Ok so I intended to wrap in Jim Knight earlier on, but I suppose there’s no better time than now. If you’ve ever had a customer tell you their experience was fine, good or okay, you’ll understand exactly what Jim meant when he urged the room to avoid 4 letter words. This simple statement stuck with me and will affect not only how I view customer experience, but also how I speak and write – for at least the foreseeable future. Still don’t get it? Ask yourself – Does an okay experience excite you? Does it thrill you? Would it impress your stakeholders? I’d sure hope not. So, the next time you see service described with some four letter word, aim to change it to exceptional, phenomenal, superb or marvelous!