This article was originally published on the FCR blog on June 9, 2017. Click here to read the original.
Have you ever faced a problem and felt like you had nowhere to turn? Perhaps you’re in that spot right now. A strong network of likeminded professionals is a great way to work through problems and challenges with others who have either gone through something similar or are currently.
At the recent ICMI conference (check out my recap), Ruth McCullen and I hosted a roundtable discussion over breakfast. Our table was packed and topics ranged from quality assurance to customer satisfaction to speech and text analytics and we explored how these things can work together to make a better customer experience. We discussed the cost of certain tools and measures we could take right now without a huge expenditure. Those groups are so fun because we all come from similar backgrounds and have a shared language and passion around customer service that makes for a really rich, engaging discussion.
If this topic appeals to you, I’d like to highlight some different venues where you can find vibrant communities of people with enough variety to appeal to your preferences.
I more or less stumbled upon Support Driven a few weeks ago. This is a community of more than two thousand support professionals that features a blog, local networking groups in a number of major cities, job board, and conferences. A number of us at FCR are actually attending the SDX conference in Portland in a little over a month.
The greatest value we’ve gained from Support Driven is the Slack group. You can sign up for free right from their website and in no time at all, you’re chatting with an awesome group of customer service professionals. There are a ton of different channels including user groups focused on tools like Zendesk, Desk, and Help Scout and regional groups in a variety of cities.
Another great organization for support professionals, especially if you’re in the contact center is ICMI. Their conferences, one in the fall and one in the spring, are a great opportunity to unplug from the day to day and go tour other contact centers, hear from inspiring keynote speakers, learn about the latest technology, network with other professionals, and attend engaging sessions.
ICMI also has a couple other great opportunities. I participate in a regular Twitter chat called #ICMIChat. We meet on Tuesdays at 10am Pacific time. Here’s an article I wrote some time ago about doing a Twitter chat. #Custserv chat is also a great after hours group on Tuesdays at 6pm Pacific time. Another opportunity through ICMI is their monthly book club where you can read a relevant book, discuss with others, and attend a free webinar with the author.
If you’re interested in stretching your thinking on all things customer, CustomerThink is a terrific resource. Read a variety of articles on customer experience, emerging technology, and topics like big data (one I’m still wrapping my mind around). This is a great place to read, learn, and dream of things to come in our field. Comment on any article and you’re likely to get a thoughtful response from the author. CustomerThink also has a Think Tank where you can discuss relevant topics with experts in a variety of industries.
I joined the CXPA this year which is a robust organization of people discussing customer experience. This organization features an annual conference and also offers the opportunity to become a Certified Customer Experience Professional. The greatest value I’ve gained so far is their forum where I can interact with other professionals grappling with similar customer experience questions and issues.
I know that I’ve just scratched the surface of ways to network with other people who are passionate about customer service. Other groups like Help Desk Institute (HDI), SOCAP, and CCNG are worth a look. Also, user conferences from various vendors you might use are great and help you learn how to use those tools better. Some that come to mind include OpenTalk, Relate Live, and Dreamforce. If you have a network that has helped you become a better customer service professional, please share.