ICX Association leader talks trends, innovations and goals ahead
Photo courtesy of Networld Media Group.
In light of the upcoming Interactive Customer Experience Summit, being held in Dallas, Texas June 5-7, Retail Customer Experience reached out to ICX Association Managing Director Christopher Hall to talk trends and get insight on what's happening with CX as the summit is the official association event.
Hall, who spent seven years as an editor and managing editor for Networld Media Group, has been at the helm of KioskMarketplace.com, SelfServiceWorld. com and DigitalSignageToday.com before moving into a management role of the NMG's payments and technology editorial group.
He’s served as ICXA managing director for just about a year. The association, which is about three years old, grew out of the Digital Screenmedia Association, which was the merger of the Digital Signage Association and Self-Service and Kiosk Association.
Retail Customer Experience: So, congrats on your first year anniversary. For those who may not know about the ICX Association, what is its mission and focus?
Christopher Hall: Our vision is to show the world how to use technology to create transcendent customer experiences — and we do that by connecting customer-facing brands with the technology that elevates the customer experience. What that means is that we want to put together the retailers, restaurants, museums, universities, public agencies, you name it, with the people who have the technological expertise and products they can use to make something magical happen for their customers and patrons — as well as putting all these brands and vendors together with each other so they can better learn from and partner with one another.
RCE: Why should retailers and vendors of customer experience technology join the Association?
Hall: There are several reasons. If you want to network and partner with other vendors and suppliers, or if you're a retailer or a restaurateur and you want to learn from others in your industry how they've created terrific customer experiences, c'mon down, the water's fine.
The Association offers some terrific promotional value in terms of posting blogs, case studies and white papers on our dynamic, newly updated website or on our ICX Map. Members also get free access to terrific research products from our parent company, Networld Media Group, and its websites (including RCE), as well as discounts on event sponsorships and attendance.
And lastly, we're an organization with some high-powered members that it'd be great to get to know, but we're also still a fairly new organization — so if you want to help steer the ship and set the course of the organization from the early days, now is your chance.
RCE: What are the Association's goals for this year and going forward?
Hall: The overarching goals are the same as they'll always be, to try to carry out our mission and help our members achieve their goals of creating amazing customer experiences with interactive technologies. One a micro level, for this year, we want to get our learning series off the ground, keep expanding our ICX Map of innovative deployments and keep exploring an educational certification component. We're also really working hard to attract more restaurant members and members from verticals beyond retail; I think in the past the assumption has been that we are primarily geared toward the retail experience. We went to encompass any area in which there is a possibility of technology increasing the interaction between a brand and the public, whether that's a self-order tablet in a restaurant or a self-service kiosk at the DMV. We've got wheels in motion for all of those, but we're taking our time to make sure we do them right and do them well. Our main focus is and always will be on shining a light on the great work being done by our members, both on the supplier and end-user sides, and putting those members together to learn from each other.
RCE: Is there one word that best describes what's happening with CX today?
Hall: Yes, and it's a bit of a cliché, but sometimes clichés are clichés because they're accurate. That word is revolutionary. So much is changing in the ways customers interact with brands and vice versa that the old rules and the old ways of doing business are going by the wayside faster than anyone can keep track. New technologies and new ways of engaging customers are coming fast and furious — and our members are the ones who are best set to help navigate those waters.
RCE: What are some of the big challenges today's retailers are facing in advancing and deploying customer experience technologies and programs?
Hall: You and I talked about this recently, and I think you hit it on the head when you brought up cost and getting buy-in. These things are not inexpensive, and there has to be a project "champion" who can get buy-in from senior leadership. I would also add in that scalability and speed are big issues. How does this tech scale across the enterprise if you're a nationwide brand? And how quickly is this new tech going to be old tech? There is a slim window sometimes with some of these technologies so brands must be flexible, agile and fast to take advantage of them.
RCE: The Association's annual ICX Summit event is coming up in June. Is there one trend or focal point that seems to be top of mind with retailers looking to boost CX?
Hall: I think the buzzword for not just retailers, but retail banks, restaurants and many others, this year is definitely IoT. The Internet of Things isn't exactly a new concept, but it's one that certainly seems to be seizing the imagination of brands looking to get an edge on the competition. One of our members, Intel, certainly made that the centerpiece of their CEO's keynote at this year's National Retail Federation show. I don't think they're alone in seeing the opportunity and the importance there.
RCE: The Summit affords retailers a unique opportunity to meet colleagues as well as experts in CX. Can you give us some insight on keynotes and new content focal points this year?
Hall: This year's summit is going to be bringing in a panel to specifically address one of the biggest areas of concern for brands these days: millennials. That's one thing I think people will find particularly useful and enlightening. Brands are trying to figure out what millennials want and how to approach and engage with them (of course, they're not a monolithic single entity with a universal set of wants and desires, but any insight is helpful), so we're bringing in a panel of the people themselves to talk to attendees. We'll also be looking at augmented and virtual reality technologies, customer-facing robots, how to achieve ROI, how to get good analytics from your deployments and, of course, IoT. If brands want to stay ahead of the new wave, Dallas is the place to be in early June.
Judy Mottl is an experienced editor, reporter and blogger who has worked for top media including AOL, InformationWeek and InternetNews. She’s written everything from breaking news to in-depth trends. She loves a great pitch so email here, follow on Twitter and connect on LinkedIn.www