You just ordered that brand new movie from your service provider, and you can’t wait to start watching it. The lights are dimmed, and everyone is ready to watch. You select the movie, and hit “play” on your remote.
And then, nothing!
Instead of the movie, you get an error message. You call your service provider to rectify the situation. After navigating through a maze of voice menu options, you’re put on hold and forced to listen to music that makes you want to cry in agony.
Finally, you hear the pleasant voice of an agent that greets you. You say to yourself, “Ah, this is the person who will help me solve my problem.” However, your excitement is short-lived. Downright frustration sets in when she asks “Can I verify your account number, please?” And then, “How can I help you today?”
Really? Customers have long tolerated the effort involved in having to repeat personal information to service agents to get issues resolved. Yet, expectations are rapidly changing. With the advent of the Internet and smart devices, we are more connected to the rest of the world than ever before. Instant access to knowledge, goods, and services has changed our perception of what is acceptable and what isn’t. This includes how we engage with the companies that provide us with goods and services.
Today, we know that companies have our data, and we also know that they can easily identify us when we log into their web properties, use their mobile applications, email them, or even call them. In fact, any touch point with a company today can be tracked and logged.
So why are companies still requiring you to identify yourself and your problem when the problem occurred on an Internet-connected device that is associated with your account profile? And why did they make you take the extra step of having to call them to resolve the issue? These are valid questions that an increasing number are asking.
For starters, companies are not making sufficient use of internet connected devices and applications. Instead of asking the customer to call a number, an interactive dialog session could help guide the customer through troubleshooting and resolving an issue.
Then, there is the big challenge of context. This is where many companies fall short. Context provides meaning to interactions and links repeated interactions together to discern patterns and to help recommend a course of action. Evaluating context is necessary for a company to understand and manage customer relationships. It also helps to reduce the customer’s effort when dealing with a company.
What should have happened after the movie purchase issue if context been applied? After attempting to play my movie, an error message would have appeared on the set top box which would have included an explanation of why the movie wasn’t playing. The set top box would have then informed me that it was running diagnostics. If the diagnostics were successful and a resolution was possible, it would have informed me that the movie would play. Problem solved!
Yet, that’s not all! The service provider could have detected that I had experienced multiple issues over the last several months. This would trigger the need for manual intervention. Instead of asking me to call to schedule service, the set top box would then offer me the opportunity to schedule a service appointment. Upon scheduling the service call, I would receive a text from the service provider with an appointment confirmation. A day later, I would receive a call from a customer service representative to apologize for the inconvenience and to make sure I didn’t have any other issues with the service.
This simple example illustrates the layers of context from handling a single issue to making a more general evaluation based on multiple related issues. Depending on the industry and types of interactions, the application of context may have many more layers and be even more complex.
This begs the question – How does a company effectively manage context? To do this efficiently and effectively, a context engine needs to be part of the overall solution.
Context engines, such as the one embedded in the VHT CX Platform, can track and correlate interactions on any channel (ex. web self-service, email, apps). It can integrate with any number of enterprise backend systems such as customer relationship management systems (CRM) to provide customer profile and history information. Additionally, it can process and store input from any number of Internet connected devices. The context engine uses all of these inputs to analyze a customer’s overall journey with a company, infer some key moments in that journey, and provide a combination of recommendations and actions. It also processes the input and adapts recommendations as the customer’s journey continues.
The benefits of context management aren’t limited to maintaining customer satisfaction and loyalty. Context can be used to evaluate customer needs and wants and to target specific campaigns to upsell additional products and services. This can be done retroactively (after a specific interaction) or proactively based on where the customer stands in their journey.
With the proper application of context using a context engine, companies can accommodate their customers’ increasingly demanding expectations. An engine that handles complex contextual scenarios means that a company can properly evolve its relationship with its customers at various points in their journey. Ultimately, this translates into maintaining loyal customers and encouraging them to promote the company’s products and services to their contacts, resulting in new customer acquisitions. It’s a win-win for both companies and customers!
This article was originally published on Alain Moward’s Official Blog.