Blog: Intelligent Interactions Improve Customer Service, Boost Loyalty
How many options did consumers have for interacting with a brand half a century ago? They could visit a brick-and-mortar location, place a phone call from a landline or, perhaps, write a letter. Then, 40 years ago, the world’s first mobile phone call was placed. And two short decades later, commercial traffic began to cross the Internet in 1992.
Today, sending an email or a text message, corresponding on social media, dialing a call center or an organization’s IVR from a cell phone, reaching out via a mobile app and live-chatting with a customer service rep on the Web all can be added to the list.
While there are now a dozen ways to build and maintain relationships with customers, many organizations often still treat these channels as separate silos, creating a disjointed customer care experience. If a consumer is having trouble making a payment online, when he or she next calls the organization’s customer service number, its interactive voice response (IVR) should offer an option like, “Press 1 if you are calling about the issue you encountered on the Web.” The IVR—and all other customer touch points—should be looped into every other customer interaction to serve customers more efficiently and save them the headache of rehashing the same information again and again.
By sharing data across channels to require less effort from customers and improving service, you’re more likely to have less frustrated, more loyal customers. According to CEB Research, 96 percent of customers who had a high-effort service experience reported being disloyal, compared to only 9 percent of customers who reported a low-effort experience.
Take Your Pick
Multiple channels of communication have emerged to meet consumer preferences and needs. To stay competitive, companies’ customer relationship management (CRM) must evolve, too. How? An enterprise-wide policy management engine —“dynamic decisioning”— is needed, a system that recognizes customer interactions across all channels and responds accordingly, regardless of the channel the customer uses. Wireless carriers, for example, have utilized dynamic decisioning for quite some time—but the prepaid industry is young, not much more than a decade old. Many prepaid players are just now getting around to exploring the potential of dynamic decisioning.
In a recent piece for the Harvard Business Review, McKinsey asserted that customer disloyalty is caused by a lack of understanding across the various touch points, rather than by dissatisfaction with one interaction. Bringing together interaction channels with a dynamic decisioning solution can vastly improve the customer experience by optimizing and adapting to changing customer behavior in real-time. And thanks to data analytics, you can not only adapt based on recent customer activity, but you can often anticipate a customer’s needs based on consistent, repeated behavior over the long-term.
Data analytics help determine what rules or policies for the dynamic decisioning engine to use based on trends. But even if you have yet to implement dynamic decisioning, getting a business analyst to “stare and compare the data” can reveal process changes that would make for happier customers—manual decisioning, if you will.
“Intelligent interactions”—unique, personalized exchanges—are the latest way businesses are enhancing customer relationships with an excellent customer service experience; they maximize the value of customer touch points with individual segmentation. They not only are tailored to each individual, they also cut out unnecessary, repetitive steps to optimize the customer care experience. With consumers’ on-the-go lifestyles, time is of the essence and intelligent interactions mean shorter interactions, which keep customers satisfied with quicker and easier access to information.
How can intelligently relating to customers improve loyalty? Picture this:
A customer activates his or her prepaid card. The first time he or she calls for self-service or to speak with an operator, a message plays that says, “Thanks for activating your card. Sign up for direct deposit within seven days, and we’ll credit your account $10.” It’s a win-win: The customer appreciates the message tailored to his or her situation and the opportunity to earn cash, and you secure his or her regular business.
Don’t leave your customers wondering, “Why am I hearing messages prompting me to buy something I already purchased?”
When there was only a handful of ways to communicate, customer loyalty was earned by companies who came to know their customers and offered them products and services that met their individual needs. Even though today customers interact with multiple employees using multiple channels—stores and kiosks, contact centers and Websites, apps and SMS—organizations can create that same kind of personal experience with intelligent interactions and dynamic decisioning.
David Jackson serves as the chief operating officer of Enacomm, a provider of voice processing infrastructure, applications and services that optimize customer call interactions. He can be reached at DavidJ@enacomm.net.