Here are pointers on how technologies such as cloud-based APIs and other solutions help associates deliver the types of first-rate experiences that help keep customers happy and loyal.
Connecting Through the Cloud
Cloud computing offers numerous benefits that enable contact centers to improve the customer experience. Besides the cost benefits of not having to maintain and support an on-premise solution as well as allowing associates to work anywhere in a virtual environment, another game-changer is the cloud application programming interfaces (APIs). Cloud APIs allow software to request data and computations from other services through an interface.
For customer service associates, this means it is becoming easier to integrate applications and other workloads into the cloud to create a unified view of the customer. Indeed, exceptional customer experience hinges on an associate’s ability to provide a “context-rich interaction.” Associates need a complete record of the customer’s interactions with the company from CRM data to the last page he looked at on the website before calling. Much of this data has been blocked off in separate applications and databases, but with the advent of cloud APIs, streamlining the data is increasingly easier.
In addition to streamlining data, customer service associates also need guidance on what to do with the data. More and more companies for example, are turning to real-time speech analytics to guide associates through phone calls with customers. The technology captures and analyzes phone conversations as they occur, and then by using linguistic analytics combined with a decisioning engine, identifies insights and recommendations for the associates to improve the customer experience.
In addition to speech analytics, advanced cloud-based customer analytics are making it possible for customer experience leaders to delve into a deeper pool of customer data from a variety of sources (CRM, social, third-party data providers) and capture anomalies and trends that were virtually impossible to spot before.
Predictive Call Routing
At most contact centers, callers are typically routed to the first available associate. But advanced companies are taking it one step further by using skill-based routing to send callers to the associate who is best suited to handle the call, based on factors like the reason for the contact and the associate’s skill set or training. The benefits are obvious—customers prefer interacting with people who can understand and address their needs.
Predictive behavioral routing is another emerging solution for contact centers that uses innovative technology to match callers with associates based on communication preferences, personality, and behavioral characteristics. For example, one customer might prefer to speak with an associate who is highly empathetic while someone else might prefer to speak with matter-of-fact associates with very little chatter.
A well-designed behavioral analytics platform that captures and analyzes data from customer and employee interactions and other contextual information can create a ranked associate availability list and send the call to the best-suited associate. If a new customer calls the service line, for example, the customer may be routed to an associate who successfully interacts with a wide range of caller personalities.
Self-Service + Knowledgeable Associates
In some instances, the best customer experience could be one that doesn’t involve interacting with a human customer service associate. Some companies, like 1-800-Flowers and Fandango for instance, are experimenting with customer service bots that combine artificial intelligence with text messaging programs to understand requests and provide answers via messenger. The bots can even perform automated tasks like giving weather and news updates or shipping notifications.
Many people prefer to find the answers themselves and will only call when they have a complicated request or can’t find the answer. And as long as there’s a closed loop in that the associate understands what the customer has looked at already and can solve the issue, the customer is satisfied. And as communicating with associates become a customer’s last resort, companies must equip them with the proper training and resources to handle complicated questions or issues.
Automated solutions and other tools are on pace to provide convenient and efficient experiences that consumers crave. But companies shouldn't get caught up in a technology frenzy and forget what really matters most in brand engagement: the customer. Technology undoubtedly offers numerous benefits, however, companies must ensure that their customers may communicate with an associate whenever they wish and provide employees with the resources and training they need to deliver exceptional customer experiences.
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