Omni-Channel Customer Engagement Article

Interactive Text Response Important Element of Omni-Channel Customer Engagement

February 18, 2016

As customers, we like personalization, and we like being treated as special. That said, it doesn’t necessarily mean we want to be fussed over by a live agent each time we need help. Live telephone help, while necessary sometimes, takes longer and requires that we make small-talk with a stranger. For introverts in particular, this isn’t a desirable process, and today, nearly all of us are in a hurry to finish our task so we can get on with the next one.

Self-service is popular today when it comes to interacting with companies for many reasons. For starters, thanks the omnichannel customer engagement quest most companies are on, there are a variety of self-directed channels we can choose from, including interactive voice response (IVR), Web FAQs, mobile app and more. When it’s necessary to seek a little live help, fewer and fewer of us really want to pick up the phone and start a telephone call with a customer support center, according to a recent blog post by Aspect’s (News - Alert) Chris O'Brien.             

“A growing majority of customers (73 percent) have told us that if all factors were equal, they would prefer to use self-service channels over traditional voice contact to resolve an issue,” wrote O’Brien. “SMS customer service is seen by many as the more convenient option. When done right, it combines the ease, speed and flexibility of a self-service platform with the personal touch and effectiveness of your contact center.”

Text messaging is something most Americans are familiar with…even older generations. It’s fast (you can get right to the point), it leaves a record of the exchange (no more “he said/she said”) and you can engage in it while doing something else, unlike a telephone call. From a company’s perspective, it’s more cost-effective than the telephone, as agents can handle more than one chat at a time. Companies such as Aspect are turning traditional SMS on its ear in an effort to fold the channel into the kind of omnichannel customer engagement they’re seeking to bring to their customers. In some cases, they’re going a step further by actually automating the SMS process to provide accurate, natural language help via text but using an automated information platform and a virtual assistant approach.

“Interactive Text Response (ITR) revolutionizes the self-service experience by providing SMS customer service through automated responses in natural, conversational language,” according to Aspect. “[It] lets customers engage in personalized, conversational text interactions with an automated system. ITR provides SMS customer service using natural language understanding (NLU) for intelligent human-to-computer interactions. It's all the cost-saving efficiency of IVR, but using text instead of ‘voice’ for convenience and clarity.”

Customers get answers to everyday self-service questions via text, chat or messaging, but they’re never left hanging with a problem that can’t be solved by the automated SMS system. (They’re also not stuck navigating a complicated mobile app or visual IVR menu that may or may not provide them the answers they need.) If they run into a problem, the session can be automatically and immediately converted to a live agent session (voice or text) to ensure that the customer isn’t left frustrated, and the omnichannel customer engagement process remains intact. 

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