Customers have a lot of pet peeves today, but one of the biggest is having to repeat themselves. Once upon a time, this annoyance was the result of being transferred from agent to agent and department to department. Today, thanks to the wide variety of channels customers can use to communicate, this repetition problem may result from customers starting a transaction in one channel and finding out they need to start all over again in another.
A customer might initiate a chat session from a company’s Web site. After taking the time to enter customer information, the customer waits for an agent to enter the chat. Now imagine that the customer has taken the time to explain her problem, only to be told, “You’ll have to call the customer support group for that. Here’s the 800 number.” Ms. Customer dials the number, enters her customer information all over again, and now needs to explain her problem. Again.
Omni-channel customer engagement, a lofty goal for which many companies are striving today, seeks to make the barriers between channels porous. Continuity is the real key to succeeding in building a great omni-channel customer experience.
In a recent Webinar entitled, “Using Context Cookies to Implement True Omni-Channel Customer Service,” Aspect (News - Alert) Software Product Marketing Manager Evan Dobkin said that what context, continuity and omnichannel could do for customers is to take data from prior interactions, call recordings, customer feedback and search histories and identify the best agent for the transaction, and make all that information available to that agent. A great system might even take that customer and move him or her higher up in the queue.
“It’s about making that data portable: these cookies, or these instances in time of your interaction. We’re storing them inside the continuity server and making them available as reference and data points to the next interactions and steps that you’re going to take,” said Dobkin.
This kind of continuity will be absolutely critical as more and more people use mobile channels to contact companies. It’s also going to make things more complicated.
“Mobile is a platform. Mobile is not a channel,” said Dobkin. “But it’s really the device and the platform that’s best to give you all of these different self-service offerings as a customer. Not only is mobile increasing in terms of how people are accessing the Web, their email, phone, but it’s an increase in the first thing that people are reaching for in making those interaction attempts.”
Aspect’s Customer Experience Platform, CXP, which allows companies to develop a single, centralized customer service application, and then deploy it across multiple channels customizing it the way the user is going to interact with it across channels.
“So you’ve got a certain number of flows or interactions that you’ve designed. That’s something that can be deployed in an IVR, and then you add voice browser and all of the IVR prompts to it. It’s something that could function as an SMS application or the same type of processes in a mobile Web application.”
Consistency of design and context is what’s needed to achieve true omni-channel customer engagement. When customers can move nearly effortless across channels and bring their interaction and their data with them, customer frustrations are eliminated, and support organizations benefit from faster, more effective support sessions.