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Virtually Speaking

Utilizing Technology to Create Consistent Customer Experiences

Posted by Roth Fouty on Sep 3, 2013 1:58:19 PM


The other day my kids wanted to play a game of telephone – you know, where a group of people line up, and the person on the beginning of the line whispers a phrase that is communicated from person to person until the message hits the last person in the line. The fun of the game is that, usually, the word or phrase announced by the person at the end of the line is nothing like what the first person originally whispered.

The game made me think of the training nightmares that call centers and customer experience professionals face each day.  Training personnel spend tireless hours creating manuals, customer journey maps and procedure documents, all with the hope that when the moment comes for a customer representative to deliver an accurate, personalized response to a customer, they remember all aspects of their training.  But who are we kidding?  We all know that the game of telephone doesn't work, so how do we modify our customer service centers to deliver a more consistent and enjoyable customer experience?

Remember to think about findability – not just content consolidation

Many organizations have siloed their content in different repositories throughout the enterprise, making it nearly impossible to find the right answer when it’s needed.  To solve this problem, tireless efforts have been made to centralize knowledge management systems into a single repository.  While this may seem like the logical step, it only addresses one part of an overall larger problem: findability! The complexities of an organization's content – along with the management overhead of ensuring the right users have access to create, edit, publish and view the appropriate content – make the well-intended consolidation efforts nearly obsolete.  Overall, many organizations find that their customer service reps have gone from not being able to find an answer because there are so many sources to not being able to find the answer in the new monolithic repository because it contains so much content. So how do you fix this issue?

It’s all in the interface

Instead of going through the headache of consolidating content, I propose that you modify the interface and allow technology to consolidate the content for your users.

Search has proved to be a successful technology, but as content has grown and become more personalized, it is now apparent that other technologies are needed to help customer representatives find the right answer quickly.  When analyzing search logs or chat logs, you quickly discover that a large chunk of the searches equate to a small set of user intents.  These searches are executed hundreds if not thousands of times a day and, based on the small changes in the user’s input, can yield vastly different results.

To yield the best result, consider implementing an Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA) tuned specifically to your top content, with search as a backup. 

IVAs have the unique ability to be very accurate when trained appropriately and can also be integrated into dynamic data, allowing them to use data from the caller to personalize the response.  This interaction will provide more accurate results for your top issues and reduce the amount of time your customer reps waste flipping through screens and hunting for data.  In advanced deployments, the IVA can even be integrated into unified desktops and perform clicks on behalf of the customer representative.

Not every question will be able to be answered by the IVA, but through functionality like classification or text recognition, the IVA can escalate customer service inquiries to the appropriate knowledge management system and perform a search on their behalf.  The results of the search are returned to the customer representative.

With all interactions going through the IVA , you now have a single source to curate data.  Using text analytics you can now view all searches to see which ones are being serviced by the IVA and which ones need additional knowledge.  You can also see which questions are being serviced through knowledge management systems, making it easy for you to identify important trends that you want to train the IVA on.

Deliver training when the CSR needs it

Most enterprises spend thousands, if not millions, of dollars to provide constant training for their representatives.  Training information is usually delivered through policy notices, classes and emails.  While this approach may work for a small percentage of representatives, most people have a hard time remembering information delivered in this fractured manner, resulting in inconsistent and sometimes inaccurate responses to your customers.

By utilizing a single point for information access, organizations are in a position to create a dynamic training environment where instructions can be delivered at the time of a customer question.  Now, when a customer asks a question, the CSR simply types it in, and, as they are typing, the system automatically pushes them to relevant content – including new/updated information.

As a result of this process, companies are now able to lessen the burden on their training budget and improve the overall user experience by allowing technology to find and deliver the right information when a representative needs it most.

Customer experience is the next frontier of differentiation for most enterprises, but we are still utilizing old technology and practices to train those who deliver it. The game of telephone is fun as a child, but can have severe consequences in the customer service business.  How are you delivering a better, more consistent customer experience technology – let me know your thoughts.


Topics: Conversational interface, Business, Intelligent Virtual Assistants, User experience