We all know that self-service is a win-win proposition. Yet, self-service has become a catch-all buzzword used by enterprises and service providers alike to demonstrate outwardly that they value their customers’ time. Unfortunately, most of these companies haven’t taken the time to understand self-service and that customers’ frustrations can stem during any one of the three stages of an interaction (an interaction is typically a voice or video call, SMS message, or USSD transaction). For the purposes of this and my next two blogs, let’s call the three stages the Personalization Act, Steering Act, and Post Contact Act, analogous to a three-act play.
I will go into more detail about the function of each Act and its impact on customer experience, but for now, here’s a short explanation of each:
- Personalization Act – enhance the customer experience by making the frequent customer feel known, welcome, and appreciated through personalization.
- Steering Act – shorten the duration of the interaction, thereby leading to an increased potential for repeat business.
- Post Contact Act - importance of measuring customer satisfaction (or loyalty or NPS), as well as how customer satisfaction can be measured and improved at the end of the call.
Award-winning screenwriters understand that the Personalization Act is crucial to the success of the play, yet most self-service screenwriters (a.k.a. application developers) focus primarily on the Steering Act (more on this on my next blog). Application developers must realize that the Personalization Act sets the tone for the interaction, and if it invokes frustration, the rest of the interaction could diminish or ruin the all-important customer experience, regardless of whether the customer’s reason for calling was addressed.
The Personalization Act can be, and should be, very short as it should simply address the introductory elements, such as recognizing the customer, their status, and if they are a frequent “visitor”. In the majority of today’s Contact Centers, the customer is required to enter (via DTMF or speech) these introductory elements, which can be fraught with unnecessary stress (of course the stress level increases exponentially if the customer has to be transferred to a live agent who then asks for the same introductory elements again). So what is the solution to a great Personalization Act? Enter ”Self-Service Optimization.”
Contact Centers have a wealth of customer data which they can use in the Personalization Act to tailor the customer experience to the known needs and habits of the customer. The strategy of the Personalization Act should focus on enhancing the customer experience by making the frequent customer feel known, welcomed, and appreciated by personalizing their experience. By collecting what is known about the customer (e.g. via web services, customer databases), and collecting information for future use (via DTMF or speech), business rules can be implemented to make it easy to use the information.
Imagine calling your utility company’s contact center and being greeted with “Good afternoon Mr. Vahdat (personal greeting), thank you for being our customer for over nine years (personal announcement), are you calling about your credit amount (call prediction)?,” of course all in your preferred language (language control). Talk about setting up a call for success, all with information already in your possession.
In my next blog on Self-Service Optimization, I will discuss the Steering Act, where the strategy should aim at shortening the call duration to further enhance the customer experience and increase the potential for repeat business.