Dialogic Blog

Self-Service Optimization…  Required, Not Optional (Act 2 of 3 – Steering)

by Elhum Vahdat

Aug 5, 2016 6:00:00 PM

 Self-Service Optimization Required, Not Optional (Act 2 of 3 – Steering)In part one of my three-part blog, the Personalization Act , I discussed how the strategy should be to focus on enhancing the customer experience by making the frequent customer feel known, welcome, and appreciated through personalization.  

For example, 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), it sets up a call for success.  

In this Steering Act, the strategy should be to shorten the duration of the interaction, thereby leading to an increased potential for repeat business.  However, with a lot of these self-service systems, users end up frustrated. Many force the user to at having to listen to countless options, as many are not specific enough, while others are too descriptive and wordy.  Getting to the destination can feel impossible or simply not worth the time, thereby eroding the user experience, their level of satisfaction, and the prospect for additional revenue.

Shortening the overall interaction will improve the customer experience, minimize misrouted calls, reduce zero-outs, and increase automation rates for a compelling ROI, while also dramatically improving the overall usage of the self-service system.  Through knowing the customer, anticipating what they might want, and letting them express what they specifically want with an open question instead of suggesting every option, customers are steered through intelligent routing to their desired destination (automated services or live agent) quickly and effortlessly.  Shorter interactions also mean efficient contact centers that save money by using fewer resources.

At this point I want to remind everyone that for contact centers to be truly successful today, they must offer an Omni-channel experience (a topic for a future blog).  In other words, you must seamlessly enable the customer to use voice or video calls, SMS messaging, or USSD transactions.  Restricting the customer to a single channel experience could be a show-stopper.  Enabling this type of strategy enables accurately, efficiently, and quickly routing incoming interactions to their destination, resulting in improved user experiences and shortened interaction times.

Here are four (multi-modal) methods to shorten call times and reduce misrouted calls by steering the contact to their destination faster and more accurately, while improving automation rates and enhancing the user experience:

  • Intelligent Routing: processes information available about the user, from basic identifiers such as ANI, DNIS, etc., and routes them based on business rules. This information is used to learn more about the user and why they may be contacting the contact center.  Then, certain assumptions can be made and more specific questions can be asked to better determine where the user should be routed.
  • Call Steering: asks open-ended questions and allows for open-ended speech-based answers using open grammars, garbage rules, and natural language speech. With callers using their own words to describe their needs, the call is steered quickly to the correct destination without having to ask too many questions or providing too many unnecessary options.
  • SMS Steering: processes aggregator-based text messages (SMPP or SMS) to interact with the user and determine the need for the customer service interaction, and rapidly steers the “text conversation” to the specific application server process.
  • USSD Steering: processes USSD-based messages to interact with the user terminal to determine the need for the customer service interaction and rapidly steers the “USSD conversation” to the specific application server process.

A commonly asked question is: how do you know that your Steering Act is in need of help?  Here are some of the tell-tale signs…  high rates of misrouted calls and low automation rates, in part from live agents re-routing callers; so many destination choices that listing to them in a single menu prompt has become impractical; caller confusion where nested menu choices are rarely visited, and callers hang up or zero-out; multiple numbers to reach various divisions/parts of an organization; and brand confusion because of multiple points of contact.

Stay tuned for the third (Post Contact) Act where I will discuss the importance of measuring customer satisfaction, as well as how customer satisfaction can be measured and improved at the end of the call.

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