Contextual Awareness – Personalizing the Customer Experience


Contextual Awareness – Personalizing the Customer Experience

Customer Experience is King
More than ever before, the customer experience is a key factor in overall customer satisfaction, capable of the biggest impact to your bottom line. While integrating customer data to enhance the experience is by no means a new concept, as the bar is continually raised it’s the way in which customer data is being leveraged to personalize the customer experience that is both creative and extremely effective!

In this article, we’ll look at some examples based on Contextual Awareness. Although it is a much larger subject, we will consider from a contact center perspective. In a future article, we will look at how the same principles can be used for Proactive Outbound Engagement.

What is Contextual Awareness?
It is reasonable to ask your customers for personal information to create a database profile once, but it is disrespectful of their time and loyalty not to use it to personalize and optimize every interaction thereafter, and updates to the customer profile should be seamless with real-time effects. From a contact center perspective, Contextual Awareness is all about using the information on file to anticipate the most probable reason your customers are contacting you so you can make their experience faster and easier.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All
People who enjoy the mental challenge of Sudoku and crosswords describe a feeling of intense satisfaction upon completing the puzzles. Though often equally challenging, no one enjoys trying to navigate a complex maze of irrelevant options in an automated Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system; they usually arrive at a destination (not necessarily the right agent) frustrated and impatient. This is because one size does not fit all – especially in an age where customers have choice.

Let’s face it, a company whose IVR greeting is, “Dear valued customer, if you are a residential account, press 1; if you are a commercial account, press 2” isn’t making anyone feel ‘valued’. After 20 years, you don’t know I am a residential customer? They have my name and phone number on file, and if I decide not to pay my bill, I guarantee they’ll use the information they have to track me down!

Dynamic IVR – Understanding a Customer’s current context
The IVR is an easy place to start contextually aware personalization. In the example above, caller ID is readily available, so this information should automatically be matched to the customer account and a customized, dynamic IVR should be created in real-time with only options relevant to that customer profile.

Supply companies: If a caller has a partially shipped order on file, why not ask, “If you are calling about your partially shipped order, press 1”.

Credit Card companies: If the caller just tried to make a purchase but the credit card was declined, why not ask, “Our records show you just tried to make a purchase but your card was declined. If you would like to speak to an agent about this, press 1 now”.

Utility companies: If you recently sent a collections notice to a customer after several missed payments, why not ask, “If you are calling about the collections notice dated March 1st, press 1”. Or better yet, why not automatically route the caller to the appropriate department as soon as they enter their account number?

Update IVR options per self-service activity: If your IVR offers self-service enrollment for automated billing and the customer chooses to complete this process, when they return to the main menu, that prompt should be removed from the IVR! If they are offered it again, they may wonder if the enrollment failed and opt to speak with an agent, thereby consuming the very efficiency the self-service feature was designed to save for company and customer.

Tailor the IVR menu to only offer selections relevant to the customer’s specific profile. Contextual awareness goes a long way to delighting your customers when they see that you understand how they do business with you.

Screen-Pop on Top
Of course, personalization in the IVR is only as effective as the hand-off to the agent. The warm feeling a customer gets when s/he begins to feel they really are a valued customer quickly cools when the call is lobbed blindly over the wall to an unsuspecting agent who has to ask, “Who are you and why are you calling?” Once again, we have all the customer information, including the IVR selections the customer made by which we routed the call to the most appropriately skilled agent, so all of this should be populated on the agent screen so that they are immediately up to speed on how to best serve the customer, and the first words of the interaction can have a personalized touch: “Hello Mr. Smith, good to hear from you again! I can see that you are calling about billing options.” The same technology, the same strategy, achieves both operational efficiency and personalized customer experience at the same time.

Your 10 Minute Challenge…10_MINUTE_CHALLENGE
What can you do right now that will bring you one step closer to world class customer service through Contextual Awareness? Take 10 minutes right now to brainstorm the following:

• What kind of information do you already have on file that you could be using better?
• What information are you missing that you need to start collecting now?
• What are the top 5 most common reasons customers call that could be automated in some way, either via dynamic IVR or self-service option, thereby freeing up your agents to serve customers who want or need live assistance? Remember the 80/20 rule! 20% of the reasons account for 80% of the calls. Focus on the ones that will provide maximum benefit to your customers and agents.

In a future article, we will look at how to use these same principles to determine the best ProActive Outbound Engagement to further enhance the customer experience and secure loyalty.

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About the Author

Tim is passionate about improving processes for quality, efficiency and ultimately the bottom line. Trained in quality management systems and having led shop floor and administrative teams on the journey of continuous improvement and pursuit of excellence, he is now focused exclusively on the contact center space as part of the Covington Creative team.


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