Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

The Intelligent Customer Front Door

July 31, 2008

How a company delivers customer service leaves a lasting impression — a positive experience leads to increased loyalty and sales, while a poor experience leads to frustration and increased churn. That’s why forward-thinking companies are now taking a proactive approach to customer service.

As a primary touch point for customers, it’s imperative that the contact center take on a strategic role in order for a business to succeed. Executives should recognize that now is the time to reexamine existing interactive voice response (IVR) systems, and discover how the customer experience can be transformed by moving to an intelligent Customer Front Door (iCFD) — a solution that revolutionizes the experience of entering a company’s “virtual front door.” The iCFD not only greets the caller, but also gathers caller intentions, adds information about the caller’s profile and history, and then routes them to the most suitable resource that will most effectively resolve the interaction.
This solution will provide a more positive and personalized customer experience through the intelligent use of blended self- and agent-assisted service, as well as the opportunity to better align the contact center with the business goals and customer service strategies of the organization.
The Critical Importance of Customer Service
Frederick Reichheld, in his book “The Loyalty Effect: The Hidden Force Behind Growth,
Profits, and Lasting Value,” indicates that it costs five times as much to acquire new customers than it does to nurture existing customers into becoming brand champions.
Research has clearly shown that customer service is one of the biggest influencers on loyalty today. Therefore, it is imperative that customer satisfaction be a key consideration when companies evaluate, choose, and implement customer interaction technologies.
First Impressions Count
Because the contact center is often where a customer first interacts with a company, it has become the de facto “front door” to the corporate brand. Yet, all too often, the experience is less than welcoming. Recent Genesys research indicates that consumers expressed their greatest dissatisfaction with long contact center hold times, IVR systems with too many or incorrect options, and having to repeat information they’ve already provided.
Traditional IVR systems were designed to reduce costs by forcing customers into a self-service menu structure, regardless of the customer’s type of request or their value to the business. The result of this model is that customers often hang up out of sheer frustration. While in the short-term this approach does help to save expenses, the company pays a higher price in the long-term by negatively impacting customer retention. Viewing the contact center as a cost center, rather than as a strategic asset, completely misses the mark.
With intense competitive pressures facing companies in nearly every industry, retaining customers is critical to the long-term success of the business. Therefore, many of today’s business leaders are starting to re-think their approach to customer service, and are beginning to view intelligent self-service solutions as the initial, best opportunity to capture, convert, and maintain highly profitable customers.
The intelligent Customer Front Door (iCFD) concept combines customer data and business rules to manage interactions in extremely sophisticated and unprecedented ways, allowing contact centers to implement well-designed speech applications that can offer significant operational efficiency and revenue opportunities, while delivering excellent customer experiences.
Ultimately, the iCFD helps companies achieve three core business objectives: ensuring an exceptional customer experience; increasing contact center efficiency and productivity; and generating incremental revenue through cross-selling and up-selling.
Blended Experience for Maximum Benefit
A blended approach between self- and agent-assisted service optimizes both customer satisfaction and contact center efficiency by ensuring seamless distribution of service types over the entire system, based on critical factors such as customer value, agent availability, and call volumes.
The iCFD solution enables companies to make intelligent decisions about the mix of self- and live service required to best serve customer needs. For example, some industries, such as financial services, typically have customers who know how to easily navigate through self-service systems to find the information they need. Technical support organizations, on the other hand, often have customers who require a more personal interaction to satisfy their needs. And, there are many types of organizations that fall somewhere in between, with customer bases that require a customized blend of self- and agent-assisted service.
Customers experience the iCFD in other innovative ways — through notifications, alerts, surveys, and other services that help further personalize and improve the experience, including two important capabilities — automatic callback and proactive contact.
Unlike traditional IVRs, the iCFD combines customer data from across the organization together with business logic to create a more personalized customer experience. By blending intelligent routing, integrated self-service, agent-assisted service, targeted marketing, callback, and proactive contact, companies can deliver on their brand promise while creating stronger customer relationships.
Moving to a customer-centric solution delivers a proactive approach to optimizing customer service that will ensure greater loyalty, higher rates of customer retention, increased agent productivity and satisfaction and, ultimately, higher revenues and a healthier bottom line.
Companies that seize the opportunity to elevate their contact center from a mere cost
center to a more strategic, customer-centric role in the organization will not only enjoy
a competitive advantage, they’ll increase their agility to adapt to changing business
conditions, and position themselves for future growth and innovation.
Paul Segre, President and CEO at Genesys, writes the Contact Center Assets column for ContactCenterSolutions. To Read more of Paul’s articles, please visit his columnist page.

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