Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Cost Savings or Customer Experience? It Doesn't Have to be a Choice

October 20, 2014

It’s a simple fact – customers expect quality. They expect things to work. They expect not to have problems. That said, most accept they may encounter issues from time to time but, when they do, they expect quick and easy resolution. In other words, they expect your customer service to work. “Work,” though, may mean very different things in terms of having appropriate resolution mechanisms in place, depending largely on the personal preferences of the customer.

With a quarter century behind it, Convergys has built a legacy in understanding voice between its own live agent business and its Intervoice technologies (acquired more than six years ago), which it still operates as a wholly owned subsidiary with hundreds of standalone clients not part of the Convergys live agent business.

That experience has taught it that not only is an omnichannel approach necessary – certainly not a unique theory today – but that in moving to an omnichannel model, it must be able to consider the entire customer journey, regardless of channel diversity, when interacting with customers.

Why? Because there is little that frustrates customers more than inefficient customer service – having to duplicate information or not getting an answer that addresses the issues (regardless of the answer, the response must at least be relevant to the question).

“We are going beyond one interaction to follow the thread of the journey through the full interaction, from mobile to phone to IVR, or whatever the journey might be,” said Denise McCutchen Grace, vice president, Intelligent Voice Solutions at Convergys. “That’s our focus.”

The concept, which really is about personalizing each and every interaction, relies on channel hop analysis – understanding not only where the customer has been, but also what he has done at each hop. That knowledge will eliminate duplication (which leads to frustration and subpar experiences) and also behavioral analytics, both of which can increase customer satisfaction when implemented properly.

Take a financial institution, for instance – a vertical of strength for Convergys. If a customer has just checked his balance via IVR, the last thing he wants to hear in the next prompt is, “Push 1 to check your balance.” Or, if he then asks to speak to a live agent, that agent should know the customer has just checked his balance, which resulted in the request for a live agent – for which there are several likely reasons, likely the most common is a perceived balance discrepancy.

Whatever path each customer takes through self-service, Web-based, and live interactions (McCutchen Grace points out that mobile is still seen as a separate silo in most businesses), there is a logical progression and, understanding that progression and the likely next stops on that journey will help provide quicker resolution and a more positive experience.

Interestingly, McCutchen Grace also notes that, despite the media hype around customer experience, it doesn’t yet top the list of priorities at most businesses. So, if cost savings is still your main objective – as she says is the case more often than not – reducing the time of each complete journey and ensuring a higher rate of resolution will achieve that objective as well.

Edited by Maurice Nagle