Customers hate having to repeat steps already taken, simply because the agent they are speaking to doesn’t know anything about their problem. This can be solved by providing context.
Customer service is a tricky thing to get right, in today’s multi- or omnichannel world. After all, most often, by the time a customer gets through to an agent in the contact center, they have already tried at least one, if not several, other channels to resolve whatever their issue may be. The problem, from a customer service point of view, is that when they do reach an agent, they inevitably find themselves having to repeat everything they have already done to the person on the other end of the line, who oftentimes is quite bewildered at how frustrated or angry the customer is from the outset.
This occurs because of a lack of context. The agent is unaware of the previous attempts made by the customer to resolve the problem; they have no information to tell them, prior to answering the call, who the customer is, what other recent actions they have taken, and any other potentially useful information.
Nobody who has spent any length of time attempting to sort out an issue wants to start at the very beginning again. Realizing that the agent knows nothing about your situation is not only frustrating in this respect, but is made doubly so by the knowledge that contact centers have access to so many wonderful technology channels, and yet can’t seem to get the basics right.
Obviously, there are numerous factors that influence the customer’s context – everything from personal preferences to their location, and from their emotional state to the actual nature of their request plays a role in determining the customer’s context, and contact centers should be able to establish all of this, in order to serve the customer effectively and efficiently.
Remember that context, ultimately, provides meaning to various interactions and can link recurring interactions together, in order to determine patterns and thus to help recommend a course of action. If you are able to correctly evaluate the context, you will be far better positioned to understand and manage the customer relationship better. Proper context also assists in reducing the customer’s effort involved, and that goes a long way towards improving their happiness.
After all, customers are people too, and they want organizations to recognize that their time is also important and should thus not be wasted. Knowing the customers’ history and being aware of the problem they are trying to solve when the agent speaks to them will be a big help in improving customer satisfaction.
You only have to put yourself in the customer’s shoes to realize how much more appealing a brand becomes when – having already become frustrated from trying multiple methods to resolve their challenge – a customer is put through to an agent that has a deep level of insight into their issue, from the moment they answer the phone.
So the question then, is how do you ensure that your agents have context before they answer a call?
This is not always easy to do in an omnichannel environment, but there is one tool that can make life much easier for both the customer and the agent – the visual IVR. Operating in much the same manner as a normal IVR, but with visual prompts sent to the user’s screen, instead of voice prompts, the visual IVR is the next generation of self-service tools. Unlike a standard IVR, which can be confusing, take too long or simply not offer what the client is after, the visual IVR is easy to navigate, simple to use and, most crucially, is able to record every action taken by the customer, meaning it can serve as the filter that provides context.
Most customers today will be happy to try on-demand digital assistance first, especially if it as easy to use as visual IVR should be and is able to offer them a clear path for helping themselves.
Visual IVR technology is thus the perfect answer to creating a better customer experience – it makes it simple for the customer to drill more deeply into their enquiry, it records these attempts and is able to provide agents context if they require it, and if it succeeds in solving the customer problem without the need for a phone call, it saves your contact center money as well.
However, our focus here is on the situation where the customer is unsuccessful at fixing the issue. Through the visual IVR, they can then choose to be transferred to an agent through various methods (call back, waiting queue, chat) and the tool will at the same time provide the agent with the steps the customer has attempted already, thus enabling them to rule those out during troubleshooting, meaning they can more quickly get to the solution. Faster resolution time, of course, equates nicely with great customer service.
It is clear then that having a solid visual IVR solution in place will ease the customer journey, as it will place real context around their efforts and should ensure your agent is better prepared to deal with the challenge, while at the same time ensuring your customer’s journey is as seamless, personalized, and efficient as possible. After all, adding context to the conversation is one of the easiest ways for an agent to personalize the customer experience.
Ultimately, any good contact center should have a visual IVR system. Not only will such a solution help to reduce overall call volumes, due to its ability to pivot those calls into a fully capable digital engagement, but when callers do need to be transferred to an agent it will both ensure they are routed to the right agent the first time, and provide the right context to the agent. Servicing your customer without them needing to re-authenticate or once again explain why they are calling will reduce customer frustrations and lead to a happier resolution for them, while at the same time reducing the average handle time of these calls as well.
When you look at it this way, the only surprise is that not everyone is already using the visual IVR to boost their customer service and reduce costs to their center
[About the author] Dylon Mills is the Director of Marketing Content Strategy & Development at Jacada. As such, Dylon’s main responsibilities are to strategize, create and deliver content for Jacada’s product portfolio that align with the global Go-To-Market strategy, corporate positioning, and marketing campaigns. Dylon’s prior work experience includes Product Management at one of the top Fortune 500 Technology companies, Symantec Corporation. Outside of work, Dylon enjoys problem-solving and any project that includes building/tinkering with tools. Dylon holds a BS Consumer Economics from the University of Georgia.