Now that the Presidential election is beyond us, the last 18 months highlighted what a sharply divided country we live in today. The polarization and passion for political candidates reminded me of customer service channels in the world in which I eat, sleep, and drink. We have witnessed incredible improvements to the much hated interactive voice response (IVR), the launch of text based self-service, Facebook Messenger opened a new channel, and analytics software continues its adoption to drive both engagement and improvements to our agents. I put these into the “passion” bucket. As our industry continues to make incredible improvements to specific channels of services. That said, it appears that the channels are still not communicating to one another. I put this lack of communication into the “polarization” bucket. In the spirit of politics, it is time to tear down the channel silos and get them speaking to one another.
Stop Reinventing The Wheel
I recently called a company that I have service with to update my credit card that I had used for automatic payments. When I called the IVR, it prompted me to enter the phone number on my account. I tried my home number and failed. I tried my mobile number and failed. The fallback in the IVR was to ask for my account number and I had no clue, so I opted to speak to an agent.
On the positive side, I only waited for a few seconds so no annoying elevator music to put me to sleep while I wait for the next available agent. On the negative side, here was the script used by the agent:
“Thanks for calling ABC, can I have the phone number on your account?"
My sarcastic side came out and I provided my home and mobile phone number for the second time. As expected both numbers failed a second time. Unlike the IVR, the agent then asked for my address and not my account number. The agent finally located my account and my credit card was updated.
If you authenticate customers in the IVR with biometrics, or by asking a few questions, or simply by matching the phone number, then you likely already automate the screen pop to the agent when (if) you get a match. But how are you handling the inability of a customer to answer questions in the IVR? Do you send the IVR results to the agent, so they do not reinvent the wheel?
Imagine a better script (for both the customer and agent) in my scenario:
“It looks like you entered two phone numbers in the IVR but we could not match that to an account record, can you provide the billing address?”
In this scenario, the channels are not silos. The agent knows what I did in the IVR. The agent does not repeat the same questions. The channels are speaking to one another. It is not rocket science and has incredible impact to both agents and customers.
Omnichannel To The Rescue
One of the key components of implementing a true OmniChannel experience for your customers involves tracking the activity in one channel (web, text, agent, IVR, social) and using it if/when a customer switches to a new service channel. It allows a customer to pick up a transaction or resolve an issue without restarting. So many examples exist in which we can all utilize a solution that I like to categorize as “customer continuity” - tracking all the transactions or steps that your customers take in each channel. Then, using this data to make sure the next channel understands what your customer did in the prior one.
I wrote on this same subject recently, and I will likely do it again and again and again until the last customer service channel "silo" is no longer standing. It is critical to value our customers’ time if we want to earn their loyalty. I promise that tearing down the silos of service channels and getting them to speak to one another in detail will not be as hard a task as fixing the polarized political environment in our great nation today.