This article originally appeared in the Sept. issue of CUSTOMER magazine.
Our public schools are designed to educate the masses. Every classroom is filled with students who each learn at their own pace – some catch on quickly, others need a little more time, but most tend to fall somewhere in the middle. Teachers generally pace their lessons to meet the needs of the middle group of students so the entire class can move forward as efficiently as possible.
Do you approach your customer service the same way teachers approach their classrooms?
Most customer self-service systems are designed to serve customers the same way teachers serve a classroom full of students. They aim for the middle and hope to satisfy as many people as possible, and that guarantees a less satisfying experience for customers on both ends of the bell curve.
In today’s world of fierce competition for customer loyalty, one can’t afford to optimize service for only the masses in the middle. Across many interactions, more customers pass through the ends of the bell curve than you might expect as their environment, preferences, and familiarity with your system change.
By underserving the ends of the bell curve, you can quickly find yourself underserving a large fraction of your customer base at least part of the time.
To solve this problem, we believe customer contact must evolve into a far more personalized experience that adapts to individual customer behavior. Smart personalization – especially when combined with continuous improvement – will provide a consistently great customer experience even as environment, preferences, and familiarity with your system change.
That’s why Contact Solutions acquired Adaptive Audio. Adaptive Audio’s real-time personalization technology is a perfect complement to the trending personalization technology we have developed, and our continuous improvement expertise enables us to leverage both personalization technologies to optimize customer care solutions in ways that no one else can.
For example, consider a 20-something who’s a power user of an IVR system. She will want to move rapidly through the system to conduct her business because she’s very familiar with the menu structure. With real-time personalization, the system can automatically adapt to her expertise and speed up the pace of interaction. This creates a better user experience for someone who otherwise might have been frustrated with slower prompts designed for average users. But suppose this same power user calls from noisy airport on a mobile phone where coverage is spotty. She may have difficulty hearing some of the prompts, and consequently may need more time than usual to conduct her business. Adaptive Audio will recognize the change in her behavior, and immediately make adjustments to play prompts more slowly, give her more time to input data, and perhaps add some additional error handling.
This creates a better user experience by adapting in real time to changes in the environment.
Likewise, real-time personalization can adjust self-service interactions to create a better experience for seniors who may prefer to navigate a system more slowly, busy mothers who get interrupted by children, and customers from different regions of the country who may be used to speaking and listening at very different rates.
Trending personalization makes use of behavioral data collected over time to adjust an interaction to better match customer behavior.
A simple example: Instead of prompting every caller for their language preference at the beginning of every call, trending personalization can streamline the interaction by setting a system to default to English if a customer has selected English in the past. More sophisticated examples might include adjusting menu options or adding notifications based on an individual customer’s recent interaction history.
Real-time and trending personalization capabilities give us a mechanism to adjust customer self-service solutions to better match the needs of individuals, but the real expertise is understanding what to adjust when, and how much. This is why it’s important to combine personalization technology with a robust continuous improvement methodology. A continuous improvement team can intelligently capture customer interaction data, analyze it for opportunities to improve customer experience through personalization techniques, and apply those improvements to deployed solutions so they keep getting better over time. As customer contact continues to evolve for the better, consumers win through a consistently better customer experience and enterprises benefit as customers use self-service more often, customer service costs decrease, and customer loyalty improves.
Consider a 20-something who’s a power user of an IVR system. She will want to move rapidly through the system to conduct her business because she’s very familiar with the menu structure. With real-time personalization, the system can automatically adapt to her expertise and speed up the pace of interaction.
Edited by Braden Becker