CSE Day 2 Speakers Cite the Power of Knowledge



WASHINGTON — Sir Francis Bacon is often credited with the phrase "knowledge is power." Eric McKirdy, global customer care manager at Ask.com and today's keynote speaker at the Customer Service Experience conference, can be credited with saying that "knowledge is not power unless it is accompanied by action."

According to McKirdy, empathy further increases the power of knowledge.

"Empathy, he said, "is a big deal in the customer service space.

"Knowledge can be leveraged by showing empathy to customers by acknowledging that a problem exists and explaining how to fix it," McKirdy said.

Because of that, "knowledge management in the contact center is a big deal," he added.

Other technologies, though, are also assuming a greater role in the contact center space, other speakers during the conference's second day stressed. Among them are bots and messaging, according to Jujhar Singh, general manager of Microsoft Dynamics CRM

The two technologies together, he said, "will be transformational," enabling companies that employ them to offer "one-on-one, personalized customer engagements."

Equally transformational will be augmented reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the Internet of Things, Singh said. Augmented reality started in gaming and has now made its way into the business world as a way to "superimpose additional information onto reality to enhance the customer experience," Singh said.

The Internet of Things, while not yet prevalent, also has great potential to upend customer service as we know it today, he added.

"Get on the IoT bandwagon. If you get on it early, it can be a real differentiator," Singh stated. "Customer service through connected devices will be the wave of the future. You can launch true proactive service through them."

Artificial intelligence, Singh pointed out, will be "a way to get people across platforms," with bots like Cortana and Siri soon to be able to interact with one another and connect users to other apps and services.

Nicholas Klisht, chief evangelist and a director at Converticulture, also emphasized that connected service will be important going forward.

Connected service, Klisht said, is "the personalized assistance and support that one person provides to another."

Even further along is the need for omnichannel customer service, which Lyn Kramer, founder and managing director of Kramer & Associates, said is a foundation for customer satisfaction and financial performance today.

To be omnichannel, all contact channels need to be integrated, transaction history and session data need to be tracked, a single source of information needs to be offered, robust speech- and text-enabled interactive voice response systems need to be deployed, and knowledge management needs to be available, according to Kramer.

With omnichannel, all customer service channels work together, but that requires a single automatic call distributor and computer-telephony interface capable of connecting customer data with communications platforms, she added.

Equally important, Kramer said, are quality management and voice of the customer technologies that put customers first.

One technology that had a lot of promise but has yet to reach its full potential is mobile customer service, according to Ian Jacobs, a senior analyst at Forrester Research. The technology, he said, is "standing still."

At present, as many as three quarters of all firms are still at the low end of the maturity model when it comes to mobile customer service, according to Jacobs.

Part of the reason, he explained, is that many companies simply try to take their basic customer service apps and shrink them down to fit on a mobile phone screen. "The phone is not a PC, and if you treat the mobile phone as a smaller computer it will only frustrate customers," he said.

Mobile customer service, Jacobs added, requires knowledge. "Customers are looking for knowledge on their mobile devices, but it can't just be a shrink-and-squeeze experience."

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