What We Say Truly Matters—The Art and Science of Automated Communications


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Successful customer service begins and ends with communication. If a company cannot communicate clearly with its consumers, the results can be seen in reduced customer satisfaction, lost revenue, and even business failure. But communicating isn’t just talking; it requires much more.

There is an art to each customer interaction that has a direct impact on customer satisfaction, call resolution rates, and a myriad of stats that are analyzed within an operation (“the science”). And companies spend a lot of money trying to get this art exactly right.

Take your best agent(s). If you could replicate this person or group across your entire contact center, it would probably dramatically improve customer satisfaction and contact center effectiveness. These agents have figured out the art of what we call “message mastering.”

This concept is at the heart of customer service across all industries, and is what sets leading companies apart from the rest. However, no one can replicate the same agent in all situations. That’s where automated communications comes in.

Automated communications enable companies to design the best approach to reach customers in a cost-effective, personalized way. It allows a company to reach thousands of people in a matter of minutes without having to rely on manual phone calls by customer service agents. And, using the power of message mastering, businesses can reach consumers, persuade them to stay on the line, and make it easy to get the information they need, then take appropriate action.

So how do you master a message with automated communications?

  1. Consider your consumer. In the same way that you alter your speech to fit your audience, companies should adjust their communications strategies for the individual consumer. There are a multitude of variables that should be considered for each interaction, such as the type of message, the consumer’s age and demographics, location, and desired outcomes. 

Consider your channel. In addition to the tone and content of the message, it’s necessary to make the communication effective for all channels (call center agent, cloud dialer, automated outbound voice, email, text, smartphone, etc.) and use the right channel in each instance. For instance, if you are communicating with an older customer, voice mail is probably a better option than a smartphone application. Likewise, a “digital native” —someone who grew up with technology—would probably respond better to a text message.

  1. Consider your content. The content and purpose of the message will impact how you choose to communicate. For instance, messages like flight delay notifications or credit fraud alerts require more immediacy and clear, concise instructions. No one wants a lengthy voicemail telling them their flight time changed. In this case, a text message with quick information about the change is probably a better choice.

Weaving these elements together properly will yield a better response and get consumers to take the desirable action. To do this, the artist’s toolbox is comprised of scriptwriters, producers, audio engineers, market experts, and professional voice actors. The scientist’s toolbox utilizes researched persuasion techniques (authority, reciprocation, scarcity, and consensus) and customer analytics data. The combination of both is key to reaching consumers with the right message at the right time, and on the right channel.  

For example, a healthcare message that is targeting a population of 65 and older might need to employ a more mature voice that resonates with the authority of a doctor and a message that is delivered in a compassionate persona in order to get the desired outcome. These small things have a huge impact.  

Another example is how to handle past due accounts. Consider the two messages below:

Before:

“The purpose of this communication is to collect a debt, and all information will be used for that purpose. Your account is currently past due in the amount of (total due).

Please choose one of the following payment options…”

After:

"The purpose of this communication is to collect a debt, and all information will be used for that purpose. Your account is currently past due in the amount of (total due).  If you make a payment now using our automated system, we’ll waive the $14.95 processing fee.

Please choose one of the following payment options…"

Result:  With the second, the company saw a 25 percent increase in customers choosing to pay immediately via the automated system.

It’s all about personalizing the experience and giving consumers a choice in how businesses communicate with them. By taking the extra step to master the message for each communication, companies can build stronger customer relationships and, ultimately, drive better business results.