LiveOps Lets Companies Pivot Customer Service Across Channels While Retaining Context

You're scrolling through Twitter and suddenly discover consumers are tweeting harsh criticisms of your product or service. They're threatening to take their business elsewhere and advising others to follow suit. Now what? Make a flurry of calls to contact center managers who may not be aware of the situation? Or find that blindsided agents are scrambling to put a fix in place but don't know who they're dealing with? Meanwhile, the chorus of unhappy consumers grows louder, and before long, you've got an exodus of formerly loyal customers and a public relations nightmare on your hands.

Cloud contact center solutions provider LiveOps witnessed such scenarios and realized that there was a need to develop something that enables agents to guide customers away from a channel—in this case, Twitter—and take the conversation to a private level, in a channel of the customer's choice. The company recently announced a patent for the technology, known as pivoting.

"Targeted companies are not necessarily enabled to quickly deal with problems at the agent level," says Keith McFarlane, LiveOps' chief technology officer, senior vice president of engineering, and one of the inventors of the solution. "You might have to use multiple tools if you're using [multiple] interaction channels. If you have a set of people who are looking at Twitter versus a set of agents who are taking phone calls using a separate agent desktop, how do you tie those threads together? Those are probably separate customer databases, probably [using] separate [types of] logic dealing with responses in each channel."

Additionally, the solution challenges the idea that simply responding in one channel where the problem occurs is going to satisfy a customer. "A lot of times when a multichannel problem occurs, it's about one-and-done interactions," McFarlane says. "We saw that in the customer journey conversation, there was a better way that channels could interact rather than just dealing with the issue at hand. You can optimize the lifetime of the customer journey by adding new channels to the mix."

Take the example of a customer who doesn't like proactive voice contacts. An email can be sent instead. Or an agent can offer to direct message the customer, and ask if he can call the customer or send a text. The solution can also be employed in the opposite direction, taking offline conversations to live conversations.

Another piece of pivoting keeps all the information gathered about a customer interaction as that customer is transitioned from one channel to another. Context—the issue and data about the customer, such as Twitter handles and phone numbers—allows agents to track interactions uniformly across multiple channels. Once a customer record is in place, whether it's in LiveOps' internal CRM or one such as Salesforce, as long as the agent is tracking individual customer identifiers, faster service can be provided. "You are immediately aware of the customer context," McFarlane points out.

Originally, the focus of the LiveOps solution was on social channels, but in the company's implementation and in the patent as it's written, the solution is not exclusive to social channels. And although the patent was just announced, LiveOps has implemented pivoting for the past two years. Down the road, MacFarlane says, the company will expand the solution's capabilities and offer automated methods of pivoting as well as provide more customer context.

The bottom line as far as customer service and pivoting is concerned is optimizing customer care across all channels and allowing agents to "turn on a dime when they're in a situation that is not optimal for the customer," McFarlane says.

"All the technology in the world won't fix a really badly implemented customer service organization," MacFarlane acknowledges. "But with the right set of technologies, you can put the right tools into the agent's hands. If you have the full customer context and it's up to date, then you can speak in accurate terms with the customer. Once you have the right information in the right hands, then it becomes easier to offer options to customers."

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