Are Your Customers Dangling by a Thread?

When your customers connect with you, do they feel valued? If you've ever missed out on making a meaningful connection, it might be time to re-evaluate your customer experience strategy.

According to a 2016 report from Dimension Data, personalization of services was voted the top trend that will change the contact center industry within the next five years. However, an estimated 79 percent of organizations still have no big picture view of interactions across service channels. In short, contact centers will begin lagging behind on the personalization that makes or breaks continued growth.

So what does it take to create personalization in the contact center? Context. It comes down to enhancing the customer experience, inspiring brand loyalty, and increasing customer value.

Enhance the Customer Experience

In today's digital age, customers channel hop to find the answers they need, with self-service being preferred over other methods of getting information. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2020, 85 percent of all interactions will start without the assistance of a live agent.

Self-service, however, is limited to solving specific issues. And when customers can't find needed information, they connect with an agent.

Since the voice channel remains the most popular method of contact, especially when there's a problem, a product that arms agents with customer context is key for ensuring those connections are meaningful and productive.

When a customer connects with a company, context clarifies why. Without it, agents ask customers for additional information, put them on hold, or transfer them to another agent to repeat the cycle. If the customer wasn't already frustrated, he is likely to be now. In fact, running through the maze of a contextless contact center makes 66 percent of customers more likely to switch companies.>

But when agents have the context behind the customer's previous journey on self-service channels, they can eliminate annoyance. When the customer's internet stops working, for example, an agent armed with this contextual information can proactively address the known issue and then find out if there are other issues with which they can help.

Products like VHT Navigator reduce customer effort, automate warm transfers and provide agents with informative and useful screen pops showcasing the customer's past and present journey, including channels they just navigated. This information empowers agents to solve the customer's issue quickly—creating meaningful and productive interactions, and ultimately enhancing the experience.

Inspire Brand Loyalty

When customers choose to do business with your company, they expect to feel important. It's frustrating to feel as if every interaction is the first time they've ever connected, and it diminishes loyalty. Leveraging context enables you to prove that your relationship matters.

Context tells you how your customers want to interact. Context also can alert you before a customer strays. By paying attention to their journeys, youre showing customers that their time and preferences are important. For example, a customer that always contacts you on Facebook doesn't want to call unless it's absolutely necessary. And a customer that wants to speak with a person won't appreciate hunting on your website for an answer or a phone number.

A well-designed, outcome management platform is key for providing customer context and implementing great cross-channel experiences that customers will remember.

Improve Customer Value

Knowledge is power. For contact centers, knowledge is recognizing customer preferences and their brand journey. You have the power to offer the products and services that provide value to them.

Personalized offers, for instance, let a company provide a more profitable product or service while also exposing a customer to something they mightnot have even known existed, benefiting both the customer and the company. To make the most out of these offers, timing is crucial.

A context engine can help companies identify the moments of opportunity for upselling and cross-selling. For example, if your customer prefers to pay his bill over the phone each month, automate that service with a scheduled callback. If your customer buys movies on-demand regularly, offer a new movie channel free for six months. A context engine can also help you build a relationship by simply checking in with a customer.

Companies that use a context engine to gather, store, analyze, and use customer information will have huge advantages over those that don't. After all, a quality context engine can make it simple to provide consistent service across channels, keep track of customers' activities (previous and real time), and track a customers' interaction preferences. By doing so, companies can enhance the experience with meaningful interactions, expand the company footprint in their customers' lives by offering targeted promotions, and ultimately build brand promoters.

Jaime Bailey is vice president of marketing at Virtual Hold Technology.