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Customer Service – Both Art & Science

One of the most important things to realize when doing business is that people don’t buy from companies – they buy from other people. When you sit back and think about this it makes sense. It’s easier for one human to connect with another one than it is for a machine. Well, at least until Artificial Intelligence gets up and going. At that point, I, for one, will welcome our machine overlords.

But let’s be honest. Humans are expensive. That’s not to say companies shouldn’t hire people to handle customer service inquiries, but rather that there’s a balance to strike between human intervention and machine automation.

It’s no secret that people prefer self-service when given the option. But this creates a bit of a contradiction: do customers want to talk to humans or do they want to do it themselves? The more human-like you can make your automated support channels, the better customers respond to them.

One of the best ways to humanize your automated customer service channels is through personalization. Not only does this help customers feel as though they’re being treated like the individuals they are, but it makes for a fast, efficient user experience.

What Personalization Looks Like

When we talk about personalization there’s no single cure-all. A lot depends on the kind of service and information that customers expect. Personalization can range from the simple to the complex. Here are a few examples of what personalization looks when it comes to your voice channel.

  • Language Preferences: It’s great to offer multiple language options with your IVR. But once your customers select a language they’re not likely to change it. Therefore, it makes sense to remember their language preference and automatically apply it when they call, thereby skipping the language prompt all together and saving time on the call.
  • Personal Details: Simple things like using a customer’s name in a prompt, or auto-populating their contact information (e.g. address, phone, email) so they only need to verify it is another type of personalization. It’s a lot faster to simply choose yes/no than it is to manually enter information.
  • History: Let’s say that a particular customer has been using email to try to get an issue resolved. When they call for further assistance, instead of going through the standard prompts and menus, the IVR gives them specific options tied directly to their most recent interaction. Not only does this present that customer with the most relevant information right away, but it also eliminates a significant amount of time spent wading through menus.

Implementation

All of this sounds well and good, but it begs the question of how to go about implementing solutions like this. When thinking about your voice channel the first thing you need is a flexible, customizable IVR. Here at Plum we offer two different ways to build custom voice applications–drag-and-drop (Plum Fuse) or coding (Plum Dev).

In addition to an end-user interface you need good customer data. Typically, this data resides in a company’s CRM solution. Depending on what you want your user experience to be like, it may be necessary to begin collecting new, additional data from customers.

It’s important to remember that customers don’t just give away information for free. There’s an expectation that providing personal data will benefit them in some way. Keep this implicit social contract in mind when designing your personalization efforts.

Once you have an interface (IVR) and customer data (CRM), you need a way for them to communicate. Cloud-based solutions, like the ones Plum offers, make this part easy by leveraging APIs to connect the different software components. APIs eliminate the need for deep integration, saving all kinds of time and money, which is a major benefit when getting a project like this off the ground.

Conclusion

There are two main takeaways when it comes to personalization.

  1. It’s no longer optional. Customers know it’s possible because they see it everywhere and nowadays personalization is an expectation.
  2. It’s not difficult. With cloud communications technology and APIs building a custom interface that offers personalization is easier to accomplish than ever before.

Discover the difference personalization makes for your voice channel; let Plum show you how.

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About   

Jason Myers stitches together letters and words into cogent thoughts as the Copywriter at Plum Voice.

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