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Phone Customer Service Tips: Personalization Basics in Voice-Based Customer Service

One of the appealing aspects of the bar Cheers was that it was a place where everyone knew your name. A friendly face that knows your preferences doesn’t just make you feel appreciated, it’s also more efficient. Forget the formality, this type of personal attention lets you cut right to the heart of the matter and get things done quickly.

Delivering this type of personal service is easy for a small business with a small client base, like a bar. But large enterprises with thousands of customers can scale this experience to fit their needs as well. That’s what customer relationship management (CRM) software does.

What Is Personalization?

Personalization is the use of customer-specific information to create custom communications tailored to individuals. No doubt you’ve received an email from a major corporation that included your name in the greeting or the subject line. That’s an example of personalization.

In this space we’re talking about personalization in voice-based customer service. What does that mean? Broadly speaking, personalization allows you to use virtually any piece of customer data to improve customer experience. A couple of examples will provide some clarity.

  • You call your insurance company, and after the interaction you are presented with the option to send information to either your address or email on file.
  • You call your bank, the system recognizes the phone number you’re calling from and gives you options based on your recent banking activity.
  • You purchase something at your favorite store shortly afterward receive a text message asking for feedback about that specific item.

How Does Personalization Work?

There are a few different steps involved with getting personalization to work. First, is identifying the caller. Second, is figuring out what data to use and how to use it. Third, is presenting that data in an effective way using a voice application.

For any automated voice application to be able to provide personalized service it needs to be able to identify the caller. There are a few different ways to do this. One is using automatic number identification (ANI). This is a backend process that passes the phone number of the incoming call to the interactive voice response (IVR) system. The IVR can then cross-reference that number with the phone numbers in the company’s CRM, which is where most companies keep customer data.

Other ways to verify caller identity include, having callers enter an identification or account number, or through voice biometrics.

Once the voice application verifies who is calling it can then tap into the company’s CRM to pull out any relevant information for that individual. That can be anything as basic as their name and address. Or it could be a bit more complex, like looking at their past ten interactions with the company and suggesting options based on past activity.

The point is that once a call is linked with an individual customer it’s possible to continuously query the CRM for personal data throughout the call. Naturally, this will vary depending on what your company is trying to accomplish.

Voice-based communication doesn’t have to be one-way though. One of our examples highlighted the use of text messaging. Imagine that a big retailer wants to in-store customer experience. In this case a customer, we’ll call him Steve, makes purchase, which updates his CRM data with his most recent transaction.

The transaction triggers an action that can vary depending on how the business logic is set up. It’s possible for the voice application to query the CRM, or for the CRM to simply push the appropriate information to the voice app. In this case, the process finds the Steve’s mobile number and the name of the product he purchased. Before Steve gets to his car, he receives a text message:

“Steve, we hope you enjoy your new Apple iPod. From 1-5 (low to high), how would you rate your shopping experience today?”

Steve can then respond via text, and his rating goes into the CRM where it can be used for analysis.

Why Personalize?

There are many reasons why companies would want to personalize communications with customers. For example:

  1. Increase engagement: Customers are more likely to engage with communications tailored specifically to them.
  2. Improved efficiency: Understanding what customers want and giving that to them that in a timely fashion speeds up transactions. Quick turnarounds make customers happy.
  3. Foster loyalty: Ensure that customers don’t feel like a face in a crowd. Couple that with fast service and you earn greater trust and loyalty from your customers.
  4. Better customer experience: The combination of all of these factors result in a better customer experience. In an era where customer service is a major differentiator, providing great customer service can’t be overlooked.
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