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Phone channel customization and automation lies at the heart of customer journeys

Jean-François
Jean-François Teissier Manager Odigo eXperience Services

Customizing customer relationships is no longer optional. In a digital world where conversations with brands start on one channel, move to a second and end on a third, it is a must. Curious about intelligently combining customization and automation on phone channels within customer journeys? Read on to find out.

Phone

Customization and automation. Two words that seem to be at odds with each other, especially if you look at them within the context of phone channels in customer relations! It’s somewhat counterintuitive, particularly when you factor in the roles they play in brand’s strategies regarding customer relations optimization.

To begin with, let’s define what these two terms mean in the field of customer relations:

  • Customizing means gaining a clear understanding of the reason of contact and knowing how to put the customer in touch with an appropriate agent who has the right skillset and customer knowledge (information about the contract, history of interactions, etc.).
  • Automating means deploying a self-service option or conversational agent (bot) vocally to empower and encourage customers to utilize AI-driven solutions to complete actions without the need of human assistance.

What’s the new, shared ambition bringing these two extremes together? Reimagining a key contact channel and bringing it back to the fore of customer journeys with elevated customer experiences. Indeed, properly automated, tailor-made customer journeys via phone channels will no longer be viewed, wrongly, as a necessary evil by some customers, nor considered a costly proposition by most brands. They will be perceived as an integral element praised both for its efficiency and its personal touch.

Foster customization by automating throughout customer journeys

    1. First of all, the presence of a callbot qualification service will enable customers to customize the scope of calls. Say goodbye to the narrow framework imposed by interactive voice servers (IVR) operating in DTMF mode. The future of IVR lies in natural language! It will be customers themselves who decide what words they want to use and which service to be directed to.
    2. Automation also allows you to personalize the routing. This can be done by using a rules engine which combines the purpose for the call, customer knowledge, and the brand’s business objectives.
    3. Additionally, the use of conversational agents (bots) to deal with simple requests will not only help reduce waiting times, but also allow agents to focus on deeper and more complex interactions.
    4. Let’s not overlook the role of augmented agents and Robotic Process Automation (RPA), which will help human agents to customize their answers while enhancing relevancy and adding value.
    5. Finally, notification services will help customize reassurances, which are often needed after a verbal interaction.
  • First of all, the presence of a callbot qualification service will enable customers to customize the scope of calls. Say goodbye to the narrow framework imposed by interactive voice servers (IVR) operating in DTMF mode. The future of IVR lies in natural language! It will be customers themselves who decide what words they want to use and which service to be directed to.
  • Automation also allows you to personalize the routing. This can be done by using a rules engine which combines the purpose for the call, customer knowledge, and the brand’s business objectives.
  • Additionally, the use of conversational agents (bots) to deal with simple requests will not only help reduce waiting times, but also allow agents to focus on deeper and more complex interactions.
  • Let’s not overlook the role of augmented agents and Robotic Process Automation (RPA), which will help human agents to customize their answers while enhancing relevancy and adding value.
  • Finally, notification services will help customize reassurances, which are often needed after a verbal interaction.

Automation: advantages for brands and customers

Many brands are still reluctant about implementing automation. They point to a loss of intimacy, a lack of human warmth, or simply a form of dehumanization. This is a legitimate concern.

Let’s now look at how different forms of automation can be used to better customize customer journeys, with the aim of keeping people front and center.

Customizing call purposes

This fosters passion and career development within the Customer Relations Centers (CRC) – which should be regarded as centers of excellence within brands. Newly recruited agents will first be assigned to basic skill groups, which are perfectly understood by the Artificial Intelligence (AI) engine. These agents will receive AI support and gain self-confidence before climbing the ladder to become experts in a field or supervisors. This approach helps build employee loyalty by offering a clear career path.

Customizing routing

This achieves optimal agent experience, leading in turn to enhanced customer satisfaction, known as a symmetry of attention. Improving contact center agents’ experience by connecting them with customers they are able to help means improving the customer’s experience throughout their journey. Two people who understand each other will have an easier time holding a conversation and working out a solution together. In the future, AI variations based on affinity engines will enable move advanced communication.

Customizing answers

This added value comes from the agent, who decides which choices to make, how to synthesize them, or to use one phrasing or another. AI will supply additional information or suggestions, providing more ergonomics, rather than scripts and traditional knowledge bases. On the horizon, the ability of AI to detect emotions and provide sentiment analysis will provide invaluable insight to agents.

Customizing reassurances

This strongly contributes to increasing customer satisfaction while avoiding unnecessary recalls. Coupled with RPA, an augmented agent function can easily prepare an ideally personalized message for customers on their favorite channel at the right time of the journey. Naturally, an advisor will be able to check before sending it and potentially add a more personal touch to the message.

Customization of customer journeys on phone channels: overcoming IT challenges

Most of these automation technologies are already widely available and the others will be up and running soon. The IT challenge is to implement them properly – natively or through connectors – in customer relationship software suites (cloud approaches will promote this interoperability seamlessly!). The goal is to avoid “silos” and promote the best possible customer and agent experience from start to finish.

Beyond this IT dimension, brands will have to focus on 3 major issues closely connected to automation:

  • Collocating knowledge associated with reasons for customer contact (a subject we developed in a previous blog post),
  • Transforming and restructuring organizational CRCs, introducing this automation component, while also paying attention to career management and team retention,
  • Developing a UX dimension, because IVR technology is outdated and requires updates to showcase its intuitiveness and fluidity.

This last item will be explored more closely in an upcoming blog post dedicated to brands’ vocal identity, of which the new generation of IVR could be the first exciting step for many brands!

Do you want to cleverly combine customization and automation within your contact center’s customer journeys on phone channels? That is exactly what Odigo has to offer you with its Contact Center as a Service solution!

automationcustomer-journeyscustomization
Jean-François Teissier
Manager Odigo eXperience Services

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