Context is Everything: A Recent Customer Experience Failure

Recently one of our colleagues had an experience worth sharing. This friend was having a video streaming issue with his digital entertainment provider. He first tried their web-based FAQs and was presented with basic troubleshooting steps. That didn’t help. He then initiated a separate chat, whereupon the agent simply mimicked the same FAQ stuff. The agent said: “Well I can’t help you then.” Next, he Tweeted at customer service to air his frustration. Still no luck. All of a sudden, the streaming started to work again, but the damage to the customer relationship was already done. Clearly, there has to be a better way.

Technology Gaps Cause Customer Frustration & Friction

The example above highlights the gaps between the demands of today’s savvy consumers and the technical capabilities of the brands they interact with. That gap is defined by dead-end automation, friction with live transactions, and a surprising lack of context in the handoff between automation and live assistance.

These problems are further compounded when you consider today’s beleaguered enterprise. Companies struggle to prioritize all of the possible media channels they can interact with customers on, let alone orchestrating between them and extracting essential data along the path of a customer journey. And presenting helpful data to agents is often little more than an afterthought.

Arm Your Agents First

Sure, it’s great to have super-helpful bots and automated applications for customers who want to self-serve, but that’s far from a complete picture. Sometimes, customers get frustrated with automation, and sometimes their problems are simply too complex for a bot to solve. So, if you really want to serve your customers, you must serve your agents first. Seamless transitions between self-service and live help is the key to setting up agents for success. There is a mix of technologies, many of them AI-based, that help arm your agents. Take the handoff of customer journey context from bot to agent, or attribute-based routing, which works to make sure the best-equipped agent is on the line, or personality insights that help agents to navigate conversations, or AI-based compliance helpers so agents take the right steps. The right contact center platform orchestrates all of these into a single seamless package that “just works.”

Understand the Context

The agent tooling mentioned here is a game-changer, but the continuity of the journey – especially in the area of context – is perhaps the most impactful. For example, imagine if our colleague’s journey with the streaming video problem started out with a FAQ bot, that then handed off all of the suggestions tried to a live agent. Our friend would not have had to repeat himself, and the agent could have escalated the request instantly. Imagine also an automated follow-up via SMS that would have allowed our friend to express his thoughts on the interaction, with negative feedback triggering a supervisor alert and positive feedback getting posted to Twitter, Facebook, or the enterprise’s channel of choice.

A large part of the problem encountered by our friend was the lack of context between automation and live assistance. Why was he made to recount his whole issue history to an agent, who herself just mimicked the FAQ? The entire situation was a perfect storm of dead-ends, lack of context, and missing proper agent tooling.

It’s time for enterprises to close the gap between their brands and their customers with seamless automations that set agents up for success and help resolve customer issues faster.

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