Digital Marketing: Putting Customer Experience First

I was walking down Jermyn Street in London, when I passed a madman on the street corner. He was red in the face and gesticulating violently as he shouted at the air.  As I got closer, I noted the Bluetooth earpiece and hear him say “You keep me on hold for 20 minutes, and then you ask for the account number I ALREADY PUNCHED INTO THE PHONE.  HOW DARE YOU!!!”


Ah, not a mad man then, just an angry one – and with good reason.  I also can’t stand it when a contact center operative asks me for information I’ve already given.  Unfortunately, all too often, contact centers seem to put their own processes ahead of providing a good customer experience. It is my belief that this is a missed opportunity.


It’s hard to argue with the idea that the role of the contact center is changing in multichannel world where customers “float” from one channel to another, based on personal taste, perceived need and context. Businesses are seeking a joined-up approach to customer experience – that “omnichannel” ideal we hear so much about.  Increasingly, the contact center owns more channels – phone, email, chat, even social – and the data generated by all this customer interaction. This represents a huge opportunity for business to improve what, for many of them, is their only real differentiator:  The Customer Experience.


It seems, however, that many contact centers are mired in the past. In a world of process and metrics – call times, first-to-respond, cost-to-serve, cost-per-contact, processing levels – the list goes on.  As academic and politician S.I. Hayakawa said, “The symbol of the thing is not the thing”. These metrics are tools for measurement; they do not represent the end goal…great customer service.  But wait, you say: many contact centers have adopted “real” customer metrics – Net Promoter Score, for example.  OK, great, but how are these organizations actually measuring these things?  Probably with a survey: 


“Now that you’ve finished your call, would you care to take a quick survey about customer satisfaction?”

“Oh yes, and can you please also come over to my house and smack me in the forehead with a large piece of wood?” 


Surveys have their place, don’t get me wrong, but they also have limitations.  They rely on sampling, so you’re not looking at the whole range of customer sentiment.  They have inherent biases – you ask a question, you get an answer – but what about the question you didn’t know to ask?  How to you get to grips with what you don’t know you don’t know?  Surveys are also slow – once you get the results back, the window of opportunity is often gone.


Today, businesses have the opportunity (arguably the obligation) to look at customer interactions across all customer contact channels and formats – phone, email, web, chat, text, CRM notes, surveys, social media, and so forth.  The problem -- the classic “big data” problem, in fact -- is making sense of this vast flood of information. A challenge complicated by the fact that most of this data is “unstructured” data – or human information: real people communicating in natural language.  This is immensely challenging as meaning changes depending on context.  For example, the word “sick” when used by a doctor has very different connotations when used by a rapper. Businesses need to automate the understanding of their vast, yet complex and highly nuanced corpus of customer interaction data in order to turn that data into actionable insight. 


It’s my contention that contact centers, being on the front lines of customer interaction are ideally placed to take the lead in driving a more customer-centered approach to customer contact.  Contact center leaders should be starting with the customer experience, and working backward from there to put processes in place that delight, rather than infuriate their customers.  In order to do this, however, a deep understanding of customer behaviors across all contact points and channels is needed.


HP Autonomy helps businesses make sense of customer interaction data to drive business growth, reduce costs and improve customer experience.  We do this through our core technology which processes all forms of digital information on a single platform offering a unique solution to a growing number of use cases dependent on utilizing unstructured information. HP Autonomy's technology eliminates the traditionally manual and costly operation of processing and analyzing information by performing these functions automatically and in real time. 


If you’re interested in learning more about these issues, you might want to check out:


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About the Author
Will is responsible for providing expertise in multichannel customer engagement. Will works with leading companies to help them better unde...

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