Technology Can Help Humans Sound Human

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Is it too much to ask a customer service rep to sound human and, more importantly, to treat the person on the other end of the line as a fellow human?

It may sound like a simple request, but too often the forces in the customer service universe can easily undermine an organization’s efforts to deliver an exceptional, personalized experience.

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While no agent sets out trying to emulate Siri®, that’s often the result when he is juggling multiple products, multiple call scripts -- which sometimes require compliance with strict regulatory standards -- and multiple technologies to deliver service. Add in the fact that these jobs are generally entry-level positions prone to rapid turnover and you have a recipe for a robotic interaction that can leave customers cold and, ultimately, leave companies out in the cold.

So how do you manage the complexities of customer service and still deliver an experience that connects on a personal level as well?

While technology may be partly to blame for the lack of personalized service, it also can make all the difference when used effectively. For example, modern workflow automation tools speak directly to the issue of providing personalized service that doesn’t sound robotic or scripted. Such technologies equip agents with on-screen knowledge of the next best action to take, trouble-shooting questions to ask or sales suggestions to make based on the path the conversation is taking. The technology also enables an agent to collaboratively co-browse a screen with a customer. Such tools make it easier for agents to sound -- and act -- like humans.

Workflow automation addresses both back office and front office functions by streamlining business processes and helping agents deliver consistent, accurate service. It allows supervisors to centrally manage service and support processes behind the scenes by providing easy ways to diagram processes and outline best practices for numerous customer scenarios.

In the front office, these workflow automation diagrams and flexible call scripts become the online screens that agents reference for contextual guidance during customer interactions. The agent, no longer clicking back and forth between multiple databases and scripts, can now focus on what’s really important -- the customer.

A Sample Scenario

Perhaps the best way to understand how workflow automation can make a difference is via example:

Imagine that you manage contact center operations for a health care insurance provider. You have five service centers nationwide, housing 100 agents at each location. Your business is complex. Customer conversations can last anywhere from 10-60 minutes and range from explaining the deductible on a specific plan to helping answer a customer’s questions about a form. In addition to providing accurate and timely information, agents must also adhere to various regulatory standards.

One of your newest agents, Sara, has just gotten a call from Mrs. Brown, a customer who has been trying to locate a reimbursement form for dependent care expenses on your website. Mrs. Brown is not happy. Prior to calling Sara, she spent 15 minutes on the site and found it very confusing. Sara apologizes for Mrs. Brown’s frustration and suggests they walk through the process together. Since Mrs. Brown is still in front of her computer, Sara is able to email her a link that will take them into a co-browsing session. Mrs. Brown clicks on the link and they begin at the home page together.

Similar to Google Docs™, both Sara and Mrs. Brown can now view where the other’s cursor appears on their respective screens. Through words and actions, Sara brings them to the website page containing the correct form.

Upon opening the document, Sara asks Mrs. Brown if she would like help completing the form. Mrs. Brown is happy for the assistance and, with Sara and Mrs. Brown doing the typing, together they complete the form.

Although they don’t appear on Mrs. Brown’s co-browsing session screen, Sara also sees notes on her screen that prompt her to ask specific questions and make her aware of state-specific regulations.

Mrs. Brown thanks Sara for the help, feeling pleasantly surprised that she has the answers she was looking for and that a task she had been dreading wasn’t so painful after all. At the other end of the line, Sara also feels good. Although new at her job, workforce automation technology gave Sara the tools to easily, and successfully help her customer.

Technology has provided a better agent experience, which has paved the way for a better customer experience. In fact, it has helped, rather than hindered, all the human elements involved: Managers build the processes they want and drive more efficiency; agents get the tools they need and become more empowered; and customers get the results they desire with no more robotic interactions.

Technology can indeed be a force for good when it comes to delivering a personalized customer experience. It can even help humans sound and act more like humans, leaving everyone more satisfied.

Title image by Ben Husmann (Flickr) via a CC BY 2.0 license