Customer Experience: Lost in the Information Shuffle

When I was in first grade, my family moved overseas to Belgium.  While I was away, my elementary school closed and merged with another one.  After several years, we moved back into our old house and I resumed classes at the “new” school.  Even though half the school should have remembered me, and the other half was used to the fact that some kids were from the “other” school, I somehow got lost in the shuffle—only a handful of my friends (the ones I’d hang out with when we’d visit for two weeks each summer) remembered me, and I wound up being known as the “new kid from Belgium” even with no accent, and a curiously detailed knowledge of the area.

I think companies tend to treat us the same way.  Even though we have a history with them that may go back quite a way, we interact with people and systems that don’t have a record of that history or aren’t designed to care anyway and we wind up with a customer experience that’s lacking.  Procedures and systems aren’t built with true relationship in mind, and as a result, we feel lost in the shuffle as customers.

Look at the complexity of the systems and sheer number of touch points we have access to with any given company. Our options include calling a customer service number, visiting a website, dialing a self-service IVR, going to a retail location, and using a mobile app. It’s not surprising, really, that companies can’t manage to have a consistent front that makes us feel welcomed when we’ve “been away.”

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

What if you had a choice between five or six companies that provide a particular product or service, but one company stood out because they truly knew you and treated you like an old friend, where you can pick up a conversation from a few weeks or even a month ago, as if no time had passed?

What if they had, somewhere in their enterprise, a history of all the “good times” you’d shared? You’d say, “Remember the time I bought that expensive SUV from you?” and they might reply, “Of course, what a great day.  And do you remember when I waived that late fee for you?”  OK, maybe that’s not the conversation you’d have, but you get the idea.

If they had such a repository of history, that literally contained every interaction between the customer and the business, including every contact, attempted contact, web interaction, significant event (anniversary? payment due? payment made? warranty expired? lease almost up?), and built their systems to automatically recognize you and reference that history?  Amazing interactions and service would result, leaving us with the feeling that these people really do remember you from before you went away last time.

This kind of thing is certainly possible—with the concept of a complete interaction history that’s accessible from the “front lines” of communication.  Each channel could be enabled to “dip” into that history and change the customer’s experience accordingly.  Sounds simple, but you’re already thinking up reasons it can’t be done.  For example:

  • The database that xyz information goes into isn’t accessible by our IVR
  • It takes too long to write interaction data to the repository, so it may not be accessible when agents need it
  • Direct mail information and sales data don’t make it into our collections database

True, true.  Even if those were easily overcome, what about the fact that each channel would have to be modified in turn to include this kind of “exception processing logic” and every business unit would choose to use different triggers for events?

What if there was a business rules engine that was designed from the beginning with customer interactions in mind? With an interaction-focused business process management (BPM) system, you could set up these kinds of rules generically, and each channel you provide would be “driven” by the same back end logic. For example, if one business unit added some clever exception handling (i.e. if you contact us the day after a payment is due, but not yet made, prompt to see if the user is trying to make that payment and route them immediately to self-service payment processing), then every other business unit and channel benefits from that logic.  And what if this rules engine had world-class integration capabilities, such that it could pick up data from any system in the enterprise from CRM to IVR to ACD to direct mail campaigns—and everything in between—with nothing more complicated than a web service call?

USAN is doing this today—our customer engagement platform enables all this.  What’s more, we can show you today how it works.  Contact us and let us show you how you can stop losing customers in the information shuffle, and welcome them back with a smile every time they return.