What’s next.

Continued progress in reinventing the relationship between people and technology.

It’s time to go back to the old days of customer service

Today, we’re recognizing that simplicity and convenience isn’t always a good thing. Customers really want to earn help from the businesses they patronize. Embrace nostalgia, get rid of self-service and go back to traditional postal mail.
This April Fool’s Day, let’s stop making our customer experiences better.

Nuance has been a pioneer in customer service solutions leveraging natural language understanding, proactive engagement and virtual assistants for years. We’ve anticipated shifts and trends in how people want to interact with technology and are leaders in delivering intelligent self-service solutions that empower customers.

This pioneering spirit is omnipresent at Nuance, and I’m proud to be directing new efforts in our Nostalgic Innovation Team (NIT) that will capitalize on a new anti-ease trend. Our research staff has teased out this rising sentiment through anecdotal client interactions and speculation. Consumers have expressed a frustration that technology has created too much convenience for them.

We have a firm belief that people want to get back to basics: a nostalgic yearning for more complex IVRs and longer hold times. Our data demonstrates that consumers miss the “old days” of more constrictive 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. customer service hours and really want to earn service from the businesses they patronize. Consumers also want to feel challenged – many have expressed disappointment in the gradual disappearance of extended phone trees, and liken them to a riddle that they had to decipher.

Chief Experience Officer Methuselah Rothschild at FauxBank is a big believer in the NIT’s new charge: “We’ve felt quite uncomfortable with this trend of empowering customers through intuitive technology. We’re hiring thousands of new call center agents and getting rid of our most intuitive self-service solutions. It will cost us millions in additional operating expenses, but I think it’s worth it.”

To meet the needs of businesses like FauxBank, my NIT team and a dedicated team of our brightest engineers will be rolling out a number of changes. We’ll begin by phasing out our current proactive engagement solution. Rather than proactively communicating with consumers on their preferred channel of text, automated voice, email or mobile phone push notifications, those channels will be scaled back in favor of postal mail. A just-inked partnership with the US Postal Service will enable companies to purchase stamps at USPS locations and affix them to envelopes for mailing.

For those clients that do want to continue with automated outreach channels, a new platform feature will allow them to “surprise” customers with communications through a randomly selected channel, rather than that which they prefer.

And, while our voice authentication solution has seen growing adoption, we are confident that this trend will tail off soon. We will instead be launching an extended library of security questions that service agents may ask customers to confirm their identity. Why settle for asking your first pet’s name when we can ask what your maternal great-grandmother’s favorite color was?

These are just the first of many innovations that we’ll be sharing. Please be sure to check back every April Fool’s Day to hear the latest on how we want to make customer service more challenging for your consumers. We invite our clients to write to their account managers and let us know how much they like our direction. Cursive writing is preferred!

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  • Marcie Lascher

    I have a few comments – what’s your fax number?

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Vance Clipson

About Vance Clipson

Vance Clipson, senior principal, industry solutions for Nuance Communications, focuses on vertical-specific strategy and marketing with an emphasis on healthcare, financial services and government. Clipson brings 25 years of experience translating industry needs and data into market strategy and programs for Milliman, PacifiCare Health Systems and other organizations.