BizMisconnect: Connected conversations help avoid call center frustration

Have you ever responded to a message from a business – an action they’ve requested – only to reach someone who has no idea why you’re calling? As a customer, it’s frustrating. As a business it’s costly – impacting both the bottom line and customer satisfaction. Today, consumers expect their time to be valued and demand effortless, intuitive experiences. But what happens when communication silos get in the way? Let’s explore a customer service pitfall familiar to many travelers and discover how connected conversations make all the difference.
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Eliminate the silos between outbound communication and inbound conversations to create a consistent customer experience.

Customer service has overtaken price and convenience as the greater influence on consumer buying decisions. Consumers no longer have tolerance for sub-par experiences, and the consequences of bad service are significant. In fact, Nuance’s research shows, two-thirds of consumers say they have cancelled a service or ended a relationship with a company because of a bad customer service experience.

While bad experiences can happen for a variety of reasons, the main culprit is often a fragmented approach to customer experience. We’ve talked before about how BizMisconnects can occur when businesses fail to anticipate customer needs or offer self-service channels that aren’t intuitive and easy to use. The same is true when companies don’t connect the dots across the various customer service channels.

Let’s explore a common pitfall that frustrates many travelers – and one that all businesses should strive to avoid.

Can you relate to this ‘if only’ encounter? Responded to a call or message from a business – an action they’ve requested – only to find yourself speaking to someone who has no idea why you’re calling? Inevitably you find yourself frustrated with the process.

And, that frustration only increases if you’ve confronted a complex phone menu or are transferred and have to repeat your explanation. This disjointed experience not only annoys consumers, it’s costly for businesses. The ability to connect conversations between channels and across your organization is key to avoiding this particular BizMisconnect.

Delta Air Lines has taken a holistic approach to their interactions with passengers – offering a contextually aware experience by informing their inbound call center system with knowledge of recent notifications about gate changes, flight delays or other trip-related information. Creating a connected conversation has delivered real results. After just five months of operating with an integrated self-service strategy, Delta received great feedback from passengers and generated real cost savings for the business.

Delta serves more than 165 million customers annually and is committed to keeping passengers informed about their flights – sending over 19 million voice, email and text notifications each year. In fact, at one time, it was possible for a passenger to be aware of circumstances affecting their travel before word had reached the reservations specialists in the contact center.

Back then, Delta’s outbound notifications were siloed from their call center systems – leaving the airline’s reservations staff and their IVR disconnected from the communications going to passengers. If one of more than fifty thousand notifications sent on average each day resulted in an inbound call, Delta’s specialists would need to confirm the passenger’s circumstances before they could assist them. To their credit, Delta recognized an opportunity to create a smoother customer experience and were committed to finding a solution.

By upgrading their IVR and integrating it with their automated notification system, Delta was able to create situational context for inbound calls and significantly improve the customer experience. To do this, the airline worked with Nuance to create a conversational IVR featuring natural language understanding and call steering that was then integrated with the existing proactive engagement solution. Now when a passenger contacts the call center after receiving a message that an upcoming flight is delayed, the IVR greets them by name and asks if they’re calling about their delayed flight. Callers are able to interact naturally with the system and are directly connected with an informed reservation specialist able to quickly meet their needs.

Our “frustrated traveler” scenario is not unique to the airline industry. Everyday, consumers find themselves annoyed by the disjointed service experiences they encounter when engaging their banks, pharmacies, cable providers and more. In almost every B2C organization, there’s an opportunity to follow Delta’s example and break down the silos between outbound and inbound conversations to create a consistent, meaningful customer experience. Be sure to check back as we explore other BizMisconnect scenarios in the coming months.

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Innovation Delivers for Delta

Discover how Delta Air Lines integrated their proactive customer notifications with their conversational IVR – significantly reducing average handle times and improving customer satisfaction.

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  • micah solomon

    Great article, important subject, Lynn!

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Lynn Ridenour

About Lynn Ridenour

Lynn leads the solutions and channel marketing efforts for the Nuance Enterprise Division. She enjoys engaging with customers, learning about their businesses, listening closely to understand their challenges, and exploring how they are optimizing their customer care experiences. Lynn has spent more than 20 years working at the intersection of marketing and innovation. She’s a veteran of several venture-backed companies in the telecommunications, software, Internet and clean technology industries.