Conversation Management: Why do we need it?

70% of European Customer Experience (CX) Leaders identified Voice of the Customer as a top investment priority for 2016 in a recent IQPC study*.  68% said Customer Insight.  Organisations are clearly eager to listen to what their customers are saying and deliver the personalised service solutions that keep them satisfied and loyal.  But what should those solutions look like? 

Time and again, feedback has revealed that what’s important to customers is that they:

  • Can access the services they want, when they want to, wherever they are
  • Get comparable levels of service regardless of the devices they use
  • Can speak to experts that understand their needs, provide the correct answers, and proactively manage their future needs.

So what does that solution look like from (a) a technology and (b) a business process point of view? 

Is it a state-of-the-art cloud-based digital customer engagement technology platform with omni-channel capabilities, webRTC, speech analytics, advanced speech recognition and every other bell and whistle?  Is it a business operational strategy based on improving digital engagement, reducing customer effort, enhancing NPS and every other industry buzzword we’re told is key?

Of course all of these can play a part in delivering the ultimate customer solution.  However, there’s plenty of evidence that despite the development of new customer contact technologies and new strategic thinking, organisations are still not getting it right.  Indeed, the 2015 Dimension Data Global Contact Centre Report** recently revealed that customer satisfaction has now fallen 4 years in a row and that satisfaction is at a lower level today than 10 years ago! 

A new approach to handling multichannel customer communications is clearly worth considering. 

Conversation Management is about becoming more customer-centric and focusing on the customer conversation.  It is about maintaining an awareness of the complete conversation regarding any particular issue, and not just individual interactions or dialogues.  And it is about recognising that a conversation can:

  • Be over any period of time
  • Comprise any number of interactions
  • Occur over a single or multiple channels (e.g. voice, email, SMS, web chat, web form, social media)
  • Involve any number of participants

In practical terms – and supported by technology – Conversation Management is about: 

  • Treating each customer issue or query as a continuous conversation, rather than a series of separate interactions
  • Using conversation case history to route contacts more intelligently e.g. using the same customer service agent for the whole conversation, rather than a different agent for each interaction
  • Empowering agents to provide quick relevant responses by displaying a full history of customer interactions across all channels in a unified conversation thread on their screen
  • Analysing and reporting on customer experiences and journeys across all media channels

It’s a modern approach to a modern problem delivering real benefits such as:

  • Promoting continuity for customers, who can talk to the same agent and no longer have to repeat themselves
  • Providing clarity for customers and agents by allowing agents to read back text and play back previous recordings from the agent desktop

Conversation Management leads to faster, more relevant service responses and improved customer experiences, while organisations gain through increased agent productivity and lower operational costs.

IQPC Customer Experience Exchange Europe 2015

** The 2015 Dimension Data Global Contact Centre Report covering interviews with 901 companies in 72 countries

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