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What Is the Best Way to Integrate Web Self-Service and the Call Center?
Leveraging the power of personalization and dynamic data, Web self-service can handle surprisingly complex tasks designed to improve the customer experience.
Posted Aug 30, 2004
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The chronic problems of the call center are well documented. Costs remain high despite the widespread deployment of automated voice-response systems, CRM applications, expert systems, and more. And the pressure to handle more customer queries more quickly is leading to call center-agent burnout, which results in high staff turnover and correspondingly high recruitment and training costs. Despite all the technology, automation, and expertise focused on the call center, customer frustration and dissatisfaction continue to run high. Waits are too long, and problem resolution can be hit-or-miss. We all have heard much discussion around Web self-service and how this low-cost channel can alleviate some of the burden on the contact center, but most companies have yet to fully realize the correlation between self-service and relevant customer experiences. A good Web self-service approach applies the lessons mastered in e-commerce to address the customer's inquires and problems online. Specifically, it taps the power of personalization and dynamic data to identify and customize the online experience of each visitor--based on her previous purchases and activities--and combines it with the knowledge gathered from the call center to provide a holistic view of the customer. Web self-service can be extremely effective and cost-efficient. In published remarks the Yankee Group notes that organizations can save $20 to $25 per call by using Web self-help. Leveraging the power of personalization and dynamic data, Web self-service can handle surprisingly complex tasks designed to improve the customer experience. Such a system will even be able to select customers for expedited service based on the value the organization places on its relationship with that particular customer greatly enhancing the customer experience. Contrary to common assumptions, Web self-service can work well even where complex service and support is required if the system has information about individual customers. Using the intelligence and policies built into the system combined with personalization and dynamic data, the Web service is able to walk customers through complicated configuration and support issues as effectively as it can handle routine issues and commonly asked questions.
A number of critical factors are key to the success of Web self-service. Specifically, the organization must have sufficient customer data to effectively personalize and customize the experience. A full, 360-degree view of the customer is ideal, but it is not required as long as the personal information that the system does have is relevant. The organization also will need to have current, accurate product and support data. Finally, the organization will need to integrate its Web self-service with other service and support channels, particularly the call center. In the end the organization wants to achieve a level of blended service and support that allows it to resolve customer issues through the least costly support channel while seamlessly moving customers from channel to channel as needed. Once the organization has introduced Web self-service, it is positioned to turn customer support into an opportunity to increase revenue. This calls for proactive customer self-service, in which highly targeted, personalized messages steer the customer to additional purchases based on their recent sales and service support activity.
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