• December 3, 2009
  • By Jessica Tsai, Assistant Editor, CRM magazine

Customer Service by the People for the People

Attensity Group recently released E-Service Version 6.1, a new edition of its customer service and support application. This next iteration boasts improved best practices, easy-to-use templates and workflows, and a completely redesigned user interface. The most exciting feature is in its "social solving" offering, which scours consumer discussions around products and services in social media for content useful  to customer service. The intent is to ease the burden on customer service agents and essentially empower consumers to help each other.

According to Michelle de Haaff, chief marketing officer of Attensity Group, customers often find that their problems can't necessarily be solved by a company helpdesk, and are seeking resolutions from customers like themselves. "There's massive, very valuable opportunities to leverage online service data as a knowledge asset for a service organization," de Haaff says.

With the new release, Attensity can now incorporate resolutions created by consumers directly into a company's workflow. The technology listens, or monitors, social discussions whether it's on social networking sites, forums, blogs, wikis and customer portals, for information about a specific product or service. Attensity's natural language processing, text mining capabilities identifies issues or problems with a specific product then automatically routes it to a knowledge worker, who is then responsible for determining whether the data is posted to the service site.

Typically, de Haaff says, customer service centers will already have an individual is assigned to maintain all the content on the e-service Web site. The solution features additional benefits for these knowledge workers:

  • enhanced knowledge control capabilities improve processing and maintenance of frequently asked questions (FAQ) documents;
  • multiple contributors can collaborate simultaneously; and
  • uncompromised search quality despite being able to add additional data sources.

Once the content has been approved and loaded onto the site, both service agents and customers can access the information.  In addition, Companies are able to push social content directly into their knowledge base without moderation, but most companies de Haaff has worked with still want to maintain a level of control on their site content, which analysts agree is a smart move, at least for now.

From a content management perspective, being able to incorporate information stemming directly from a community is something Esteban Kolsky, principal and founder of consultancy Managed Experiences, Loyal Customers, says is "what we always said a system should do." Moreover, by being able to automatically integrate community content, he says, "fulfills the basic needs of the self-learning of the system."

Attensity's social solving functionality feeds into a greater vision for customer service, one that de Haaff calls an "open enterprise." For most companies, service is constrained by resources limited to FAQ pages, manuals, or contributed content by product owners. Eventually, she foresees enterprises opening up the information used to make business decisions available across the organization as well as to customers looking to solve problems. The goal is to create a collaborative environment that enables everyone to deliver better service to the consumer. In this sense, "listening" has potential to extend even beyond social networks to reach into private community forums that may have been employee only, to extract information relevant to solve a customer issue.

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.

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