Customer service and CRM are the watchwords of most successful organizations. But what do they really mean, and how do businesses balance increasing consumer demands with escalating expenses? Many are turning to automated voice messaging (AVM)--prerecorded, professionally scripted voice messages. AVM is helping B2C companies in a wide range of industries improve communications and deepen customer relationships.
Today's Consumer: Bombarded, but Screaming for Recognition
In its simplest form, CRM is viewed as the care and nurturing of customers. Your company strives to enhance the customer experience by delivering outstanding service, trusting that satisfied customers remain loyal customers. The challenge to most CRM initiatives is actually connecting with customers. While the Internet has spawned a generation of consumers that demand the convenience of anytime, anywhere interactions, they are bombarded with information delivered via mail, email, advertisements, and even text messaging. As a result, consumers' attention span is maxed out and they are becoming numb to these traditional touch points.
Despite all this, consumers want to be recognized as unique and valued customers. They want you to acknowledge their relationship history and preferences, and reward them for their loyalty. This means that every contact opportunity has to be compelling, highly relevant, and precisely timed. You must foster a one-to-one relationship with each customer despite the fact that you may be communicating with thousands. And you must do this at the lowest possible cost-per-contact.
A New Way to Build Thousands of One-to-One Relationships
To meet these challenges, leading B2C companies are integrating AVM into their strategic CRM initiatives. AVM solutions deliver high-quality, precisely targeted, branded voice messages that are prerecorded. The call can be a simple promotion reminder, or more complex, empowering consumers to complete a transaction on their own, talk to a live agent, or respond to a satisfaction survey. AVM solutions can make a thousand or a million calls, and each one is the same as the last. It's like using your best agent with your most compelling message on every call.
AVM applies today's customer contact requirements to add incremental value to CRM initiatives:
Compelling and customized messaging: AVM scripts can be customized in a variety of ways. Text-to-speech technology provides first and last name personalization with lifelike voice results. You can also customize voice messaging scripts in real-time using any variable in your customer database, such as a late payment amount or the exact date and time of a scheduled service appointment.
Relevance: Voice messaging makes it easier to deliver precisely targeted messages to different segments of a customer base by matching unique scripts and offers to each segment. For example, one script might invite preferred customers to take advantage of an exclusive offer, while another offers inactive customers a discount on private label credit card purchases.
Precise timing: AVM makes it easier to deliver targeted messages at the time when customers are most likely to be interested and able to respond. For example, a retail store wanted to announce a special weekend sale to its existing customers. Traditionally, the retailer would send postcards a few weeks in advance of the sale, but these would get lost or be forgotten as soon as they arrived. However, delivering automated voice messages the Thursday night prior to the sale significantly increased foot traffic and revenue. Consequently, AVM became a regular component of the retailer's outreach strategy.
Control and convenience: AVM give consumers more control, allowing them to speak with a live agent immediately, complete an agentless transaction, or call back at their convenience. This flexibility benefits companies as well by increasing call center productivity. Automated dialing replaces nonproductive manual dialing and ensures that only the most qualified individuals are transferred to live agents.
Voice messaging is ideal for businesses that need to inform, educate, and update individual customers and groups. AVM can also deflect inbound calls in response to anticipated events or changes in policies or account statements. Typical customer service applications for AVM include:
Service appointment reminders
Order status updates
Reminders of warranty expirations
Updates of contact data and credit card information
Claim status updates
Application processing and approval updates
Alerts of service interruptions or delivery problems
Reengagement with customers after temporary service interruptions
AVM Is the Right Call
Incorporating AVM into your strategic CRM initiatives can profoundly impact your customer relationships, your ability to generate revenue, and your profitability. AVM gives you an unprecedented advantage by improving your ability to deliver high-impact, one-to-one communications that are precisely timed and targeted.
About the Author
Eric Keough is leader of consumer direct strategy for SoundBite Communications. Please visit www.soundbite.com.