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Hello, It’s Me: How to Personalize Contact Center Interactions

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There’s a simple reason providing customers with exceptional experiences should be a top priority – it consistently leads to more loyal customers and higher revenues. But delivering on the promise of stellar service is challenging, especially as digital technologies raise customer expectations even as the number of channels customers can use to communicate multiply.

One result of all this is that customers expect companies to personalize every interaction. Even for the most sophisticated contact centers, that’s a tall order. So perhaps it’s not surprising that just 39% of businesses say they’re able to deliver a personalized experience in the phone/call center, according to a Forrester Consulting survey commissioned by PricewaterhouseCoopers. That compares to 61% who can deliver it via social media and 87% excel with email.

The problem doesn’t lie with a lack of customer data. Consumers are increasingly willing to share personal information, particularly when they receive benefits in exchange. But brands need to move beyond just knowing the customer’s name. Context, says Andrea Fishman of PwC, is what’s most important.

“Context is a combination of what customers have done, where they’ve done it, and with whom they have done it. Triangulating the actions, locations, and relationships of customers can provide marketers with the customized information they need to craft truly targeted messages and establish meaningful customer connections,” Fishman wrote on CMO.com.

One way businesses can achieve context is by deploying a unified communications solution coupled with CRM integration. When your business phone system, call center software and CRM application are fully integrated, agents have immediate access to the right customer information at the right time, and can communicate effectively through the customer’s preferred method of interaction.

CRM integration puts all of the customer’s information at an agent’s fingertips, including location, purchases, call history and past issue resolutions. Inbound screen pops provide the customer’s full history before the agent even answers a call or launches a web chat. The agent comes up to speed quickly, so they can build rapport immediately and make the customer feel important. There’s a much greater likelihood the issue will be resolved on the first try.

Consistent Experiences Across All Channels

One of the biggest challenges companies and call centers face is delivering a consistent, personalized experience over every channel. Yet even while businesses prioritize customer experience, the data shows they have a long way to go before they standardize interactions.

According to the Forrester/PwC survey, only 59% of organizations believe they can successfully execute individualized experiences across digital customer touchpoints. That’s why the communications code base is pivotal: Unified communications makes it possible for agents to move a customer conversation seamlessly from social media to web chat to phone, delivering the same level of personalization through every channel.

Meeting Millennials’ High Expectations

Another thing to consider: The expectations for personalized customer service vary significantly by generation. While Baby Boomers prefer direct human interaction, the Millennial generation clearly favors social channels. An organization’s success in delivering the best experience will depend on its having the technology necessary for agents to identify and interact with customers however they happen to communicate.  

The organizations most successful at this have something in common: They map the customer journey and focus on the most challenging points of interaction, according to PwC’s Fishman.

“They find the points in the customer journey that require the most personal touch and the areas that are more likely to drive incremental improvements to the experience and, in turn, to customer loyalty and revenue,” said Fishman.

With the right contact center solution as part of your unified communications strategy, and the right plan for personalization in place, the path to a personalized customer experience could be very short.

Learn more about ShoreTel’s contact center solutions.

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