The Art Of Breaking Through Customer Communication Barriers

customer communication

Conversations through technology have come a long way, the space contains both personal and professional interactions. When it comes to customer relationships, our approach to communication seems to lack much-needed personalisation. A border can form between customers and agents made of misunderstandings and incorrect data. There are ways through this.

Our CEO Anne de Kerckhove was recently featured in an article by French journalist David Abiker, in it, he comments on Anne’s speaking appearance at a conference they both attended. Her topic of choice focused on breaking down borders, both in business and life.

During the presentation, David and the audience noticed that her zipper hadn’t been done up – what the French and David call “the detail that kills” or “le detail qui tue.” Instead of shying away from the issue, Anne chose to face her faux pas and make it a funny interlude. She addressed the crowd, “Yes I know, I have the zip opened, I broke it in the bathroom, that’s how it is…” Immediately the air in the room changed from awkward silence to joyous relief.

One little zipper distracted the crowd of listeners from a vital discussion but it also proved her point. We can dissolve barriers by acknowledging their presence, it’s an age-old tenet – address the problem before you search for a solution.

Abiker also touched on this messaging in his piece and we can’t help but find a correlation with what we do – breaking borders between customers and brands.

Breaking borders in communication

In customer communication, there are now multiple channels leading to a brand. Often there are too many, causing more chaos than is necessary. We forget that human beings exist behind all the data and that’s a major problem.

“Customers do not care about the extent of your “omni-ness.” They care about the quality of your service,” says Harvard Business Review. 

Improving the quality of service is achieved by listening to customers. It’s easy for service reps to have a disconnected relationship with their clients. Especially when it’s through chat and response time is slow or when agents are located in another country. By humanising the process and using technology to understand customers on a personal level, it’s easier to build a bridge over the gap and get the conversation going.

Much like how Anne bit through awkwardness with transparency, the same process can be applied to customer communication. Wade through the scripted conversations, chatbots and IVR. Walk right up to the elephant in the chat room.

Via: Harvard Business Review, David Abiker.

IoT And Call Centers: The Current State Of Customer Interaction


Now call centers are called contact centers and agents are tackling more data than ever before. We can partly blame this phenomenon on IoT, (Internet of Things).

What is Internet of Things?

The ubiquitous IoT means a network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and connectivity which enables these objects to connect and exchange data.
Its a term conceived way back in the eighties, but the concept found legs in the early noughties thanks to Kevin Ashton, co-founder of MIT’s Auto-ID Center when he began considering using RFID to connect devices.
Eventually, the future of device interconnection became more of a reality — with the introduction of city-wide WiFi networks. Now, we can’t imagine a world without it.

Call centers and IoT

Though the two wouldn’t usually seem interconnected, they have a relationship of playing catch-up. As customer needs and devices expand so should the technology offered by a customer care hub. Many organisations are taking heed.
“Research of more than 350 executives and managers conducted by ICMI and Oracle finds that 57 percent of respondents say their organisations intend to support IoT/connected technologies within the next six to 12 months, in a 21 percent jump from today. And while only 35 percent of organisations currently use AI, 85 percent of respondents would like to see their companies expand its use or adopt it,” according to 1to1 Media.
The role of a call center agent has changed too thanks to IoT; support teams are taking on a prolific roster of skills, now customer data is derived from multiple sources such as Facebook, Twitter, smartphones, iPads, etc. In response to this, teams are spearheading strategy for “marketing, branding and customer engagement.”

Legacy systems

Integrating IoT into a legacy call management system is a challenge facing businesses making the transition to a digital enterprise. Many believe that wiping the slate clean before implementing new technology is the right path.

However, that’s just not the case; now many new cloud comm platforms have instead built systems able to integrate into a company’s existing stack. “By adopting the approach of adding an IoT layer, enterprises can keep costs down and reap the benefits of IoT in a way that makes sound business sense,” say Evolve.

For their call centers, this is taking the form of combining both self-service and live agent contact. Notably, one technology that has been lost in the changeover is IVR; we explored this shift in a past blog.

The future

Investing in technology to make our lives easier is becoming a common occurrence for huge companies. In fact, Facebook recently acquired VR company Oculus Rift for an alleged $2 billion, will we soon be able to interact our Facebook friends on a virtual level?

Who knows? But regarding how customers interact with brands, we could see a major shift from human interaction to AI or chatbots. “Chatbots will offer the companies the opportunity to replace human agents with chatbots in low-productive customer service areas without hampering customer experience,” claims Ameyo Emerge.

Still, we’re not quite there yet, humans are still legacy systems themselves and at times require the comfort of human to human exchange to solve a problem. Streamlining the journey to that helpful person is the goal at this point in our digital development. But the time of robotic customer service and IoT totality is close, though according to Forrester it won’t be the robot apocalypse we fear.

“Yes, there will be jobs lost in the coming years thanks to robots, driverless cars, and cognitive computing: Forrester predicts a 16% job loss rate between 2015 and 2025. But what about jobs created in categories like software, engineering, design, and maintenance? Forrester forecasts automation will create 13.6 million jobs over the next decade, equivalent to 9% of the workforce.”

Via: Ameyo Emerge, Forrester, 1to1 Media, Evolve, IT Pro Portal.