Wouldn't it be nice to be welcomed as an old friend when you contact a company you have been a customer of for many years.
Memory is an important factor in building relationships, when we meet people we exchange thoughts and opinions, we then form an ever evolving internal persona based on cumulative interactions. Our opinions are not always rational but they are real for us.
Customers want a similar human approach in their interactions with companies to build trust and relationships yet as customers we are continually frustrated by the inability of companies to retain quite basic (digital) memory to improve our experiences and our level of convenience. We also want to feel valued for being a customer.
The underlying issue here is one of data silos or a lack of digital memory, this can be seen both within a single interaction across channels (Chat, Online, Email, Voice etc), but also between interactions.
Allow me to elaborate with some examples.
Example 1 - The bank loan
I'm a customer of a bank and I am logged into their app, I want to apply for a loan which directs me to their website, at this point I need to fill out a long form telling them who I am. Don't they know me? I've been a customer for years, why ask me to confirm what they should already know.
Wouldn't it be nice for the site to recognize me, welcome me and ask me to confirm details on record are still correct rather than fill in all my details. If the loan is for a car, wish me happy driving once the loan is accepted.
Example 2 - The channel switch
I'm on the website and logged into my account using the chat agent to resolve an issue, however it appears that the chat agent is not empowered to solve my issue and I will need to call the Voice support center. On calling the support line I need to repeat my query and re-authenticate myself.
It would be great if when I call the agent is aware of my chat conversation and also my history with the company. Greet me as an old friend and solve the issue. Also, empower chat agents to have the same capabilities as voice agents so I don't need to transfer or from the chat arrange a direct call back to me.
Example 3 - The agent switch
I call the support team who are trying to resolve my issue but they need to escalate to a higher tier. I'm then transferred to another agent and I need to re-state the issue all over again. Oh dear :(
I'd like for my issue to be noted and shared with the relevant party, I'd like to receive a warm handover where agent 1 conferences me in to agent 2 to introduce me and my issue.
"Miles (me), I'd like to introduce you to Dave (Agent 2). Dave, Miles has contacted us about [Issue] and we would like your help to resolve. Miles, nice to speak to you today, I'll leave you in the capable hands of Dave who will be able to resolve this for you."
Example 4 - The cross interaction experience
Each time I contact the company it feels like the first time I have spoken to them. They seem unaware of my tenure with the company and the history of my account. I don't feel valued as a person (customer). We build relationships through a shared understanding of each other. It's difficult to form a relationship when the other party seems to know nothing about me.
When I contact a company via any channel I would expect them to have both O and X data on hand so they can welcome me appropriately and even have a precognitive view of why I might be calling. I've been with the company for ten years so please greet me warmly as a trusted and valued acquaintance.
Companies need to break down these data silos both within channels and across interactions to build up an understanding of me as a customer, this data should be used to reduce my effort and to help build rapport.
This is all about the handover and use of data to improve the experience between channels and interactions.
Allow the smooth transfer of information across channels to aid better experiences.
When contacting organizations across interactions it seems that all previous interactions are hidden away in data silos from the person who is trying to support me who has no context of my account history. This feels like trying to start the relationship with the company from scratch which can be emotionally exhausting.
Use (artificial digital) memory to help build advocacy and convenience for customers. Front line staff should have access to all previous interactions, this allows them to continue building relationships rather than starting from scratch each time.
The moral of this story is that companies need to be finding ways to humanize and personalize experiences to reduce effort and build rapport.