Self-service is on the rise. With the mobility revolution that started with Apple's introduction of the iPhone, consumers around the world have realized the potential of finding answers to their business questions themselves, on the go, instead of relying on call center staff alone. While self help has the advantage of quick and convenient access to information when needed for the customer, it also shows quick ROI for businesses that can have their contact center staff focus on more elaborate inquiries. A win-win, but not an end-all be-all. The need for live assistance from knowledgeable staff will not go away; only certain types of inquiries are self-serviceable. Customers will continue to reach out for human help for complex account inquiries or to understand a company's business processes. For simple inquiries, however, self-service is now usually preferred.
Once access to live assistance is offered within a self-service environment, it is highly important to preserve any context and data collected during a self-service interaction. This is what we at Aspect call Experience Continuity™, the ability to seamlessly continue a customer service conversation when switching between channels, or from self-service to live service. A study from late 2013 showed that 89% of consumers say they are annoyed when they have to repeat themselves about the same issue.
To implement a concept like Experience Continuity, you will need an easily accessible data store that can memorize past transactions on any channel. At Aspect, we call it Continuity Server™, and it allows developers of websites, mobile apps, or IVR systems, to store so-called Context Cookies - small traces of information about the journey of a customer. Examples would be:
- Dropout points in IVR interactions, i.e. incomplete business tasks
- Last transaction performed in mobile app
- Last time the customer talked to an agent
- Last issue discussed with agent
- Most recent page of your website the customer was on
While some of this information might already be stored in a traditional CRM system, the data might not always be easily accessible cross-channel. Aspect's Continuity Server features a simple REST API for read & write access and can thus be used by any developer wanting to improve the omni-channel customer experience. Furthermore, it provides a finer granularity of information than typical CRM systems, focusing on what is needed to provide experience continuity.