Claridge’s Is A Great Place To Discuss Personalised Customer Service

Having enjoyed a previous customer event chez Gordon Ramsey, I knew to expect a belt busting dinner. I was not disappointed. The home made marshmallows were to die for as indeed were the scallops.  The wine was divine, the service impeccable and the evening slipped by in animated discussion.

Of course, this is insufficient justification to choose NewVoiceMedia for your new telephony infrastructure, but it’s pretty damn close.

Next morning’s customary email exchanges suggested a good time was had by all.

The Gift of Intelligent Routing

So where to begin? We did of course discuss more than the menu.  I’d chosen two themes to get things going. The first was the opportunity to deliver personalised service via intelligent routing.

If you have a few years under your belt in the Contact Centre space then that phrase will sound familiar. And indeed it is for those who tuned into high end Customer Service functionality. Intelligent routing was a core feature from which much benefit should have flowed. Only it didn’t, since it was too expensive for two thirds of the market, and too complex for those who did buy it.

Instead, the kind of routing that became industry standard was the skills-based variety. In other words an internal perspective, based on resourcing considerations that neatly plugged into the mindset of workforce management solutions.

Yes it is true that multi-skilling does help scheduling. But organising routing based on interaction media i.e. voice or text does not make an experiential difference to customers unless of course the skills being deployed are woefully inadequate.

It only starts to matter when priorities are reversed and we explore what intelligent routing can offer customers. What’s exciting about this is the tangible opportunity to differentiate around your brand’s service experience.

Why? Because given all that internal preoccupation with utilisation, customer feedback suggests widespread dissatisfaction over a set of long term issues. Pretty much any customer survey over the last ten years will tell you the following about what upsets them and needs fixing:

  • Number one grouch is ‘waiting to be served’. The whole experience of queuing frustrates time-poor customers. It is interesting to note that when tested customers tend to think they have to wait two to three times longer in the queue than is the case. This is therefore a key ‘moment of truth’
  • Next up is ‘being served by someone who cannot help’ and/or ‘being passed from pillar to post’. Such mediocre organisation is of course unwelcome to first time customers. But in the context of an ongoing issue, this quickly escalates into real frustration at the inability of the service organisation to recognise individual customer situations and respond accordingly.

I’ve been berating customer service leadership teams for ever and a day about getting these aspects of their service experience fixed. Unfortunately to little effect. This inability to solve such a well reported issue becomes the ‘smoking gun’ which proves truly intelligent routing remains an open field for experimentation and positive branding.

So our first discussion of the night was about the real opportunity for delivering a memorable service experience. Just think about it. Have you ever heard someone praise a call centre for being able to anticipate their situation and then make the delivery of what happens next relevant and personalised? ‘Scalable intimacy’ as I’ve heard it described.

Perfect in theory. Absent in practice.

But that’s the beauty of cloud based CTI when deeply integrated with CRM held customer data and workflow. It works, is affordable and can be iterated without the need for IS/IT involvement.

The Secret Is To Anticipate Situations That Matter To Customers

Delivering effective personalised service does need some research and thought. It has to matter to the customer and have a conscious and positive impact on their experience. At the very least NPS scores should be improved. At best, more commercial metrics such as up-sell rates and lifetime values should also see steady improvement.

At dinner there was someone from the spread betting world. They came out with a killer stat about their space. 90% of customers lose 90% of their bets in 90 days. One of the most vivid summaries of a business model I’ve heard in a while!

What would happen if that transactional history could trigger an additional service that recognised the unfolding predicament and empowered the customer to get smarter? It could transform those industry dynamics and make some folk a whole lot richer!

Maybe that is not the buzz around spread betting. I don’t know the customer psychology well enough to be sure. But the underlying principle is readily transferrable to other markets.

Imagine being able to deliver personal recorded messages the moment that customers phone, based on their previous engagement with you. The ‘wow’ is based on automatically recognising a customer’s circumstance with no extra effort on their behalf. For instance:

  • You could personalise by delivering answers to anticipated questions
  • You could offer a focussed sales message based on what they have just bought/are in the process of buying
  • You could provide a personalised IVR menu with relevant options that match what they are trying to do
  • You could let the customer know they will be directly routed to the right person who might for instance be outside the call centre.
    • An executive who always deals with a certain VIP customer
    • Someone from back office since the system recognises that the customer is still in the middle of making a claim
    • The same person who has built a one to one relationship with them

In effect what we were discussing is being able to provide a ‘concierge’ style of experience that can scale to as many customers as you wish once you have recognised their situation and designed a relevant response. The bonus of course is when that can be directly tied to customer value.

Enjoying The Company And Expertise That NewVoiceMedia Offers

There is a great customer video on the NewVoiceMedia site in which an advisor explains how she is able to act as a ‘concierge’ to her company’s cruise buying customers. Her turn of phrase just nailed it for me.


By the way, in case you are left wondering about the other topic we discussed over dinner it was this.  The benefits of building ‘One Agenda’ between Marketing, Sales and Service teams for better customer engagement. But that’s another story which of course you are more than welcome to delve into via this whitepaper.

Anyway, see if you can get yourself invited to dinner. Would love to see you there. They really are worth it!
Martin Hill-Wilson
Martin Hill-Wilson


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