I love the line for 1-800 Contacts, Delivering contact lenses to people who woke up and realized, “[CURSE WORDS], I’m down to my last pair!” since 1995. It demonstrates their customers’ urgency, with humor, for immediate help from the company.

I forgot to pack my contacts several times throughout my life. I left them behind while traveling, and quickly needed help from the contact lens company to place an order.

You may have had a similar situation. When these situations arise, you need customer support quickly – anywhere, on any device, through your channel of choice. To help customers like you and me, 1-800 Contacts has recently started using Apple Business Chat – a new way for users to communicate directly with businesses using the Messages app on iPhone and iPad.

Here is an example of how Apple Business Chat works: I use Messages on my iPhone to connect with 1-800 Contacts. After quickly explaining my needs and providing my identity, they are able to locate my prescription or get in touch with my optometrist. After the chat, 1-800 Contacts ship the contacts directly to my location.

1-800 Contacts uses Apple Business Chat with Cisco as part of their customer service platform to offer simple, secure and seamless customer engagement. Customers can interact anonymously with 1-800 Contacts to ask questions, or identify themselves as existing customers, and have prescriptions refilled.

As the lead product manager for this solution, I have been working closely with 1-800 Contacts. I am excited to tell you about the customer care solution and how I see it evolving over time.

While working on the deployment, Cisco, and 1-800 Contacts talked about the evolution of customer care for mobile users. We evaluated the types of customer care experiences 1-800 Contacts wants to provide to their customers on iPhone and iPad, and how these experiences should evolve over time.

First, we evaluated how to manage chat volume. The best solution is to automate repetitive transactions, provide self-service options but be “agent-ready” when additional context and intelligence is needed. Cisco enables these personalized experiences and simple escalation from self-service to assisted service.

With their implementation, 1-800 Contacts decided to automate the response for the primary customer contact driver: order status inquiries.

Inquiry interactions often require agent support, especially when customer information and context are critical to sales or solving an issue. The Cisco Customer Journey Solutions are built for enterprise scale, delivering intelligent routing solutions to find the best agent for the right task. The solutions give agents rich customer knowledge quickly to help them assist customers as efficiently as possible.

As 1-800 Contacts Senior Product Manager for eCommerce Rico Lujan said, “Apple Business Chat is pretty fantastic. It perfectly supports our efforts to provide mind-blowingly great customer service to our customers – particularly on their mobile devices. Our customers don’t have to log into anything or enter any information to instantly get in touch with our 24/7 support staff. We love it and are sure they will, too.”

As Cisco planned for the 1-800 Contacts Business Chat launch, we explored how chat could deliver new customers and revenue. This requires a blend of automation and agent routing, using simple questions to deliver customer service without identification. When a self-service discussion transitions to a purchase opportunity, a live agent can quickly take over. And if the customer chooses to reveal any contact information, the next time she uses Apple Business Chat to contact the company, the agent will be able to offer a seamless experience.

Because Apple Business Chat is persistent and customers can see their chat history – just like they can with friends and family – the brand is able to provide an improved experience.

Cisco has explored and addressed a number of use cases and operational questions with the 1-800 Contacts implementation of Apple Business Chat. We are excited to continue learning from our partners and customers as messaging continues to gain favor and adoption in the contact center. We continue to explore best practices on how agents and contact centers be measured. Handled time and average speed of answer metrics will need to change. I believe we will need to focus on outcome measurement but maintain active transaction time.

Let me know what you think. How are you addressing persistent messaging? These are important questions to ask as consumer expectations evolve and businesses look for new ways to continue to enhance the customer care experience they provide.

For more information, please contact us at cc.cloud@cisco.com.



Carmen Logue

Product Manager

Cisco Customer Care Business Unit