Context is Everything in Customer Care

March 25, 2015 - 3 Comments

“Let’s eat grandma!”
“Let’s eat, grandma!”

Punctuation makes a difference, doesn’t it? So does context.

Photo by Takkk, Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Takkk, Wikimedia Commons

If you’re a basketball fan with March Madness on your mind, “Drive the lane!” might make you think of something a coach yells to his players. On the other hand, if you’re teaching your teenage son to drive, it means something else entirely. Context matters! (By the way, march madness also refers to the breeding season of the European hare; context is a tricky thing.)

What’s one of the most annoying things about calling a contact center? For me, it’s entering my account number to an interactive voice response (IVR) system and then having a customer service agent ask me to repeat it moments later. In his recent blog, Zack Taylor refers to this as a “Do It Again” moment. Come on, people! We put a man on the moon in 1969 (or not, if you’re a conspiracy buff), but we can’t get an IVR system to send account numbers to agents? Actually we can. But most businesses don’t because it’s been too difficult or costly. We’ll get back to that shortly.

You’re the business. I’m the customer. The above scenario creates frustration because you’ve lost my context–in this case, my account number. That’s a very simple scenario. So what happens when I interact with you via multiple channels–such as voice, chat, email, and the web–over a period of days or even weeks? In most cases, when I then speak to a customer service agent, he or she will have no idea of our previous interactions, forcing me to explain everything again.

Time wasted. Caller–and agent–frustrated.

But what if the agent has ready knowledge of those interactions? Now, instead of poring over the history, he or she can start helping me right away.

Time saved. Customer happy. Agent happy.

As described in a noted white paper on the three waves of customer care, businesses have offered multichannel customer service interactions for a number of years. And although mechanisms to store and manage context across these channels exist, the systems tend to be site-based with limited options for integration. But now, cloud-based context services with open APIs can transform those isolated, multichannel interactions into seamless “omnichannel” journeys. The result? You can better understand and respond to the needs of your customers. The benefits are compelling:

  • Reduced consumer effort as they interact with you
  • Personalized journeys that reflect who they are and the specific assistance they need
  • More efficient use of your customer service resources
  • Business-to-consumer interactions that are better able to reflect your brand.

Cisco’s recently-announced Context Service can help you realize these benefits. Have you thought about–have you really thought about–what that could mean for your business?

(AUTHOR’S ASIDE:  If you note the date of Cisco’s announcement, my choice of March Madness as an example might mean a little more.  Context really is everything.)

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  1. Great context Jeff 😉

  2. The concept of context capture and routing executed within the enterprise offers much more than high value “one and done” contact management. The resultant value of Cisco’s Context Service lies within living profile that is created and effectively evolves over time validating models of customer lifetime value.

    As Cisco combines the various components of the various application portfolios, whether they are from security, mobility, or collaboration, the profile is enabled to gain in depth and value over time. Bringing Connected Analytics as a service to bear into this play could extend parsed data elements into actionable information for consumption across the enterprise.

    Imagine the power of the contact center impacting marketing and business planning and ultimately financial performance. This impact will be measurable, AND managable and driven from contact center interactions. Context Service could be just this type of game changer.

  3. I will second the frustrations of having to repeat oneself…frustrations of having to repeat oneself. These days my interactions with customer care seem to be limited to technical support, out of state charges for 83 live chinchillas, and trying to buy something online…frustrations of having to repeat oneself…I’m surprised at how many department transfers I go through. It has happened on more then one occasion where I’ve simply ended my transaction and left determined to find the product elsewhere. Not only can this be a customer satisfaction issue post sales, but can also lead to lost revenue opportunity pre-sales…did I mention the frustrations of having to repeat oneself?