“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.)


Jeff Campbell

No Longer with Cisco