The Importance Of Contact Drivers

Doug Overton

VP Consulting & Insight at Praxidia

23/11/2018

This is the third in a series of blogs from the Praxidia team focused on exploring the themes raised in my latest white paper titled ‘Digital Transformation – Are You Ready?’ The paper explores the realities of planning a customer service automation strategy, and in this blog I will be introducing some of the paper’s key messages regarding contact drivers.

The term contact drivers is used throughout the customer service industry to describe the reasons why customers are engaging with the brand. In our previous blog, published by Alistair Niederer, Praxidia explored how traditional contact driver classification methods are confusing digital transformation strategy.

I would like to follow on from this theme and consider for a moment the nature of the contact driver itself. It is only when the true nature of a customer contact is understood that a plan for its potential automation can be determined.

It has become an industry cliché that Millennial’s require immediacy, self-service and automation while Gen X or Baby Boomers prefer to pick up the phone. While customer demographics do indeed have a part to play in automation design strategy, they form only one component of a multi-dimensional set of criteria.

Of greater consideration is the emotional vs transactional nature of the contact driver. Simple transactional interactions, such as paying a credit card, retrieving a balance or enquiring about a store opening time have long been addressed through IVR automation. Today, as consumers spanning all demographics, we have become largely content with the simplicity of this approach.

Now, with the advent of AI, machine learning and robotics an almost unlimited scope exists for the automation of far more complex customer service requirements. Yet, just because the automation of a contact type has become ‘technically feasible’, it doesn’t always mean it is always the right thing to do.

Many customer service interactions may be considered emotional in nature, in other words the customer may be seeking empathy, sympathy, compassion or discretion from an agent. All things that can be simulated but not replicated by a machine.

Lodging a complaint, seeking a goodwill discount, receiving a clinical diagnosis, filing a life insurance claim, or simply seeking ‘white glove’ support, are a few examples where human interaction remains critical for a healthy customer experience.

Furthermore, consider the value to your business of maintaining human-to-human interaction within specific customer care interactions; after all, how many other opportunities do you really get to engage with your customers? Once contact has been handed to a robot how can you really engage in meaningful loyalty nurturing conversations, or explore opportunities to drive new revenue?

It is no understatement to suggest that the segmentation of contact drivers and the consequent development of an automation roadmap has become a science.

I am not a luddite, far from it, I am a firm advocate and proponent of automation and self-service, but only when and where appropriate. Maybe it is time to take stock of your transformation strategy and re-evaluate the value of human interaction with every contact driver; either that or risk your customer’s loyalty becoming a casualty in the race to automate.

The forthcoming Praxidia paper – Digital Transformation are you ready? – will explore these challenges in more detail, providing some essential guidelines for consideration within your digital transformation strategy. Please leave a comment or get in touch via my LinkedIn if you would like to receive a copy of the complete white paper.

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