Can IBM Watson Bring Customer Experience Back to the Future?
Update - Biggest game changer ever for cable TV and telco operators and subscribers.
IBM Watson excels at speedily processing information and producing helpful solutions, doing things that human agents simply cannot. But in any customer journey there are moments of truth when it’s important to get proactive, empathetic, and quick-thinking human agents involved. It could be a pivotal decision point, a delicate moment where a customer’s loyalty or a sale could be gained or lost, in which a human agent’s careful intervention might make all the difference.
However, the opposite situation is equally true. How many times have you called customer service only to be put on hold while an agent searches for an answer to your question or transfers you to another department entirely? But if customer service agents have tools like IBM Watson at their disposal, they’ll be far better equipped to efficiently resolve customer queries themselves, reducing call times while keeping customers happy, too.
Customer experience (CX) is the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship. This interaction includes a customer's attraction, awareness, discovery, cultivation, advocacy and purchase and use of a service. It is measured by the individual's experience during all points of contact against the individual's expectations. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Customer_experience
Over the past 50 years, customer experience has had many aliases, ranging from full service to customer service to customer care to self-service.
Having grown up in a family business that included a service station, TV and appliance, and real estate business; CX quality had an immediate and direct impact on success and failure. Management and employees were transparent in their actions and results
Having founded a customer care and billing (CC&B) company for cable TV, I’ve worked with many small operators in the US and internationally. All those operators were cross trained and handled everything from stringing cable to managing the back office. Customer care resolutions were handled directly by owners or employees trained and empowered to efficiently resolve them.
My initial CC&B system sales required spending a lot of time in cable offices. Many times the owner was interested in utilizing the computer, and the office staff weren’t. Obviously change was not easy, but you have to show *vision, competency, information, engagement & integration, and empowerment for success. In smaller offices you had to appreciate the office staff “Watson” type memory recall of their subscribers, families, expectations, and habits; and then show them the benefits of speed to print bills, and monitor services and payments.(Back to the Future - very similar to Watson approach)
What’s gone wrong? Why is cable TV considered to have the worst customer care?
Cable was once considered a “Field of Dreams”, all they had to do was build and subscribers would come. Now they are facing challenges similar to Walmart with Amazon.
As a long time cable TV software provider and cable subscriber; I’ve enjoyed all the advancements.
As a cable TV subscriber for most of my life, I can make some personal anecdotal observations –
Local ownership gives back to the community, and is reactive to cable programming requests. MSO’s with a national base give much less back to their franchises, and long-time channels have been removed for less popular ones, with no advance survey.
Broadcast TV limited content costs by advertising revenue. Cable has allowed content providers to raise costs with impunity. Cable revenue model is broken. Cable must find ways to use behavioral marketing and targeted sales to offset content. Google, Amazon, Apple, Twitter,and Facebook have figured it out.
Since the cost of customer care is only second to content costs, improving the customer experience is something that operators should take ownership, and radically improve.
As a 21 year subscriber of my current cable operator, I’m disappointed with their approach to my customer experience.
There should be a loyalty program to give long time subscribers the best rates, and services. You can get a better deal switching to satellite and later switching back (or just by using the threat). Note Consumer Report
One other finding from the survey: It pays to negotiate. Among the 42 percent who said they tried to negotiate a better deal, 45 percent reported that the provider dropped the bundle price by up to $50 per month, 30 percent got a new promotional rate, and 26 percent received additional premium channels.
If I get my statements on-line and use direct deposit, there should be a discount, at least in the $2 range. It’s an obvious savings to not have to generate a statement and mail it.
Recently I contacted my cable operator’s customer service about an Internet issue, and the CSR quickly thanked me for being a subscriber for 21 years. After being put on hold, I lost the connection and redialed, and again was thanked for my 21 years. The troubleshooting process went through the normal steps of a new subscriber. All that I had already tried.
After years of viewing customer care as a vendor, and as a subscriber the real game changer is “Watson” type tools to resolve problems at level one on the first call, or even better self service through a trained IVR using the logic of your best tech.
Recently I attended the Customer Experience Management Summit in Atlanta,
http://www.cemintelecoms.com/ , and got several takeaways.
Customer Experience Management positions are now being filled at the VP and Senior VP level with executives from companies renown for providing the highest level of customer experience.
From - JOHN WALBURN VP CUSTOMER SERVICE
HOW TO ALIGN PRIORITIES WITHIN DEPARTMENTS TO ENSURE CROSS FUNCTIONAL COMMUNICATION.
UNDERSTANDING CROSS FUNCTIONALITY TO DELIVER SEAMLESS CUSTOMER SERVICE
RESULTS OF THIS NEW COLLABORATIVE APPROACH ON CUSTOMER SATISFACTION, COSTS AND REVENUE.
Consistent message from all departments
Reduction in call volumes