How fast would you drive with dirt on your windshield?

If you can’t see, you’re just going to be guessing

You know what it’s like. Winter. Bad weather. Mud on the road. Thirty miles to drive. Truck goes by and sprays a layer of mud right across your windshield. You start the wipers and give it a good shot with the washers to start to clear the screen. And just when you’re peering through the gaps in the mud, the wiper fluid runs out.

I know. You ought to carry a bottle of water or fluid in the car for occasions like this. Or you should turn right back to that little gas station you passed before to refill the wiper fluid. But you don’t. At least, to be honest, I don’t. I plow on, hoping the next gas station will appear soon, cutting my speed right down, craning my neck to see what’s ahead, driving with maybe one-third the visibility I should have.

It’ll be all right.

And, yes, usually it is all right.

When we’re in a situation like this, we drive slowly. We take extra care and kid ourselves that it makes up for the lack of visibility. But it’s not true. If we stop and think about it, we know perfectly well that incomplete knowledge of the road ahead and the conditions all around is a recipe for potential disaster.

That’s pretty much what it’s like when we send agents to interact with our customers without the full picture of the situation and circumstances; without having the full context.

The more complex and non-routine the interaction is, the more critical this context becomes.

There’s a lot you need to know

When the customer’s call comes through, each contact center agent begins from what is really a position of ignorance. There’s a voice on the line, a telephone number the CRM system may or may not recognize, and a person speaking a name or plunging straight into a query that may be no more than half heard. Ideally, the agent knows the customer intent, though even that depends on whether the customer managed to find her way through the IVR system.

Within the next few seconds, customer history details, call logs, credit card records, notes of past problems, and insights into what would be the next best action with that customer may all be needed to allow the interaction to proceed smoothly and rapidly to a satisfactory conclusion.  But at this point, the agent is effectively peering through a small clear patch in a very muddy windshield.

From the customer’s point of view, the ideal result will be a quick answer to a query, a neat resolution of a problem or a helpful, relevant suggestion of a further purchase.

These are all desirable from your point of view, too. But you also want to capture more information, enhance the present and future value of that prospect or customer, and complete the successful interaction quickly.

Real relevance, in real time

Hold time costs money. It costs customer satisfaction too. So the ability to widen the clear patch and provide full visibility and insights about the road ahead, with all its curves and bumps, is really important. And the ability to do it fast is a great operational asset.

NICE’s solutions are specifically aimed at analyzing what is going on before and during a call, generating insights, and then acting in real time to impact every customer interaction. They’re about putting the relevant information right there on the screen, before the agent even knows what is going to be needed.  They provide the full visibility – based on historical information and real-time inputs – required to drive relevant and accurate actions.  By responding quickly and selectively, they can illuminate the landscape and fill in the context to the point where the agent’s anticipation of the customer’s intent, needs and concerns may seem almost psychic.

This is what “mastering the interaction” is about. This is where understanding what’s relevant out of all the customer data – captured in real time and known from past interactions – pays dividends. This is how real impact is achieved.

If someone offered you a guardian angel to clear your windshield, allow you a clear view of the road, and help you speed ahead in the challenging conditions, you’d take the offer like a shot. That’s pretty well what NICE can do for your agents.  Keeping their windshields clear and giving them full understanding of the interaction context may not be a matter of life and death, but it certainly makes a world of difference to what they can do for your customers – and how fast they can deliver it, in every interaction.      


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