Context in Customer Service: Why Is It Important in Customer Experience

context-customer-service

Let’s say you are a teenager and want to borrow your aunt’s car. Do you ask her right after she just hung up from an annoying call? How about when she comes inside after mowing the lawn on a hot day –  that same lawn you were supposed to mow yesterday?

Most likely, you would choose a different time to ask for the car. Why? Because in those examples, the details surrounding her situation, also known as the context, are not favorable to you getting the keys to freedom anytime soon.

In terms of customer relationship management, when agents take note of the details about a customer’s situation relative to the call, they are gathering contextual data about the subject. Another way of thinking about it is, wouldn’t it be great if agents could read the customer’s mind before they get on a service call with them?

The good news is agents don’t have to have ESP to get a good sense of customer mindset before a call. Agents can review the information to see the context of the call and help personalize the interaction. Ideally, all customer information is available in one place via a single view dashboard.

Personalization is powerful for customer engagement. 79% of customers say personalized service is more important than personalized marketing. That makes sense, right? Service is direct interaction, whereas marketing is more general.

Let’s take a deeper look at the role of context in customer service.

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What Is Context in Customer Experience?

When experts talk about contextual data, they are talking about qualitative details, not necessarily numbers. Gathering customer service information about context is like taking snapshots at different touchpoints in the customer journey.

Specific ways to gather data that helps agents understand and update context include:

  • Review the ticket history, so the customer doesn’t have to repeat the details.
  • Look for pending communications from the customer.
  • Check for requests that no one responded to. 
  • Gather internal information to update the current status of the issue at hand.
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When agents take a few moments to familiarize themselves with the transaction’s context, they can save time with the customer to reach a solution later. They can create a more satisfying experience for everyone in the process.

Why Is Context Important in Customer Service?

Context is important in customer service because it combines individual customer data points to create a 360 view of the customer situation for the service agent. Combining discrete data points creates new meaning and insights about the context that don’t exist with just one factoid.

In customer service, companies can now optimize context for platforms and technology to serve the customer, from self-service help options to chat to live calls. Three areas to consider include personalized support, reducing customer effort, and improving team support.

Personalized Support

Context creates a customer-centric environment for interaction, helping agents deliver personalized service, which increases customer loyalty and improves customer retention. If your customer service representatives can view a customer’s journey all in one place, they can understand the context of the situation and deliver a personalized experience. When a company contextualizes the interaction, the customer feels that the company understands their individual situation.

Customers may be more comfortable in one communication context than another.  For example,  some customers don’t want to call customer services or use chat. They would rather interact with a company via social channels familiar to them. Kayako’s Social Customer Service CRM Integration helps companies connect with customers where they are instead of forcing customers to come to a specific website, chatbot, or other channels.

To offer personalized support, agents have to understand the customer’s experience with the company. Customer service reps need a complete view of the customer journey to deliver solutions quickly. Kayako’s Single View creates a comprehensive overview and enables personalized interactions with your customers.

Less Customer Effort

Research backs up a fact that most of us know intuitively – customers do not want to hassle with customer service issues. The more hassle, the more effort from the customer’s viewpoint.

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To stay ahead of friction, companies track the customer effort score, (CES) metric that shows how much effort the customer thinks they had to put in to resolve their problem. The CES measures the answer to one question, “How easy was it for you to get your problem solved?” (scale of 1 to 5).

Knowing your CES allows companies to see what needs to be done to improve how their support team interacts with customers. CES is a strong predictor of future customer loyalty – those with high scores are more likely to become return customers.

Tracking CES across channels and interactions can indicate areas of flow and friction. For example, the CES may show customer friction increase in the context of the chat function is confusing, whereas the knowledge base context is highly effective for certain types of inquiries.

Those are examples of a metric that needs context for accuracy. The important thing to remember is that the CES is most powerful when companies evaluate it in context with the customer journey.

Improve Team’s Performance

As we’ve seen, context is key to reducing friction and increasing personalization. Companies that invest in tools to optimize team performance can help their agents improve customer satisfaction and decrease customer attrition.

Here are some baseline suggestions for capturing and creating contextual data:

  • Break down internal silos so that all departments can lend context to the customer journey.
  • Combine the history of all customer interactions across channels, unifying the customer’s journey into a central dashboard. 
  • Record all service transactions on the customer’s account in that same system.
  • Train agents on how to leave notes that provide context for their colleagues, 
  • Reinforce and reward compliance with the SOPs for customer service to habituate the capture and creation of contextual data.

ROI on Context – Is It Worth It?

Establishing context takes more time than just diving into calls one after another. Agents need to take a few minutes to review the ticket details.

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Does this cost the company in the long run in terms of productivity? Yes, but companies need to consider the ROI from a happy customer experience vs. the loss of future revenue from an annoyed customer that leaves the business or, worse yet, spreads bad word of mouth.

An emphasis on context and personalization leads to less churn and higher customer lifetime value (CLV) in the long run.

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