Customer relationship management, chatbots, and sex

Igor Pauletič / / Customer Experience

Sex is in the title pretty much just because it’ll entice more people to devote six minutes to reading my thoughts about chatbots and their benefits, and customer satisfaction.

If there’s no conversation, there’s no relationship.

I have a friend who says that the prerequisite for a long and happy marriage is regular conversation between the partners. He insists that every couple whose relationship is cooling should make an effort to find a routine for daily conversation. He says this is easiest for young couples if they go to bed at the same time. This conversation may lead to some other activities, whose absence can also often be understood as leading to a worsening relationship. Older couples may more easily find this routine in having breakfast together to start the day.

Remembering the past conversations is a fundamental building block for the context of all future ones.

Another important issue in my friend’s therapy is commitment to these conversations. He says that conversation doesn’t help at all unless both partners are committed listeners that remember conversations from prior days, weeks, and months. He says that this is a basic prerequisite for building a relationship.

Can you look at what your customer told the chatbot before you call him yourself? Click To Tweet

I’m not a psychologist myself, but this thesis seems pretty logical to me. Unfortunately, my wife and I haven’t put any of this into practice yet. Maybe that moment will come when the children have grown up some and we won’t have to coordinate ferrying them to their various after-school activities.

If the speakers can’t hear each other, there’s no basis for a conversation.

The second point of my story today, in fact, has to do with coordinating family obligations. We have a rule that our son accompanies our younger daughter to preschool and home again, unless he arranges for our older daughter to do it. This agreement has been working well for quite some time. I’m sure that the reward of €2 for each trip (we don’t just hand out pocket money around here, it has to be earned) contributes significantly to this success.

It's good to offer your customers multiple communication channels. But do you know how to combine them and manage them well? Click To Tweet

But last week we had an incident. My wife came home from work and none of the children were home. The older daughter was at sports practice and the younger two were nowhere to be seen. My wife tried to reach Blaž by phone, but he was unavailable. So, to figure out what had happened she went to the preschool, where she found Iza, who was with the cleaning lady and the security guard, waiting for someone to come and pick her up. Fuming, she went home, where she finally found Blaž. When she told him off, saying that changes to agreements have to be communicated, the rascal told her that he had sent her a message: a direct message on Instagram. Huh. My wife is more at home with the phone, SMS, and email. Blaž can’t even imagine why anyone would use email. He only got it so he could register for Instagram and Snapchat. He’s more at home there. The moral of the story is that they had wanted to communicate, but they hadn’t heard each other. Because each one had been more familiar with a different communication channel.

Do you only communicate with customers if they adapt to you?

So if we finally come to the point: these are things that happen in your business. The basis of customer relationships is that you can remember all the conversations and combine them into a single correspondence. Regardless of which communication channels have been used at various moments. Your job (never your customer’s!) is to ensure a communication hub or bridge between communication channels and translate customer communication from all channels into a single point for your employees in customer care. Customers will always select the communication method that they prefer, so don’t force them to communicate via a specific channel just because it’s your favorite or easier for you to understand. If you add a communication channel, for example a chatbot, and you don’t know how to link the correspondence between the chatbot and the customer to the other communication with that customer via different channels, I doubt that you’re doing yourself any favors.

My bank is making a fool out of me.

To conclude, I’d like to share my personal experience with a certain bank. I needed a specific banking service. I called the bank and when the automated answering service told me that I was “I-don’t-know-which” number in line, I decided to surf the bank’s website. I noticed a chatbot there and it seemed that I might get the information I was looking for faster from the chatbot, so I started a “chat.” Because the chatbot was designed to sell me a loan but not to solve the problem I was coming to the bank about, it took quite a few interactions before I was able to move the conversation away from consumer loans. Unfortunately, after a few minutes I got the message that this was a robot that only knew how to resolve the most frequent issues, and that I should call the Kranj branch for help with my issue.

If you aren't competent with and don't understand all modern communication channels, it's better not to offer them. Click To Tweet

Naturally, I called the phone number the bot offered me immediately. A bank employee greeted me nicely and asked me how she could help me. Even though I’d just spent fifteen minutes answering the bot’s questions and had gone into considerable detail about what I needed . . . and also given it my contact information. You can imagine that I wasn’t thrilled about answering all of those same questions again. This kind of chatbot isn’t helping this bank at all. It certainly doesn’t look helpful to customers whose experiences are like mine.

And where are you?

Can you imagine a customer relationship management system that combines all communication channels into one single one for your employees? One that combines all customer contacts into one correspondence thread regardless of the channel? No? Well, then you’d better not be thinking about chatbots just yet. If you want to have happy customers . . .

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