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Leveraging Technology to be Proactive, Preventive, and Engaging (and Deliver Psychic Pizza)

Technology is usually viewed as a cost-saving device that creates negative impacts on the customer.  The classic case is the complex phone tree that drives customers nuts.  Properly applied, technology can be a delighter.  The key is anticipation and prevention – a concept I call Psychic Pizza – delivering information and service just before the customer needs it.  I ring your doorbell and say, “Here is the pizza you were about to order!”

Call center directors can leverage available technologies to reduce workload and CSR frustration while enhancing customer satisfaction.  The keys to success are analyzing your current workload and partnering with your CIO to deliver psychic pizza.

While Amazon has gotten much attention for its proposal for drone delivery, its basic strategy has always been one of anticipation and prevention.  Amazon knew that once the book was ordered, the next question would be, “when will I receive it?”  The company proactively sent the email, “You will receive your order on Tuesday,” which eliminated a phone call and impressed customers with their service.   By being proactive the company can eliminate the cost of the service call while dazzling the customer with great service.   

Lynn Holmgren (of Millicom Cellular) and I will show how you can reduce contacts by double digits as well as well as improve the customer experience in our session at Contact Center Demo and Conference, Maximizing the Impact of Technology: Best Practices for Stress-Free Success (session 504). 

The following are a few practical examples for how to apply the technologies to achieve measurable positive impact.  Our session will present many others.

How Technology Can Enhance the CE

The service executive, using technology, can enhance the CE and the bottom line in four ways. 

Properly set expectations - Up to 30 percent of all customer dissatisfaction is caused by customers making simple mistakes or having unrealistic expectations.  You can deliver welcome packages that highlight the top five things customers need to know as well as problems to avoid.  Technology can automatically tailor the welcome package to the customer’s level of technical knowledge, e.g. are you a novice, somewhat technical or techno-geek? 

  • Zipcar provides short videos on basic transactions such as extending the rental for two more hours. The videos, though only 90 seconds, are fun, dramatic and entertaining as well as very educational.
  • At the beginning of an on-line form, an insurance company highlighted “the top five mistakes made when filling out this form.”  The number of mistakes declined precipitously.

Provide just-in-time education.  Links to how-to-do-it videos can eliminate long calls.

  • Auto companies can learn, via wireless link to the car, which functions of the entertainment and navigation systems are not being used. They then push a short video on how to use the functionality – using more functions creates higher perceived product value. 
  • A food company eliminated long cooking calls with short videos and step-by-step recipes.

Service can proactively confirm service delivery, eliminating unnecessary service costs. 

  • When New Jersey Natural Gas makes an appointment for a home visit, they obtain the customer’s preferred communication channel.  At 2:30 PM the day before the visit, they email or text a confirmation that the technician will call at 8:15 AM with an approximate time of arrival.  This eliminates multiple confirmation calls from the customer and reduces the number of times the customer is not present when the technician arrives.

Warn customers of impending unpleasant surprises -   A company’s operational data bases can highlight process failures and automatically communicate them to the customer, such as impending missed appointments, flight cancelations and late charges. 

  • Southern California Edison, using smart meter data, identified 30,000 customers whose bills were on track to be significantly higher than expected.  Ten days into the billing cycle, the system sent an email with the header, “Your bill is going to be higher than you expect and we’re concerned.”  Over 50 percent of customers opened the email.  Compared to a control group, satisfaction rose double digits and customer calls and energy usage decreased.


There are five prerequisites to successfully execution of technology.

  • A process map of the current and ideal CE should be developed jointly by technology and other key departments.  
  • A common customer identifier must exist across all data bases and transaction systems. 
  • Key operational data bases must be able to flag and communicate process failures to feed both “Psychic Pizza” actions and the Voice of the Customer.
  • The company’s website must be reformated to balance education and support with traditional marketing and sales activities. 
  • The marketing and sales departments must accept that proactive communication is a delighter and that setting proper customer expectations will create long term loyalty.

Achieving each of these prerequisites is an ongoing journey, not a single quick action.

The payoff

You can get support from the finance with the following arguments:

  • Psychic pizza prevents problems, enhances margins and reduces workload, all in measurable ways.
  • Positive surprises, like psychic pizza, converts a bland, vanilla transaction into a delighter that fosters positive word of mouth.  Companies with great word of mouth spend 75 percent less on marketing expense because their customers do their selling for them.

In summary, Psychic Pizza can only be successful if the contact center partners with the technology department to assist the rest of the company in properly setting and meeting customer expectations.  Come to session 504 at Contact Center Demo and Conference to learn more about implementing technology in a stress free manner, or send me an email for more relevant articles and papers.

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