Microsoft moves into virtual customer service
Published on: February 10, 2012
There have already been a lot of predictions that 2012 will be a key year for customer service, with Forrester amongst those that see it as a major strategic priority for businesses.
News this week from Microsoft seems to back up this trend. It is partnering with a Silicon Valley company called 24/7, which specialises in using data analytics to predict what customers want. Microsoft is both investing in 24/7 and merging some of its assets into the company. The result of this should be a cloud-based software platform that allows customers to contact a company through whatever channel they choose, using speech or touch, with the software predicting what information they might need and automatically providing it.
So, service is faster, more efficient and more responsive, leading to happier customers and higher retention rates. From the outside this can look a little like science fiction, with mind reading computers providing us with answers before we’ve even thought of the question, but it isn’t as far fetched as it sounds.
Much of the technology needed is already in operation. For example, Eptica’s software is built on a self-learning, meaning-based search engine. Essentially rather than simply picking out specific words it analyses questions it is asked by looking at them in context. So it can tell the difference between cricket the insect and cricket the game by analysing the words around them. This means it is able to provide more tailored, accurate answers to customer service queries, whether asked by email, the web, social media or agents in the contact centre.
Eptica’s self-learning capability is another advanced innovation that helps customer service. As answers are selected to specific questions it automatically learns which is the best response and offers this the next time a similar query comes up. New content can be added quickly and simply slots into the system ready to be used in response to questions.
On the topic of prediction, many companies have invested heavily in analysing the customer journey, enabling them to offer a straightforward route through the buying process. This means they can offer help, such as through agent chat, at key points in the journey to ensure customers have all the information they need.
So while it is good news for the industry that Microsoft sees customer service as a growth opportunity, the even better news for consumers is that advanced meaning-based technology is already in use in organisations across the globe.
Categories: Contact Center, Customer Service, Multichannel Customer Service, Self-service