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The Future of Customer Service: Autonomous Self-Healing Robotic Avatars in the Cloud – Part 3

The Times They Are a-Changin” and so is Customer Service.  Wonder what’s in store for the future?  We asked John Burton, Director of Product Management for SAP CRM, to provide his thoughts in this 4-part series.  You can read previous installments here and here.  For Part 3, he discusses the Big Data effect.

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Please, no ‘Big Data’ on the first date!

First dates are supposed to be fun and casual – an opportunity to ask insightful (but not overly personal or intrusive) questions to get to know each other. At the end of the date, each person should leave feeling excited, wanting to know more about the other, and eager for a second date.

First dates are certainly not the time to try and impress someone with a detailed knowledge and analysis of every aspect of their life. “I noticed on Google that you previously lived at 555 Bernardo Ave in Mountain View. I bet you spent a lot of time at Yoga studio across the street. By the way, I really liked those photos of you doing bikram yoga that I saw on your Picasa page.” Whoa, easy there stalker!

Big data – and the accompanying predictive analytics – can certainly have their place in customer service. For example, segmenting customers by purchase history and location and merging that data with known service outages could allow a Telco or utilities company to “predict” with a reasonable degree of certainty that the customer calling in from the Cambrian Park section of San Jose, California is probably calling about a high-speed Internet and TV outage (which the company is currently working to restore) and not, for example, about their cell phone service.

In this case, time could be saved by automatically routing that customer to the appropriate service team, or perhaps by first playing an automated message informing the customer about the status of the outage and the ETA for the repair. Or even better yet, the company could proactively send out a text message to its Internet subscribers in the affected area informing them of the outage and the ETA for the repair.

Technically, the Telco provider could take even take things a step further. Using big data it could analyze patterns of usage and detect for example that a specific customer in the affected outage area doesn’t usually consume any bandwidth during weekday mornings and afternoons (presumably she is at work), but that she typically logs on to the Internet in the evenings when she gets home. The Telco provide could then proactively send an SMS message to her phone saying, “We are currently experiencing an Internet/TV outage in your home area. But don’t worry; we anticipate having it repaired before 6:15 pm when you usually get home. So you should still be able to watch ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ on Hulu tonight as usual.”

Certainly the Telco provider could implement such an initiative by leveraging big data, but that would be a bit too intrusive for most customers. The goal is to use big data to better understand customer needs, and when possible to anticipate and address those needs proactively. However, there’s a line between being helpful and being creepy. And it’s best not to step over it.

CC image courtesy of Bruce Guenter on Flickr

Check back next week for our final installment on the use and relevancy of mobile apps

John Burton grew up on his grandmother’s farm in rural Northern Michigan. When he wasn’t milking goats he was writing computer programs on his school’s Radio Shack Tandy 1000 computer. John has spent the last fifteen years at SAP, where he helps design products for CRM, Customer Service, and Social Media. Prior to joining SAP, John taught business computer courses at Central Michigan University.  John is also the author of the SAP Press book, “Maximizing Your SAP CRM Interaction Center”.

Considering elevating your customer service to a social-level? Learn more about potential use cases in HypatiaResearch’s report on Customer Centricity. Read more here

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