Cognitive Client Support from Intuition to Informed Insight

Al Martin, VP, Analytics Development & Client Success, IBM and Kate Nichols, Social Champion & Communications, IBM
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Al Martin, VP, Analytics Development & Client Success, IBM

I’ll never forget a dramatic experience I had in the emergency room several years ago. I played sports for many years with the occasional ER visits. But, this injury was serious. Or so I thought.

A broken nose in a pickup game of football. I marched into the emergency room demanding results. The ER desk sat me down, explained the non-life threatening situation, confidently explained the fix, and gave me a choice. Path A: lower expectation; simply fix it or, Path B, to provide a choice of waiting for the expert and getting the job done right. The decision was mine. I chose to wait. After all, this was my pretty face we were talking about. Only on the way out did my eyes open to the more serious decisions others were making. I simply hadn’t noticed. It was all about me, me, me. And, so I learned.

The art of serving clients is a complex business. Thank goodness we’re not always dealing with life or death issues. But, interestingly, the expectations remain the same. Every client’s request is the most critical item in their mind at any given moment. Path A is to lower expectations and address the issue. Hours of soft skills are taught to enable this path. Alternatively, what if we choose Path B and treat ALL client expectations as unequivocally correct. Personalized Solutions through Informed Insight! We evolve methods to not only achieve, but to exceed expectations. The ultimate power is placed directly in the hands of the client.

Impossible or improbable? And, of course, you want to know HOW?

Let’s start with the WHY: Clients require Support “their way,” underpinned with personal relationships. Relationships lead to trust. People buy from people they trust. And, Client Service is key. According to Right Now annual research, “86 Percent of U.S. adults will pay more for a better client experience.”

 Companies that go on to inject cognitive computing will not only automate support systems, but make service increasingly preventative and personalized 

Historically, a personal relationship for every client is fundamentally a problem of scale. By example, personalizing care for smaller, niche clients in concert with large, complex enterprise clients is extremely difficult. Both clients have very different profiles and very different requirements. That said, the fundamentals are the same: me first. But, in terms of a solution and to quote the great Bob Dylan, “the times they are a changing”. Technological advancements make the improbable possible in what can be termed Cognitive Digital Care.

So, now that you’ve heard the punch line, Cognitive Digital Care, let me explain a lengthier HOW:

Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, Social, and Security (CAMSS) have disrupted traditional engagement channels. Expectations about how, when, and where to connect differ wildly when compared to only a few years ago. We’re left with an “I expect it now” culture, many engagement outlets, and a vast amount of data to navigate. Complexity is higher than ever before.

Today’s Client

Clients are purposefully telling us what they want: connect my way, know me, give me control, keep me engaged, send me to the right expert, stay in touch, and prevent obstacles in my future. Clients demand results, and quickly. Many Millennials, for example, expect a response within 10 minutes or less for all queries.

Smart organizations are tackling all of the above attributes while finding ways to offer a personalized experience oriented towards the entire client journey. They’re meeting expectations versus resetting them. Because, don’t forget, social media empowers all clients like never before.

Experiences are instantaneously shared in social channels by today’s digital-native clients. Each and every client, no matter how big or small, holds the power to influence brand perception with the swiftness of a simple tweet.Kate Nichols, Social Champion & Communications, IBM

Mastering Big Data

Exceptional Support is a combination of deep knowledge harmonized with the ability to effectively troubleshoot and build a rapport with a client. But, the explosion of data has challenged even the most skilled leader to have the latest and relevant data at hand. Adding to the chaos, clients have migrated outside traditional support systems towards mobile and social. Data is in abundance and everywhere.

With CAMSS fueling the pace of innovation, businesses with the ability to aggregate, mine, and analyze data with speed will produce better business outcomes and outperform their competition. An Analytics and Big Data model to rein in disparate channels is now table stakes. This architecture is currently a must have deserving of an article in and of itself. Companies that go on to inject cognitive computing will not only automate support systems, but make service increasingly preventative and personalized.

Enter Cognitive Support!

Imagine the possibilities of meeting clients where they are and matching lofty expectations. This is made possible in integrating technology with new forms of client engagement; all infused with cognitive intelligence. In this model, data is pushed and pulled toward client insight offering recommendations and advice. More importantly, each client receives tailored support to their respective profile.

By example, all clients receive intelligent and personalized self-assistance through a portal powered by Machine Learning: “I see you like A, how about B, have you looked at C, watch out for D”, and so on. Questions which remain are directed towards social bots in natural language. These bots are backed by cognitive intelligence and built upon a community of federated data stores. It feels personal. It is personal. And, these insights boost crowd sourcing towards the forum where cognitive continues to learn. Enterprise clients requiring an even greater level of assistance receive hand-held expertise that is again captured to advance the learning process.

Crafted correctly, cognitive expertly addresses the client’s ever increasing demands for swift, personalized, and empowered support. Scaling and alignment towards a client’s profile becomes organic. The technology serves as the fabric to learning, refining, and improving itself for the next question. The entire ecosystem is perpetually placed into a higher value position with knowledge.

Think of cognitive as the way to deliver client support on the client’s terms. Cognitive opens the aperture from intuition to informed insight. It makes every engagement personal and transforms relationships to trust. “If people like you they will listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you”—Zig Ziglar. You WIN and loyalty reigns.

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