Contextual Communications 101: The Basics

Bringing context to conversations in the Digital Age

Contextual Communications 101: The Basics

The components in excellent communication are evolving. To have an effective discussion with a consumer or coworker in the current landscape, we need a number of things. Crucially, it’s not just strong audio quality or high-definition video that matters. We also need tools in place that allow everyone in a conversation to be on the same page – with as little confusion as possible.

That’s where the demand for contextual communications comes from.

Discussions are always more effective when people have the right information. If you step into a conversation with a coworker and both of you know what you need to talk about, who the other person is, and what you want to accomplish, things get done a lot faster. There’s less time wasted searching for answers, breaking the ice, and simply trying to understand the purpose of the communication.

Fortunately, the evolving digital landscape is giving today’s companies more opportunities to bring context into day-to-day conversations. Here’s your introduction to contextual communications 1010.

What’s Driving Contextual Communications? Customer Experience

There are a couple of key components driving the need for contextual communication experiences. The most important trend, for many businesses, is a need to deliver unforgettable customer experiences. In a world where $41 billion is lost by US companies every year due to poor customer service, companies can no longer afford to deliver sub-par interactions.

Context in communications automatically makes it much easier for businesses to deliver the kind of experiences that customers are looking for.

Consider the contact centre environment, for instance.

In an old-fashioned contact centre, the person that calls the business, and the agent that responds to the call would have virtually no context to work with. Just as the customer doesn’t know what kind of specialist knowledge the agent has; the representative wouldn’t know what a client needed until it was explained to them. This leads to lengthier, more frustrating conversations.

Consumers need to spend time explaining their issues to the agent, while the representative pulls up information about that client. Eventually, after a few minutes of discussion, the agent might discover that he or she is not the best person to solve the customer’s problem. That means passing the consumer over to another agent, where the whole process starts again.

In an age of contextual conversations, technology would help to eliminate the frustrating and exhausting repetitiveness of context-less discussions. For instance, systems could be put in place that show an agent:

  • Which website page a customer was looking at before they initiated a chat conversation
  • What the customer has called about recently, and which products they’ve purchased
  • Which agents they have spoken to in the past, and which conversations had the highest success rates

All of this information puts the agent in a much stronger position to deal with customer queries quickly and efficiently.

Using Context to Transform Customer Experience

Various new technologies in the communication landscape are helping to drive more contextual discussions forward. For instance, intelligent IVR and routing systems can check call records to see who a customer spoke to in the past and send that client straight to the same agent. The same technology could also use keywords in a customer’s query to track down the agent with the skills required to solve a problem instantly, reducing the need for a customer to be transferred multiple times.

When a customer gets through to an agent, virtual assistants and intelligent hubs can pop information onto an agent’s screen. That information might include basic details about the customer and what products they’ve purchased in the past. It could also include suggestions on things that frustrate the customer, learned through sentiment analysis, to help direct the discussion in the right direction.

If, for any reason, the conversation needs to be passed onto another agent, the context of that discussion can be maintained and updated every step of the way. For instance, a customer might start their search for an answer with an online chatbot. If they can’t find the support they need, the chatbot could connect them to an agent, who has all the historical information of the conversation that the customer has already had.

If the discussion needs to be passed onto a specialist, the previous interactions will then be passed onto that specialist, allowing him or her to continue the conversation seamlessly, without any repetition. Every step of the way, powerful and contextual interactions help customers to feel as though they’re getting the support they need, without wasting time.

Context Improves the Entire Workforce

Contextual communications have a huge part to play in the evolution of the contact centre. However, the technology can also be valuable in other parts of the workplace too. For instance, Cisco’s “cognitive collaboration” innovations have already begun to introduce us to the power of context in the meeting environment. Tools like personal insights mean that team members can see information about who they’re meeting with before they begin a conference.

When people in an office conversation know who they’re going to be interacting with immediately, there’s less time wasted on breaking the ice and getting to know each other. Important topics can be discussed immediately, and everyone feels more comfortable in the conversation too.

Contextual communications, whether in the back office or the contact centre, aims to make conversations more fluid and integrated. This aligns with the new landscape, where people are “always on” and “always connected”.

Context can even be embedded into meeting rooms and huddle room spaces. For instance, companies could use AI in meeting room cameras that allows the devices to automatically detect people who walk into a room. Through facial recognition, those cameras could identify individual users and access their preferred settings instantly, without the need for a time-wasting set-up.

Context Empowers Communication

As new applications emerge to deliver more context into the communication environment, businesses will discover new and improved ways to stay connected. Whether it’s delivering more personalised and streamlined experiences for customers, or simplifying teamwork for employees, there are countless benefits to be had from embracing context.


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