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Knocking Down Barriers to Effective Communications

In previous No Jitter posts, I've made mention of historical truisms about collaboration, which today has become a powerful means to accomplish improved efficiencies, financial performance, customer service, and improved brand value. When communications break down, so do the processes involved in obtaining these goals.

For communications, input can originate from telephone calls, instant messages, text messages, fax, email, letters, social media feedback, and other sources. Channeling the input to the right receiver is critical. Is the appropriate responder receiving the information, and is the information or input actionable or, if needed, can it be corrected?

As collaborative as business has become, internal barriers still often stand in the way of open and effective communications among employees, vendors, and customers. If the input is incorrect, effectiveness deteriorates at the front end.

The receivers are often human beings, but I've been interacting with bots, too, these days -- just as you most likely have. In these cases, I usually challenge the suspected bot with my favorite question: "Do computers dream?"

While bots may save money on labor and streamline the input to a human along the way, I find less than favorable the canned voice instructing me that I can tell "it" what I'm calling about. This becomes unwelcome to some and irritating or entertaining to others, but is it really effective in getting the caller directed to the proper receiver? Even if so, will the receiver be able to act on and or correct the situation based on the input? Artificial intelligence will have a role to play here, directing humans to the right receiver in a customer engagement center.

When technology becomes an issue, and I think it has, then we need to ask what we must do to remove issues that create barriers to effective communications. While we could dive into five-nines reliability, there are simpler things such as latency, audio or visual quality of an engagement, number of mouse clicks, and how many hoops clients have to jump through to place an order, get service, or find out how to use their products or services without discovering on the backend of the transaction that there are options they didn't know about upfront.

Customer-driven processes that aren't well designed are what keep customers from purchasing again or experiencing that pain of dealing with an issue, request, or question. When internal processes fail to collect the right data to make improvements and corrections, customers are likely to view that enterprise negatively.

Social media can serve as a channel for feedback, whether good or bad. How enterprises decide to open themselves up to input isn't just operating a call center or customer service department. Anyone can do this, but without anticipating the flow of input and allowing for actionable input and corrective actions, then the same business is hindering itself. All simple stuff.

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