In a recent conversation with a chief technology officer, he asserted all digital technology changes in his organisation were being led by IT and not by marketing. It made me wonder: How long a marketing function like this could survive?
Switching healthcare and financial service providers are not activities that most people would undertake every day, so for companies whose business is it is help consumers make the switch, it is critical to ensure they do everything to enable consumers to seamlessly complete their transaction.
Completing transactions is the primary goal for Compare the Market. Widely known for its meerkat advertisements, the company operates an online portal that enables consumers to compare a range of health insurance and financial service providers, as well as energy companies.
According to Compare the Market’s chief operating officer, Jo Thomas, customer behaviour has shown that while many are happy to start researching health insurance providers online, they often want to speak to someone before making a final decision.
“So for us it was about having a piece of technology that could enable us to connect to the customer at the right time and get them to talk to the right person to meet their needs,” Thomas said.
That led her to customer engagement technology specialists Interactive Intelligence, a company she has worked with previously, whose technology routes information gathered from customers while on the company’s website to its outbound call centre. Agents can then contact customers that have identified themselves but not completed a transition.
“For us it was about how do we make that connection with them a positive experience and make that conversation one that enables them to reach a decision, rather than being just an outbound telemarketer call,” Thomas explained.
According to Interactive Intelligence’s chief executive officer, Don Brown, the work done with Compare the Market is typical of many of his company’s customers, as they seek to automate processes at the point where they reach out to the outside world.
“We really try to help organisations automate those touch points with their stakeholders and do that in a very structured way that gives them analytics, increasingly making use of AI and machine learning, big data visualisations, and those sorts of things,” Brown said.
One of the challenges for Interactive Intelligence has been to keep up with the growing number of channels through which customers now interact, including text, chat, email, social media, community portals and even videoconferencing. Ultimately however, he says the key is to get the right information to the right agent at the right time to best serve the customer.
“The traditional call centre over the next five to ten years will go the way of the Dodo,” Brown added. “But humans will still have a need to be able to interact with other humans in conversations that are important to them. Sometimes you want someone else to help you make a decision, and the handover between the digital world and the call centre world is still pretty blunt.
“I foresee that over the next two to five years that line will be so blurred that you will need to have true omnichannel communication.”
While Thomas claims it is too early to say what impact Interactive Intelligence has had on customer completion, she is confident the Compare the Market is generally keen to leverage technology where possible to support its growing team.
“We have always had a very strong focus on using technology to enable better connectivity between people, both in terms of service and in terms of optimising the outcomes for the business, and driving better experiences for everybody,” she concluded.