Contextual Communications 101: The Basics

Bringing context to conversations no matter the channel

Contact Centre

Published: December 14, 2022

Rebekah Carter

The components of excellent communication are evolving. Effective discussions with consumers and coworkers in the current landscape hinge on several elements. It’s not just audio quality or high-definition video – everyone must stay on the same page with as little confusion as possible.

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

Discussions are always more efficient when people have the right information. If you step into a conversation with a coworker and both know what you need to talk about, who the other person is, and what you want to accomplish, things get done much 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.

What’s Driving Contextual Communications? Customer Experience.

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

Consider the contact center environment, for instance.

In an old-fashioned operation, a person calls the business, and the agent responds with virtually no context to work with. Just as the customer doesn’t know the agent’s specialist knowledge, the rep would only understand what a client needed once they explained it. This leads to lengthier, more frustrating conversations.

In these scenarios, consumers must 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 they are not the best person to solve the customer’s problem. That means passing the consumer over to another agent, where the entire 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, contact centers could put systems in place that show an agent:

  • What the customer previously called about
  • Which products they’ve purchased
  • Which agents they spoke to before
  • Which website pages the customer looked at before they initiated the conversation
  • The failed transcript of the prior interaction – if the customer attempted to solve the problem via a chatbot first.

All 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. Then, the technology may send that client straight to the same agent.

Moreover, the technology may use keywords in a customer’s query to instantly track down the agent with the skills required to solve a problem. This typically reduces customer transfer rates.

In addition, CTI-CRM integrations help to pop information onto an agent’s screen when a call gets through to an agent. That information might include basic details about the customer and what products they’ve purchased. It could also include suggestions on things that frustrate the customer. Sentiment analysis tools connected with the CRM can help here, assisting agents in directing the discussion in the right direction.

Such an innovation covers digital and automated channels too. For instance, agents can gain the failed conversation transcript after a customer escalates from a virtual agent. This allows them to immediately spot where the customer came unstuck and carry on the conversation. 

Alternatively, consider a failed customer journey through a self-service portal. The system may highlight where the customer came unstuck, allowing agents to pick up from where the engagement left off. The customer does not need to repeat themselves. 

Every step of the way, powerful and contextual interactions help customers 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 center as the cornerstone of an omnichannel customer experience

Yet, more solutions are coming to the fore to support contact centers in carrying over customer context throughout the customer journey and into the broader enterprise. 

For instance, Cisco’s “cognitive collaboration” innovations have already introduced us to the power of context in the meeting environment. Tools like personal insights allow team members to see information about who they’re meeting with before they begin a conference.

In office conversations, when people know who they’re interacting with from the get-go, there’s less time wasted on introductions. Indeed, people can discuss important topics immediately, and everyone feels more comfortable in the conversation.

Contextual communications, whether in the back office or the contact center, 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. Nowadays, even Alexa can sense the presence of people as they enter.

However, back to contextual communications. Through facial recognition, those cameras could instantly identify individual users and access their preferred settings without the need for a time-wasting set-up.

Context Empowers Communication

As new applications deliver more context into the communication environment, businesses will discover new and improved ways to stay connected. 

Whether delivering more personalized and streamlined customer experiences or simplifying teamwork for employees, there are countless benefits from embracing context.



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