By PV Kannan, Co-Founder & CEO, 7
Campbell based 7 is a provider of software and services that helps companies anticipate what consumers want, simplify interactions and learn from those interactions for providing better future experiences.
The inspiration behind 7 came from the belief that service should be designed from the perspective of consumers—and not from the perspective of the companies serving them. We wanted consumer experiences to be simple and intuitive. We also believe that the ability to anticipate what consumers want provides methods to more easily get things done and builds brand loyalty.
7 delivers a unique cloud platform that makes company-to-consumer connections intelligent, integrated and immersive, across each touch point. We help B-to-C enterprises get closer to their customers by giving them complete access to information, at any time, from anywhere, through any channel. We hope to change the way service is delivered to consumers and to change the way they receive and react to those services. We know there must be a better way to do all these things and we are committed to providing it.
I co-founded 7 in 2000 and I am proud to say that since then the company has become the leader in intuitive customer service solutions and services. I founded the company with the goal of improving the consumer’s experience through leveraging big data, intuitive design and a learning platform to simplify customer service. We built the 7 Predictive Experience platform that can provide a more intuitive experience. We understand how real human beings ask questions.
Prior to 7, I was an officer and part of the management team at Kana Software. In 1995, I founded my first company, Business Evolution Inc., based in Princeton, which was acquired by Kana Software in 1999. I grew up in Chennai, India and came to the states in 1991. My entrepreneurial experiences have taught me to always try to understand how you can improve your product by listening to your customers. Additionally, it is important to be nimble and open to change. Entrepreneurs have to grow with their companies.
Trends in the Current Customer Experience Market
One of the most important trends that 7 is paying attention to is omni-channel, which is providing a connected and contextual experience to the customer across multiple channels.
By enabling consumers to seamlessly move their engagement with a business from one channel such as the mobile web, to a phone conversation and even transitioning to social media is important to consumers and the key for the company is to maintain the complete context and history of these interactions. Companies can increase customer satisfaction by simply responding to the customer on their terms.
The second trend that we focus on is social media in customer service and how companies can make it work for them in a positive way rather than becoming an outlet for customer complaints. Social continues to gain value in regards to enhancing customer service.
Therefore, it is crucial that businesses understand how consumers want to use social media to interact with them. Each business needs to create a unique customer service experience based on those individual social media preferences. We feel consumers use the social channel to explore their options and find out what their friends like and are purchasing. The next logical step is to share experiences and information to get validation and feedback about the consumer’s decision. Everyone wants to be told that they have made a wise decision. Lastly, customers can now go beyond sharing and promote by encouraging others to make similar purchases.
Improving the Customer Service Experience
What is wrong with customer service? Well, there are two major problems that cause frustration with customers. Companies aren’t using the data to understand what the customer wants. Companies should be able to predict what their customers need. For example, when a customer signs up for a broadband or cable plan, 80 percent of the customers call after the first bill. The common reason is that the bill is higher than their plan. The cable company should know that this will be an issue, once the customer buys the plan, and should show them what that first month’s bill will look like in advance. They should predict, look at data, and observe the behavior on how the customer likes to do things. They should be thinking, “How can I anticipate and mitigate my customer’s concerns?”
Research shows that people will start in one channel (e.g., website) and change to another channel to finish an interaction (e.g., phone). Companies need to understand the customers’ journey as they cross channels so that customers can finish the interaction in another channel. Companies need to take a holistic view of the customer and implement technology that can do this.
Companies should maintain the context of interactions across channels, allowing customers to research, buy and share information about a product across different channels. By applying predictive analytics in real time, companies can accurately anticipate the consumer’s intention and provide more customized service. Companies must always think about what makes their customer happy.
7 strives to make the world a better place for consumers. We want to make customer service and sales an intuitive experience. We believe leveraging data can create that perceptive experience. If companies are determined to change the world and make it a better place for consumers, they need to develop the best technology to support that mission.