Every once in a while, a technology evolution occurs that is disruptive. It fundamentally changes the way business is conducted and how consumers interact, while spawning an entire new ecosystem. One such technology evolution is the rise of the smartphone and mobile devices. Today our mobile phone or tablet is our “go-to” device for everything from making calls and surfing the web to emailing. In fact, for the first time, mobile app usage (measured in minutes) has exceeded that of traditional web browsing.
Despite the explosive growth in mobile technology and usage, companies have been slow to adapt their customer service processes to the mobile generation. This blog entry will explore how organizations can break past the traditional siloed customer care channels and harness the mobile evolution to offer a better customer service experience.
Siloed Support Channels
One reason the customer service experience remains disconnected for many is because of soiled support channels. A conversation started in one channel generally cannot be continued in another. Worse still, the information a customer receives in one channel is often different or contradictory to what was provided in another channel.
This fragmentation becomes readily apparent when looking at a self-service session. Traditional, non-mobile, self-service web channels routinely deliver a satisfactory user experience. However, the user experience breaks down when the transaction becomes complicated, requiring human interaction. Because customer care channels currently operate in silos, there is no continuity in transitioning from the web self-service channel to the contact center. As a result, customer frustration increases, as does call handle times, because they must restate their problem from the beginning once they engage with an agent.
The mobile self-service channel offers organizations an unprecedented opportunity to provide an improved self-service experience in the face of a more demanding customer base, by reducing inbound call volumes, unifying the support channels and minimizing waiting times, all while capturing one of the largest growing demographics: mobile customers.
While statistics vary, approximately 40 percent of all mobile consumers in the United States own smartphones. Meanwhile, tablet adoption is expected to be as high, if not higher, with estimates expecting 40 percent growth of adoption over the next 4 years. Prominent analysts believe that within the next four years, the installed base of mobile PCs and smartphones will exceed that of desktop PCs.
For these reasons, it is vital that organizations evolve their customer self-service strategy to incorporate mobile technology. Self-service technology offers a broad set of benefits to consumers and businesses, yet the technology is still relatively new, with little mobile adoption thus far. Mobile stands to revolutionize what self-service is today.
With mobile self-service, customers can engage in a self-service session through an “app” that visually maps out the steps of your customer service process, starting with your IVR. Customers are able to visually guide themselves through the self-service interaction (Think: Visual IVR), with full support for data entry and sophisticated self-service capabilities, including being able to proactively mine knowledge bases for information and retrieve/update customer information from underlying Line of Business applications. In short, mobile users now have access to everything they need without connecting to an agent.
For calls that do require agent assistance, however, the goal is to provide a seamless transition to the voice channel from the self-service channel. Creating this seamless transition requires connecting the mobile session with the agent session. This begins by giving customers information about current hold times and offering the option of scheduling a callback. Once the call is connected to the agent, all the steps traversed by the customer, as well as any data entered, is visible to the agent. By doing so, customers won’t have to repeat information. Even better, the underlying systems can be prepopulated (or data can be retrieved) with the customer information, adding a further benefit of reduced handle times.
Extending Beyond IVR
Of course, these self-service sessions extend far beyond the capabilities of a traditional IVR or web self-service interaction. Mobile can leverage the inherent capabilities of the device, thereby dramatically improving the customer experience across a number of industries. For example, if a customer is struggling with internet connectivity issues on a home network, he can be prompted to take a photo of the cable modem. When the call is connected to an agent, the agent is able to see the cable modem being used (and retrieve the diagnostic instructions for that modem type), as well as see which lights are on or off to better assist in troubleshooting. Likewise, the phone can report current GPS locations, and if there are known outages in the area, the customer’s self-service session will be modified to alert them that their outage is endemic to their locale, not specific to the customer.
Are You Ready?
Mobile devices will become the largest engagement channel for customers, and most businesses will be woefully underprepared. One in every four of your customers owns a smartphone, today. Adoption in the mobile device space means in a year or two it’s likely three out of four of your customers will use a smartphone. Businesses need to adopt a mobile self-service strategy sooner rather than later, or risk losing the dynamic, mobile and connected customer. Will you be ready for them?
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[About the author] Dylon Mills is the Director of Marketing Content Strategy & Development at Uniphore. As such, Dylon’s main responsibilities are to strategize, create and deliver content for Uniphore’s product portfolio that align with the global Go-To-Market strategy, corporate positioning, and marketing campaigns. Dylon’s prior work experience includes Product Management at one of the top Fortune 500 Technology companies, Symantec Corporation. Outside of work, Dylon enjoys problem-solving and any project that includes building/tinkering with tools. Dylon holds a BS Consumer Economics from the University of Georgia.