As more and more consumers adopt multimodal smartphones as their primary, personal means of contact with online business applications and live assistance, the definition of customer service really has to be changed. What used to be a dependency on phone calls to a call center has moved through the contact center that also handled email and fax, to what I now describe as a unified business interaction center. That description also helps shift the old, heavy focus on live, voice-only customer assistance to multimodal self-service applications, enhanced with live assistance as a flexible option on demand (screen share, email, text chat, voice, video, social).
That also means integrating many different user experiences involved with a customer business interaction, ranging from (self-service) online information searches to online transactions to live assistance, using both voice and visual user interfaces as dynamically required by the customer. The net impact of mobile customer service flexibility (UBI) includes the following:
• increased customer satisfaction and control over how and when they can get information or perform business transactions;
• increased opportunity for more timely, personalized, automated proactive customer service notifications and alerts to mobile customers anywhere, anytime (such notifications will also include options for efficient customer responses to the notification issue); and
• lower costs for customer support staffing as customers exploit more self-service options and notifications are generated automatically by communication-enabled business processes.
• Access to live assistance has to be more flexible and selective for an individual mobile customer’s situation or preference.
• Mobile customers will increasingly access live assistance contextually from within a mobile app via a less expensive wireless Internet connection rather than a PSTN phone call.
• Customer service agents will have to more skilled, not only in the more complex needs of customers who have first tried using self-service applications, but also being able to interact with customers using different modes of mobile communication and information exchange.
• Moving customer service information and apps into a cloud will also facilitate the use of agents who can work and be managed from home, rather than from a contact center location. This will increase staffing flexibility and also reduce the location-based overhead of a contact center operation.
Leading wireless carriers (MSPs) like AT&T (News - Alert) and Verizon are already getting ready to service mobile multimodal customers’ needs with VoLTE network connection services, so it is important for business organizations to plan their migrations from legacy premises-based call and contact center technologies to the coming era of cloud-based unified interaction services.
Since there will be an increasing emphasis on mobile self-services, the logical starting points will be any existing customer use case applications that exploit online self-service. Such applications need to be mobilized to support new consumer BYOD mobile devices, including different form factors (screen sizes), voice and visual interfaces, and different mobile operating systems, and integration with cloud-based resources (online business process, data, storage, user interfaces, etc.).
Once existing online customer self-service applications have been converted to include multimodal, mobile use, new self-service opportunities should then be developed for the expanded range of needs that mobile users may need. There are new software development tools that can facilitate this migration to mobile self-service applications that also provide more flexible and efficient access to live assistance on demand.
The expertise for designing, developing, and integrating the next generation of mobile business self-service applications is, unfortunately, not within the skill levels of today’s IT organizations, but must come from expertise that will offered from third-party resources that will specialize in various vertical market use cases that can be implemented and managed in various types of cloud environments.
A recent study by IDC (News - Alert) reports that responsibility for budgeting technology needs in customer service areas, including social networking, is already shifting from IT to line of business management. So, step one will really be about selecting experienced third-party resources that can do the heavy lifting involved in the initial planning, implementation, and ongoing change management that will be required.
Edited by Maurice Nagle