By now, you all know that many of your customers are using personal smartphones for both their business and personal communications. Pretty soon it will be all of them! So, it is really time to start acommodating them with multimodal mobile customer services, not just your legacy telephone answering call center technology. However, there will be an ongoing need to accommodate customers who will continue to initiate a contact via your existing PSTN telephony connections.
Why? Because they either may just not have a smartphone or may not want to use one for a variety of situational reasons. Therefore, expect to keep getting customer voice calls over the PSTN for a while, even though you will now be getting more multimodal customer assistance contacts, especially from mobile consumers.
So, what should you do?
You have been through this kind of problem in the past, e.g., when customers started sending you emails and fax, and, more recently when you offered them chat options for online self-service applications. These kinds of alternative modes of contact made you consider simply dedicating your customer-facing staff to different modes of contacts, rather than try to train your staff to dynamically handle every kind of contact. That way, it was more efficient to stick with one mode, rather than constantly switch modes between email, chat, and voice.
With multimodal customer assistance (frequenty referred to as omnichannel), you must now be prepared to not only respond to various forms of messaging (text, voice, video, social), but also to accommodate real-time interactions with consumers who either want to show you videos of themselves (e.g., health care applications) or will benefit from seeing the person who is helping them online (e.g., Amazon’s Mayday button). Don’t kid yourself about putting agents on video, because they almost need to be good actresses, well dressed with proper lighting, as well as having knowledge and conversational skills to make it work.
The Benefits of Accommodating Mobile Customers
The real challenge is to accommodate the new mobile customer with a smartphone. Fortunately, there are several important benefits to both the customer and to the contact center operation that is prepared to support such new mobile customer services. I won’t go into too much detail, but the list of benefits is significant, and include the following:
For the Mobile Customer
- It allows for more personalized interactions anywhere, any time, any mode of contact.
- Smartphones will increase self-service opportunities with mobile apps that also allow flexible click-for-assistance options.
- They also enable flexible options (text, voice, video) to initiate business contacts with customer support staff, depending on preference or environment needs.
- Smartphones extend the opportunity to exchange information while also having a real-time conversation. This will speed up the customer service process, including capturing text information without manual transcription, thus increasing customer satisfaction.
- Engaging in a self-service online app provides useful context to an agent that is providing live assistance, rather than requiring the customer to describe everything verbally.
- Because mobile customers are more accessible than legacy wired telephony users, they can now benefit from time-sensitive proactive notifications and response options that may require their prompt attention, e.g., health care status, reminder messages, bank account status, etc.
- Mobile customers will particularly benefit from virtual queuing and callbacks, rather having to wait on hold, because they are so much more accessible.
For the Customer Support Operations
- Mobile self-service apps will significantly reduce the need for live assistance as well as increase customer satisfaction.
- There will be less pressure to respond immediately to incoming call traffic from mobile customers because of virtual queuing flexibility, which will also minimize staffing requirements.
- With mobile online self-service apps as a starting point, incoming contacts will have important context information that will enable support staff to know more about the customer’s immediate needs without wasting time by interrogating the caller. This will help route the call more accurately, e.g., language requirements, as well as reinforce the responding agent’s image as being knowledgable and understanding to the caller.
- Moving contact center software into clouds, along with UCaaS, will facilitate integrations with premises-based technologies and reduce implementation costs for new mobile customer services.
There are obviously other important issues that will be involved in accommodating mobile customers, but the key point I am making is that step one is to plan on supporting mobile customers separately at first with a cloud-based service implementation and with a different support group staff. That will allow retaining existing call center technology and staff to perform traditional call handling, while learning how to support the new breed of mobile customers. This will help planning for a transition to the multimodal future of customer care, where voice calls will no longer use the PSTN.
Edited by Dominick Sorrentino