Smart Device Adoption Wallops All Expectations
If there is any lingering doubt that mobility is a must-have in today’s customer care strategy, just take a look at some basic sales data:
- Nearly 326 million smart devices were sold globally just in the last half of 2010
- Of all cell phone sales, smart phone sales were up more than 50% in 2010
- For tablets alone, Forrester’s predicts the final tabulation for 2010 at 10.3 million, rising to an astronomical 82 million in 2015. That’s U.S. only.
Even traditionally conservative businesses and large enterprises are busy figuring out how to weave mobility into the very fabric of their business strategies. Implementation is taking a variety of forms – but the increased flexibility and control that mobility brings has a common denominator: more satisfied customers, a more effective workforce, and a distinct competitive advantage for the company.
Building Better Customer Service Through Mobility
The sales statistics make it clear that people’s expectations have changed and will continue to change. As with the advent of the mobile phone and the computer, people are discovering new freedoms and flexibility they didn’t know before. No longer being tied to a desk is one thing. Smart devices provide relatively immediate access to mind-boggling volumes of information. Self-service via mobile device is becoming more common, if not a standard expectation. As the benefits of mobility – and the smart device – are increasingly adopted by the mainstream, customers will increasingly want to self-serve on the go. There are tremendous opportunities for rich self-service applications here. Take a doctor, for example, who can experience tremendous convenience of using his mobile phone to order drug samples – his identity securely verified through voice biometrics.
Enabling the Almost-Human Through Multimodality
Ever have a poor customer service experience that ended in the company trying to upsell you on their product? You likely didn’t take them up on their offer, and thus it becomes easy to see why satisfaction with customer service is so fundamental to a company’s bottom line. But while you really do want your customers to be happy and to experience good customer service, your business can never be staffed with enough humans to answer every call for support in person.
Enter the Interactive Voice Response solution, which helped alleviate the staffing challenge, and is simple and low-tech for the customer – just pick up any phone and dial. IVRs are universally accessible and work independently of customer hardware, software or personal knowledge of technology.
But even the best-designed IVR with the best supporting technology has limits. A caller must wait for prompts to move forward, and can’t easily maneuver forward, backward or jump around at will (as in a book or a Web site).Web-enabled self-service addresses this, but alone it cannot be the sole solution and it will not replace IVR – there will always be some questions that need human response, and those calls need to be routed through IVR.
Here’s a term to get to know: multimodality – man-machine interaction using multiple modes of input and output. Have an issue too complex for words? Snap a photo with your smart phone. Will it take too long to use the telephone keypad to enter your ID number? Just speak it. You use multiple senses to input information and to comprehend output. Graphics, photographs, text, and voice can all work together to strengthen communication and make problem solving more efficient and less painful for your customers. This is the future of automated customer self-service and happier customers. With less time spent resolving problems, they’ll have extra time to ask more questions, consider more options, self-educate on your offerings – and buy more from you in a receptive frame of mind.
Walk the Floor, Take Your Agents with You, and Your Data Too
Imagine that, as a call center manager, you’re able to keep an eye on data and analytics no matter where you are. No ties to a desk – you’re free to roam the halls and work one-on-one with your staff. At times when data or resource monitoring is critical – you would still have the flexibility to multitask. If, when spotting a problem based on that data, you could fix it on the fly from your mobile device, you would be saving future callers the frustration of dealing with that fixable problem.
Add to this an app that allows you to view agent availability and details from your mobile device. You would always see who is available, locate someone quickly with a particular skill set (anyone speak Spanish?), listen to recorded customer calls, or help coach agents from your mobile device – the one that contains all of the information that is useful to you personally in getting your job done.
When you take your show on the road, you could do all of these things without hauling out your laptop or waiting for it to boot, then simply slip it back into your pocket. Your freedom quotient rises exponentially, and the possibilities for efficiencies are enormous.
It’s clear that mobility is a phenomenon to embrace, not just because of its swift adoption, but because it can create a truly “Caller First” customer experience. “Callers First” is an approach that combines customer data with business intelligence to enable you to know who your customers are, cater to their preferences, anticipate their needs, respect their time and enable you to make real-time changes to fast changing business requirements. Particularly in an economy where companies struggle to bring new products to market, customer retention becomes critical. Companies who survive the pinch are doing everything they can to retain and potentially up-sell existing customers.