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Mobile Customer Care Mania: VHT Conversation Bridge

My last post on No Jitter covered the Genesys Mobile Engagement announcement--as of this writing, it was tweeted 57 times. Since then, I've had three more briefings related to mobile customer care and one more is scheduled this week. Clearly, mobile customer care is a hot topic, and one I'll be covering from different angles over a few blogs.

VHT is the company formally known as Virtual Hold Technology. The company owns the definitive patents in the area of holding a customer’s place in queue and calling them back when an agent is available, instead of letting the person sit on hold (while eating up 800 minutes billable to the enterprise). Companies from verticals as diverse as financial services (Banco Popular), travel (Southwest Airlines), and healthcare (Blue Cross of Northeast Pennsylvania) have implemented Virtual Hold solutions since they were founded in 1995.

Over the past few years, customer service has increasingly moved from predominantly voice to multichannel (email, web chat, SMS, social media, etc.). As a company focused on the virtual queuing of voice calls, VHT saw the need to make a corresponding change to its company direction and solution portfolio. They have defined a broader market of multichannel callback: providing a bridge between various types of self-service applications and the people who can help, most often contact center agents.

The company's first new offer in the world of multichannel callback is VHT Conversation Bridge, designed to bridge the gap between mobile application self-service and live assistance. VHT wrote connectors to the native iOS and Android APIs that allow VHT Conversation Bridge to be "dropped" into existing mobile applications, enabling a connection to the contact center. VHT Conversation Bridge is initially targeted at companies who already have a mobile application but haven't integrated that app with the contact center. That said, VHT finds that when it presents Conversation Bridge to companies that don't yet have a mobile application, those companies are often in the process of designing one. They then can then design Conversation Bridge into the application from the outset.

One of the aspects of the application I found particularly compelling is how Conversation Bridge takes advantage of both its smartphone environment and real-time data from the contact center. (Conversation Bridge benefits from integrations that VHT has already developed to Avaya, Cisco and Genesys CTI, routing and reporting infrastructure.) For example, when scheduling a callback on the iPhone, the familiar alarm spin wheel is presented. When the customer selects a time, a reminder can be placed in their calendar that a call will be coming. Customers can go back to that appointment to cancel or re-schedule the call. The time slots presented are defined by contact center management; times that the center is not open will not be presented, or hours that are traditionally busy can be avoided. In terms of context, the message sent to the contact center is pre-populated with the steps already taken by the customer.

In data VHT shared for a customer (a major technology company), daily Average Handle Time for technical service calls using Conversation Bridge ranged from 8.5-12 minutes over 9 days. Inbound phone calls in the same period ranged from 12-14 minutes. That means mobile application troubleshooting and context to the agent can save 2-3.5 minutes per call to a technical expert. Conclusion?