Bringing Mobile Customers Into UC&C
Think about embracing click-for-assistance options and other features and functionality that cater to mobile customers -- creating what I call 'UC&C2' capabilities.
The communicatons industry not only is replacing voice telephony with UC, but also adding collaboration into the mix, making it UC&C. Highlighting collaboration and information content exchange as supported by persistent multimodal UC offerings is a good thing. However, organizations also must now include the ability for mobile customers to contact them by flexible click-for-assistance options, including instant messaging, voice, and video, depending on the situation and personal preferences.
Likewise, as mobile consumers increasingly interact with online business process applications via smartphones and tablets, these applications must include the ability to contact individual users with automated notices and alerts. In turn, the mobile recipients must be able to respond quickly and easily with their mode of choice, be that voice, video call, multimodal messaging, or what have you.
Such automated notifications/responses have been laying dormant under the label of communications-enabled business processes, or CEBP. Now organizations can now more easily integrate them thanks to the movement of cloud-delivered communications options.
Planning for the Future
Most consumers and your customers already are using personal smartphones for business communications, and pretty soon all of them will be. Even though you'll still be getting voice calls over the PSTN for a while, you really should start accommodating mobile users now with multimodal mobile customer services and not just your legacy telephone-answering call center technology. Such multimodal services would include click-for-assistance options within mobile online self-service applications, using the likes of WebRTC. I like to call this UC&C2.
We have all been through this kind of evolutionary problem in the past -- for example, when needing accommodate customers when they started sending emails and fax, and, more recently, when using chat options for online self-service applications. These kinds of alternative modes of interaction made you consider simply dedicating your customer-facing staff to separate modes of initial contacts, rather than trying to train staff to handle every kind of customer omnichannel contact dynamically. Agents could be more efficient when sticking with one mode rather than constantly switching among email, chat, and voice.
With multimodal customer assistance -- or "omnichannel," as it's frequently called -- you must now be prepared not only to respond to various initial forms of contact (text, voice, video, social), but also to escalate to real-time interactions with consumers who either want to describe a situation such as a medical symptom or accident verbally or through video or would benefit from seeing the person who is helping them online, such as in the case of Amazon's Mayday support. However, don't kid yourself about always putting your agents on video, because they almost need to be good actors, well dressed with proper lighting, as well as having knowledge and conversational skills.
The Benefits of Accommodating Mobile Customers
The real challenge is to accommodate mobile customers and the myriad smartphones and tablets they'll be using. There are many significant benefits in doing so. The below examples are but a sampling.
For the Mobile Customer:
- More personalized interactions anywhere, at anytime, and via any mode of contact
- Increased self-service opportunities with mobile apps that feature click-for-assistance options
- Availability of flexible options (text, voice, video) for initiating contact with customer support staff, depending on preference or environment needs
- Ease of real-time information exchange, allowing for speedier resolution and increased satisfaction
- Ability to provide useful context to an agent duing live assistance, rather than requiring a verbal description
- Receipt of time-sensitive proactive notifications -- reminder messages and bank account alerts, for example -- and ability to respond promptly as needed
- Ability to take advantage of virtual queuing and callback functionality, rather than having to wait on hold
For the Customer Support Operation:
- Significantly reduced need for live assistance while increasing customer satisfaction
- Ability to deliver callback through virtual queuing,which will minimize staffing requirements
- Access to important context information via mobile online self-service apps as a starting point, enabling support staff to know more about the customer's immediate needs without wasting time with questions
- Ability to route based on factors such as language requirements, as well as to reinforce the responding agent's image as being knowledgable and understanding
- When UC and contact center software are delivered as cloud services, ability to integrate with premises-based technologies and reduce implementation costs for new mobile customer services
Planning, implementing, and training mobile customers for UC&C2 obviously will involve other important issues, 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. In this way, existing call center staff can continue to perform traditional call handling while learning how to support the new breed of mobile customers. This, in turn, will help organizations gracefully transition to the multimodal future of customer care, where voice calls will no longer use the PSTN.