Mobile's Impact on Call Centers in 2015... and Beyond
Today's consumers expect more mobile interactions with businesses, and text-enabling contact center phone numbers is an easy and effective way to meet their needs.
Today's mobile-first consumers have been gradually, yet drastically, causing a shift in the tech world toward a quick-paced, self-service model. Gartner noticed this shift in 2011, predicting that customers will manage 85% of their own relationships with an enterprise by 2020 without human interaction. It even flagged virtual assistants as one of the technologies on its hype cycle.
As consumers continue turning to self-service channels, companies must adapt their call center and customer service operations accordingly or risk potentially losing customers and falling behind their competition. Among a handful of alternatives to traditional voice calls, mobile technologies have the most flexibility and reach, as consumers are more connected now than ever before -- providing unprecedented levels of communication with family, friends, and even brands.
But how are today's advancements in mobile impacting call centers and customer experience? A few key trends are worth highlighting.
The sheer number of mobile and connected devices is the biggest force affecting contact centers. IHS Technology reports that more than six billion devices are active today worldwide, with that figure rapidly expanding. The number of mobile devices is poised to exceed the world's total population, and will more than double between 2015 and 2017.
Constant Connection, All the Time
Many of those six billion-plus mobile devices in use today are Internet-enabled, providing more ways to interact at all hours of the day. Consumers now connect through phone, text, online chat, email, and social media, and the greater the number of connection points means the more channels for a contact center. Millennials in particular dread having to call for customer care rather than being able to self-service via digital channels.
More Volume and Variety
Mobility allows consumers to transact and interact at any point of contact, which increases the volume of customer service interactions. For instance, if consumers waiting in a company's IVR system aren't getting what they're looking for, perhaps they grow impatient and take to social media to voice their complaints about the poor experience. This opens up more avenues of interaction with the brand, making it a vastly different environment from the days of a single-channel call center.
Rapid-Fire Customer Service
Mobile's ability to drive constant connectivity has accelerated customer service, and consumers demand service in real time. According to research from LiveOps, 85% of consumers feel how a brand manages customer-related issues on its website or on social channels is a good indicator of overall consumer satisfaction and the quality of the business' support, meaning that immediate customer engagement is now a necessity.
Driven by mobile's influence, the above-mentioned forces are impacting call centers today. Here are four specific ways they will impact business operations.
- Greater Demands for Intelligent Self-Service: Mobile customer service, although innovative, went from a "nice to have" feature to a "must have." It is now especially critical to integrate self-service with live service. Additionally, virtual assistants can handle the most common issues about which customers are contacting businesses. Although seemingly daunting, integrating mobile capabilities alongside virtual assistant technology gives contact center professionals the chance to be the heroes by delivering memorable customer experiences when and where consumers expect it.
- A New Strategy Requirement: As the phone agent skills required to service a mobile and omnichannel customer are different, call centers will need to re-evaluate their processes. This means developing a new cross-functional support strategy to shore up any potential procedural issues that were not fully considered before the demand for this new digital self-service to mobile customer call center environment.
- Legacy Tools Could Become a Prohibitive Burden: Taking a hard look at contact center processes and infrastructure technology will be imperative to avoiding technical compatibility issues with new mobile tools. Adding a digital contact center solution often provides the quickest route to immediate success.
- Flexibility, Measurement & Optimization are Key: When adopting new mobile solutions, one size will not fit all. It won't all be about call-deflection rates. Call centers will need to measure the results of mobile engagement efforts, making tweaks and adjustments over time.
Today's consumers simply expect more mobile interactions with businesses. As call centers look to adopt mobile technologies to meet the new trends described above, one of the easiest and most simple solutions to implement is SMS, or traditional mobile messaging, by text-enabling your contact center phone numbers. Studies show that 64% of consumers prefer texting over voice for customer service, while 77% of the critical growing Millennial generation has a more positive perception of a company they can reach via SMS (see related article, Text-to-Toll Free: Coming to a Contact Center Near You). From a business value perspective, we've seen companies using SMS reduce their call volume by 20% and increase customer satisfaction by 25%.
While mobile messaging is just one example, there are a number of other ways contact centers can mobilize their processes and create the best possible experience for their customers in 2015 and beyond. The key is to carefully select the ones that will work best for your business.
Tim Fujita-Yuhas is director of product management and new product strategy for OpenMarket’s Mobile Engagement Platform, specializing in enterprise mobile engagement services. He is responsible for product strategy and business planning for the company’s mobile messaging solutions.