- The enterprise’s motivation in driving customers to do more via the mobile channel should be to provide a highly differentiated customer experience, enhance the overall lifetime value of the customer to the enterprise, and reduce operational costs.
- Due to the growing popularity of mobile phones as a channel of access to customer service centers and the customer’s natural aversion to an IVR interface, it will be essential to allow customers to shift from a mobile, self-service mode to live agent assistance as simply as possible.
In my October 13th blog posting, “Step One in Mobilizing Your Contact Center: Send Your Agents Home,” I suggested that an initial step in mobilizing a contact center might be to implement an at-home agent strategy. In this posting, I would like to broach the issue of planning and preparing for interactions with clients who will be using mobile phones more often in the future. Preparing for increased mobile traffic will be essential to maintaining and/or improving current customer satisfaction and preparing for the younger generation of customers who will demand easy remote access to your customer service communications infrastructure.
Mobile self-service applications have taken off in some markets such as travel, banking, and other financial verticals, as consumers call in to change an airline flight, check bank balances, see which checks have cleared, or even search for a car loan. While self-service applications have been transitioned to mobile phones with some success, traditional speech-enabled IVR solutions are not always appropriate or sufficient for these transactions. For example, I am aware of one travel and entertainment booking company executive who insists every incoming call from a mobile phone be answered by a live agent to avoid issues with speech-enabled IVRs in noisy situations, such as when a customer is driving at freeway speeds with the top down or windows open. This requires a split-second to look up the number on caller ID before the call is answered to identify calls coming from mobile phones. Perhaps this is an expensive solution, but it is well worth the expense and extra effort to at least one IT executive.
Where significant problems are likely to arise is when customers using a self-service application on their mobile phone need to get assistance from a live agent. Today, the most common solution is for the customer to drop off the self-service interaction and redial the contact center number to get a live agent. This requires starting the interaction from the beginning, with none of the context from the previous interaction being forwarded. The customer is frustrated, the agent feels helpless, and satisfaction levels on both ends of the interaction plummet.
The solution to this problem is customer service software that is able to better connect mobile self-service with agent-assisted service applications to create a continuous customer service experience across channels. The customer in the middle of a self-service application on a smartphone, with a need to speak with a live agent, should have the ability to touch a “Speak to Agent” button on their touchscreen. They should then be transferred to an agent, bypassing the IVR, and the system should forward the context of his call to the agent’s screen to avoid duplication of effort and keep transaction time to a minimum. The real benefit of this is that first-contact resolution of customer issues will increase, as will customer satisfaction. Thinking ‘outside the box’ to meet the needs of mobile customers will be required to raise the mobile access channel to a position that may make it the primary solution for all customer needs in the future. When planning your mobile strategy or upgrading your contact center, make sure to inquire about such functionality and ask your contact center provider how efficiently and effectively the self-service/live agent transfer can be handled on their system, if at all.