June 1, 2012
Mobile Multimodal Customers Need UC-Enabled Notifications and Self Services
End users are transitioning from desktop PCs and telephones to mobile, multimodal smartphones and tablets of their choice, under the label of “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) Initially, BYOD strategies have been primarily focused on supporting mobile users within an organization who need access to people and business applications whenever they were not at their desks. However, BYOD is also being exercised by consumers who are business customers, and will need to be accommodated by traditional contact center operations.
IT management has been mainly concerned about the security of business information accessed by employee mobile devices and is trying to come up with policies for supporting personal mobile devices that employees might increasingly use for business applications. That challenge is still being dealt with in various ways, including “dual persona” software clients that separate business-related activities on the mobile devices from personal usage, and Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools for controlling authorized mobile device access and usage. BYOD mobility policies have been primarily focused on end users within an organization as a means for increasing business process performance efficiency, individual end user productivity, and minimizing communication costs.
However, BYOD mobility is just starting to be recognized as a key factor in communicating with consumers/customers who are rapidly adopting smartphones and tablets as their primary means of multimodal communications. Clearly, organizational “BYOD policies” can’t be applied to customers who do whatever they want to, but traditional contact center operations will now have to accommodate mobile customers and the devices of their choice.
Customer Mobility and “Total Customer Experiences”
There has also been widespread recognition that customer satisfaction will depend on their “experiences” in interacting with an organization. Until now, this meant dealing with customers via telephone calls, messaging, and online self-service applications, each area usually being supported in separate technology silos. With UC-enabled smartphones and tablets, mobile users will be dynamically exploiting all modes of business interaction with a single mobile device that will let them switch modalities “on demand.” With video conferencing and social networking options, business communications with customers will certainly become more complex.
What that means is that every form of contact between a customer and an organization must be “unified” in various ways, so that each interface experience will be individually efficient and effective for the customer’s needs. The “total” customer contact experience will reflect the individual user interfaces for communications and self-service applications that will be exploited by a customer depending on their needs and communication environments. When live assistance is involved, the “experience” will obviously be also dependent on the skills of the agent or expert that is providing assistance, as well as the modality of contact involved.
Given that most organizations are working with legacy contact center technologies, the challenge for including support for mobile customer needs is great and needs to be strategically planned. This is exactly where UC-enablement technologies and “cloud-based” integrations will play leading roles in achieving what I describe as the next generation “UC Contact Center” or, better yet, the “UC Interaction Center.” The latter is more inclusive of automated self-services that mobile smartphones and tablets will help to increase over the need for live assistance.
Interface Challenges For Mobile End Users
The fact that there different types of smartphones and tablets being acquired by consumers, means there are differences in form factors, as well as different operating systems that will impact user interface designs, as well as different integration (API) needs. Because some wireless carriers won’t support “open” accessibility to all devices and applications they don’t control, is not going to help matters in dealing with the needs of “BYOD” mobile consumers.
A logical place for any organization to start their mobility journey to is to redesign and integrate current online self-service applications to access and accommodate the smaller screens that mobile consumers will be using instead of traditional PC desktops. This would include “mobile apps” available directly from the enterprise network or through “app stores,” and could include new outbound notifications from business process applications as well. By also including integrations with communication applications, i.e., “click-to-contact” live assistance, the basic framework for mobile customers to access information, the customer will still have options for contacts with a live person. Such “contextual contacts” will provide greater efficiencies in handling a customer’s needs, but will not necessarily change anything for customers who simply want to immediately “talk” to someone who is available and qualified.
Most organizations are still perplexed about migrating to an “UC-enabled” communications environment, when their legacy telephony investments are still functional. My suggestion is to first fill in the “holes” that are not properly covered by legacy technology; customer mobility, coupled with BYOD, is one the biggest revenue impacting “holes” that currently exists.
This post sponsored by the CIO Collaboration Network