I recently attended Interactive Intelligence’s annual global conference, Interactions 2013, where a highlight was their “cloud” based platform offering for mobile customer self-services, Interaction Mobilizer. ININ has recognized that the solution to supporting mobile customers with smartphones and tablets is to not only maximize the use of customized, multi-modal, self-service business applications (“mobile apps”) offered selectively to customers, but to also simplify integration of such applications with flexible choices for accessing live assistance.
Mobile self-service applications provide to major benefits to contact center operational performance:
- They minimize the need and expense for live assistance
- They provide greater “contextual” information to agents for more efficient and effective customer experiences, if and when assistance is needed
What has to happen with mobile self-service applications is that they must update traditional online applications designs for mobile device use, as well as facilitate direct access to live assistance to mobile users with their choice of contact mode from within the mobile application. That would eliminate the need to have a customer leave the app to always dial a toll-free number and go to a waiting queue.
Many online apps already offer customers the option to use IM and “text chat” for customer assistance. They can also send emails with questions and problems. What integration with contact center telephony technology brings to the table is the that when customer runs into an issue with the self-service application, they can immediately speak to a qualified representative or request a callback when such a person is available and get immediate confirmation of that request. No mobile self-service application will ever always be 100% adequate to satisfy every customer need, so the option for flexible live assistance must be always be offered to fill the gaps in the dynamic needs of every mobile consumer.
The future of mobile self-services
Visual self-services will effectively, slowly, but surely, displace the limitations of legacy IVR applications by enabling more information to be efficiently delivered to smartphone and tablet screens. That doesn’t, however, preclude using the efficiencies and convenience of voice user interfaces (VUIs) for user inputs, as has already been well demonstrated by Apple’s Siri, and other “virtual assistants.” Such options will be particularly necessary when mobile users are walking or driving a car and must be “hands-free” or “eyes-free.”
One of the other major benefits of increased consumer communications mobility is that it opens the door to greater accessibility for pro-active, time-sensitive “notifications” and reminder messages, which, in turn, can be linked contextually to “self-service” applications or to “click-for assistance.” This not only reduces the need for expensive and unnecessary live customer assistance, but will also simplify flexible customer choice to access to such assistance whenever necessary.
At the recent 2013 UC Summit, our survey of invited VARs, SIs, and Consultants showed very high interest in supporting Mobile UC for customer services for business clients. However, in a quick audience poll after my presentation, only a very small percentage of the attendees were involved in helping customers with current IVR applications. So, the multi-modal, mobile self-service future looks promising, and the comprehensive tools that Interactive Intelligence has developed will be very critical to fulfilling that promise!
For more insights about the big shift of customer services to mobile customers, read my post on UC Strategies.com.
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