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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Customer Satisfaction? UC Interaction Flexibility!

By Art Rosenberg, The Unified-View/ UC Strategies Expert


UC flexibility has always been more important for mobile users than for desktop workers, because they need dynamic flexibility for both initiating contacts and responding to contacts while “on the go.” This is particularly true for customer business interactions where consumers increasingly use mobile self-service applications, but then run into a complex problem that requires expert live assistance. “Click-for-assistance” with new browser technologies like Web RTC, will help streamline direct access to such customer service staff, but the question still remains as to exactly what kind of assistance is really needed by the individual customer.

One solution is to stop guessing about what such customers want and give them the choice of selecting the expertise they think they need, including the flexibility of how and when they want to interact with such support, without first talking to an agent and then getting transferred. An innovative approach has been developed by OrgSpan, that has integrated their solution with a leading interaction (contact) center provider, Interactive Intelligence, to provide such a practical capability. So we interviewed the founder and CEO of OrgSpan, Jeff Swartz.  

What is changing the most about customer service today?

We believe the biggest change in customer service today is what customers are expecting, especially when they increasingly use personalized, multi-modal smartphones or tablets. They don’t want to be limited to searching a FAQ, emailing support, or sitting in a call-waiting queue after dialing into a support center. Customers are drawn to solutions that put them in control and that are more flexible in nature. They therefore want companies to offer dynamically flexible solutions that allow them to choose how and when they want to get the live support they need. There is a rapidly increasing movement towards non-voice (telephone) based interactions such as chat, email, social media channels, etc.
They also expect to be able to change their mode of communication without losing any context of what they have already done.  For example if I’m on a company’s support site, searching FAQs, performing self-service transactions, asking questions in the forums, or chatting with an agent, when I decide to elevate my interaction to a voice or video conversational, I want the context of what I’ve been doing to go with my contact so I don’t have to start all over with the contact center agent.
Finally, many customer service organizations struggle to find an available “expert” to help if the initial agent cannot handle the issue.  We’ve seen large, multi-thousand agent call centers, with little or no ability to search for either other agents or experts inside and outside the call center to assist when help is suddenly needed. With the adoption of mobile consumer self-services, the “expert” problem will only increase. 
What are the challenges that customer services will still face with new contact center technologies?

The biggest challenge we see is support organizations accepting the changing customer expectations and paradigms, and accepting the need to meet the customer on his/her terms and in a format that supports the device the customer may be using. Customers want access to all support channels that work well on their smartphones and tablets. They also want to be able to escalate the mode of that interaction. So I may start out by browsing a support website’s self-service applications, but then want to easily be able to turn that into a chat.  And if the chat isn’t proving efficient, I want to easily be able to switch to an audio or video call.

Customer service organizations often struggle to meet the customer’s expectations because it means utilizing new online self-service technologies and accepting that they will have less control over their customer. These new self-service technologies also present a new problem – it becomes more complicated when the customer does require live assistance.  How do you capture the context of the self-service activity, especially when they are “mobile apps,” to pass along to the right kind of person in the contact center?

What Does OrgSpan technology offer that is better than existing approaches for assisted customer services?

OrgSpan offers two cloud-based solutions that help customer service organizations deliver an improved experience for their customers. Our first product, called OrgSpan Connect, allows customer service agents and anyone in the organization to have rich profiles defined with their experience, skills, certifications, etc. that can be searched to find an appropriate expert when needed. This helps increase first-contact resolution, reduces overall interaction time, and improves customer satisfaction.
Our second product is called OrgSpan Select.  This product is focused squarely on those organizations that want to offer a radically different and more personalized customer service experience. OrgSpan Connect makes rich employee profiles available internally, so employees can find and connect with other employees. OrgSpan Select, however, integrates into a “Click for Live Assistance” support flow and makes rich agent/expert profiles available to your customers, so that they get to browse, search, and ultimately choose the agent/expert they want to handle their interaction.
The customer gets to view and search a variety of information about each agent/expert including skills, product knowledge, authority role, and REVIEWS from other customers, as well an estimated wait time for each agent/expert. This experience is available on smartphones and tablets, as well as from any web browser. This customer-focused experience allows customers to personalize their live assistance experience and can help differentiate a company’s customer service from its competitors.

What Kind Of Companies Can Benefit Most From OrgSpan Select?

OrgSpan Select has received lots of interest from several types of customers.  First, there are technology provider and services companies that want to gain a competitive advantage through better support channels. I can buy a Canon lens from dozens of online companies at virtually the same price point.  Superior customer service can sway a customer’s decision from which vendor to make the purchase, as well as help retain the customer when they have problems. 
The second type of customer company is one that wants to encourage an ongoing relationship between their customers and their customer service agents.  For example, credit unions, would love to have their members develop a personal relationship with their customer service personnel. This encourages loyalty and additional business from their members. 
Finally, we’re seeing a lot of interest from companies that have to support a large number of very different products or services. A good example is a health care company that is supporting multiple products and multiple versions of the same product, where support for each product requires very specific knowledge and expertise on the part of the customer service representative. With OrgSpan Select, the customer would be able to select a customer service representative who has the specific needed knowledge/expertise to help.
How Does OrgSpan Select Work With Contact Center Communications and Online Portals?
OrgSpan Select currently supports routing of email and callbacks.  We integrate with Interactive Intelligence’s Customer Interaction Center product on the telephony side.  Companies can easily customize the look and feel of OrgSpan Select to match their website design and marketing efforts.  Implementation of OrgSpan Select is also extremely easy and requires very little effort to integrate into their support website.
OrgSpan products are cloud-based and extremely easy to set up and configure. Both OrgSpan Connect and Select work with premise-based and CaaS modes of Interactive Intelligence's Customer Interaction Center. 
We’ve had some interesting reactions from customer service organizations ranging from “We could NEVER do that” to “We love this”.  We also get concerns about exposing agent information including photos.  We support pseudonyms and alternate-photos so you don’t have to make public the agent’s real name or photo.
We believe our Connect and Select products can really help an organization improve their customers’ live assistance experiences when they really need it and help meet the rapidly changing expectations of their customers. Org Span Select is just the first product in a suite of service technologies we will be releasing that will enable companies to build private social portals for their customers.  We’ll be announcing further developments later this year.
For general information or to learn more about OrgSpan products and services, please visit or email  You can also view demos of OrgSpan Connect and Select at Customer Service Experience, ITExpo West, and Call Center Demo trade shows in the Interactive Intelligence booth.

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