Published: November 16, 2012 | Comments
Social media disrupted the way that companies historically approached customer service because of how it created a customer experience that companies were unprepared to handle. Social media has become a siloed communication channel that companies are just now starting to integrate into their overall customer service plan. And just as the social media channel is being tamed, a new channel is emerging.
Today, our mobile phone or tablet is our "go-to" device for everything from making calls and surfing the web to emailing. In fact, for the first time, mobile app usage (measured in minutes) has exceeded that of traditional web browsing. Despite the explosive growth in mobile technology and usage, companies have been slow to adapt their customer service processes to the mobile generation. Mobile is not only an additional customer service channel to contend with, it will emerge to be the largest engagement channel.
Providing a seamless customer experience across multiple channels or touch-points (e.g., web, voice, social, mobile, etc.) has become pivotal in determining which organizations deliver a superior customer experience.
The Fragmented Experience
Regarding customer service solutions, a better part of the last decade was spent chasing the proverbial 360-degree view of the customer. What happened in the meantime was a proliferation in disconnected contact channels and a rise in customer expectations. For example, customers today have come to expect that a conversation started in one channel (such as web self-service) should seamlessly transition to a contact center agent, while maintaining the continuity of the conversation or session. Similarly, a customer engagement may begin in the retail store, extend to the web later that day and ultimately end up in the contact center, again with an expectation of continuity.
There are few things that are as damaging to the customer experience than when the service interaction has no continuity between service channels, and the customer must repeat the same information as they transition from one channel to another. To make matters worse, the customer often receives different - even contradictory - information depending on their interaction channel.
So while companies were busy focusing on delivering the 360-degree customer view, the customer was suddenly demanding the 360-degree view of the company. Not only does the customer expect continuity of sessions across these engagement channels, they expect consistency of information across channels.
Most of us have experienced the frustration of a company’s website stating one thing, only to be contradicted by the agent. Or when one channel only takes us “so far,” forcing us to abandon the transaction. Suddenly, companies are struggling with a brand new problem: How to provide a 360-degree view of themselves.
Unique Challenges with Mobile
As the mobile channel evolves toward becoming the predominant choice of consumer interaction, it is imperative to successfully harness this channel as part of an overall multi-channel strategy.
Mobile brings with it additional challenges not common to the other channels. First, the mobile customer is an "always on" customer and expects customer service to adapt to his or her on-demand requests, whether they originate from the mobile voice channel, the mobile web or via a mobile app. Second, the mobile customer expects to leverage device capabilities as part of their support channel. This can be in the form of starting a mobile self service session using an app, and then choosing to transition that same session into a voice call. It could also be utilizing the GPS or camera functionality of the device itself. For example, if a customer is struggling with Internet connectivity issues on a home network, he can be prompted to take a photo of the cable modem. When the call is connected to an agent, the agent is able to see the cable modem being used (and retrieve the diagnostic instructions for that modem type), as well as see which lights on the modem are on or off to better assist in troubleshooting. Likewise, the phone can report current GPS locations, and if there are known outages in the area, the customer’s self-service session will be modified to alert them that their outage is endemic to their locale, not specific to the customer.
Technology exists today which allows customer service interactions to be created utilizing a single design environment that is "business user" friendly. Utilizing a graphical drag and drop environment, customer interactions are created through clicks, not code. More importantly, these interactions can then be deployed to multiple channels, including voice, web self service, IVR, Social and Mobile. These platforms automatically render the interaction in a format most appropriate for the channel, ensuring a good customer experience.
While it is readily apparent that utilizing one interaction across multiple channels has tremendous cost savings (lower TCO), the most important benefit of all is the ability to offer a consistent customer experience with continuity of the customer journey across channels.
In light of the ever-increasing number of customer service channels, with Mobile being the latest, it is important to embrace a solution that extends beyond the mobile channel. And while the technology exists to offer a consistent experience across multiple channels, your multi-channel strategy needs to start with the business. If the business remains fragmented with its approach to customer service (e.g., having different organizations own different channels), adopting a proper multi-channel solution with the right technology becomes more important.
Gideon Hollander is the co-chief executive officer and founder of Jacada. www.jacada.com. Gideon is highly regarded for his strategic vision and innovation-centered leadership, and is focused on ensuring that Jacada delivers high quality, best-of-breed solutions. Prior to founding Jacada, Gideon was part of the research and development team at Comverse Technology. Prior to Comverse, he served in various technology and management positions in an elite unit of the Israeli Defence Forces, where he specialized in expert systems and user interface design. Two of the projects that Gideon managed won the most prominent Israeli award for technological innovations. Gideon also has a passion for rock and mountain climbing.