Smartphones, tablets shape the contact centre
MOBILEBy BiztechAfrica - Sept. 21, 2012, 8:51 a.m.
By Deon Scheepers, Business Development, Interactive Intelligence Africa
The concept of integration in the contact centre has been widely discussed in recent years, with many companies having made great strides towards achieving a more unified environment. SMS, e-mail and web chat are gradually being incorporated into contact centres, and now afford customers the option to have their queries dealt with via a variety of channels.
But as businesses work to ensure that their contact centre offerings remain current, the increasing popularity of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets is about to change the face of the contact centre as we know it.
More smartphones were sold last year than PCs and tablets combined, and a new Forrester study indicates that mobile Internet users will outnumber those accessing the web via PC by 2016. As more consumers begin to search, browse and make purchases from their mobile devices, a new kind of contact centre will evolve in order to meet their ever-rising expectations.
The Rise of the Mobile Consumer
The surge in popularity of smartphone and tablet devices has created an unprecedented culture of immediacy. Users are now able to enjoy the convenience of checking their e-mail, downloading weather reports or conducting business transactions at a moment’s notice.
Additionally, the applications today’s customers use are becoming increasingly personalised, capitalising on built-in features like location monitoring to tailor offerings to a user’s specific requirements.
As a result, mobile devices are rapidly becoming the consumer’s number one choice for conducting all forms of business. The thought of having to turn on a laptop or pick up the telephone is almost inconceivable, particularly for a new generation raised in the information age.
As this type of empowered mobile user becomes the norm, contact centres are being forced to restructure their offerings in order to provide more immediate, intuitive service, or risk becoming obsolete.
The rise in popularity of Internet banking and other self-service platforms reflects the mobile user’s growing inclination to resolve issues on their own where possible.
Unlike early mobile phone users, today’s consumers generally only decide to contact an agent as a last resort.
As such, companies need to start making allowances for this, and move towards the development of more intuitive, self-help applications.
By extrapolating location and device-based data, these applications have the potential to provide the user with a greatly enhanced experience, whilst at the same time alleviating pressure placed on the contact centre.
By moving more customer service queries into the self-help space, contact centres will be better able to streamline proceedings, whilst at the same time offering the customer the kind of personalised experience they would ultimately prefer.
Whilst many customer interactions can be predictably automated or guided via a mobile application, there are just as many that are likely to be complicated, with variable solutions dependent on a customer’s specific situation.
As a result, contact centres need to find a way to incorporate both self-help and agent assistance into the mobile environment, creating a seamless process whereby customers can elevate their query to an individual in the contact centre.
Despite growing mobile user numbers, communication is rapidly moving away from the traditional telephony environment, with consumers tending to prefer the cost effectiveness that applications such as Skype afford them. As a result, it is imperative that companies begin to offer a greater variety of ways in which their customers can take action.
Rather than directing customers to a number which they can then dial from their phone, companies will need to begin to incorporate live assistance features within their application structures, using VOIP or video chat to allow users to make immediate contact with someone from the contact centre while at the same time providing agents with the customer’s interaction history.
This type of contextually aware escalation will allow customers to bypass standard IVR menus and be connected directly with a subject matter expert within or outside of the traditional contact centre. They can also be directed to agents that are specifically skilled and trained on various channels of preference, such as call, chat, text, social or video.
Not only will this type of application provide customers with a greater array of communication options, but it will also enable contact centre agents and other subject experts to be better equipped to deal with incoming queries, and allow the contact centre’s systems and processes to be streamlined accordingly.
Establishing a competitive advantage
In an increasingly cluttered marketplace, companies that set about providing their clientele with mobile customer care options have a real opportunity to set themselves apart from the competition.
Locally, organisations like FNB and Vodacom have already launched self-service applications that are proving increasingly popular, and are setting the standard for customer service in the South African market.
Companies need to realise that the shift into the mobile environment is not a distant eventuality that can be dealt with when the time comes. The mobile revolution is already well under way, and it is the companies that embrace this reality that will be the ones that succeed in attracting and retaining their customers in years to come.
MORE MOBILE NEWS
TV users cut the cordA new report from Juniper Research has found that by 2017, 2 billion mobile and tablet users will watch TV and video on their devices. Read More
Three new mobile social platforms for AfricaMara Online has launched a suite of professional, personal and social tools for communicating, networking, innovating and collaborating across borders. Read More
IFC promotes mobile financial services in Cote d’IvoireIFC and the MasterCard Foundation this week convened key financial industry players to build further momentum for mobile financial services in Cote d’Ivoire. Read More
Nokia introduces new flagship phoneNokia has unveiled the Nokia Lumia 925, described as a new interpretation of world’s most innovative smartphone. Read More
KasiMP3, GoMetro take mobile music to SA rail commutersA new partnership will see rail commuters in South Africa enjoying free and legal music from over 40,000 music artists from across Africa. Read More
NBIC launches mobile labThe Namibia Business Innovation Centre (NBIC) has launched a Mobile Lab with the aim of giving mobile developers a platform to develop mobile applications and to launch them into the market. Read More
Safaricom gives Kshs. 10m to flood victimsThe Safaricom Foundation has donated Kshs.10 million to fund rescue efforts for flood victims following a USD 3.5 million (Kshs.292, 950,000) appeal by the Kenya Red Cross. Read More
TNM launches mobile bankingTelekom Networks Malawi Limited (TNM) has launched a mobile banking facility, TNM Mpamba. Read More
Mobility changing the face of African enterpriseMobility is changing the way business is run across Africa, and the IT department needs to step up to enable it, says Ayanda Dlamini Business Development Manager at LGR Telecommunications. Read More
FEATURED STORYICT opens doors for Kenyan slum dwellers
A Nairobi based group is equipping high school girls from Nairobi's slums with ICT skills to help them participate meaningfully in building the economy.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHDollar-a-month broadband can change Africa
The Microsoft-led 4Afrika TV white spaces project, taking broadband to rural people for as little as a dollar a month, is now expanding in Kenya and launching in Tanzania.
COMPANY NEWSConnected services boosts company payroll and HR administration in West Africa
Connected Services enables SMEs to extend their desktop payroll and HR with an online solution that eases the growing burden of HR managers and payroll administrators.