This article originally appeared in the October 2012 issue of CUSTOMER
Smartphones and mobile applications have given consumers a whole new way to interact with businesses. Call it newfound freedom and convenience. For businesses themselves, the mobile approach provides a way to serve customers better and – if done correctly – to form stronger, more lasting relationships. But that’s the problem. Many businesses are still struggling to determine how best to use tools such as mobile apps to their advantage.
One of the biggest struggles is deciding exactly what a mobile application must do and how it can add value to the customer relationship. More imperative, however, is that businesses integrate the mobile experience with the rest of an overall customer support plan.
The next generation of mobile app development
For any organization, delivering an exceptional mobile customer experience hinges on two objectives. First is addressing mobile initiatives from a strategic customer service view. And second, an organization must develop mobile applications that allow tight integration to its contact center. This second objective of course would require a toolkit that enables developers to produce mobile apps with powerful backend system integration. Further, much like a mobile enterprise application platform, developers would need the ability to generate a single application to run on all mobile device platforms and social media sites. A MEAP-like approach would eliminate having to develop separate apps for various mobile platforms and social networks.
The real leap forward would then be in how the mobile app interfaces with the contact center to provide relationship-enhancing customer service.
A more intelligent customer experience
Consider this scenario for instance. When a mobile customer encounters an issue with an app and can’t complete his or her transaction, the app automatically interacts with the contact center. But instead of just placing a call, the app forwards the entire history of the customer’s mobile session to the contact center. At that point, the contact center places the customer in a virtual queue, and sends the customer a notice of when an agent will call him or her. The customer has the option of taking the callback as scheduled, or rescheduling it to a more convenient time. Either way, there are no wasted cell minutes.
Just as intelligently, the agent knows what steps the customer has already gone through on the app, for what products or services. The agent also knows what the customer was attempting to do when the app issue popped up. When the call to the customer is made, the agent knows the entire transaction context, who the customer is, and his or her purchase history, all helping to resolve the issue quickly.
Customer service… and more
With a full range of back-end interface capabilities, all manner of functionality can be built into the mobile app. When a user opens the app, for example, some form of authentication allows the user to sign in with a user name and password. These credentials can be issued by the mobile provider or through the user’s Facebook (News - Alert) credentials. If using Facebook and the user’s privacy settings permit, a business can view the customer’s likes, location data, and so on to build customer loyalty, as social media has proven.
For another example, a mobile app can let customers place orders, query about shipments, change profile settings and preferences — in essence, perform whatever services a business chooses to extend. When a situation requires access to a contact center agent, the customer support process is driven directly from the app. Because the customer is logged on, his or her identity is known, as is the entire history of that customer’s session on the app. If the customer has signed in through Facebook, his or her published Facebook information is sent to the agent as well.
With the mobile app’s integration to the contact center, the customer avoids a lengthy query and response session with an IVR to categorize the call. The contact center agent – and the business – know beforehand what the customer is calling about. And with the session history in hand, the agent can conduct analysis without ever having the customer on the line.
Analytics for continuous improvement
Of course, the service task isn’t over when the customer hangs up. Along with service analytics, call recording, and real-time speech analytics, the mobile app can capture a user’s complete history with the contact center. That way the business knows what functions in the app are being used most frequently, and for what products or services. The business also knows what functions result in issues that end up at the contact center. Not only will the app resolve such issues more efficiently, the back-end integration can determine which elements of the app are giving users the most problems.
By focusing on customer service, businesses can deploy a mobile application that drives the type of ongoing service improvement characterized in customer-focused organizations. Integrating the contact center directly into mobile and social networking environments is key.
Michael Finneran, Principal, dBrn Associates and Brad Herrington (News - Alert), Senior Manager, Solutions Marketing, Interactive Intelligence
Download the complete whitepaper to learn more: Excelling at Mobile Customer Service visit: www.inin.com/whitepapers
Edited by Stefania Viscusi