The power of UC-enabled self-service applications is very attractive to consumers who want to do things by themselves as much as possible. This was reflected in a recent market study by Frost & Sullivan analysts, showing that “65% of consumers are now demanding self-service options around the clock.” That should not be a big surprise, because who really wants to wait to talk to someone first before looking at information or performing a business transaction? It also drove consumers to buy their own home PCs to access web portals and exploit email communications with people and online self-service applications.
However, mobility based on the huge adoption of multi-modal smartphones and tablets has opened up the customer service arena to greater complexity, both for the customers and for the customer service staff. This is especially true for self-service applications and “mobile apps” which, if not carefully designed, could lead to consumer frustration and increased contacts for live assistance.
The point is that customers may not be just calling for business issues, but just need help in using the self-service applications that are more easily accessible from their mobile devices. This help may be in the form of walking the customer through the online application procedure or fixing some parameters on the application. This will be applicable for both business applications as well as for communication applications.
UC-enabled “Click-for-Assistance” Ideal for Mobile Users
One of the virtues of UC-enablement for online applications is that it facilitates access to live assistance. However, that access is not necessarily instantly accomplished, nor is it necessarily required. A recent study by Adcom Group for Virtual Hold Technology focused on financial services and consumer needs for assistance while using mobile self-service applications.
Although financial apps are among the most popular smartphone apps used today, reflecting that more than 50% of surveyed smartphone users use them, 70% of respondents complained about problems using those apps, and 80% said they want to request customer assistance from within the app they are using. Clearly, because such mobile users can be contacted in any way at any time, there is no reason to connect them into call queue to wait for a connection. (Only the request has to be queued!)
The kind of problems users found with mobile financial apps included:
- Dropped Internet connections
- Apps “freezing”
- Problems opening and logging into an app
- Difficulties with initially setting up an app
- Missing or still pending transactional data
These problems cause customer dissatisfaction and drive the need for assistance. The question is, what kind of live assistance needs to be provided?
“Help Desk” Customer Support in the “Cloud”
In the past, customer assistance could be provided by connecting with a consumer’s desktop PC, sharing control of an application. With mobile devices, using a “cloud” environment should prove more efficient, since the mobile devices themselves won’t store the applications and relevant data like a desktop PC. (Even those are becoming more “virtualized!”)
When mobile, multi-modal customers need live assistance, what they really need are the following:
- A simple way to quickly initiate a request for assistance, with a choice of response contact will be preferred, as well as time urgency.
- Their contextual information, i.e., identification, contact information, log of their current application activity, etc. must be attached to their request so that the proper type of assistance is provided and that the responding agent is fully aware of what the customer situation is without having to ask a lot of questions first.
- The customer should be given an immediate confirmation response, along with any indications of when and how that response should be expected. This may be an important consideration for what I call “Unified Notification Management,” where an expected incoming contact will be quickly recognized and brought to the attention of the recipient.
All the information required for efficient live assistance has to easily accessible for both the customer and the live assistance provider. To this end keeping such contextual information in a “cloud” environment makes a lot of sense, especially when the final form of assistance itself will require shared data access.
There are now so many ways that business operations can interact with consumers, that it really is necessary to differentiate contact functionality beyond inbound and outbound, or by type of interface medium (voice, text, pictures, video). Multi-modal mobile devices allow end users not only greater choice in the modes of initiating and receiving contacts from people and automated business applications, but UC enablement also allows end users to dynamically change modes as needed. So, if live assistance is provided initially by a text message and is responded to via chat, there is no reason that it can’t be extended to voice or video.
The real bottom line for mobile access by customers to online self-service applications will be to satisfy customer needs directly, quickly, and easily, without the expense or delays of live assistance. However, it will be important to properly label the different types of such assistance, in order to align routing and staffing needs accordingly. So, let’s use good, old “Help Desk” for customer technical support of mobile, online, UC enabled apps.