This year’s UC Summit, which took place last week, was well received by the invited audience of VARs, SIs, and Consultants. Some of the details have been reported in various venues, but the overall consensus was that there was “a lot of value-add meat on the UC bones.”
This year, the UC Summit devoted a special session to UC in the contact center, with Blair Pleasant, Don Van Doren, and myself presenting our views on new value-add opportunities for channel partners and independent consultants to generate new revenues from clients. My particular focus was on the impact of multi-modal mobility on customer interactions with both self-service applications and access to live assistance in various modes when needed.
See my slide presentation on the subject of Mobile Customer Interactions
Customer service responsibilities have always included both live assistance and automated self-services in various modes of communication. The rapid consumer adoption of multi-modal smartphones and tablets has increased the use of self-service applications, as well as customer accessibility for pro-active automated time-sensitive notifications. Both inbound and outbound customer automated contacts can be UC-enabled for different modes of contextual access to live assistance, depending on the dynamic needs of a mobile user.
Survey Confirms Shifts in Customer Service Interactions
A 2012 Consumer Channel Preference Survey confirmed the overwhelming preference by consumers to use Web-based self-services as a starting point over traditional call center agents. However, if there is a question or problem that arises, then a connection with live assistance will be required.
The use of multi-modal smartphones makes both capabilities readily available to customers, making self-services a practical starting point for most mobile customer services. This will both reduce customer service staffing, while increasing customer satisfaction in gaining quick access to information and self-service transactions.
Conceptually, mobile online self-services make a lot sense. However, the implementation, integration, and ongoing support of such applications are too complex for most organizations and will require third-party services. This is the opportunity for channel partners and consultants to get involved in the migration from traditional telephone call centers to the next generation of “Multimodal Interaction Centers that can accommodate mobile customers.
So, while UC can improve productivity for internal personnel within an organization, it may be even more important for customer service activities.
Cloud Services Will Facilitate Role Of Channel Partners and Consultants
Although not specifically discussed in my presentation, it is intuitively obvious that integrations and change management of self-service applications can be most cost-effectively performed in a “cloud” based environment. That would include both “private,” “public,” and hybrid clouds.
Even as internal desktop software applications become “virtualized,” so too will mobile customer applications be most efficiently and flexibly handled in “cloud” environments, rather than just in premised-based systems. Channel partners will also be able partner with each other in order to integrate with various vendor technologies as needed.
UC Summit Attendee Feedback
What was most interesting was the response received from the UC Summit attendees. In a poll of the attendees, the session on Contact Center opportunities was rated “most highly valuable” by most of the respondents. On the other hand, during my presentation, I asked for a show of hands of how many in the audience were actively involved today with self-service applications like IVR.
The response to my question showed only a few people doing much today. However, the high potential interest in the future of UC-enabled customer services, means that the channel partners and consultants are ready and interested in becoming involved with implementing change in the contact center to accommodate mobile customers. This would also require a shift in the technology to support new multimodal agent needs as well, e.g., social messaging, video, and the flexibility to change interaction mode dynamically.
To see all the slide presentations of the “Contact Center session at the UC Summit, go to: