Smartphones Change the Face of Customer Interaction

By Paula Bernier, Executive Editor, TMC  |  July 02, 2012

This article originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of Customer Interaction Solutions

The May issue of Customer Interaction Solutions magazine featured a cover package of stories addressing how mobility is changing customer interactions.

That included a piece from SpeechCycle (News - Alert) with the ominous headline: 2012 – The Year the Contact Center Dies. It talks about how connected devices like smartphones are becoming the preferred communication medium for many and how, according to SpeechCycle anyway, these smart devices will replace the call center as the primary interaction channel. This is happening both because the smart wireless device is the tool so many of us reach for when we want to communicate, and because mobile apps can offer tailored plans, products and promotions; mobile devices enable customers to proactively access the information they require; and smart devices enable customer interaction usually virtually any medium type the end user prefers, SpeechCycle’s Scott Kolman (News - Alert) writes.

Indeed, Confirmit’s Dave King, executive vice president of mobile solutions, who’s featured in a Q&A in the same CIS issue, says that: “Thanks to the increasing adoption and capabilities of the smartphone, companies now have a dynamic and sky’s the limit platform for interaction with audiences that far exceeds any other customer feedback channel previously available.”

This subject matter for the May issue of CIS magazine was apparently right on time, as Confirmit, Genesys (News - Alert), NICE and Virtual Hold have all made recent announcements that address the intersection of mobile and customer service.

Confirmit recently announced the final touches of the integration of the mobile channel into its platform. Confirmit Horizons enables leading businesses and market research agencies worldwide to run multi-channel voice of the customer, employee feedback, and market research programs. And the Confirmit Horizons platform now enables Confirmit to offer its customers the ability to use all mobile modes: SMS, browser and app-based data collection.

“The platform is now fully integrated with our Survey On-Demand Application platform, which powers the creation, deployment, and management of surveys on mobile devices, and which also allows the collection of photos, video and audio clips,” King says. “As a result, organizations are able to develop and deliver surveys using mobile as just one of a range of feedback channels including the web, e-mail, telephone and IVR.  The mobile part of the platform allows Confirmit customers to use mobile surveys, feedback, panel, ethnography, face-to-face and digital diary solutions to gather data about peoples’ expectations, motivations and intentions on any mobile device.

“Users can also report on data gathered from mobile devices alongside the data gathered from all other channels, for a single and holistic view of feedback,” he adds.

Meanwhile, Genesys has launched a solution that provides smartphone users with instant access to call center agents via branded mobile applications. American Airlines will be among the first to leverage Genesys Mobile Engagement.

“Today, there are billions of smartphones with millions of mobile applications – but they are totally disconnected from the world’s 6 million customer service agents. With Genesys Mobile Engagement, we’re creating new conversations between today’s mobile applications and customer service,” says Paul Segre, president and CEO of Genesys. “With a press of a button on a mobile device, customers will now seamlessly transition from a mobile app to ‘live’ support– without repeating your mobile transaction, problem, or specific location.”

In late April, NICE unveiled NICE Mobile Reach, yet another customer service solution targeting smartphone and tablet users.

Udi Ziv (News - Alert), president of NICE Enterprise Group, explains that, “NICE Mobile Reach analyzes, in real time, a multitude of data sources from the mobile device and enterprise systems and then recommends for the customer the most suitable channel to continue the interaction when they need assistance.” 

And Virtual Hold Technology recently introduced the Conversation Bridge, which offers immediate or scheduled callbacks that capture previously entered context data from any channel and passes it to agents using existing routing and screen-pop systems. It offers the ability to access live agents regardless of the channel the customer is contacting them through – smartphones, mobile apps, social media sites, websites and even gaming consoles.

“By 2016, more than 60 percent of inbound customer service calls will come from smartphones, laptops and devices other than landlines like gaming consoles, set top boxes and store kiosks,” says VHT CEO Kevin Sjodin. “Today’s always-connected, app-enabled customers want answers quickly so they can solve problems and accomplish tasks. This means that after trying self service, sometimes they need to talk.”

Shai Berger (News - Alert), CEO and co-founder at Fonolo, blogs that The intersection of the call center and the smartphone has become one of the most exciting spaces to watch in enterprise IT.” The fact that customer service is moving to address smartphone users is no surprise, given that’s where customers are, he says. What’s exciting here, he says, is that “We finally have a chance to fix what’s wrong with the call center because the smartphone offers a rich and flexible interactive interface the traditional phone sorely lacks. (The dial pad was never meant to be a navigation system!)”

Edited by Stefania Viscusi