Nailing Down a Competitive Advantage in a Mobile World

By TMCnet Special Guest
David Jackson, CEO, Enacomm, Inc.

Imagine that you’re sitting at the airport waiting to board a flight. If you were to look around at your fellow airline patrons, what might you see in their hands? BlackBerries, iPhones, Androids, Macs, PCs, and an array of tablets – you’d probably have to pull up the note-taking app on your smartphone to have any hope of remembering everything. The technological landscape is fertile ground for communication options, with new choices sprouting up every day. But while the array of gadgets and gizmos continues to expand, it’s important to note that most devices have something in common: mobile capability.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an eyebrow-raising nine in ten (91 percent) American households now rely on wireless, the major competitive force in the consumer voice market. Of those who have smartphones, 80 percent check their mobile devices within 15 minutes of waking up each morning, according to a study from IDC Research. Not surprisingly, four out of five (79 percent) adult smartphone users have their mobile devices with them for 22 hours a day.

So what does this all mean? Plain old telephone service (POTS) is quickly becoming a thing of the past, along with traditional customer service. The rise of smartphones is spurring the need for the voice channel to merge with the mobile channel to create one dominant interaction channel.

Because most Americans have pitched a tent in an increasingly wireless society, how can an organization best serve consumers who are more often whipping out their smartphones to make a customer service call or to find answers using the web? Customer care must focus on mobile – consumers’ go-to tool – because companies need a customer-centric approach to win and keep customers. Customer loyalty is earned by meeting patrons’ needs in a way that fits their lifestyles. Voice and mobile customer service interactions should be “intelligently integrated”, because these exchanges weigh heavily on whether a consumer continues his or her relationship with a brand.

Most organizations have yet to evolve with the changes in consumer behavior. The mobile interaction channel and voice interaction channel are still separate, with customer care apps requiring users to leave the app in order to call customer service. This innovation-flaw not only degrades the customer service experience, but also misses opportunities to reinforce the brand.

Think about the interaction when a customer orders at a fast food restaurant. The menu is presented visually – the counter help could certainly recite the menu to the customer, but this would be inefficient and a waste of time for everyone. But if a customer has a question about an item, the quickest and easiest way to get an answer is to ask the counter help. Looking through a long list of FAQs or typing in your question on a keyboard and waiting for a response is likewise inefficient and time-wasting. The self-service channel will merge to be more like the fast food example, with the customer using the best channel on a moment-by-moment basis.

For smart organizations, the mobile interaction channel and voice interaction channel will converge, no longer distinguishable from one another. What does this look like? Company mobile apps could have a “Call Us” button to speak with a live representative or utilize a visual interactive voice response (IVR). A consumer would call and be given multiple options – after being asked to confirm that she is calling about the account associated with her mobile app, she might hear: “Press two if you would like to hear your recent transactions. Press three if you would like your recent transactions to be sent to your mobile phone. Press four to speak with a live representative.” And while having a conversation with a customer service representative, the agent could push out a screen to the customer’s mobile app. A seamless experience incorporating what users hear and what they see on their devices is just around the corner. Consumers want to be in the driver’s seat, able to navigate intelligent interactions, as desired.

For years, people could not reach in their pockets to share a fleeting thought, much less take care of business while out-and-about. Mobile technology is making every day activities more efficient, allowing consumers to communicate, multi-task, and connect wherever they are. Organizations can’t afford to lag behind consumers in embracing the wireless world. It’s time to usher in the future, with IVR intelligently morphing to support converged text, mobile and voice. In today’s fast-paced marketplace, providing a superior customer experience means meeting consumers where they are – on-the-go – with one versatile interaction channel.

David Jackson serves as the chief operating officer of Enacomm, Inc., a leading provider of voice processing infrastructure, applications and services that optimize customer call interactions.

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