The rapid growth of smartphone adoption is changing every facet of our lives. From Siri, Apple’s virtual personal assistant, to the thousands of mobile applications that entertain and educate us, we have become an always-connected society.
Pew Internet & American Life Project reported that smartphone users have now surpassed basic phone users. Gartner predicts that mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common web access devices worldwide. WiFi is so widely available in major metropolitan areas that most tablet users don’t even need wireless data plans. Finally, tablet sales grew 264% in 2011 over the previous year, and this year, Yankee Group predicts the sale of almost 25 million tablets in the U.S. alone.
What does this data mean for companies looking to engage with a connected audience? Consumers are now demanding communication with their providers, on their terms, which in most cases, means through their connected devices.
What does this mean for the call center? Well, it will cease to be the primary interaction channel between companies and their customers. The smartphone will become the contact center of the future.
It won’t happen all at once, and certainly not everyone will prefer this channel. However, both consumers and businesses will benefit significantly, leading to a major communication shift by the end of 2012.
Why the Shift to Smartphones?
The smartphone offers new capabilities for customer service that were never before available on traditional devices. A smartphone is both a computer and a phone, making it easy to offer customers multiple service options. For example, a customer who has a problem with his DVR device can open up a smartphone application, which offers a variety of text options, touch-based menus and even talk capabilities.
In addition, mobile applications can offer troubleshooting wizards. By accessing these wizards from their smartphones, customers can visualize troubleshooting steps to resolve the issue. They can also access visual indicators, such as the icons on their cable boxes.
If all of these self-service options were to fail, the customer still has the option to connect directly with an agent within the call center to address more complex problems.
A smartphone’s inherent capabilities can host a rich variety of self-service options. Customers will begin to gravitate toward their smart devices as the first means for service. The call center will become a secondary option, only when all other self-service tools have been tried.
What’s In It for Customers?
Smartphone traffic on wireless networks is expected to increase 700% over the next five years. Therefore, customers will look to the smartphone as the primary communications portal for services and information.
- Accessibility: When accessing a call center, customers are subject to an agent’s decisions, whether or not that employee shares certain tips and information. Even a mobile interaction channel isn’t enough. However, mobile applications can provide greater, more direct access to the information customers need.
- Capabilities: Smart devices not only enhance accessibility; they also improve the method of interaction, particularly when a customer troubleshoots a problem or seeks answers to his questions. Smart devices provide touch, type and talk capabilities, so customers can choose the methods most convenient for them at that time.
- Value: Smartphone customer service offers greater transparency into the value customers receive and the products/services offered. Apps on these devices can offer tailored plans, products and promotions, based on a customer’s data usage, plan features, past behavior and preferences.
What’s In It for Businesses?
In today’s crowded marketplace, companies are struggling to differentiate themselves from competitors. The playing field is level when it comes to products, services and pricing plans, making customer service a key driver for organizations looking to distinguish themselves.
Smart devices have changed how consumers communicate with one another, not to mention, with the companies they patronize. Businesses that recognize this change and create customer service strategies and tools that leverage these connected devices will have a real opportunity to impact their bottom lines, and retain and grow their customer bases. Here’s why.
- Loyalty: By connecting with customers on-the-go, companies create customer loyalty, which translates to retention. As customers choose to stay with the company, they’ll expand the services they use, products they buy and the amount of money they spend.
- Personalization: The consumer is looking for a personalized experience, and the mobile channel provides the best opportunity to do so. Companies can offer customer services relevant to the individual in question — be it the applications and products they subscribe to, their location information, etc.
- Consistency: When a company keeps information up to date and consistent with a smart mobile app, its customers receive the same answers, regardless of channel. This enables a deeper understanding of customer relationships, and delivers tailored and personalized experiences.
- Cost: Calls previously handled by contact center agents can be addressed directly by fellow consumers. Provide direct access to information, troubleshooting tools and diagnostics. This foresight drives down costs.
Bottom line? Businesses want to strengthen and improve customer relationships, and customers want the most value for the least amount of money. However, customers will remain loyal to companies that can enhance the user experience and foresee their needs.
While the call center will still remain an important part of the customer service experience, smart devices can provide richer features and more in-depth assistance — all on-the-go. Call centers will become a secondary mode of communication, no longer preferred by the masses.
Source : Mashable