Rethinking Support in The Age of the Mobile Centric Consumer

by Tim Sloane 0

We are all changing how we behave as we adaptto smartphone technologies. Mobile apps have literally changed ourdaily routine. We receive information when we need it, such asalerts about delays on upcoming flights, trains, and buses. Weorder a taxi, or lunch from a food truck, and get a message backtelling us when and where we will be met. We see where our friendsare, or will be, so we can join them. We find merchants near ushighly rated by others and with the push of a button, we can shareour opinion with friends and strangers.

Companies are learning how to respond to this real-timeenvironment and leverage the “big data” these interactions create.Some companies are now monitoring social networks for negativecomments in order to address the consumers’ stated problem. Othercompanies are identifying the best locations for a new store bymonitoring consumers as they “check-in” from one location toanother and security is added to mobile payments using geo-fencing.Mobile is driving innovation across almost all aspects of business;except customer service – which remains almost exactly the same asit was 20 years ago – call the 800 number or use your Web browserif you want help.

In September, Amazon introduced the Mayday Button, which isbuilt into every Amazon Kindle Fire HDX tablet. Have a problem?Touch the “Mayday” button and a support rep appears on your screenready to answer your question, or even to take control of thedevice to do it for you. This is an incredible support option beingdelivered on a $229 device.

Compare this with the service options available on the mostexpensive mobile solutions in the market today, they still don’toffer a built-in support function, much less offer something asnovel as Mayday. But of course, there should be a range ofdifferent solutions that fit somewhere between the nothing of mostsolutions in the market and the extravagance of the Maydaybutton.

But still missing, even from Mayday, is a solution that analyzesusage data to improve the support delivered directly on the mobiledevice. The mobile solution should be able to collect and utilizeuser data to improve the support experience – but so far almostnone do.

Last month, Contact Solutions introduced My:Time, software thatintegrates into a providers existing mobile app to enable thedelivery of a customer support experience that reactsintelligently, not just to the problem it determines the user isexperiencing, but also in how it enables the user to resolveproblems.

Using My:Time, the consumers can start a customer serviceinteraction, stop it when interrupted, and then resume again astime allows. This eliminates a phone call to the support desk, butit still supports voice input. This model supports a seamlesstransition between self-service and contact center agents withouthaving to leave the app, re-authenticate, or repeat personalinformation.

Perhaps the most interesting capability, for companies that wish totake service to the next level, is the ability of My:Time to beintegrated to backend data to provide the user a list of optionscreated intelligently. This is accomplished through the IVRsolution that Contact Solutions offers that prioritizes thedrop-down list presented to the user based on information pulledfrom backend data, so the mobile user rarely needs to stumblethrough a long list. For example, the fact the user was declined ata store due to a $75 hold from gas pumped earlier automaticallyputs the appropriate resolution at the top of the list.

One would think that with all of the interest in big data andcustomer retention, that support would be built into smart phoneapplications, but most companies are not organized to deliver smartsupport options. Call center operations are typically a sharedresource for multiple business units. In a financial institution,the call center might support multiple credit and debit card plansas well as several deposit account plans. This need to address alarge volume of call types makes it extremely difficult for thecall center to create a specialized solution for just one businessunit. But as more examples of exemplary customer support aredelivered to market that are similar to Amazon’s Mayday or ContactSolution’s My:Time, an increasing number of businesses will enablesimilar solutions to remain competitive – and as a disgruntled andfrustrated mobile app user, the sooner the better.