Customer interactions using mobile smartphones — its evolution, not revolution

Did radio REPLACE newspapers? Did television REPLACE radio? Did email REPLACE the phone call? In each of these cases, the answer is no. The one didn’t replace the other, but in each case, the newer technology had an effect on the older technology and was part of an evolution of how we communicate.

So what is the next step in this ongoing evolution? As it relates to the contact center, I believe the answer lies in that device you have in your pocket… yes, the smartphone. The latest mobile devices (that continue to evolve at a torrid pace) have so much capability to allow consumers to interact with vendors to ask service questions, schedule service calls, get product information, find out the status of an existing order… the list goes on…. and yes, you correctly recognized those transactions as the same ones being handled by live call center agents today.

So will mobile customer service, using the intelligence of a smartphone, make the live-agent contact center a thing of the past? Citing the same analogies used as I opened this post, the answer is no. But what they will do is evolve the nature of the conversations that contact center agents have with customers. Complex transactions may still be best done with a live conversation between the customer and the agent. While more straightforward issues might be more easily handled through a well-designed mobile app. 

Here are some pointers that will help those mobile apps enhance the overall customer experience.

  1. Remember that one of the benefits of mobile customer-service is the fact that a mobile device can be used from any location. Vendors need to keep this location-independence idea in mind in the design of the apps.
  2. Customers must be able to pass seamlessly from a mobile app to a live conversation with an agent — with all the context of the transaction being passed between the first portion (the mobile piece) to the second portion (the live conversation).
  3. Don’t push customers to mobile apps. Instead let them choose how they want to communicate with you as a vendor.
  4. Don’t view mobile customer service as a cost-cutting measure. Sure, it might turn out they way, but approach it as an enhancement to the level of service you provide, not purely as a way to save some money.

IMO, the bottom line is that this latest generation of smartphones open up some great opportunities for companies to better service their customers. That said, this isn’t a revolution. The contact center live-agent conversation isn’t going away. Instead it’s being enhanced by a new wave of mobile customer service applications.

What do you think? Please share your opinion.

Joe Staples
CMO and "evolutionary" advocate