It’s still good to talk

Many businesses are deploying mobile customer service apps to exploit the richer customer experience, greater intimacy and enhanced functional benefits that smartphones offer.

Today, only 20% of businesses have “mobilized” their customer service function but this figure will grow rapidly as more customers come to see mobile as their primary communications channel.

To help businesses embrace this new mobile channel, Artificial Solutions has developed Teneo Mobile. It offers deep integration into smartphone features and the ability to access content from external applications and other information sources allowing it to be incorporated in the response.

In this way, Teneo Mobile can deliver an intuitive experience for users who can communicate their request using multiple input methods such as an onscreen keyboard or microphone.

Ironically, that latter function — voice communication — is sometimes overlooked by mobile app developers, which is a big mistake, I believe.

It is still good to talk, and no matter how big a fan you are of your smartphone, there comes a point in any virtual interaction when you realize it would be a lot easier to speak your query rather than having to drill down through onscreen menus or type on a virtual keyboard.

Thanks to natural language technology, these spoken queries can be handled in a much more cost-effective way even if the call eventually has to be transferred to a human agent.

So, seamless integration between the smartphone app and existing “legacy” contact centre business processes is going to be essential if mobile customer service apps are to produce a positive ROI.

When done correctly, mobile customer service can truly impress and inspire — just watch this video demonstration of a customer service app by French insurance company Groupama.

The firm clearly understands the unique possibilities to use mobile to differentiate its offering. Amongst its various functions, the app lets motorists report an accident or a breakdown right after it has happened.

Interestingly, Groupama isn’t trying to use the mobile channel to replace existing channels. So, the smartphone app doesn’t try to get the motorist to file a claim online. Instead it provides a “call me” button so that an agent will call the distressed motorist and collect the information the “old-fashioned way” over the phone.

The real beauty of the app is that it tells the motorist exactly how long they will have to wait to receive the call, which on a cold dark night standing besides the road is comforting to know.

And because it is a smartphone app, the call centre agent already knows a lot about the customer before they’ve even said a word:  their personal and policy details, their GPS location and even the reason why they are calling — that’s because they pressed the button to report a motor vehicle accident, not the button for a house insurance claim.

While they are waiting, the app is thoughtful enough to remind the customer to locate their driver’s licence and vehicle documentation in preparation for the call.

For the customer, the smartphone experience is a huge improvement over calling Groupama’s accident hotline from a regular phone. And that, of course, is the whole point of developing a smartphone customer service app – or should be.

Unfortunately, many of the mobile customer service apps I have seen fall into the “lipstick on a pig” variety. They look impressive at first sight, but if you try to do anything serious, you soon discover their limitations and the lack of integration with other channels.

This becomes most apparent when you need to drop out of the smartphone channel — for example, the flight you have been waiting for has just been called and so you have to turn off the phone.

In an ideal world, the customer should be able to click a button and be called back by an IVR — or agent — at a later time so that they can pick up the transaction at the point it was paused. Here’s how it should work:

IVR: “It looks like you had difficulty filling in a quote request. We’re sorry about that. We have most of the necessary data already from the form so just tell us the make and year of the car for which you wanted an insurance quote.

By incorporating natural language interaction technology, the system would not only be able to understand vehicle makes and registration years, but also handle unexpected responses such as:

Customer:  “I’m sorry, I didn’t really want a quote. I was just showing off Artificial Solutions´ technology to my friends”

IVR: “No problem, were they impressed?

Andy, who lives with his family in the UK, is Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer at Artificial Solutions. A regular speaker at industry conferences and events, Andy delivers insight on the rise of AI, the challenges businesses face and the future of intelligent conversational applications.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *