Jacada Helps IVRs Become Mobile UC Apps
UC has been rather slow to be adopted by business organizations, because until end users got their hands on multimodal mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, they really couldn’t easily benefit from the flexibility of UC.
Nowhere has this been more apparent than in supporting business self-service applications for mobile customers who want to have more direct and easy interactions with both automated online applications as well as convenient and flexible contacts with live assistance when required. The fact that most consumers will increasingly use multimodal smartphones and tablets for customer service, rather than a POTS phone, is opening the door to greater use of screen-based business “mobile apps” that are UC-enabled mobile customer applications, as well as enabling greater use of automated, pro-active business process notifications (CEBP) to more accessible mobile consumers. Both capabilities will help reduce customer support costs, increase customer satisfaction, and significantly change the role of contact centers to “Interaction Centers.”
The big improvement in customer self-service applications will come from migrating from the limitations of legacy telephony-based Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems to using screen-based outputs, combined with touch (or speech) inputs for online applications, better known as “Visual IVR.” Not only will this improve customer satisfaction by enabling more self-service opportunities for information access and business transactions and personalized proactive “notifications,” but it will also reduce the need for live customer assistance staffing and improve its efficiency when live assistance is selectively invoked. A win-win situation!
This trend towards exploiting “mobile apps” for visual self-service interactions will apply to all types of end users, including internal employees, business partners, and, of course, consumer customers. The recent announcement by IBM and Apple that they will partner in the development of business process mobile apps for a variety of vertical market “use cases,” shows how important mobility has become, and how quickly “cloud” services will start displacing legacy premised-based communications and information systems.
The big challenge – Graceful migration
While we can talk a lot about the future of changing technologies, everyone knows that it won’t happen overnight. Although we can separate desktop online applications from mobile apps, in terms of the user interfaces, the reality is that there will be many consumers who will still be calling in from their PSTN telephones to get information and perform simple transactions via existing IVR applications. So, it really is important to plan for accommodating the old (IVR) and the new (Visual IVR) approaches simultaneously, while also facilitating the shift from the old to the new cost efficiently.
It should be noted that it is not enough to simply replicate old and limited IVR capabilities. Once self-services move into the domain of multimodal mobile devices, there will be huge new opportunities to satisfy new end user demands that must be slowly but surely implemented.
All this presents channel partners and consultants with new revenue opportunities in assisting their business clients in planning and implementing new customized business self-services for their end users and customers. To read a recent white paper I wrote on this subject, please check out this link to Jacada, a technology provider who has focused on the IVR to Visual IVR migration challenge.
Mobile apps will always need UC-enabled “click-for-assistance” options
Nothing is ever perfect all the time and the need for live assistance will still pop up whenever a mobile user is interacting directly with an automated business process application. The question is whether the old contact center agent skills are good enough for the mobile online customer?
Unlike the situation where contact centers handled phone calls, emails, faxes, and even chats separately, the multimodal mobile customer will want to dynamically connect in their choice of contact mode, but then dynamically change from one mode to another as the situation warrants. So, don’t to simply switch the customer to a different agent as modes change! As survey results have repeatedly shown, customers hate it when they get transferred from one agent to another, especially if they have to repeat all the information they have already given.
So, it is getting very obvious that a request for live assistance requires it to be confined to a single agent, not only for performance efficiency, but also to insure efficient use of a customer’s time. There are also, however, some operational benefits to be gained from the fact that a mobile customer is more accessible in a variety of interaction modes for outbound contacts for both notifications and “virtual queued” responses.
A key factor here is that voice conversations may no longer originate through the PSTN, but rather over the Internet from within a self-service mobile app. This approach has already been widely promoted by Amazon in their “Mayday Button” video customer service designed for Kindle HDX tablet users. With the huge growth of “mobile apps,” coupled with the likes of WebRTC for voice and video Internet connectivity, we are seeing more “cloud” service offerings that support both self-services and flexible “click-for-assistance” options for mobile customers.
There is a lot of change going on with business communications that are becoming more and more multimodal, mobile, and centralized as “cloud” services, but also more complex to integrate with online mobile apps. So, be on the lookout for new technology tools that will simplify and facilitate “graceful migrations” for such coming changes.