Migrating To The Next generation UC “Interaction Center”
The next stage of customer services will be heavily focused on supporting the new flexibility that mobile consumers will have for business contacts with their personalized, multimodal smartphones and tablets. As I have previously suggested, customer assistance will not be initiated with a voice phone call from such devices, but will increasingly be started by a “click-for-assistance” option embedded within an online application or any type of notification message that the customer has received.
There is no question that the PSTN is being replaced by Internet connectivity for voice calls, as standards are now being developed for that transition. In addition, communication technologies are moving to “cloud” services, rather than premise-based systems, thus relieving organizations of the need to manage and maintain infrastructure technologies. However, every organization will still have to plan on how their different types of end users, including customers, customer-facing staff, and business partners, will be affected by business process changes to communications with both people and applications.
The “Customer Chicken” or the “Customer Support Egg” - Where Do You Start?
For planning purposes, it will be most important to first understand how your customers will exploit the flexibility of multimodal mobile devices in accessing customer services via online “mobile apps.” Since “customer BYOD” will make it necessary to support any type of mobile device, that consideration will make it necessary to accommodate leading device form factors and mobile operating systems.
In addition, mobile access to personalized online self-services will also dictate a need to securely support authenticated customer access through “Interaction Management” controls on their individual mobile devices. Although many customers will continue to use POTS for a long time, the Millenials, who will increasingly make up the bulk of your customer base, will be expecting more flexibility in all their mobile communications.
In particular, mobile customers will be increasingly more dependent on using online mobile apps for personalized information access and online transactions. They will also be used to exchanging text messages, as well as pictures and videos with people, more than they have voice conversations. It is only when they have a problem while using an online app, that they will need flexible and selective access to live assistance. Amazon’s much heralded “Mayday” button on their new Kindle Fire HDX is a specific example of exploiting video and screen sharing for multi-media “help desk” technical support. However, that concept can be expanded to other modes of customer assistance with an online customer application through any UC-enabled multimodal device.
Multimodal Customer Assistance For “Mobile Apps”
Once you identify any high-priority online apps that need to be developed, you can then do the following things:
1. Plan to include “click-for-assistance” options into those online applications
2. Determine what modes of assistance should be offered within the context of the application
3. Identify what information and procedures should be available to appropriate customer assistance skills to handle specific issues associated with the context of the online application.
4. Design an agent customer assistance interface that will accommodate multimodal interactions efficiently and will allow dynamic changes in communication modes as needed by customers, e.g., switching from a text/voice message or IM to a voice or video connection.
Why Do It All In A “Cloud?”
Because it is faster and easier, to develop, integrate, and trial both new customer applications and new customer assistance desktop interfaces in a “cloud” environment, that’s where implementation can take place. It is also an efficient way for different third-party expertise to manage and maintain such applications on an ongoing, evolutionary basis.
Because there will usually be a need to maintain legacy telephony capabilities, putting the new stuff in the cloud, while integrating with existing telephony systems, is a good way to migrate gracefully to the future of mobile customer services and the “Interaction Center” that will exploit UC.