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5 Things to Consider Before Ramping Up Mobile Service Agents

Daniel Foppen
Chief Contact Center Awesomeness Ambassador

It’s no secret – mobile is here, and it impacts just about every part of our daily lives. It’s a powerful resource that’s driving a shift in the way businesses operate, and most importantly, the way they interact with their customers.

Service organizations are in a unique position to leverage this shift to power more positive and personal interactions with their customers. In 2015, Forrester Research found that web and mobile self-service interactions exceeded interactions over live-assist channels. By understanding where customers start their service experience, and being empowered with the right knowledge and skills to assist them when they move across channels, service agents can deliver exceptional customer service every time.

And it’s not just consumers that are increasing turning to mobile. Service agents are no longer tied to their desktops in the contact center – they’ve got advanced tools and access to the information they need to be productive on the go. They’re empowered to deliver top-notch service from any device (and any location), and now more enabled to meet customers on the digital channels they prefer.

While it’s certainly a great vision, organizations need to have a solid mobile strategy in place, including a plan around how they will empower their service agents to execute on it. Read on to discover some tips and tricks that we’ve gathered in conversations with customers, partners and industry influencers on empowering your mobile agents.

1. First, establish the motivation for mobile service.

“Why mobile?” is a pretty important question to start with and there may be different drivers:

  • Your team members are also consumers that use apps for everything outside of work, and want to do the same with their work systems.
  • Mobile access is important to improve specific processes and/or the productivity of different users.
  • You heard an inspiring story from a peer or competitor in which, they “went mobile” and you want to do the same.

Whatever the reason you decide to embark on this mobile journey, it’s important to have a very clear vision of why exactly you want to shift to a mobile model, because it will likely be more complicated than expected. Clearly define the problem that you’re trying to solve and have the use-cases mapped out. It’s often easy to get a basic out-of-the-box app up and running, but leveraging it in a way that’s actually valuable for your business often turns out to be significantly more challenging (and expensive).

Another part of the equation is considering what ”mobile” means for you  – whether it means an app on a smartphone (possibly less screen real-estate) or more robust access to an entire service solution, while on the move (could be easier with a tablet)?

2. Gauge the importance of security.

Next, it is important to tackle the decision of whether your team will use corporate provisioned devices or you’ll support a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy. Depending on your business, one route may be easier to take than the other. And, this opens up to a whole range of questions around mobile device management (MDM).

With powering mobile service, security is very important. Shifting to a more mobile model may bring the risk of your staff taking sensitive corporate or customer data outside your domain. If you work in an industry where PCI and HIPAA compliance is important, it becomes especially crucial to limit access to personal information.

A good MDM strategy considers:

  • Whether to limit access to only a subset of data or give users complete access
  • How to protect the device itself against jailbreaks, theft (and remote wiping/locking of the device), and encryption
  • How to ensure secure access and connections through VPN

This is, of course, is easier to manage using corporate devices, but your employees may prefer to use their own devices. In that case, it’s crucial that you find a way to ensure that data access is limited. The limited control you’ll have over the device, the mobile operating system and installed apps make this option risky, as it’s harder to ensure that your team doesn’t accidentally download malicious apps that sniff data from the device.  In any case, this is an important conversation to have early on with your corporate Chief Security Officer, or anyone with a similar role in your business.

3. Is my service system ready to support mobile access?

Once you’ve established a clearly-defined vision for your mobile strategy, and a plan for security and compliance, a third question to ask is: How ready is your service system to support access through a mobile application?

More often than not, customer service solutions only support a limited set of scenarios for mobile app access. It’s important to make sure that your service system is flexible enough to support your business requirements, both now and as they evolve in the future. In order for mobile access to be truly valuable to your business, you should be able to tailor the mobile app to your specific needs, processes and users.

For example, take my local municipality – the beautiful town of Superior, Colorado. Superior, like many towns in the US, has plenty of cracks and potholes in the roads. Say an employee of Superior Municipality is responsible for driving around and creating incidents of improvements to roads that need to happen. He would ideally have an app that allows him to create an incident in the central service system while standing by the pothole on the street – adding a description, attaching a picture and setting the level of urgency and type of repair needed. Now this is a simple use-case that requires a system that allows users to upload pictures, add specific fields to the app and create a workflow based on the urgency. Would your service system be able to support such a use-case that goes beyond the out-of-the-box viewing and updating standard incidents on a mobile app?

4. Don’t compare mobile apples with desktop oranges.

Once your mobile agent application is up and running you want to make sure reporting is set up correctly. We recommend making your reporting and dashboard available on a mobile device, after all, what’s better than having breakfast while looking at your performance stats (kidding of course)?  Having easy and instant access to you or your teams’ key metrics is of great value, especially when tying it to the wide range of scenarios mobile access gives us.

Yet, we would also encourage taking into consideration performance metrics like agent handle times (AHT), first call/contact resolution (FCR), etc. and how mobile access may affect these. When looking at average handling time per incident/case, you should consider that it likely takes longer to process an incident on a mobile device than on a highly productive unified customer service desktop application. Make sure performance metrics reflect mobile access.

5. Iterate for success.

Deploying a mobile app to get access to the service system is not simply making all your desktop screens smaller and fit on a mobile screen. Depending on the use cases your users will use the application to perform specific tasks. The idea here is that using the app actually makes their life easier in terms of convenience and saving time. It is far from a given that you have nailed the perfect app from the beginning. You should be prepared to establish a process to get feedback and listen to your users to learn how they are using the app, where it can be tuned, where new capabilities would add value, what is redundant, etc. Use small cycles to implement these improvements and thus through iteration achieve a successful mobile service app. 

All in all, making your service agents mobile is a significant project. There are many considerations to take in account. I hope that by considering these five points you will be able to jump start your mobile service journey. For those of you readers that have already gone through this journey; what advice can you share from your experience?

Learn more about Oracle Service Cloud’s new Mobile Accelerator and latest August 2016 release.

Find out how to create a Mobile ready customer service strategy!

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