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Bridging the Gap Between Mobile and Customer Service

Christine Friscic
Product Manager, Oracle Service Cloud

Twenty years ago, mobile devices were just getting started.  In fact, back in 1995 only one percent of the population had access to a mobile device. Today, there are over 5.2 billion mobile phone users comprising 73% of the global population.  Mobile devices now have an impact on just about every part of our daily lives – from communication and social interaction to mobile commerce.  To say that mobile is a trend is an understatement.  The rise of mobile is fundamentally changing the way we interact – and is spawning a whole new generation of technology, applications and businesses.  Particularly within the service space, mobile is not only pushing how organizations should assess evolving customer engagement, but how best to tackle mobilizing the modern customer service organization. 

We see a trend in business software that is focused around the mobile experience, in which employees across the enterprise use software for a wide variety of functions including customer service, sales force automation, collaboration and communication, all while on the move, using their phones and tablets. There is great value in terms of agility, productivity and employee experience to increase your organization’s mobility.  Yet, we would encourage you to not translate this into, "we need a mobile app or responsive user interface for all of our software."

There are use cases in which it makes sense, and there are use cases in which it clearly doesn’t. A customer service representative (CSR) working for a large B2C contact center, handling complex cases from many different channels, has a need for a highly productive work environment.  It just doesn't make sense to try to make that CSR handle these cases on a mobile phone or tablet.  A sales representative on the road, or a field service representative however, is on the move every day. In both scenarios, a mobile experience makes perfect sense.

To Mobile, Or Not To Mobile (That’s The Question)

Before jumping into relevant use cases, it is helpful to clarify a common misconception about mobile: Mobile isn't just about mobile phones.

A lot of investments have gone into making specific applications for specific types of devices, e.g. a desktop application, a mobile application or a tablet application. Yet, it becomes less and less important to talk about device-specific software, as the lines between these categories are blurring.  Mobile is about understanding specific tasks and use-cases, providing the tools that make the greatest impact, and making sure these different tools are consistent and connected. Let’s review some use cases within different areas of customer service…

Mobile Scenarios in Customer Service

Agents working in multi-channel contact centers spend the majority of their day solving cases coming in from a range of different channels. They need an interface in which productivity is key. They need all the context and data available to solve the customer issue as efficiently as possible. They need a unified desktop, integrated with sensitive data from back-end systems through behind-the-firewall integration. Also, they are likely using two or three big monitors (flanked by yellow post-it notes and cute pictures of kids and dogs). Clearly this is not a great use case for mobile.

However, when you think about supervisors and managers that walk around the contact center, mobile access could be of great value.  Still, mobile access doesn't necessarily mean this persona would access the system through a mobile phone. Supervisors and managers may want to monitor their operations, yet get deeper into cases when needed. Access through a tablet would probably make most sense.

Similarly, when customer service is decentralized and service is delivered via face-to-face support in stores, at airports, front-desks, branches, etc. users will occasionally need to review cases, update contact information and access customer product information. They will need easy access to this information on a computer, laptop or tablet outside the contact center in order to deliver a connected customer experience.

Uberization Of Field Service

When determining where to apply a mobile experience, it might be easy to overlook some of the most obvious use cases. Let’s explore the ultimate mobile use case: field service.  Advancements in mobile technology have not just changed how field service representatives engage with a device, but also the type of work they perform, as well as how they manage their day.

Today, customers expect every service agent they engage with to solve all of their problems. For field service, this means that the customer expects a field representative to understand everything that has occurred in the service journey before arriving onsite for a job.  In addition, the customer expects the field representative to have the same abilities and tools as every other person on the customer service organization. The result is that all of these new tasks need a mobile interface that can quickly be accessed by a field service representative. 

Furthermore, advancements in mobile technologies are allowing a complete shift in how field organizations are structured and managed. Mobile technology and the sharing economy are now allowing for non-centralized field service organizations. This is a trend we refer to as the “Uberization” of field service, which means that through mobile access and automation, the field can dispatch their own work, create their own schedules, and make adjustments as the day changes, all while operating at an optimal level.

Complex Service On The Move

Another great example where we see mobility is around complex rule or policy processes, such as immigration cases. Typically officials assess such cases from their office desks, using lengthy forms and rubber stamps, with long queues of applicants waiting outside. Now, with greater numbers of refugees entering Europe, we see mobile solutions that equip officials outside of their offices. This is where the refugees are arriving, and officials are now able conduct the assessment on-the-spot with a tablet app and simple interview screens to determine the appropriate asylum status. Mobile decisioning is providing better agility by enabling consistent service regardless of device or channel.

Don’t Forget Your Customers

25% of our customers’ customers already use a mobile device to navigate to your support portal. Is your website prepared for that? Using responsive design you can ensure the support section on your website is presented in the optimal way for each type of screen. Also make sure your knowledge articles are structured in a way the content can be easily consumed on a smaller screen.  In addition to self-service and knowledge we would also recommend looking at mobile use cases for assisted service experiences. For instance, with in-app mobile co-browse, live chat over mobile phones, as well as video chat.

Mobile is undoubtedly changing both our personal and professional lives. Customer service organizations should decide on a strategy to bridge the gap between mobile and customer service. This requires a strategic review of value drivers, combined with a tactical search for relevant use cases.

Don’t fall in the “we need an app for everything” trap – some users need big screens, some users don’t.  Investigate how to use mobile technologies to change your field technicians into versatile brand ambassadors, and explore opportunities to increase agility and mobility by bringing complex policy and rule processes to a mobile environment.  Finally, consumers will ever more use their mobile devices to contact you, so your website and contact centers need to be ready for this new reality.

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