The Impact of Mobile
Illustration by Dan Helix

No matter what you think of mobile communication, you can be certain it is here to stay. It is not simply a different type of phone or a different style of browsing. It is every communication tool rolled into one, and it is always with us. It is the first time in history that so many have had such easy access to nearly everything in the palm of a hand, and that has changed everything.

Short burst communication is the new reality, and the contact centers that accept this are the ones best ready to meet the future head-on. The following is a short list of items that we need to more fully embrace to succeed in this new environment:

Secure e-messaging. Many contact centers use email, but this channel is limited by security concerns. General questions can be answered, but specific account-related information cannot be addressed. Secure e-messaging is done after a user has authenticated into a website. It offers a way to keep information private while still giving customers an easy way to “ping” us for a quick answer. Providing this capability to customers, and making it easy to spot links on traditional and mobile websites, is a great way to support short burst communication.

SMS messaging. Yes, it has security drawbacks. It is viewed by many, though, as the most convenient form of communication. Expectations regarding turnaround time for read and response are fairly high (much higher than for email), yet both parties can attend to other tasks between bursts. In the contact center, SMS can be a great way to notify customers of the status of a case or to provide any other proactive information that is not confidential—just make sure that customers opt into it.

Channel integration. What seemed like a luxury a short time ago is now a necessity. We need to know when customers have accessed different channels, and what they were doing during those visits. Without this knowledge, our representatives cannot possibly handle contacts effectively. As customers will increasingly come to expect this cross-channel integration, those that cannot perform in this manner will be seen as far behind the times.

Text-chat on mobile websites. Mobile websites are often very lean to accommodate small screen sizes. Trying to fit text-chat in a small space makes design that much more challenging. Without it, though, customers will view websites and then need to call for any questions. Many customers would consider that less convenient than having a text-chat option.

Shifting self-service to the Web. IVR systems will remain useful in the future, but their value as a self-service tool will continue to diminish. For most contact centers, Web self-service is simply better. Expanding self-service to mobile websites, or creating apps that support self-service, is a more certain investment today.

Short IVR menus and even shorter wait times for an agent. Remember, more and more callers will have tried an alternate channel to get information. That means time has already been invested, so we need to limit further investment from the customer in accessing service.