I was scheduled to participate in a webinar on mobile customer care last week, which was rescheduled to February. I’ve been involved in a number of customer care projects, working with both IT and customer care organizations that deliver these services at massive scale. Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned, which I will talk about when this event happens.
Customer Experience: The New Old Religion
Customer expectations about how they interact with the companies they do business with are changing, and successful companies are ones that have a customer-centric mindset in their DNA. Even companies that have neglected customer experience are getting religion, as competition becomes more fierce. Since today’s customers are mobile, and use a variety of mobile devices, a natural question to ask is how should mobile technologies be used to improve the customer experience.
Traditional Customer Care Technologies
First, it’s useful to look at more traditional customer care technologies. Traditional IVR systems are necessary, but can be a source of customer frustration. Self-service times for automated interactions can be quite low, as customers struggle to map their problem to a list of menu choices and simply press zero for an agent. Long holding times are a clear dissatisfier. Companies that use IVR analytics tools can significantly improve the situation, though it’s important to recognize that using the wrong metrics can also hurt customer satisfaction. If agents are rated on Average Handling Time, they will do what they can to get rid of callers quickly. On the other hand, tracking First Call Resolution, where agents are rewarded for actually solving the customer’s problem, is generally a good thing.
Customer self-service via the web has become the dominant means of interacting with most companies. Yet, customer experience on the web can still be less than perfect. For infrequently used accounts, the first step in the interaction is often userid and password recovery. Moreover, even with the web, the devil is in the details: the UX may have deficiencies when trying to resolve specific problems, and there are problems that just can’t be easily resolved on the web. When you introduce mobile, it makes some things better, but others worse. The immediacy of mobile is great, and automatic login is routine. On the other hand, screen size limitations and touch interfaces on mobile devices generally make the mobile experience less full featured than the web. As a result, it’s important to think carefully about what problems to solve in a mobile care app.
The Right Approach to Mobile Customer Care
There are several important points to think about when developing a mobile care strategy. I’ll cover highlights of each point.
First, you should ask yourself what unique characteristics of mobile applications can benefit your customers. You should take advantage of the visual display of smartphones for easy navigation and presentation of information. An application can provide custom alerts when launched that provide personalized and relevant information to the customer. Customers are accustomed to text messaging on mobile devices, so chat is a natural means of interaction when an agent needs to be involved. Finally, you can provide information about how to solve some problems by integrating video tutorials into the application.
Second, analyze the data you have about customer touches. If you use it, data you already have will give you a good understanding of the kinds of transactions that are most common, and the things that can be handled easily and efficiently in your mobile application. Which transactions are most prevalent? Consider putting them on the home screen in your application. Which transactions can be easily automated? Come up with a scenario that allows the user to handle them easily from their mobile device. Which transactions are likely to require an agent to resolve. For these issues, make it easy for the customer to go directly into a chat session or to place a call to your call center.
Next, it’s important to recognize that mobile care applications are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Not all customers have a smartphone, know about, or will use a mobile care application. Customers will utilize multiple channels, based on the nature of the problem, time of day, convenience, etc. If you are responsible for customer experience, your job is to promote the preferred care channel, while offering and optimizing the customer experience across all channels.
Finally, when you do get into the design of the mobile application, it’s best to have someone on the team that knows how to think about UX design. They can work with your IT, customer care and analytic teams to ensure that the mobile care application provide an stunning experience, and that it fits into the rest of your portfolio of care solutions. If you approach the problem in a holistic way, customers will want to use your mobile care application, and it will become a factor that contributes to a positive customer experience and to that ultimate goal: customer loyalty.