The 1980s saw the introduction and subsequent explosion of voice-based call center software such that today, there’s no organization without a small army of agents taking calls from customers. Voice interaction moved into electronic interaction with email, web self-service, chat, and the dreaded IVR. But very recently another channel has established itself: mobile devices. This makes the potential interaction with a call center to move on a tremendously large scale from voice to mobile self-service.

Has this happened overnight? Not at all. Will smartphone service replace voice channels? In the short to medium term, probably not. Traditional customer service through phone and email will remain because mobile isn’t for everyone – some don’t have a smartphone or prefer the comfort of talking immediately to a human agent.

Early forays into customer self-service on smartphones were particularly limited, but at the same time exciting as a portent of things to come.

Second generation app experiences took a huge leap forward by allowing true, though limited, self-service. A customer could now check their bank balance any time of the day, transfer money, look up a mobile phone bill, apply for a loan, and so on. Most of these interactions, while of value to a consumer and reduce the cost base to the organization, fail to fully engage a customer. This is where third-generation apps are making an impact.

Third generation smartphone apps are sophisticated apps that expose complex customer service processes, supporting personalized and contextualized interactions on the smartphone. The net effect of which, means a much higher chance of successful resolution of a customer’s needs than ever before.

What this means to contact center management is higher rates of call deflections and a reduction in operating costs. Leading organizations recognize this but what many miss is an option to seamlessly switch the customer from the app back into the contact center when the customer deems necessary.

Dos and Don'ts of a 3rd Generation Customer Service Mobile Strategy

The challenge in the current global economic climate, with drastically decreased budgets, is how to justify spend on a mobile customer service initiative?

1. Expose more processes to the smartphone

The technology exists to expose processes to the smartphone and to do this at a relatively low cost. Today technology allows for a non-invasive integration approach to wrap existing mainframe, Windows, or Web functions into transactional services on the smartphone. If constrained by legacy systems that only allow companies to offer very limited mobile services, the company will suffer as customers will leave and choose a company that makes doing business easier.

2. Personalize and Contextualize the Customer Experience

An organization holds a wealth of information about ...

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