With text becoming the talk of the town and taking over voice interaction, customers are choosing to rather communicate with contact centres via messaging apps than making a call.
A quick swipe through most smartphones reveals a myriad of apps. The majority of these are seldom, if ever, used, says to Ebrahim Dinat, COO at South African contact centre solutions provider, Ocular Technologies, the ones that are most frequently made use of are communication apps.
He points out that even more than 20 years on the SMS continues to be a viable communication tool and that it remains of great value to the contact centre. Yet, an SMS can't do what native apps can, states Dinat.
That is, an SMS neither allows for the display of rich media nor secure data entry. Tobias Goebel, director of emerging technologies at Ocular Technologies partner company, Aspect, points out: What can be done then to engage app-weary people on their communication channel of choice? When rich media is needed, such as displaying images, video, or offering forms for complex data entry, or the data entry needs to happen over a secure channel, say for credit card data entry, companies should consider branching out to a disposable app. The disposable app can either be sent proactively (through the vehicle of a short URL embedded in an SMS or chat message say over Messenger), or requested by the customer through a quick message.
Using Natural Language Understanding and other AI techniques, users can now simply text what theyd like to achieve to the business and the automated system will respond accordingly. For example, need to pay my bill. In this case, a message could be returned with the option to pay the outstanding bill with the card on file, which is something the customer can complete on SMS, or they be sent a link to a disposable app to pay their bill with a different payment method securely.
Through the deployment of a disposable app, an SMS offers a richer and more engaging communication platform than the one-way channel it has generally provided. SMS thus leaps from simple to multifaceted. Added to this, it frees up both the user from downloading yet another app and the users phone from the numerous unused icons, which literally just take up space on a device, adds Dinat.
Creating an interactive text response (ITR) app is one thing, but how do you ensure it is well used? Abhay Prasad, senior product executive at Aspect, offers the following six ways to ensure a costs effective widespread awareness of your ITR apps. In summary, Prasad notes:
1. Have the IVR, spread the word: When they call into to your IVR or are on hold for a live agent, suggest text service as an option.
2. Social media: Introduce your ITR apps on your Facebook page and on Twitter and watch the like count build, and shares and retweets go through the roof. Research shows that repetition is effective and it is easy to do on social media.
3. An option on your Contact Us page: Customers may turn to your Contact Us page on your website for quick reference. Offer the option for ITR on this page. Display the SMS-enabled toll-free number prominently on your website this is a great space to highlight the specific tasks users can accomplish on the ITR app.
4. Use snail mail to speed up awareness: Prominently announce the new ITR channels on any piece of snail mail you send to your customers: monthly utility or credit card bills, healthcare statements, retail invoices, and so on.
5. An e-mail: For the 10 percent of customers who have signed up for receiving invoices and monthly statements electronically, and actually open the e-mails, including the information about the ITR app can be a cheap and effective way of driving awareness.
6. Pilot everything: Before you introduce ITR to the masses, invite a small, logical subset of your customer base to try it out (such as consumers living in a particular set of postal codes for a utility company).
ITR apps are undergoing an exciting evolution. In this world of infinite competitive apps on a mobile platform, the rule remains, adapt or become obsolete. The one certainty is: customer service via text-messaging is here to stay, concludes Dinat.