Every hear of mobile call centers? A new breed of mobile-oriented centers committed to great customer experiences for phone users is changing the definition of “service.” But IVR systems and customer agents must understand the unique characteristics and challenges of mobile–from call volume and noise to text messages, email and mobile websites.
By taking a multi-channel approach to all calls–especially mobile–companies can increase customer satisfaction and call center operations.
This morning I called Blue Shield of California’s call center on my mobile phone. I meandered through the usual menu layers (you know, press one if you’re healthy enough to apply, two if you have a heart condition,etc.). Surprisingly, the first choice was “press one if you’re a health provider or you don’t know,” a rather dumb question for two reasons. First, providers have their own toll-free number. Second, it’s a turn-off question for customers and prospects.
When I finally reached an agent, the volume of her voice was so low, I had to ask her to turn up the juice while I jacked my mobile’s volume to the maximum.
After we finished, I participated in a Blue Shield survey, a four-point rating (one being super happy, four very unhappy), but BS didn’t ask a single question about my interaction with its call center IVR system. Every question focused on the agent and, last of all, would I recommend Blue Shield to others–not a well done survey if callers didn’t have great customer experiences.
Mobile Call Centers and IVR Improvements
As financial institutions and major retailers have discovered, we live in an age of mobile where superb customer experiences are critical. Banks, in particular, have added texting alert services; some, a mobile website for checking balances, transferring money and getting branch phone and address information.
Here’s how I think my Blue Shield call should have gone:
- IVR script. “Brian, thanks for calling Blue Shield of California. I recognize your phone number. Say yes if you’re Brian, otherwise, say no.” (I say “yes.”) “Great, are you calling on a mobile phone? (I say “yes.”) “Got it, can you hear me o.k.? (I say “yes.”) “Good, then let’s continue. To make sure you have a great experience on this call, feel free to say “go back” at anytime. First, tell me your social security number or Blue Shield card number .” (I give my SS number.) “Thanks…I know you’re busy and need to move on. Tell me why you’re calling today. You can say things like account information, billing, policy coverage and more. (I say “billing.”) “O.K., billing…if you’re calling about whether a bill was paid, say ‘bill payment.” Or, if you want to speak with a customer service rep, say ‘rep.’” (I say “rep.). “Thanks, let me quickly transfer you…”
Notice that the IVR (interactive voice response) system is using voice recognition technology, making it easier for callers to complete the call more quickly. Sometimes it take s a few extra seconds to launch the virtual keypad.
In the past, your trusty flip phone generated louder DTMF tones when you pressed keys. Now, smartphone users may need to press several buttons to get the keypad ready on the phone, increasing the chance that call center IVR’s may time out before mobile users have responded.
I’ll let Blue Shield’s call managers re-write their agents’ scripts. Management also needs to create a BS mobile website that’s readable on most handsets and a mobile app like banks.
Integrated Smartphone Applications
SpeechCycle’s smartphone platform (view the video) offers an integrated solution for improved customer experiences. A simple menu allows mobile users to interact with companies in what Michael Becker calls “multi-modal” channels.
Viewing a simple menu, iPhone, BlackBerry and Android smartphone owners select menu items by voice or touch. Most information requests and other transactions are handled on the mobile Web through secure connections to company servers. Customers who need to speak with live agents can request a live person.
By merging the power of multi-channel phones with call center technology, companies can create better customer experiences and streamline their operations.