How smartphones are revolutionizing customer experience

By utilizing the true power and flexibility of smartphone technology, customer service can be smarter than ever before, creating further opportunities for today's contact centers


Poor customer service is costing US businesses more than $75bn in lost revenue every year, according to Gartner. The reason can be found in Microsoft's 2017 State of Global Customer Service Report in which nearly all respondents (96%) claimed their experience with customer service was important to determining brand loyalty.

Enhancing the experience with customer service involves making changes at both ends of the conversation. For support teams, intelligent customer service platforms provide the customer context and automation required to improve both customer satisfaction and agent effectiveness. For customers, empowering them to leverage their smartphones helps further streamline and enhance their experience.

The opportunity for today's contact centers

Complaints about customer service are all too common and similar in nature. A customer calls and navigates a cumbersome interactive voice response (IVR) system before finally getting to speak with an agent to explain the problem or discuss the issue at hand. Then the customer gets transferred to someone else who is supposed to help and is asked to repeat the explanation, only to be told a different agent is needed instead.

Contrast this experience with one where the customer calls and based on recent purchase history is quickly connected to an agent with expertise in the likely product. After briefly explaining the problem, which has several possible causes, the agent sends a text message asking the customer to reply with a photo. The photo reveals the cause, which enables the agent to explain how the customer can fix the problem. The entire interaction lasts only a few minutes.

Both experiences have consequences. Dissatisfied customers are likely, on average, to tell 16 people about their bad experience, according to GrooveHQ. And research shows it can take 10 or more positive experiences to make up for just a single negative one. On the other hand, the same study found that satisfied customers are likely, on average, to tell nine other people about their positive experience.

The streamlined experience would not be possible without a smartphone and a customer service platform that supports multimodal communications capabilities. With their powerful built-in features, smartphones are essentially supercomputers in the palm of the hand. So it should come as no surprise that more companies are now taking advantage of the revolutionary opportunities made possible by the smartphone, including for customer service.

Smart customer service via the smartphone

The smartphone has changed customer expectations for all forms of communications, including with contact centers. In the previously mentioned report, Microsoft found that more than half (52%) of respondents in the US already had a more favorable view of brands that offer mobile-responsive customer support.

Below, we present some examples of how the smartphone can make for a more streamlined and satisfactory customer service experience:

  • Presenting a list of recent purchases via an in-call text.
  • Offering options for self-service based on a customer's selection.
  • Gathering pertinent details via prompts while waiting for an available agent.
  • Sending an email with troubleshooting tips and links to useful resources.
  • Sharing and annotating photos and screenshots.
  • Scanning barcodes, QR codes and documents.
  • Verifying identities via fingerprints or facial recognition.
  • Processing payments for parts and services.
  • Facilitating shared browsing to enable customers and agents to interact as they talk.

The smartphone's potential to enhance customer experience is so great that some companies are now integrating support capabilities into their existing mobile apps or creating new purpose-built apps for customer service. With 75% of consumers already preferring to use mobile customer care inside an app, according to research conducted by the Pew Research Center, this is destined to become a best practice – and soon.

Revolutionary change awaits

Contact center as-a-service (CCaaS) offerings now make it easier than ever to take advantage of customer service platforms that provide the context, intelligent call routing and robust support for smartphones needed to deliver a more streamlined and satisfactory experience during every customer service interaction.

As CCaaS deployments grow, customers will begin to expect mobile-responsive service and will become increasingly frustrated with companies that fail to provide it. For example, Microsoft's report revealed that 57% of global respondents had a higher expectation for customer service than just a year earlier.

So take the first step to revolutionary change by establishing a dialogue among key stakeholders from across the organization. But be aware that leveraging the power of the smartphone for a better customer experience with the contact center is not a one-size-fits-all opportunity. By having a clear understanding of your own customers' journeys and experiences, you will be able to identify what's working and what needs to be improved.

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