Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Smaller Ops Can Now Add Text Messaging to Customer Service

August 18, 2014

Call centers are costly ways to answer routine customer queries about account balances, confirmed payments or scheduled appointments. So it stands to reason that customer-facing organizations would look to social, email, Web and other methods to augment traditional channels.

It also stands to reason that mobile customer care that displaces routine call center interactions also will cost less, and offload substantial amounts of routine call center load. It makes sense that consumers increasingly prefer mobile methods for handling routine inquiries.

And though some organizations are exploring smartphone-based apps as the way to do so, there are advantages for using standard text messaging capabilities all mobile phones can support, while adding interactive capabilities that allow customers to use SMS to check balances, payment due dates, payment verifications, make simple account status updates or verify scheduled appointments.

But, traditionally, sophisticated systems for mobile care have cost more than mid-sized or smaller service providers could afford.

In fact, some mid-sized service providers that model the impact of using an interactive text messaging-based service called GoCare, developed by NuTEQ Solutions, say the savings are “too good,” according to Mike Roddy, NuTEQ Solutions COO.

GoCare is a mobile customer care platform aimed at the mid-market broadband operators, using standard text messaging to allow mobile customers to interact with back office systems to deliver routine customer account status and information.

Account inquiries can be initiated by a mobile device or by the operator’s system.

One important means for supplying a feature once too expensive for small operators has been to create a system no more complicated, on the service provider’s part, than developing a simple XML look-up to their existing billing system, says Roddy. “About 60 percent of calls are billing related,” Roddy notes.

NuTEQ is so convinced of the financial return that it uses a shared revenue model based on payment by the service provider of “a few cents per customer opt in,” without per-month, per-campaign or other fixed charges, Roddy says.

That means service providers do not have to worry about using the system to support additional functions beyond simple account queries, such as installation service surveys immediately after an install. Where a customer complains that something was not done properly, the installing technician can be rerouted back to the site, almost immediately.

GOCare also supports other operational support functions such as providing information on home security systems, such as which sensor has been tripped. Where cameras are part of such systems, GOCare can attach a photo or video to a system-initiated text message to the customer.

Service providers can access a demo ?by texting the word 'DEMO' to 90622. NuTEQ also is developing a “text to chat” app as well.

The billing module deals with customer account information. The operations module allows operators to confirm customer appointments and minimize “no access” truck rolls, reschedule appointments, notify customers of a technician’s status and arrival time, and even reset equipment.

The marketing module allows for timely surveys of customers in a variety of formats, and offer customer specific upgrade promotions quickly and affordably, Roddy says. 

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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