Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Mobile UC Benefits From "Interactive Virtual Queuing" For Efficient Customer Care

September 02, 2014

Customer services are increasingly benefiting from Mobile UC, especially as it drills down into contact center automated processes, like queue management.

A recent study commissioned by Nuance of 1,000 American consumers, confirmed the changing needs and concerns for customer service brought about by smartphones and online self-service applications for information and simple business transactions (“mobile apps”). Eighty-two percent of consumers only contact customer service when they can’t resolve their needs online by themselves.

The study also showed that the leading complaints of customers who did need live assistance, include waiting on hold for a voice conversation (49 percent) and getting transferred multiple times (37 percent) to different customer-facing staff. The bottom line here is that customers don’t want to waste their time unnecessarily, just because access to people is not instantly available. Mobile consumers are now more readily accessible for a callback or a notification message any time, anywhere, while still retaining their place in queue. That’s where Mobile UC is needed.

“Click-for-Assistance” Replacing Legacy Phone Calls

As noted above, the starting point for customer service calls is rapidly becoming an online interaction with a self-service process (“mobile app”) that offers flexible options to the customer when they need help (“click-for-assistance”). The mode of assistance is no longer limited to just a voice conversation, but can also include text messages, text chat, and video, as Amazon’s “Mayday Button” provides, and WebRTC will enable. The issue for any real-time mobile customer contact is how available and flexible the live assistance resources are.

For mobile consumers with smartphones, an adequate response to an assistance request will vary according to the customer’s situation. With more “contextual” information about the customer’s needs derived from their current self-service activity, they don’t just want a “body” to talk to immediately, but will be willing to wait a bit for someone who is particularly skilled in their problem needs and can interact with them with more than just a voice conversation. That means waiting until the right type of person is available to interact with them on their problem. However, what really is no longer necessary is to waste the customer’s valuable time unnecessarily just to wait in queue for such live assistance. This is where “virtual queuing” technology, combined with the flexibility of mobile messaging notifications, can make the customer’s effort and time more efficient and satisfying.

In addition to minimizing the customer’s wait time to get the right kind of live assistance, it is also important to keep the customer up-to-date on the status of their wait time. Again, mobile customers can benefit from being able to receive and respond to status and notification messages in order to insure timely closure on the issue at hand. We might want to call this capability “Interactive Virtual Queuing,” an example of CEBP (Communications Enabled Business Processing), because the queuing process is communicating dynamically in the customer’s choice of modes (UC) with the waiting customer.)

Interactive “Virtual Queuing” Brings Flexibility And Control

Inasmuch as business communication technologies are still transitioning from legacy, location-based telephony just between people, to new, mobile, multimodal interactions between people and self-service online apps, there is a need to accommodate both old and new forms of accessing live assistance. The key to customer satisfaction is not necessarily just to reduce the actual wait time on an expensive call connection, but also to let the customer do other things before it is time to interact with a live person. This approach to customer service call management is commonly known as “virtual queuing” with callbacks.

One provider of new virtual queuing technology for all forms of customer interactions is QLess. They not only handle customers making phone calls for live assistance, but also support customers with other forms of queuing, like waiting in a ticket line or in a doctor’s office. If you think about it, waiting in any kind of queue means not knowing exactly how long it will take to reach the head of the line and therefore being restricted in various ways from other activities by being stuck in a “queue.” So, by simply interacting with an intelligent queue management process, a mobile customer can be notified when their turn comes up, rather than waste their valuable time waiting “on hold,” standing in a physical line, or confined to a particular location for their turn.

Virtual queuing helps bridge the gap between scheduling an initial physical appointment for service, then minimizing any wasted time by the customer before the actual interaction with a person. However, because more and more customer self-services services are provided “virtually” online, e.g., healthcare, financial, education, shopping, etc., there will also be an increase in online interactions with live assistance, rather than just physical, location-based appointments.

The fact that two-way communications are required for a customer and the queue management process to interact with each other brings in the need for UC flexibility. With multimodal smartphones, the customer can receive notifications in voice or text and can respond with voice or visual inputs.

QLess offers the following flexible facilities for customer service scheduling and queuing:

  • Works with any phone --not just smartphones
    • Is multimodal, allowing customers to join a QLess virtual, mobile waiting line, not just by calling in, but also by texting or simply clicking on a QLess widget on a website, putting customers into the right queue in a context-dependent way.
    • Is interactive, allowing customers to dynamically change when they want a callback (if they need more time, or want to select the day and time to be first in line for a callback). This also means less calls abandoned because of customers getting called back at a bad time.
    • Is a web-based service, meaning no hardware needed, no software installs, never grows obsolete, available anywhere to support customer service staff, including home agents.
    • Provides on demand status updates, letting users verify their place in the virtual line at any time via web, SMS or a voice call.

“Interactive Virtual Queuing” is a good example of flexible, person-process and person-person in what I have been calling “Unified Interactions,” which lie in the domain of CEBP.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi