Mobility Will Shape the Contact Center of the Future

Ken Landoline
Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • Technological developments are making customer service for mobile customers simple, convenient and very effective across many vertical markets and for a select group of special, high-net-value clients.
  • Thanks to a cloud-based infrastructure, delivery systems and sophisticated contact center applications these mobile systems and customer service applications are coming from new and very agile sources and spreading quickly.

In previous blogs I speculated about how mobility was affecting the contact center in terms of the end user customer, the agent and the contact center supervisor. Admittedly, I was simply projecting out a few years and commenting on how current technology was changing basic factors such as where the agent worked, the channel from which the customer entered customer support, and how the supervisor could monitor his/her center. Recent conversations with contact center application developers and people who manage centers have caused me to extend my vision further into the future.

A recent visit to a developer’s conference sponsored by a company named Twilio, where I had discussions with developers using Twilio cloud applications to design customer care solutions and viewed demonstrations and application prototypes under development, allowed me to begin solidifying my vision of the contact center of the future.  In that new environment I see a major portion of inbound contacts for customer support originating from a mobile devices such as a smartphone or tablet. The interaction would include a voice connection, (IVR) response when needed, collaboration via browser-based document sharing and, of course, video (live and recorded) where and when appropriate.

This view of the future was demonstrated very effectively by a Cisco application demonstration referred to as the “Mobile Advisor” demonstrating how the fictitious “Bank of Now” customer care might work. The demo depicted a high-net-worth bank client contacting his personal banker using a tablet as the endpoint. The call was directly dialed to the banking advisor. The customer and banker were connected via a video call and the advisor, sitting in his office, was able to answer questions, offer opinions and share information-filled screen shots with his client in a matter of seconds. Of course, if a discussion was not needed, the customer could go directly to information made available to him from the bank’s data sources.

This got me thinking about how different contact centers may be in the future. First of all, would the traditional agent be required at all, or would subject matter experts be the first point of contact for the customer (especially for the high value, “platinum” customers)? Secondly, given this potential for bypass of the traditional agent, would there be a need for a room of co-located agents sitting together that we now refer to as a contact center? Why aren’t customers automatically sent to the subject matter expert or personal contact based on the enterprise’s knowledge of who is calling and why? Only if the request cannot be handled in an automated fashion will it be switched to a live person and we can expect that automated responses will make up a larger portion of contacts in the future.

It may be a stretch, at least right now, to say that the traditional physical contact center and agent will go the way of the landline phone. However, I believe technological developments occurring today in the areas of mobility, video, big data management and browsers using WebRTC are leading us in that direction. What do you think?



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