Intrado Resources

Use a Mobile App to Improve Your Customer Care

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Hi everybody, my name is Jill Fischer and I am a Product Manager here at West Interactive. I've been a Product Manager here for about a year, and before that, I've spent 25-plus years in the client services part of the organization. My products, at this point in time, are mobile and are managed IVR. And then a new product that we're developing that helps link channels together.

So today, I'm gonna talk to you a little bit about some experiences I've had related to some of those products, and where I think that there's a lot of opportunities for companies today. So recently...and I've blogged about this before, but I feel like I'm a pretty good mom for the most part. I've got a daughter that's in college right now, second year, and she is so busy. And one of the things that has happened recently is, she received a registered letter from a company, and got notices from the post office that she needed to go pick it up. And of course, her life is too crazy to coincide with post office hours, so she pleaded with me, "Please mom, will you go pick it up for me from the post office?"

So I went to the post office early one morning, and was only the fifth or sixth person in line, so I thought, "Well, this is gonna be pretty straightforward and easy." Except there was only one guy working at the post office at that point, and he was very overloaded, so I stood there, probably 30 minutes. I finally got up to the point where he could help me, and he asked for my driver's license so he could verify that my address was the same as on the registered letter. And then, I had to sign some signature bar for him so that he could give me the registered letter.

And I started thinking about it, related to my job and just the world in general, thinking about, "Gosh, what could have made that a better process?" A better process not only for me, but for the post office itself, who, as everyone knows, is having some trouble with revenue these days. So I started thinking about, "Maybe there's an opportunity here for a mobile app," something that would make me even be a little bit more loyal to the post office, and wanna spend more money there.

So thinking about that, what could we do with a mobile application, from the post office perspective, for this transaction? They wanted my driver's license because they wanted to verify my address. So what if the post office, if I had their app, would send me a push notification, or a notification telling me that I had a registered letter, or someone in my household had a registered letter. And I, instead of delivering this little note on my door every day between 8:00 and 5:00 when I'm never home, they would be sending it to me on my mobile device, and I could look at it at my convenience. And they would tell me what I needed to do, which, everybody knows your driver's license has a scan on the back. If I could use my mobile device to scan that through the camera, so that's one input.

And then, from a signature perspective, do a digital signature. That completes the transaction. Then they could deliver that registered letter the very next day at, you know, at their normal delivery, there's no extra stuff. I didn't have to go to the post office, they didn't have to put notes on my door. So that's, you know, just a pretty good example, I think, of, you know, something pretty simple that, from a business process standpoint, if they stood back and looked at that, a mobile application would certainly fit the bill there.

So if you think about the impact, as I said earlier, the impact to me and the impact to the post office, the post office, again, having revenue issues. Instead of having a transaction like that that's very easily automated, especially on a mobile device, there are lots of other transactions, probably. Think about going to get a passport, where you physically have to go there. They would have to pay someone to conduct that transaction, but if they thought about more the processes, and tried to automate things that could be automated, then they'd have more available resources, and it would be a better use of their staff time for transactions that would require an agent. So, that's how I think companies need to sit back and think about mobile applications. It needs to bring value, not only to the customer, but to the company themselves, or they shouldn't waste their time.

Another recent example of an experience that I had, again as a consumer, where I'm thinking about how some of the things that we're doing here could certainly help companies. I'm taking my girls to Florida for spring break in a few weeks. My husband is a huge baseball fan, gotta love the Cardinals, and we'll hit the beach and do some spring training games. Well, they're 10 and 11, and they're growing like weeds, so I went online here recently to place an order for some shorts and some swimsuits for 'em so we will be ready to hit the beach.

Living in the Midwest, it's not real common to see beach apparel in stores this time of year. So I went online to my very favorite UK-based retail site and ordered a bunch of stuff. UK sizes are different than US sizes, and I wasn't really thinking about that when I was ordering, and I know I ordered a couple of the wrong sizes. So I woke up in the morning, panicked, thinking, "I need to call 'em right away and get this changed so that we've got the right sizes here before the trip."

When I called the UK company, it took the call, took about 12 minutes, which was painful for me. I was driving to work and we had a certain few minutes of time to get this straightened out. I had to go through my whole entire story of how I did the order and they had to verify a whole bunch of information. And by the time we got through all of that, she finally got to the part where I needed to change my order. Very annoying, and I think about that and that experience, and they had no knowledge until I gave 'em a ton of information. They had no knowledge that I'd placed an order just in the last, you know, 12 hours.

And I started thinking about that experience from my standpoint. Wouldn't it have been great if I could have called them on my drive in and they would have recognized who I was, maybe by my phone number, or maybe some little piece of information. And when the agent got my call, they could have said, "Hi Jill Fisher, thanks for calling. Are you calling about the order you just placed, you know, 12 hours ago?" And I could have immediately, you know, asked the question I needed to ask, and change the order, and moved on with my day. But instead, I had to spend 12 minutes answering a whole bunch of questions, and the agent had to spend that time with me as well.

So I think that's another opportunity where I could have been happier, it could have been a little bit more efficient for me to have just had that agent know that I had just placed my order, and have that right there in front of her. So you think about, from the company's perspective, how would that have helped them? Well, it would have been a shorter call, and I know agent calls are pretty expensive these days. And it would have probably made me be even more loyal to them, thinking about that they care about me, they care about my business, and made it a little bit more of a personal experience.

So I think if they sat back and thought about what the benefits would be to them, the company, for having a system like this that would understand that I was a customer, and that I had just placed an order, and, kind of, start from that perspective in the call, think about not only a better experience for their customers, maybe they save some cost from an agent perspective because it's a shorter call. Their agents could be more effective and use their time more for cross-selling or upselling, instead of just some of the mundane task. It certainly would have saved them from shipping costs with having me ship the item right back to them after they just shipped it to me. And I think, just, you know, increasing their customer's loyalty overall.

So I guess in closing, a couple things, you know, come to mind, summarizing these couple of examples that I've shared with you today. First, I think, I don't mean to minimize it, this stuff really isn't necessarily easy for companies. It seems pretty straightforward when you're the customer, thinking, "Well, they should be able to do this. Well, they should be able to do that." I think there are lots of things, though, that need to be contemplated from a company's perspective, and they certainly don't wanna attack everything and try to boil the ocean.

So I think a couple points here. Companies need to think about their overall processes, how customers are really transacting with them, in general. Don't even think about the channels, just think about, just, the transactions in general. Think like a customer, be a customer. And I think foremost here, the mobile channel creates a great opportunity to help streamline, personalize, and really engage their customers. And not just by creating another silo, but very much integrating.

Companies should also think about how all of their channels can tie together. So, how can they streamline, how can they connect the channels, as my earlier example? So, it's hard to know where to start, and I think that's where a company like West can really help. We can not only help create the vision and lay it out from an overall customer experience standpoint, but lay out the roadmap to get there sooner. Again, you're not trying to boil the ocean, not biting off more than you can chew. We're helping companies like this every day, and we're there every step of the way.