The popularity of smartphone devices is rapidly changing the way consumers do business. With applications now capable of performing increasingly complex operations, the smartphone is swiftly replacing the traditional laptop as a consumer's go-to business tool. With these growing numbers, local contact centres are being forced to consider mobile options in order to achieve customer satisfaction
Sixty-two percent of mobile phones in South Africa today are smartphones and, despite the increasing reliance on these devices, many of the country's top service providers have not yet been able to provide their customers with truly compelling mobile service solutions.
Whilst mobile has long been a buzzword in the customer service industry, the development of custom apps presents a number of challenges, says Deon Scheepers, business development at Interactive Intelligence Africa.
"Application development is not an easy process, therefore companies are cautious to roll out mobile strategies," explains Scheepers. "Not only is the development of the initial application often expensive, but it requires constant upgrading in order to maintain user engagement and keep up with different and evolving operating systems. Over and above this, mobile applications need to link seamlessly to the existing contact centre environment and facilitate ease of access to customer service representatives, a process which can be very complex." Traditional contact centres lack immediacy
Whilst some companies, particularly banking institutions, have been relatively quick to bring out customised applications in order to provide improved service to their customers, the vast majority of customer facing operations continue to limit their offering to a traditional contact centre, curbing their ability to deliver impeccable service to an ever-growing audience of mobile users.
"The key to remaining current in today's competitive environment is the ability to cater to customers' growing demand for immediacy. Companies that neglect the impact of mobile on customer service are likely to lose market share as competitors begin to present more attractive and accessible options to their users."New product 'talks' to smartphones
The launch of the company's new Interaction Mobilizer product looks set to change South Africa's customer service landscape, enabling companies to deploy mobile applications rapidly without the associated expense and hassle.
The product has been designed to help enterprises overcome the challenges typically presented by a foray into the mobile environment, enabling rapid deployment of consistent, branded apps for a variety of mobile devices including Apple iPhone, Apple iPad, Google Android-based devices, and Microsoft Windows Phone devices, whilst at the same time automatically keeping them up to date, mitigating the need for republishing.
"We're very excited about this new product, as it changes the playing field, as far as customer service in South Africa is concerned. Organisations can now easily establish a mobile presence, without having to deal with ballooning costs and complex development procedures. This software gives organisations a single development and deployment infrastructure for both mobile and traditional forms of customer service and facilitates a seamless link between the mobile customer and the contact centre."Social media integration
Additionally, it allows corporates to integrate social media effectively into their customer service offering, even enabling authentication via Facebook.
"With the prevalence of social media in South Africa, consumers now expect to be able to use their Facebook page as a form of virtual identification, thus foregoing time consuming sign-up procedures. This product has been designed with the consumer in mind and provides companies with the tools to connect with their user bases in ways that are more likely to ensure customer retention in years to come."
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