Most people have had the experience of waiting at home all day (or for the oh-so-specific "between 12 and 6") to have repairs made to their cable or telephone service -- sacrificing an entire workday, only to find out at the last moment that the technician can't make the appointment. Though no software can make a technician miraculously appear as promised, ClickSoftware, a Burlington, Mass.–based mobile workforce solution company, has introduced ClickContact, an optimization offering designed to at least maintain an open line of communication between the service provider and customer -- using the latter's channel of choice.
"Organizations would love to give the best service in the world," explains ClickSoftware Chief Executive Officer Moshe BenBassat. "They'd love to send a technician out in five minutes and fix the problem right away, but companies can't afford the [workforce] necessary to do that. There's a constant conflict between the desire of the provider to deliver that high-quality satisfaction and the obligation to shareholders to minimize the cost of delivering the service."
With ClickContact, which can be deployed as either an on-premises or hosted solution, service organizations can offer customers the option to book appointments using the Internet -- particularly useful if the service disruption has occurred outside of standard hours. (According to BenBassat, ClickContact can easily integrate into a service provider's existing Web site or legacy CRM system.)
Customers can then request to be notified of technician updates in their channel of choice -- email, text message, or voicemail. Instead of calling to cancel an appointment, customers can also use the Web self-service functionality to reschedule without being subject to hold times.
William Pollock, vice president, principal analyst, and group leader for Boston-based consulting firm Aberdeen Group's strategic service management practice, also believes that this is a natural and necessary progression for ClickSoftware. "Companies should be doing new and innovative things, but they can't do [the latter] without addressing the basics," he says. "In this marketplace, that includes ease of use, accessibility, real-time availability of data, and ease of integration. ClickSoftware has done this.… It makes great sense."
Pollock also praises the new release for providing a complete loop capable of delivering a seamless customer experience. The fact that it empowers customers to interact on their preferred communication channel is key, he adds. "There are many applications out on the market that focus on addressing email communications, but if your company's focus is on voice...it's not for you," he says. "The key word here is flexibility. You don't have to change the way you conduct business to use this offering."
BenBassat says that providing this flexibility now is a response to the increased use of email, mobile phones, and Web self-service. The functionality, he says, is one that ClickSoftware has offered for some time, but one that hadn't been pulled together into a cohesive suite until now. "The demand was not as strong 10 years ago and the mobile Web technology wasn't as mature. The percentage of the population comfortable using these channels has increased…. Everyone's connected now," he says. "The differentiator for us is that it's a one-stop solution, already integrated out-of-the-box," he says, adding that the unified software is better able to collect customer communications.
Besides ease of use, Pollock is quick to stress the tangible return on investment possibilities with ClickContact. Citing Aberdeen research conducted in 2008, Pollock put the average cost of a truck roll -- sending a technician out to a field-service assignment -- at $262, up from $209 in 2006. "ClickContact reduces the number of no-shows, and that will continue to reduce the number of on-site calls technicians have to make," he says. "That is a very compelling message to send, particularly in tough economic times. It's good to see that an organization like ClickSoftware has its finger on the pulse of the marketplace and understands what [that marketplace] needs right now."
EDITOR'S NOTE: Earlier versions of this article included several inaccurate references to the name of the newly released ClickSoftware product. The editors regret any confusion this may have caused.
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