How Amazon and Salesforce.com Are Shaping Mobile Customer Support
The growing prominence of the mobile video chat channel was also a major driver behind Freshdesk's acquisition of 1Click.io in mid-August. 1Click.io offers a live video chat and co-browsing platform that will deepen Freshdesk's real-time chat support capabilities.
"We developed Freshdesk to make it easy for brands to interact seamlessly with their customers across any channel," said Girish Mathrubootham, Freshdesk CEO, in a statement. "Social, mobile, and chat have become important channels. The acquisition of 1Click strengthens our video, chat, and co-browsing capabilities and shows our commitment to evolving our products to meet the needs of our customers."
Verint Systems and Vidyo, a provider of cloud-based visual communication technology, in late August also announced a partnership to bring live video to contact centers. The combined offerings allow businesses to integrate video calls using the VidyoWorks platform with Verint’s engagement management and voice recording solutions. Together with the VidyoWorks platform, Verint Engagement Management will enable video interactions between customers and service employees.
"The emergence of video capabilities in the contact center translates into new and exciting ways to engage customers," said Nancy Treaster, senior vice president and general manager of strategic operations at Verint Enterprise Intelligence Solutions, in a statement. She added that the collaboration with Vidyo brings customers "secure, reliable solutions designed to enhance service delivery, create new up- and cross-sell opportunities, and increase agent and operational productivity."
NICE Systems in May announced a similar Vidyo integration, bringing together its NICE Engage Platform, a recording and analytics solution, with the VidyoWorks platform.
AN INEVITABLE SHIFT
Forrester Research analysts Art Schoeller and Philipp Karcher, in a report from April 2014, noted that some companies had toyed with video chat as early as the mid-1990s, often with mixed results. They further noted that the technology made a bit of a resurgence a few years ago, thanks to wider Internet availability, cheap and ubiquitous cameras, adaptive codecs, and standards such as WebRTC. Many of the early vendors came from the unified communications and collaboration, Web chat, and platform-as-a-service arenas.
Where Mayday and Salesforce SOS and similar apps set themselves apart, though, is in providing companies a way to annotate customers' screens, says Ian Jacobs, a senior analyst at Forrester.
"In a normal co-browse scenario, the agent needs to ask the customer if he would like to co-browse, then send some link or invitation, and then wait for the customer to click on the link and accept the co-browse. This process can sometimes take a couple of minutes, which, for a customer service interaction, can seem like a very long time," he explains. "What SOS and its ilk do is create that annotation session concurrently with the video session, with no lag time at all. This approach provides a great experience for customers because it is fast, and agents can actually show customers what they need to do to resolve their problems."
KEEP IT IN THE APP
Also lending to their appeal, these sorts of apps keep the support capability within the app while treating customers to an exclusivity and intimacy that isn’t available on other channels.
"To get customer service, customers don't want to break the frame of their experience, whatever that experience is. Gamers don't want to leave their games to find an FAQ. Banking customers don't want to leave the bank just to call into a contact center. And customers don't want to leave the mobile app they are using to get customer service," Jacobs says.
Patterson agrees, noting that winning companies are putting service at the heart of their apps. "When service is embedded into apps, they're stickier. Customers never have to leave that in-app experience to find an answer or get help," she says.
Unfortunately, though, that's what happens with most other mobile apps today, according to Jacobs. "If you click a Contact Us button in the app, odds are that the app will open the dialer app and call the company's contact center. That is doubly frustrating for customers. They are no longer in the app, and none of the context from the app, including authentication, what they were doing in the app, etc., gets passed to the agent. It's just a clunky experience all around," he says.
Part of the reason for this, he says, is that at many companies, mobile apps "come out of marketing or e-business teams." Additionally, "very few companies build native apps for customers just to provide customer service," Jacobs adds.
Live video chat is different, though. It is uniquely personal, and uniquely service-oriented, with capabilities that cannot be had on any other channel.
"It's becoming a must-have rather than a nice-to-have," Skaff says.
"Chat with an agent is much faster and much more productive than a phone call," he adds. "The agent can push content directly to you, which cannot be done over the phone."