The explosive growth of mobile offers the greatest opportunity for contact centers. If the consensus among those at ICMI’s Contact Center Expo and Conference is any sign, mobile is the place to focus.

But while there’s consensus about mobile, there isn’t consensus on a standard definition of mobile customer care. Many consider mobile to be just another device to support or another channel into the contact center. However, participants and speakers at ICMI did not have a standard definition of mobile customer care. Many consider mobile to be just another device to support or another channel into the contact center.

I talked to Nemertes Research Analyst Lisa Durant to get her perspective. She agrees there is a dramatic evolution in the industry as mobile interaction continues its explosive growth as a contact method. Durant takes a broader view of mobile customer care to include “any interaction using a mobile device.” Whether a customer makes a voice call to a contact center, completes a transaction online, or engages via social media, she points out that the user is most likely on a mobile device.

As a silver sponsor at ICMI, the Cisco team experienced that strong interest in mobile. Attendees kept the booth staff busy demonstrating Remote Expert Mobile. Armed with iPads and Cisco DX80 endpoints, Cisco engineers Brian Cole and Doug King demonstrated products in the Cisco Customer Collaboration portfolio, including Cisco Unified Contact Center Enterprise, Cisco Unified Contact Center Express, Remote Expert Mobile, and Context Service.

The Evolving Mobile Customer Experience

Despite continued growth in mobile, attendees pointed out that most mobile apps offer only rudimentary contact-center services, such as connecting via a phone call. But they agreed that rapid consumer adoption will soon disrupt the contact center as we know it. This new contact center will shift control of the service experience. Those businesses that can act more quickly will have an advantage over those that lag behind.

While mobile is undoubtedly the contact preference, users want outcomes. They want results. Simple transitions between channels is a crucial competitive differentiator in the age of the consumer. “Channel surfing” defines the omnichannel experience.

Cisco Context Service  addresses that problem. Cole’s demo provided a great example of how technology can deliver meaningful customer outcomes. A customer can initiate engagement on the web, then transition to mobile and other channels without having to repeat information to agents.

Improving the Agent’s Perspective

The conference brought together more than 1500 people who work on the front lines of customer engagement. These are the brand ambassadors of their companies. These are people who use contact center technology every day. It was great to get their perspective, which differs significantly from what we hear from IT and telecom groups.

“It is unacceptable that most contact center agents do not have adequate technology,” says Justin Robbins, senior analyst for ICMI. “They perform in a complex work environment, navigate through multiple systems and applications, and they’re over-stressed.”

I also spoke with Jeff Toister, author of Service Failure: The Real Reasons Employees Struggle with Customer Service and What You Can Do About It. Toister believes that multitasking leads to poor customer service and adds to employee attrition. “When you are on a call, looking up multiple applications, chatting with an expert or supervisor, it’s difficult to pay attention to the customer,” he explains.

Cisco designed Cisco Finesse Finesse Desktop to address the problem both described. Finesse features a user-centric desktop designed to improve agent and supervisor satisfaction. The single, customizable “cockpit,” or interface, simplifies access to multiple assets and information sources without forcing agents to toggle through applications. Visitors to the booth were impressed.

It was my first ICMI experience. I was there to get a better understanding of the people who own the business of contact centers. (And, of course, to see one of my favorite customers!)

I look forward to keeping in touch with many of the professionals I had the opportunity to meet. Kudos to ICMI for organizing a great event. I’ll be back.


Ibrahim Malick

No Longer with Cisco