Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Do your customer service initiatives “have an app for that?"

We are all familiar with the idea that there is an app for nearly everything – managing finances, flight check-in, even altering your voice to sound like a famous recording artist. When we talk about Enterprise Applications, they should be complementary, collaborative, and really work in concert to fulfill business needs, without increasing the burden on resources.

Today, there are multiple solutions for Web self-service, Customer Relationship Management, and enhancing the end-user experience. But how many of these actually work as a plug-in to your existing channels? When a company is tasked with searching for a vendor to provide Customer Relationship Management tools, which piece is he actually looking for? How many separate systems have to be implemented and managed to achieve the overarching goal of creating a better end-user experience?

In recent news, one of noHold's customers migrated their entire knowledgebase (provided by RightNow Technologies) into a Virtual Agent. Who knew a Virtual Agent could actually fulfill the role of a Content Management System (CMS)? Before the migration, noHold’s Virtual Agent was plugged-in to the CMS using a connector that leveraged APIs. However, with the recent migration noHold provides more than just the "librarian," it provides the intelligent "library."

In the past, the expectation of a Virtual Agent was that of a standalone portal that was yet another piece of the support landscape that had to be built, maintained, etc. Today, a Virtual Agent can be plugged-in to multiple sales and service channels. For example: Using a Salesforce.com CRM? No problem we have an "app" for that. Not sure how to integrate a live chat escalation path? We gotcha covered...there's an app for that one.

But the buck doesn’t stop there… Need to connect your CMS or looking for a new CMS vendor? We got that too. What about connecting your social media channel? We have a social media package for that. And you say you need a native mobile app that works on your smartphone? Talk to the VP of Engineering. It's in the works as we speak. Need to increase online revenue? Yup, we have an app for that too. And did you say you have hundreds of user manuals that are in the form of a word doc or PDF that need to be imported? We have an app for that.

When searching for another piece to add to your customer service initiatives, the maxim should be to invest in solutions that can work with multiple channels. Don't get me wrong, a smiling cartoon with a cute name is great to have, but make sure it's backed by the technology and the "apps" to achieve the overall Customer Experience goal.