by Iain Sinnott, Enreach for Service Providers
The fact that people increasingly use their mobile phones at work is, on its own, a compelling case for the channel to become more mobile-centric in their offerings, but there are even bigger reasons. For instance, there is the cost to a small business customer of not mobilising their organisations. But conversely, there are substantial potential productivity gains, helping them to make the most of processes and people, even with fewer resources. And, for the channel, mobilising voice is how to de-commoditise voice and stop a rush to the bottom.
To explain what all this means in practice, here are a couple of examples. If an employee’s main device is a mobile, when they go out in the lunchtime sandwich van they can carry on fielding calls. If a query is too complex, they can say “I’ll call you back in five minutes”. w However, if the sandwich queue is long, the employee could use their mobile to bring up the CRM system and check the customer’s order enquiry. Of course, if the small business also has an intelligent UC solution, they can also choose to have calls automatically rerouted to another colleague during lunch and here is a real-world example.
A taxi firm in the Netherlands was able to take on one of its largest competitors and win, using conversational AI to automate the customer booking process. Each customer is sent a WhatsApp message from the same fixed line number they originally called, and then — with just one button click — book the taxi. The solution has helped reduce the operational costs of booking by 50%. For example, a typical taxi order takes one or two minutes when a human operator is involved, costing an estimated two-three Euros.
The fact is that mobilising a business leads to greater productivity and better customer service, with every small gain contributing to the greater whole. And there are other advantages, such as making the most of limited resources and looking after employees better. For instance, mobile-centric unified communications give team members better control of their reachability, but in intelligent ways that ensure incoming customer enquiries are handled fast and efficiently.
Plus, automating the process as much as possible is good news for employees and customers. It makes sense for the technology to answer some basic questions, giving customers an instant response and only using human engagement where it will make the most difference. Looking ahead, expect to see technologies such as conversational AI becoming more prevalent, taking away routine voice-driven tasks that are not the best use of employees’ time.
Separately, analytics will help to monitor not people’s time but instead look for ways to help employees, such as seeing if people are being over-stretched, become tired and hence less productive. And all these abilities can be integrated with multiple business apps, such as CRMs, ERPs, and vertical market systems, which brings us to another point: mobile devices are already perfectly positioned to take advantage of converged contact, with seamless transition across apps, networks and even devices through fixed mobile convergence.
That said, there are environments where traditional telephony devices still make sense, such as factory floors where a shared DECT phone is a low-cost communication method, but for service providers, mobile is clearly a huge opportunity.
However, theory is one thing: successful selling business mobile is another, and it needs to be focused on determining customer use cases and what the tipping points might be. So, the conversation between customers and their partners should not start with technology. Instead, the questions must focus on ‘Where can we improve performance? How can we use technology to release time to focus on more important tasks and not waste human time? How can I serve customers better and faster? And how can I maximise return on investment?
One answer to that last question is to base business mobility on bring-your-own-device, running both personal and business apps, with a clear distinction between each persona. Of course, some organisations will need the control and additional security that mobile device management needs, in which cases equipping employees with company-owned devices may be the best option. Given the vast volume of feature-rich mobiles now available, this can be a more financially feasible option than it used to be.
Of course, legacy and new equipment can continue to co-exist, but remember that a desk phone is based on a location rather than a person, so it will not have the same flexibility as a mobile-first environment or make the most of any investments in UC. And, for the channel, mobilising voice provides a way to add value and stop it from just being a cost-driven commodity. This is why the conversations with customers have to change and be more about addressing their real needs and being outcome-driven, not just selling mobile-enabled products and services.
For many channel firms, this is new territory, which is why Enreach is here to be part of those conversations, drawing on its deep mobile DNA, such as helping Nordic pioneers in ‘mobile first’, its own experience as an MVNO, mobile-focused contact centres, FMC capabilities, and much more.
Now is the time to get the foundations in place and help business customers mobilise their businesses and stay competitive and relevant, particularly in the current economic environment. Plus, the situation is changing fast: while this may seem like early days, expect business mobility to be mainstream very soon.
I will leave you with two questions. If a business had to choose between keeping just one of these — a laptop, a desk phone, or a mobile phone — which one stays? In most cases, I would bet that most people will choose their mobiles, even without all the extra benefits that UC can provide. So, isn’t it time to give selling business mobility the focus it deserves?