Throughout the last year, there has been more and more talk of the where SMS might fit into the current contact center climate. Not only are there now quite a few cloud services that offer easy platforms on which to cultivate SMS-driven interactions, but also, these carriers are permitting inbound SMS to any toll-free number. Now that it is possible to utilize SMS more seamlessly, it may be worthwhile to consider its benefits.
• The addition of SMS can function as a way to companion the phone channel and help support its weaknesses. First of all, it can be a step towards a better queuing system. The current procedure queues calls by putting the caller on hold, and as anyone whose neck has ached from trying to hold the phone between the ear and the shoulder while multitasking knows, this is less than ideal. When contact centers were first innovated, this was the only option, but now, it is just a habit.
• What if these long unproductive waits on the phone could be replaced with short messages between the two parties, negotiating wait time, need, and readiness? Note that many restaurants have implemented a similar system so that guests don’t have to linger by the hostess stand while they wait for a table. Rather, they are free to grab a drink or take a walk and are texted when their table is ready.
• Another advantage of integrating SMS is improved navigation and data entry. Phone menus with their pre-recorded messages, such as “Press 1 for hours, press 2 for…” can be a little aggravating if one is in a rush. An SMS messaging system could provide for a more efficient alternative, as it is easier to read six different options than to listen to them. It could also be used to gather information such as ID numbers, name, address, or a brief description of the issue at hand.
• As there are a variety of text-based chat options, what is it that makes SMS the favorite? The answer is it is pervasively used and highly accessible (a consequence of the mass shift towards smart phones), simple, and very reliable. It is also conveniently already connected to the voice channel through the phone number so no extra step is needed to link the two.
• Often, in this conversation, people want to know about where WebRTC fits into all this. Won’t WebRTC definitively free creative development from the restraints kept in place by the telecom industry? Won’t the best resolutions come from the rapid market feedback that follows? As good as this may sound for the worlds of web technology, mobile apps, and many others, we’re not there yet. There are still proprietary claims and coding issues to be worked out. And until it becomes universal, it can’t really be harnessed for the industry of contact centers.
The world may not be ready yet for WebRTC, but it is ready for a further integration of SMS into contact center communication. It will yield greater ease and functionality to both contact center agents and the customers and citizens on the other line. It is a natural extension of how most of us already use our phones. “Talk now?” is one of the most common messages exchanged, and its prudence can be leveraged to adapt contact center interactions for greater levels of success, especially if combined with enterprise workforce optimization solutions.