Video, screen-sharing, and text and voice translation will be game-changers
Tech support can be a trying experience for customers. Not due to the agents—in fact the agents are generally superb—but because legacy systems simply do not provide what today’s users want. Yet the technology is there, waiting in the wings, ready to create an outstanding support experience at less cost for more customers, and in more languages.
The Drawbacks of Dial-in
With today’s phone-based tech support, callers are greeted by an IVR prompt asking them to summarize the issue in as few words as possible, which hopefully will be understood by the recognition technology. If a caller’s words do not find a match, a flood of other voice prompts ensues, leading to more e-waiting time, before e-standing in line for service.
When an agent comes on the line, new confusion begins. First, agents and customers use entirely different vocabularies. The agent uses the technically correct term (usually), then is left trying to translate a wide variety of descriptives for which no equivalents exist in any technical dictionary. For his part, the customer spends the next 20 to 40 minutes trying to find places on a web page that correspond to the agent’s prodding. Tech support experiences can easily be 60 percent longer than necessary thanks to the vocabulary guessing game and the inability of agents to see callers’ screens.
Importantly, the entire tech support session is only viable if the agent speaks the caller’s language. Ninety percent of the world’s population does not speak English, and the vast majority of agents are English-as-second-language speakers. So who is serving that 90 percent?
Until recently, the only alternative to expensive dial-in caller support has been the little chat boxes where customers can also e-wait endlessly while agents serves other customers and try to find answers and supervisors. The chat box involves the same word-guessing and miscommunication on both sides of the conversation, with no relief in sight. Unlike the phone approach, chat boxes have no ability to make a great impression. An agent at least brings personality.
Introducing Multimedia Tech Support
Finally, new WebRTC approaches are emerging that create real experiences for customers, not a silent e-waiting room. Multimedia tech support is an expanded version of chat that adds video and text and voice translation. It gives tech support an opportunity to upsell, answer FAQs, and entertain customers while agents handle multiple clients at once. Importantly, the software enables one agent to serve customers in dozens of languages using the latest voice translation software.
While customers wait for agents to become available, images and movies help them self-diagnose their issues, or the system can play personalized music selections, product promo videos, or Hollywood movie trailers—whatever floats their boat. Moreover, with new recall technology, visitors’ preferences are remembered, and targeted images/videos appear the next time they arrive, while facial analysis software saves a report of visitors’ reactions.
Customers can tap on any type of clickable to speak to an agent, including websites, emails, SMS, PDFs, blogs, press releases, Facebook, even Google search results. If the call center chooses, visitors can view live agents on camera. Agents are able to share images with customers so that they know which web page agents are talking about. A quick click of a browser extension install permits the customer to share the screen with the agent, if desired. The agent can also share a video with the customer that explains the next steps while she moves on to the next support customer—a new capability that can be a big time and money saver.
Support software can be preset to encourage direct conversations between agent and visitor (“To talk, click here”). If a customer doesn’t speak an agent’s language, the customer can type or speak in his native tongue, translated for the agent through a combo of speech recognition, text translation, and text-to-speech. In reply, the agent speaks in her language (scripted or unscripted), translated for the customer.
This new multimedia approach provides vital encouragement for customers to switch from analog to digital, replacing telephone dialing with click-to-chat and click-to-talk from any digital source. It moves the agent from phone to multimedia chat at the same time that it multiplies the number of customers served by that agent, in any language.
Sue Reager is CEO of @International Services, a company specializing in translation and localization for technology and marketing, and president of Translate Your World, developers of software for across-language speech communication. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.