If you’ve been walking through towns and cities in the UK in the last month you will have seen people glued to their phones – well – even more than they usually are. If they’re stopping and starting and frowning in concentration, they’re probably playing Pokémon Go. It’s breaking all kinds of download records as the hottest new app that offers players a real-world adventure using augmented reality (AR). So what’s the lure? In just a few weeks it has proven to provide a game that brings the virtual into the real world in a masterclass of customer engagement.
So what can we learn from it as an organisation that wants to bridge virtual and real world customer engagement? From a customer experience perspective, the global popularity of Pokemon Go is driving a conversation of how we game, use mobile devices, gain loyalty, and engage.
The value of virtual channels
Customers today have evolved. They also want their customer interactions to be personalised. And, they want to choose when and how they interact—through virtual interactions using mobile applications, web chat, self-service, social media, or chat bot—or by choosing to engage in the real world through a live agent.
Due to the digital revolution, virtual channels have already gained acceptance. For example, Forrester reports that 70 per cent of customers prefer sourcing information from a company website rather than using phone or email. I’m not surprised. We’re also seeing this penchant for virtual customer engagements first-hand amid an increasing preference for self-service applications.
Virtual channels are not just self-service. In situations where customers connect with an agent through a live web chat prompt, you can introduce artificial intelligence (AI) into the customer engagement model. Chat bots, for example, can skillfully and cost-effectively handle much of the workload, and with greater speed and accuracy, prepare automatically for the eventual interaction with a human agent.
The intelligent balancing of virtual (digital and bot) with human (self-service, or agent-assisted) engagements will ultimately depend on your organisation’s customer experience platform—but it’s a balancing act that customers are expecting.
We still need human interactions
Although Pokémon is a single player game today and interactions with other players are limited to battles (have no fear—Pokémon trades are eventually coming), social media interactions and sharing occurs when friends hunt together or assist one another in tracking down a certain Pokémon. Even with all the players glued to their smartphones, there’s still a cause for human interactions.
In our real contact centre world, when customers opt to speak with a live agent to gain that human interaction, they expect that agent to know who they are and be empowered to resolve their issues on the spot. Relationship-based, data-driven routing provides a higher success rate in quickly resolving issues. Having the ability to route calls along with histories and context to the right agent doesn’t only assist the caller effectively, but also provides a level of personalised customer engagement that translates into improved customer satisfaction.
Nothing will ever replace a human voice and interaction, certainly not in the near time—no matter how many Pokémon points it gets you in the game.
Bridging the customer engagement Journey
The value of virtual or digital channels will only grow in importance as apps, like Pokémon Go, highlight customers’ growing preference for crossing between virtual channels and human agents. The key to delivering an optimal customer journey is building the bridge that efficiently moves your customers between these two worlds—in one continuous, seamless journey where the conversation is contextualised and can take place across all voice and digital channels.
We find that companies that have truly embraced next-generation omnichannel connected customer journeys are looking to bridge their customer engagement from digital to live agents. Omnichannel engagement is intended, in gamers-speak, to level-up the customer journey. Omnichannel customer journeys seamlessly combine and support multiple channels within a single interaction. And, you can design the overall journey and orchestrate workflow for a personalised, contextual experience.
We believe Pokémon Go has succeeded in showing us that people are more than ready for a virtual and real-life mix. It will be interesting to watch in the coming weeks and months how the Pokémon Go trend evolves and continues to bridge the two worlds of virtual and reality to deliver the very best connected customer experiences.