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Collaboration and the Future of Customer Support

October 4, 2013 | Telepresence Options

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Story and images by David Coleman / CMS Wire

In the past, the role of collaboration technologies was to help customer support reps work with each other on what I call "exception cases." These are the 20% of cases that are not solved by the FAQ, or first line support. Often they are more complex, and there is no current solution in the customer support database. Creating a solution may often involve the support rep working with someone in engineering or product development. It is clear that collaboration has a critical role in this process and is not going away.

But the nature of customer support itself is changing, just like most of the ways we now work are changing rapidly due to the influx of new and often game-changing technologies. The other big challenge in support is people. Many support people are at retirement age, and the ability to capture their knowledge is critical to the organization.

In the past customers expected support technologies likeTeamSupport.com�and�genesys labs,�that supports better knowledge sharing between internal support team members and company experts. While telephone support is not going away any time soon (and it still supports a collaborative interaction) customers are looking for more new and social options: chat, social media, video, and self-service.

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New wave Collaborative Support

A new wave of collaboration technologies and an offshoot of the mobile revolution (wearable devices) may provide some of the solution to this knowledge capture problem and appease the appetite of today's customers for new and more collaborative solutions. There are many mobile applications that already support collaboration of many types:�Collaborate.com�for asynchronous mobile communications, and�Fuze�for real-time communications and videoconferencing.

Pebble,�Samsung and many other vendors have announced watches�that connect with mobile devices or directly to the cloud (if they have WiFi). In Samsung's case their watches will pair with the�Galaxy Smart phones, allowing mobile employees to record video and still have their hands free. This ability to record video or implement a video conference makes it easier to capture this elusive knowledge from the field.

No matter what the technology is and its ability to connect to a variety of people, people are still people and they talk with, interact or collaborate with those they trust or like. People often go to their personal networks for answers. If you don't know someone personally, then you find the identified expert. Although the NSA may have a record of this conversation, the company that is providing the support often doesn't, and so is not capturing valuable knowledge. Steve Rosati does a brilliant discussion of this in his article "The Future of Field Service: Wearable Tech and Social Collaboration Can Take us There."

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