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Are You Ready for the Wearable Contact Center?
Wearable Tech World Feature Article
January 06, 2015
Are You Ready for the Wearable Contact Center?

In case the excitement over the Apple (News - Alert) Watch has left any lingering doubt, a recent GlobalWebIndex study has confirmed that the era of wearable technology is here to stay. 

They discovered that no less than 71 percent of 16-to-24-year-olds crave “wearable tech,” which the report defines as a smart watch, smart wristband, or Google (News - Alert) Glass. That’s a lot of young people — which, in business terms, means potential lifelong customers — hankering for gadgets to attach to themselves. Not too long ago, kids had to make the effort to reach into their pockets if they wanted to use a computer. 

But those smartphone days were simpler times.

By 2018, it’s estimated that the wearable device market will be worth some $12.6 billion US dollars, according to stats by Statista, and Forrester predicts that the total number of people around the globe using wearable devices will more than triple in the next 12 months. For those of us who work in the field of customer experience management, I think it’s time to buckle our seatbelts. Wearables may soon alter the CX landscape in some significant ways.

An Augmented Reality of Customer Journeys

One of the key benefits of wearable technologies, especially things like Google Glass, is that they can function as an immersive extension of the Web or mobile brand experience. By potentially adding augmented reality (AR) to the Web and mobile channels — providing, for instance, 3D, life-size, “touchable” examples of clothing in one’s field of vision — wearables offer a great way to help customers truly experience what a product has to offer, how it works, or how it can be fixed or assembled (hello, IKEA), while delivering a unique fun factor to the customer journey. The potential uses of AR for both improved customer experiences and customer service are numerous indeed, but we can rest assured that AR-enabled wearables will continue to increase customers’ expectations for a personalized, proactive, and interactive customer experience.

Better Service for Contact Center Managers

The Human Cloud at Work (HCAW), a study from RackSpace, shows that employees with wearable devices increased their productivity by 8.5 percent and their job satisfaction by 3.5 percent. There is much to suggest that these numbers would apply to customer service workforces in the same way.

Among other things, wearables will undoubtedly enable call-center managers to be more continuously connected to key performance metrics, so that they can dynamically adjust staffing levels to correspond with fluctuating customer contact volumes. The same applies to retail sales associates in brick-and-mortar storefronts. It’s counterintuitive, but all of this extra tech might just help to humanize things. Already, Amazon’s Mayday service allows customers to see the customer service agent they’re speaking to, right on the display of their Kindle Fire HDX.  It’s easy to see how wearables will keep improving both contact manager and a customer service agents’ resourcefulness, granting them more efficient ways of engaging with customers, and may even help them personally by digitally monitoring their levels of stress and fatigue.

Using Cognitive Systems for Great Customer Service

Miniaturization and convenience are considered to be the hallmarks of wearables.  But in his article “Why Wearable Computing Is Waiting for A.I.,” Mike Elgan of Computerworld writes, “These qualities are irrelevant in the face of the real revolution. Wearable computers will find out what you want to know, then make you know it.”

Indeed, wearable devices offer not only convenience but also all of the information-processing power that comes with computers’ increasingly advanced artificial intelligence (AI).  Wearables are therefore bound to become the natural access interface between computerized cognitive systems and human service representatives, offering front-line employees instant access to a vast big-data reservoir of knowledge that enables them to serve customers efficiently and with genuine smiles.

In short, customer service contact centers should prepare to be disrupted, mostly for the better, by the incoming avalanche of wearable tech. We used to say, with the rise of digital customer service, “Your customer is just one click away,” but that one click may soon become “one second” or faster, as the combination of wearables and predictive analytics translates into ever-more anticipatory customer service. And if the tech-savvy desires of today’s youth are any guide, your company had best be prepared.


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