Tim Mercer – CEO of Vapour Cloud – was recently quoted in Comms Business, regarding Disruptive Technology. If you missed the feature in full, you can catch it here…
There can be no disputing that companies such as Airbnb and Uber have changed the face of their industries. Isn’t that what disruption is all about after all?
But it could be argued that as we become increasingly wowed with disruptive examples such as these, this level of innovation then starts to be perceived as the norm. Expectations rise and customers demand more. So, if a product or service isn’t groundbreaking – in some way – it isn’t good enough.
This groundbreaking innovation cannot simply be a gimmick though. Airbnb and Uber may be unicorn brands with millions of pounds to spend, but they are still satisfying an underlying customer need – even if the customer didn’t previously know they had it.
Transfer this principle over to the world of IT and communications, and technologies must equally satisfy a true industry need. They must also be supported by experts in this field. Otherwise, the concepts will soon fall flat once the initial hype has died down and attentions turn to usability and return on investment.
The tech doesn’t have to enable companies or people to do something incredibly out of the ordinary. The key to disruption is often giving people the opportunity to do something very standard, but better! Take Uber – it merely helps members of the public get from A to B. But they can now do this with far greater ease and convenience than ever before.
Jumping on a bandwagon is dangerous. We only need to look at the number of casualties in the industry to evidence this point. IT firms are often tempted to expand their offering in a bid to protect customer relationships from competitors or make a quick buck from seemingly lucrative markets. But in doing so these firms often step outside their comfort zone and make promises they can’t keep.
At Vapour, we’re not Microsoft specialists, for example, so we partner with someone who is. We know where our real expertise lies and so we focus on creating disruptions where we know we can have a big impact.
Without a doubt the technology that we are seeing disrupt the marketplace – and open doors for us that we never had before – is Hӧllr. This multichannel platform powers voice, video, social, live chat, email and SMS comms, and brings it altogether with recording and reporting capabilities too. Customers can transfer seamlessly from one channel to the next, depending what suits THEM – not what suits the business. It sounds impressive, and it is! But strip it all down and the tech is simply enabling our clients to better talk to their customers. The difference is that they can now do it quicker, slicker and more securely than before – not to mention without the financial constraints of traditional comms.
If we relate this tech example to the earlier point about expectations, people want to communicate NOW. They want to do so using the device they feel most comfortable with. They want to do it irrespective of their location. So if the tech exists to help them do that, why aren’t we utilising it?
In the US, video comms has become commonplace in the health sector for example – patients are now able to talk to their doctor without being in the same room, and there is no detriment to their level of care. This tech exists in the UK but we are way off it reaching its full potential. This shouldn’t be the case!
And in a contact centre environment, why do so many brands insist on customers having to start again with their correspondence, simply because they want to move from an online live chat to a call, for example? It shouldn’t be the customer’s problem! And the customer shouldn’t have to resort to social media to have their voice – or complaint – heard. There should be an effortless continuum with equal levels of service throughout.
In the world of IT, the benefits of disruptive tech can’t just relate to the customer experience of course. If these technologies were to increase the administrative headache for organisations, few would invest in them, however tempting.
That’s why these savvy applications must be delivered via easy-to-use portals, with real humans on the end of a support line, who view SLAs as merely the minimum standard, not the target level of service.
And back to the point about experts sticking to what they’re good at, rather than dabbling in things they’re not… sometimes the solution to a complex and/or costly client problem is actually very simple. But someone who isn’t truly experienced in the field wouldn’t know this.
Recently, for instance, we liaised with an elevator company that was encountering high volumes of service calls raised in error when people pressed the wrong button in a lift. They therefore wanted to improve the efficiencies of their operation by trying to distinguish when a call out was truly required. We advised a simple piece of AI that would address this problem in an instant. It wasn’t a completely bespoke tech development or a phenomenally expensive solution. But it wasn’t an off-the-shelf product either that the client could have found via some internet research.
So, disruptions in the world of IT must satisfy the business investing in the solution and the expectations of the end customers that they serve. But with innovations seemingly pushing greater boundaries than ever before, this is actually no problem at all – providing businesses stick to innovating in the areas they know the most.