Mobile

Say Hello To Call Commerce

There are a bunch of people who’ve reinvented the phone – but not a single one that’s actually reinvented the phone call. Alan Truitt, chief business development officer for Teleperformance has a plan to do that, starting with the 34 billion calls a year that are made to contact centers – opening up entirely new revenue streams and increasing customer satisfaction. Here’s how.

Phoning it in takes a whole new meaning when we are talking about payments. To be more precise, it takes data, and lots of it, to get a payment done by phone. And done several times, spoken or keyed in, to the consternation of consumers. 

Teleperformance Chief Business Development Officer Alan Truitt posited that the traditional phone call to a contact center can find faster and more secure footing through technology.   

Most interactions are still done by voice, said Truitt at IP 2017, and the absolute number of phone calls as handled by Teleperformance, which operates in 74 countires and 160 markets, is growing annually. 

Against a backdrop of technology that has not changed much in 100 years — that would be the phone call — Truitt found that just about everyone at the IP 2017 presentation (via show of hands) had used mobile wallets to make purchases in a store, through an app or online. But no one had used mobile wallets to make a payment over the phone while a call was underway. That’s because a phone call has remained, well, static, a voice-to-voice connection. 

Then, a few years ago, continued Pruitt, the smartphone began its ascent toward its current spot as the most important device in our lives. “Yet even with all the functionalities packed into our smartphones,” he said, “the phone itself has essentially remained the same.” Yet the confluence of data streams and voice streams can be a boon to make the phone call a bit smarter, he said.

Teleperformance, he argued, can now facilitate a data and voice “handshake.” It takes advantage of the screen, the data, the applications and even biometrics. “This opens up an entirely new world of possibilities,” said Truitt, improving commerce in general. 

Specific to mobile payments, he stated that there has been much attention paid to AI and bots and the overall online presence, and alongside those events, “a lot of talk about frictionless payments.” 

Yet with 100 mobile wallets extant in the United States alone, said Truitt, none of them work during a phone call. The “call commerce” market is huge and untapped. In the U.S. alone, more than 34 billion high value calls were conducted in 2016 with the attention of a live person on the other end of the line, generating $446 billion in revenue — a full $100 billion more than retail eCommerce.

Those figures span airlines, hotels, banks, insurance companies and any number of other verticals. Yet no one has done anything to make frictionless payments possible over the phone, said Truitt. Over the phone, the benefits of using a mobile wallet, he added, during a phone call, “are dramatic for everyone … there’s time to be saved, and a gap to be eliminated.”

Data that must ordinarily be provided by a user — from name to address to credit card number to security code — can be circumvented by sending an order directly through a smartphone in tandem with a fingerprint scan or facial recognition technology. Thus, a time savings of about two minutes per order.   The value to a firm of a two-minute reduction in handling time, in the U.S. alone, said Truitt, results in billions of dollars of cost savings. 

Another benefit ties in with security, said the executive, as sensitive information is never touched or heard by customer service agents.  As for wallets themselves, said Truitt, people like to carry cash and at least some form of ID. Biometrics does the same thing for identification purposes, but when making a phone call to a broker or insurance company, one must answer security questions. Authentication using a device can take just a few seconds and the swipe of a finger. Disclosure statements can also be sent right to phones to be confirmed with a touch of the finger. The screen is an “untapped form of real estate.” 

In a separate interview with PYMNTS, Truitt stated that the movement to interact with consumers across multiple channels allows for a complete history of interactions to be chronicled. This can, ostensibly, allow a firm to eventually anticipate what a consumer might be seeking, which is a trend that lends itself to Teleperformance’s services and affirms their desire as a company to make their products global. Speaking specifically to his own firm, he said that clients find value in global expertise and teams on the ground in local markets, with an understanding of cultural nuances that may be at play during phone calls and other interactions.   

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