Exclusive Interview with John Hibel of Contact Solutions: Keeping Up With Mobile Trends and Demands

This week, Let’s Talk Payments had to chance to talk with John Hibel, Director of Marketing at Contact Solutions, one of the top IVR providers in North America. Payments is a large part of their business. Around 70% of our interaction volume is around prepaid transactions. For many years, Contact Solutions has focused on improving communication technologies for their clients so that they can achieve top-notch customer service capabilities. Contact Solutions has kept ahead of technology and trends by continuously adopting new mobile proficiencies.

LTP) For our audience who may not be familiar, can you tell us what Contact Solutions is about?

JH) Contact solutions has been focused on improving communications for their customers for over ten years now, and we started doing so by telephone, through automated self-service systems. In the last year or so, we’ve introduced mobile engagement that has spawned a lot of the research and brought up a lot of conversation about where exactly customer engagement is headed in the future.

LTP) Can you share with us how much of Contact Solutions’ focus is on prepaid, payments and retail? How much of your company’s revenue is from these sectors?

JH) A large part of our business is payments. Around 70% of our interaction volume is around prepaid which includes everything from retail to government. We also do a lot of customer service for prepaid and other conventional transactions.

LTP) Can you tell me a bit more about your company statistically? What is the size of your clientele and customer base?

JH) The easiest way to get a grasp on the size of our company is to take a look at the number of customer interactions we have each year. We have close to 1.5 billion customer interactions a year that come through our cloud platform that we are processing on behalf of our clients. It also gives us insight into a lot of different programs and program interactions across the billions of transactions; it helps us spot trends and opportunities to better engage with customers. That is also what is what led us down the path of our mobile product; we saw that 70% of those billion-plus transactions were coming from mobile phones and decided to do something about it.

LTP) Are there any examples of specific clients that you would like to highlight?

JH) On one end of the spectrum, we serve a lot of state government programs where consumers are receiving assistance via prepaid cards. These are some of the highest used in terms of loads and frequency of use in the whole industry. We give them the ability to complete all kinds of interactions around that card: find out card balances, latest transactions, potentially reload the balance, etc. The things you would normally do over the course of your life, we have a small piece of. Another one you hear a lot about is the Boston Globe; their high-end digital subscribers use the mobile product to interact with their customers. This is cool because if you think about the topics you would interact with your local newspaper about, especially a digital one, we can send that feedback to them instantly so that people can get a response from that and get issues addressed.

Those are a couple of examples, but simply think about any type of interaction where you would have to call, text or chat with an enterprise that has sold you something or is managing your finances, anything along those lines.

LTP) How are new mobile technologies changing the expectations of your company? Also, how has your company adapted and kept up with these technological demands?

JH) We noticed that a lot of calls were coming in from mobile phones and we decided to do an analysis, so we looked at all of our calls over a pretty long period of time and found that 70% were coming from mobile. There was also not a big variation from demographic to demographic or industry to industry; it was all within a very narrow band, just within a few percent. The majority of those were already smart phones and with the way people are using phones, as really powerful computers, we wondered what we could do take advantage of that platform and the way people interact with enterprises to create something new that leverages the power of the smart phone. The concept of using a call-center and being helped at the companies’ convenience is not something that fits into people’s everyday lives right now, so we created something that does fit that.

LTP) What makes Contact Solutions unique? How do you differentiate yourself others in the arena and stay ahead?

JH) What sets us apart is that we’re the only ones who really looked at mobile as a new way to communicate and said how we can take advantage of this new amazing platform and create an entirely better experience for the user. There are all kinds of things that go along with that, for example, you can start an interaction in one way and have the complete continuity to finish it on another device, like a mobile phone. We let you pick up right where you left off no matter what you’re interrupted by, and it’s the same interaction whether it’s on the web or the phone. People are very, very busy so you have to make it simple enough that they can handle it all at once. So breaking it down and building something that’s specifically designed for that mobile lifestyle is what really sets us apart in this industry.