In a world envisioned by a partnership between Microsoft and 24/7 Inc. announced on Tuesday, you'll someday receive a text message that your flight has been canceled, call a customer service number and be able to view flight options on your tablet as you discuss rebooking your travel with the customer service agent on the other end of the line.
It seems pretty basic, considering all that we're capable of doing in tech. But as anyone who has been put on hold for tech support, received a robo-call about suspicious activity on their credit card, or tried to deal with sudden travel changes can attest, dealing with customer service still seems to be stuck very much in the pre-Internet age.
That's where the Microsoft and 24/7 partnership comes in. Together, they will develop a Predictive Experience (PX) paltform capable of handling 2.5 billion online and telephone customer service interactions each year.
"From speech to touch to gestures, consumers expect and demand more natural and intuitive ways to interact with technology," Zig Serafin, general manager of the Online Services Division at Microsoft, said in a statement. "This same demand will change how consumers interact with businesses, and it creates an inflection point for how people will expect businesses to provide customer service. "
The firms say not only will they help companies link customer service over multiple platforms, but they'll help companies figure out what your preferred platform is and make it easier for you to get the fixes you need.
"All of us are quickly coming to expect companies to communicate with us in proactive, more natural and intuitive ways, and on the devices we use in our daily lives," Serafin wrote about the deal on Microsoft's official blog. "We should expect businesses to reach out to us when we need service, and to do so in a way that anticipates how we want to be communicated with; whether that's through our smartphone, our PC or through our TV if we happen to be in the living room."
Of course the deal isn't all about altruistic good will to consumers: the market for customer service applications like the ones proposed by Microsoft and 24/7 is huge and expected to grow. The announcement also follows a long-building trend of Microsoft working to offer more, specialized B2B solutions.
The deal also includes the shuffling of some Microsoft employees, as well as Micrsoft taking an unspecified ownership stake in 24-7, according to ZDNet.