By Carolyn Blunt, Managing Director, Real Results
A phone is no longer just a phone. It’s a mini mobile personal computer that can do everything from delivering stock market statistics, to monitoring fitness, to communicating with clients anytime, anywhere using a wide range of apps and platforms. It’s great for customers, but many companies are struggling to keep up and more importantly keep their customers happy, thanks to the rapid pace of developing technology.
With almost half the world population adopting mobile technology, businesses simply cannot afford to ignore mobile as a customer service channel. Smartphones have changed the way people communicate with one another, and more importantly how they buy and interact with businesses. In some ways its added complexities to doing business, but it’s also opened up more opportunities to engage with and serve customers.
Why customers love mobile
Many people will say it’s the convenience of being able to transact and communicate wherever and whenever. Analysts suggest that’s it’s really the continuity and integration that people love most. Mobile provides people with access to information in real time. If they need to look up a phone number they have their whole phone book on their mobile. If they need directions, there’s google maps. They can check and respond to emails, do banking, interact on social media and purchase goods and services.
Several enterprises have built their businesses around apps for mobile; using the fact that customers want greater convenience on the go. Uber is one example of how mobile can be used as a customer service tool. People can now arrange a taxi pickup via their mobile phone. They can see how long it will take and how much it will cost – and it’s generally cheaper than traditional cabs. But it’s the convenience factor that is really winning over customers and this is what businesses should be focusing on.
Mobile is omni-channel customer service
While much of mobile communication is done through custom apps, businesses should not think that because they haven’t developed their own app that they can’t engage with customers via mobile. Certainly apps are the first choice, but they take time to develop and perfect, and they are rather costly to create and maintain, so they are generally only an option for larger corporations. However, all major social media platforms have their own apps for mobile, including content management systems such as Hootsuite. This means that even without an app customized to your business you still have the possibility to interact with customers on mobile via social media platforms.
For businesses that have been hesitant to implement social media customer service channels, they need to consider that many people interact on social media via their phones. With the extensive customer adoption of mobile communication, it simply can’t be ignored.
As an example: If a customer notices something wrong with a product, it’s nothing to take a picture and post it together with an unimpressed comment on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even post a clip on YouTube, right there an then. Yes, for business this is a customer service and PR nightmare, but ignoring it, won’t make it go away or prevent it from happening.
You do get customers that love to create a splash on social media, but for the majority of customers if you provide channels for them to engage with you on various social media channels, generally they will respect the rules of engagement and not be malicious in their posts. From a customer perspective it’s about being able to communicate using a method that’s most convenient to them. Simply being available on the channel a customer chooses is already seen as a positive, now businesses simply have to tweak how they engage with customers to win them over.
Take the opportunity to transfer skills
Traditionally customer service agents man the phones and in a way that has led to the industry’s poor reputation. Agents weren’t able to develop many skills beyond communicating on the phones. But now that social media and mobile customer service are becoming primary customer service channels there is the opportunity for agents to develop and transfer skills.
Social customer service and Live Chat requires good written skills and a more informal style, but even more important than that is the need for agents to create ‘wow’ moments using their own initiative and problem solving skills. This is exciting for both the agent and the customer on the receiving end! Getting this right can create huge PR and NPS wins for very little outlay.
Predictions are that mobile will continue to grow and most likely dominate how customers interact. Given how technology is providing increasingly seamless integration, customers are quite likely to expect businesses to meet them where they are at – on to the go. Will your business be mobile ready?
Carolyn Blunt is Managing Director of Real Results, a consultancy that works with contact centres to improve performance. Clients include Bupa, Boots, Autoglass, Halfords and Co-op Insurance to name just a few.
Carolyn is especially renowned for identifying opportunities to improve customer experience and sales whilst creating efficiencies. Carolyn is co-author (with Martin Hill-Wilson) of the book ‘Delivering Effective Social Customer Service’ published by Wiley. As an industry writer and speaker Carolyn was voted Most Respected Person in the UK Contact Centre Industry 2012-2014 by readers of Call Centre Helper Magazine. Carolyn is an engaging and trusted speaker for ‘Customer Contact Expo’, ‘Engage’, ‘The Forum’ and ‘Call Centre Helper’.