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Mobile Marathon: Customer Insights and the Competitive Landscape from ICMI Research

What is YOUR competition doing about mobile? Do they feel it’s necessary? Do you have a Mobile Customer Service Strategy? Most importantly, what do your customers expect from mobile customer service?

In late 2012, ICMI wanted to find out these answers! So, we surveyed our community to get insight on how mobile was being managed within the contact center. This week we will feature highlights of the research results that were published in our 2013 whitepaper, “Build a Mobile Customer Service Strategy”, and give you a sneak peek into our upcoming research release sponsored by USAN, “Leveraging Emerging Channels to Improve the Customer Service Experience”.

As smartphone adoption increases, so does the demand for mobile customer service. "Mobile is the killer channel for customer service!” says Kim Martin, Director of Marketing for Voxeo, the underwriter of our mobile research and a leading provider of hosted and on-premise platforms for mobile and multi-channel customer care.

A solid plan is imperative for any new channel implementation, and mobile support is no exception. A Mobile Customer Service Strategy can provide benefits that extend beyond the implementation and set the contact center and the company up for continued success.  This week we’ll highlight some of the key benefits that contact center leaders can expect to gain by putting the time and attention into building such a plan.

Don’t just take it from us though! A maturity model for benchmarking mobile customer care was recently released by Ovum, and in it, Principal Analyst Keith Dawson mentioned that businesses developing mobile applications need three qualities – clearly defined ownership of the mobile roadmap, executive support to integrate customer care, and a unified multichannel interaction strategy.

ICMI and our community of contact center professionals agree! We’ll touch on all three of these qualities throughout the week, as they each were identified as imperative in our research as well.

Insight into Customers and the Competitive Landscape

The first benefit that contact center leaders can gain from a Mobile Customer Service Strategy is a better understanding of what customers expect, and what services the competition is already providing.

We know for certain that mobile is changing customer service, and mobile users seem to like it that way. Research from Forrester and other analysts shows that customers want to “stay on the glass” when they need assistance.

When reviewers of the mobile survey were asked the question “Are your customers actively asking for mobile customer service?” a sizable (38.1%) number answered the affirmative. While this isn’t yet the majority, it is a significant enough percentage in this early stage of mobile customer service, that companies should take notice and take a look at their own customer base.

Due to their instant access to information, the mobile customer is considered to be incredibly informed. They are also thought of as less accepting of impersonal service than the traditional channel customer. This can lead to higher customer expectations, which was evidenced in the 36.2% of mobile research respondents that felt mobile customers did in fact expect a higher level of service than their counterparts. When we asked the same question in the April 2013 emerging channels survey, 42.1% answered the affirmative.

Other demands of the mobile customer include:
• Faster response times
• More customized visuals (like maps and illustrations)
• Personalized service
• Immediacy of information
• Instant connectivity to an agent when needed
• Options for “Their Time, and Their Channel” mentality
• Single Sign-in to all channels

Overwhelmingly most companies from both surveys felt that a Mobile Customer Service Strategy is a competitive differentiator for them. 61.8% reported so in December, while 63.3% did in 2013.

Even though 41.9% of emerging channel survey participants felt they would lose customers without mobile customer service options, only 2/3 are actually supporting mobile as a channel. The good news is, this is up considerably (38.8%) from our findings late last year.

Some industries like travel, retail and financial services have shown to be front-runners in the implementation of mobile support, but that doesn’t mean others should lag behind. When smartphone users get a taste of great mobile support in any industry, they will start to anticipate it in all.

To be clear though, the race to successful mobile customer service IS a marathon. There are many miles (qualities) to complete before the implementation of such a vital channel should be executed. But you aren’t running this marathon alone! ICMI will put you through the Mobile Customer Service training program all this week!

If you are interested in learning more about building a Mobile Customer Service Strategy, please download the whitepaper, check out the webinar, or purchase the complete research report from ICMI and Voxeo.