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Mobile Marathon: Get Your Boss On Board--Insights from ICMI Research

This week we’re discussing a few of the benefits of implementing a Mobile Customer Service Strategy. As we mentioned on Monday, great mobile customer service requires the mindset of a marathoner. You can’t just expect to sprint to the finish without a little training. You need to put a strategy in place so that you can successfully go for the long-haul distance. Since we don’t yet know the future of mobile, or the evolution our customer service offerings will take for this channel, it’s imperative to lay out a solid plan.

Two of the milestones that we uncovered in our Voxeo-underwritten 2012/2013 mobile research were echoed as needs by Keith Dawson, a Principal Analyst at Ovum – achieve executive support for integrated mobile customer care, and define ownership of the roadmap.

Is your contact center involved in the strategy process for mobile? Do you see the value in mobile customer care, but wonder how to get your executives to sign-off?  Here is some data to prove that the contact center should be involved in the Mobile Customer Service Strategy from the beginning, and some tips to help you get your boss on board.

Ownership of the Mobile Customer Service Strategy

The Mobile Customer Service Strategy should be used as a tool to convince stakeholders, and act as a guide to properly implement mobile support. By understanding the resources, budget, customer expectations, business needs, and technology, companies can avoid the common pitfalls of implementation. Those contact centers that get involved early in the planning and support of the Mobile Customer Service Strategy will have the best opportunity to provide a desired customer experience.

The contact center plays a vital role in the success of a Mobile Customer Service Strategy, yet they are not involved 30.9% of the time. It was promising to see that more centers are part-owners of the Strategy - both planning and support (39.0%), while another 26.9% claim to have responsibility for one or the other. This is encouraging, although the shared support is proving to be a challenge for many contact centers.

The shared ownership of the Strategy may account for some of the reasons why 42.1% don’t yet have a plan in place. Depending on a company’s internal communication and hierarchy, each department may be approaching the Strategy from a different angle. IT/Software appears to have majority ownership (53.7%), followed by Marketing (45.5%).  The other key departments of Customer Support (34.3%), Product Management (27.3%), Sales (23.1%), and the C-Level Executives (21.1%) all record strong ownership of some of the Strategy which again implies that there are a lot of competing agendas. Only Finance (8.7%) and the catch-all “other” (7.4%) had percentages in the single-digits.

It stands to reason that some of the 42.1% that do not have a Mobile Customer Service Strategy for this year do indeed appreciate the need, as only 11.7% of total respondents said their companies did not rank mobile as a priority in 2013 planning. In fact, 43.1% say that it is either a top priority for their firm or at least equivalent to other new initiatives in the upcoming year. Over 32.0% of respondents expressed interest in mobile, but were still ranking it or working out how to start planning for it. 13.1% had no idea where it fit into their company’s plan.

Almost all choices for the question “What are the 3 primary reasons your company is motivated to implement a Mobile Customer Service strategy?” generated double-digit percentage responses. The most-selected was that of improving customer satisfaction (51.9%), with increasing customer loyalty (50.2%) not far behind. Rounding out the Top 5 at a significantly smaller percentage rate were lower cost (30.3%), customers asking for mobile support (28.1%) and a better experience for mobile customers (25.5%).  It is again clear that the customer experience is at the pinnacle of the Strategy impetus.

When we again asked this question in April 2013 as part of our USAN sponsored “Emerging Channels and Customer Engagement Research Study”, the primary reasons had shifted a little. Increasing customer loyalty now came out on top (39.5%), with improvement to customer satisfaction (36.5%) and customers asking for mobile support (35.7%) showing up as numbers two and three.

Despite the variances in the research results, it’s clear that the customer is the impetus for the Mobile Customer Service Strategy. Supporting this notion is the fact that over two-thirds (67.7%) in the mobile study answered in the affirmative when asked if “mobile customer service options would improve the overall experience for mobile customers”. An almost equal percentage said, “yes” (65.9%), in the emerging channels survey.

Executive Buy-In

As with most initiatives that impact the customer experience and necessitate technology investment, the buy-off of senior executives is probably required. The data ICMI uncovered and wrote about in their 2013 report “A Mobile Customer Service Strategy: The Contact Center, the Agent, and the Challenges of Implementation” strives to provide contact center leaders the data they need to secure executive-level sponsorship in order to create and implement a successful Mobile Customer Service Strategy.

According to the research, almost half (46.2%) of respondents don’t know if there is Executive buy-in on the Mobile Customer Service Strategy, while another 22.1% are certain they don’t even have it.

In order to effectively implement the Strategy, Executive buy-in will ultimately be required. When asked what else Executives need to see, the top responses were:

  • ROI to the organization
  • Better options for cloud services to reduce internal costs and maintenance
  • Budget
  • More concrete and verifiable data
  • Recent case studies showing value and usage
  • Impact on contact center resources
  • Potential cost savings and call reduction
  • Best practices for mobile customer service

The argument for mobile customer service is strong, and a solid plan is imperative to a successful implementation. When built correctly, a Mobile Customer Service Strategy will provide lasting benefits to the company, and the contact center. The key benefits that contact center leaders can expect to gain will extend far beyond the race of 2013. Welcome to the mobile marathon.