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Mobile Math, Myths and Magic

The Math

  • 91% of all people on earth have a mobile phone
  • 50% of mobile phone users use mobile as their primary Internet source
  • 34% of mobile internet users admit that their smartphone is their primary device for going online.
  • An April 2012 study from the Pew Internet Project found that 30% of mobile owners had used their phone in the previous 30 days to decide whether to visit a business, such as a restaurant.
  • In 2013 m-commerce sales among the 358 US merchants ranked in Internet Retailer’s 2014 Mobile 500 was predicted to reach $25.4bn. This is a 67% increase from 2012 when the figure stood at $15.2bn.
  • On average tablets account for 55% of m-commerce sales compared to 45% from smartphones, according to the IR Mobile 500.
  • Looking at showrooming habits, in Q2 2013 nearly six in 10 (57%) smartphone users visited the same company’s site or app while in-store, compared to 43% who consulted another company’s site or app.
  • More than one-third (35%) of smartphone owners in Q2 2013 used their device to locate a store, one-quarter (24%) used it to find coupons and deals, and 19% used it to look up product availability.
  • 72% of tablet owners purchase online from their tablets each week
  • 80% of time on mobile is spent inside apps

The Myths

Myth #1: You need a mobile channel customer service strategy.
Reality: Mobile is not a channel. 

Mobile is a conduit to a channel, (such as email, the internet, text, an app, etc…),  a device, and a circumstance (where and what the user is doing at the moment) A few examples:

  • Using a smartphone to check prices at retail establishment through the general internet
  • Purchasing an item through a company branded mobile application
  • Calling customer service while driving
  • Interacting with multiple screens such as tablet, smartphone, and TV while you are lounging on your couch at home
  • Amazon texting you when you receive a package at home while you’re at the office
  • Pay a bill while or deposit a reimbursement check from your office
  • Tweeting feedback (positive or negative) to a company
  • Browsing Flipboard while you are waiting for your spouse to finish up the dressing room
  • A FitBit device uploading workout data to a user dashboard

You do not need a mobile strategy; you need a customer access strategy.  How does your customer prefer to interact with your company?  What are they doing when they are thinking about or researching your company? Are they in store, at home, on the run?  How do you want them to engage your organization? How do they want to engage you?  What types of devices are they using (phones, tablets, laptops, or maybe the internet of things?  Mobile gets you to a channel, it is not the channel itself.

Myth #2: You need a mobile app.
Reality: Sometimes.

Mobile apps are fantastic for big brands, internet based businesses, and games (as well as few other areas).  Mobile apps aide in retention and create product stickiness, think of banks and the financial industry.  They make it easy for customers to engage your company without having to do a web search.  But there are some drawbacks.

Many mobile apps and sites are typically “controlled” by Product Development, and their goals may be different than the Customer Service Department’s goals.  Getting service features into design and implementation is prioritized against more acquisition or marketing features.  Also, the app needs to be updated frequently to match the latest operating systems.  Remember when iOS 7 came out?

At some point, the populous is going to hit an app overload.  Imagine if every company you do business with or are interested in had a mobile app.  Your device is going to get short on space, and eventually you will need a table of contents just to find app. 

Instead you may want to ensure your company’s website is responsive.  A responsive website adjusts its design appearance and options to match the device.  Usually, they are pared down to provide the most used or relevant options.  This option will give your site the look and feel of a mobile application, but without the app itself.

Myth #3: Mobile is always on the go.
: 60% of smartphone use is in the home; for tablets it is 79%.

Per Google’s annual survey of mobile users, most mobile use is in the home or office.  Odds are the customer has a full computer or laptop just a few steps away.  If you limit your use cases to only “on the go” situations, you are missing part of the mobile point.  Mobile is about convenience.  It is often the second screen (or third screen) at home.  Again, start with understanding how, why and where your customers use their mobile devices.  The mobile “movement” is still in its early stages (hard to believe), so survey and meet with your customers (whether internal or external).


Have you heard about the Mayday Button? It may be the future of service.  It is simply a button on a Kindle Fire that immediately takes you to video screen of a customer service representative, who can also see your screen to help you with whatever issue is wrong with your device.  It’s free and available 24/7/365.  What if your customers had such a simple way to get in touch with your company?

Do you have a Target or Walgreens app on your phone?  If you do, see what happens when you are near or in a store. The app asks you to open it (magic).  Well not really magic, it is geo-fencing.  The app uses some of the same location services that your maps application uses to determine when you are in the vicinity of a store or specific location.  This “push” feature reminds people to open the application.  If your company has a physical location, you may want to be able to alert customers to sale options or ways they can find help while in the store (ex: text help to XXXXX for immediate help).  There are almost infinite options. 

Mobile connections (to the user) will be incredibly valuable to Customer Success associates in the future.  Customer Success is all about increasing the velocity of adoption and eventually advocacy.  Customer Success strategies and actions are becoming more prevalent in the SaaS (Software as a Service) industry. In a SaaS environment, delivering value to customers in a timely manner is critical to reduce churn and/or boost retention.  In general, Customer Success strategies and methodologies place a considerably higher effort during the initial stages of the customer support lifecycle.  It may involve a “coach” or “relationship manager” helping the customer better understand how the product or service works, appropriate marketing or learning materials sent with context, and hand offs to deeper technical support. Leveraging text messaging, geo-fencing, and social networks to aide in the service could be the next great innovation in the space. But there is no reason this level of service needs to remain solely in the SaaS world.  Providing rapid value and adoption leads to improved retention, and every customer service leaders primary responsibility is to retain customers (quality of service is a driver of retention).  Imagine if your newly selected bank contacted you to make sure you better understand the fee schedule or how you could save more.  Or if you buy a tablet, learn how to find the best apps for childhood learning.

Again, there are so many options.

Math Sources: e Consultancy and DigitalBuzz Blog .

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