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The Mobile Customer Service Marathon

Note from the editor:  This article originally appeared in the HDI newsletter.  As we wrap up our 'March to Mobile Madness' we thought it was also appropriate to share with our community.

Do you have a Mobile Customer Service Strategy? Do you know what your customers expect from mobile customer service? Is the contact center even involved in the mobile planning process for your organization?

As most of us know, our customers are already mobile. The numbers are in fact staggering! According to 2013 Nielsen and Pew Research Center data, there are 6.9 billion worldwide mobile subscribers, with over 460 million of them in the United States alone. And 80% of all new mobile buyers are opting for smartphones.

"Mobile is the killer channel for customer service!” says Kim Martin, Director of North America and Corporate Marketing at Aspect Software.

Think of implementing mobile customer service like preparing for a marathon. You can’t expect to effectively sprint to the finish without a little groundwork. And as a marathon training plan sets you up for fitness success long after the race is over, a mobile strategy provides benefits that extend far beyond implementation. 

Treat mobile customer service with the mindset of a marathoner and you’ll be prepared to go for the long-haul distance.

In early 2013, the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) released initial insight on how mobile was being executed by the contact center. Throughout the year we tracked the mobile marathon of hundreds of contact center leaders and reported on their progress.

The Mobile Customer Service Strategy was built to be a guidebook, and we’ll highlight what you can achieve by putting in the time and attention. The foundation planning is vital, as we don’t yet know the future of the mobile device, or all the channels that will be built for this platform.

Plot the Course: Insight into Customers and Competition

Most marathoners review the race logistics well before they sign up to compete. While you can’t be certain of all the nuances, your plan is more effective if you know to train for hills versus flatland, inclement weather, or certain competitors.

A Mobile Customer Service Strategy is no different. Before you begin, you need to look at the current landscape. What do your customers want, and what are your competitors doing?

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 show that customers want to “stay on the glass” when they need assistance.

And what does that support actually entail? Well, ideally it’s through the channel that’s best for the task requested. But here’s the important part – customers don’t think in channels. They don’t care if a conversation starts on twitter and then moves to text or email or voice. They care that they reached support from their mobile device, that it’s kept on the device, and that the conversation remains seamless through any transition. That’s what they’re referring to when they ask for mobile support.

This can be a hilly challenge for contact centers, as we’re accustomed to thinking in flat roads, or in separate channels. From the customer perspective though, mobile support is one winding course. It is constant access to information and help whenever, however, and wherever they want.
Since the mobile user has instant access to so much information, they are incredibly informed and often less accepting of impersonal service than other customer types. This can lead to higher customer service expectations like:

  • Faster response times
  • More customized visuals (like maps and illustrations)
  • Personalized service
  • Immediacy of information
  • Instant connectivity to an agent when needed, and
  • Single sign-in to all channels

When plotting the course, make sure to look at what mobile devices your customers are using, what they are doing on those devices, and where they are doing them from. All of those signals will guide you to which mobile channels to focus on first – SMS, video, chat, forums and the like.

The Mobile Customer Service Strategy also requires that you are aware of what your competitors are doing and what features are being adopted across industries. Some verticals 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. As mobile users continue to discover innovative service options they will start to require it from all of us.

Overwhelmingly most companies feel that mobile is a competitive differentiator for them. But while 62% feel this way, and many are concerned about losing customers without mobile support options, only 40% are actually formally offering it.

The Mobile Customer Service Strategy should be used as a tool to guide stakeholders in properly implementing mobile support.

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

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