The rapid advance of smartphones and the development of mobile apps have given consumers newfound freedom and convenience. The Middle East region is expected to account for the second-largest mobile phone population of any region in the world, according to eMarketer’s Global Media Intelligence Report. For businesses, this new mobile approach has provided a way to serve customers better and faster and form stronger and more lasting relationships — if done correctly. But that’s the problem. Many organizations in the Middle East have struggled to determine how best to use these new tools to their advantage, and provide their customers with a capability that works well and adds value. Gaining that advantage requires delivering the type of mobile experience users have come to expect, an experience that can take place from anywhere, and with less effort.
The challenges are many. Developing custom mobile applications can be costly, and typically a different app is needed for each of the popular smartphone platforms. Compelling mobile apps also need an ongoing string of enhancements and new features to keep the user engaged. However, the most challenging aspect is deciding exactly what the app must do and how it can add value to the customer relationship. That functionality can be different for manufacturers, retailers, financial services firms, and virtually every other type of business.
Yet no matter the business sector, the one function common to all organizations is the need to service and support their customers. For instance, banks and financial services firms commonly provide account access via a mobile device. Retailers promote special offers. Insurance companies allow customers to file claims. In most cases, mobile services like these examples come down to an automated process devoid of human contact. That’s fine if the customer needs to check a balance or perform some other routine task, but what if the customer has an issue, and must speak to a service representative to help resolve the problem? The typical scenario is that the app serves up an 800 number so the customer can call the contact centre. When, and if, the customer does call, they often sit in queue (burning cell minutes) until they reach an agent, where they will have to describe the issue from the start. All told, the process can diminish the customer’s experience and do nothing to cultivate their loyalty.
In the contact centre, the key to excelling at customer service is to integrate all customer touch points. When the customer calls, agents have access to all information regarding that customer and what they’ve been through, allowing the agent to help resolve the issue quickly, and the customer is spared from having to repeat the same information over and over again. The contact centre industry has been perfecting those techniques for decades; however, the mobile revolution has thrown a new wrinkle into the mix. However, as people become more attached to the mobile lifestyle, it will be critically important to integrate the mobile experience successfully with the rest of the customer support plan.
Mobility is changing how people live, and excellence in the customer service provided to those mobile users will be an all-important factor to business success. Already, customers prize effective well-thought mobile applications that make their lives easier. But customers also bristle at mobile apps that perform poorly, that take time out of a busy schedule, and that prove to be more trouble than they’re worth. In that context, companies that can create a seamless mobile and social experience — that gets the job done in a fast and efficient fashion — can form winning customer relationships.
The key is recognizing that customer service is at the core of those relationships. As the number and types of customer touch points continue to increase, companies will need to look at the full arsenal of tools they have to serve those customers. And it’s not just having the tools, but integrating them effectively across multiple mobile channels. Whether a customer reaches out by phone, social network, email message, Twitter, or text on a wired or wireless device, they will get the same level of efficient service.
Companies need to deploy a complete mobile platform that allows them to build constant improvement into customer service capabilities, to differentiate their offerings and result in stronger customer bonds. Customers are going mobile and they’re going social, but they still expect an exemplary service experience.