By Paul Barnes
Mobile phones are now the one device we always have with us. From acting as an alarm clock in the morning, providing work internet and email access, to letting us post on Facebook and consume media in the evenings, phones are central to our lifestyles. No wonder that by mid-2014 more people will access the web through mobile devices than PCs.
This shift is radically changing how consumers interact with travel brands. Research in the US indicates that 21% of hotel customers had looked up hotel price and availability on their mobile device – and 18% had used a mobile device to make their booking. While 44% of travellers said they are willing to spend more than $500 when purchasing travel via mobile.
Leisure and business travellers alike both demand the ability to communicate, find information and make a booking wherever they are. A recent survey found that over two thirds (67%) of holidaymakers wanted to access the internet through their mobiles while away. For example, rather than waiting until they get back home, holidaymakers lying by the pool will tweet their complaints through their smartphone while airline passengers want to be able to check-in via their mobile without needing to queue up. Fail to deliver a superior mobile customer experience and consumers will head elsewhere with a tap of the screen – but not before complaining on social media via the same mobile device. Get it right and excellent service will translate into loyal customers and increased revenues.
How do businesses react to this change in consumer behaviour and deliver the right experience, right now? Below are six considerations for achieving agile mobile customer service whether consumers contact you through the web, email, chat, social media or phone channels.
1 The Power of Apps
Apps are an increasingly important tool for delivering customer service. Analyse your organisation’s customer needs to help you decide if you need to build standalone customer service apps, integrate with apps from other parts of the business or simply adapt your existing website. Extend your customer experience to mobile apps by including features such as web self-service so that it makes getting information simple for customers.
2 Responsive Design
You should aim to deliver a consistent experience to customers irrespective of the device they are using. Responsive web design helps do this be ensuring your website recognises whether customers are on PC, tablet or phone and delivers optimised content to best meet their needs and their device. Ensure appropriate escalation points (such as to chat, text and email) to help customers get what they need from their visit.
3 Multichannel Knowledge
Avoid developing mobile customer service in a silo. Make sure it is consistent by sharing the same central knowledgebase between mobile apps and your other channels. This increases efficiency and puts customers in control of the experience, giving them access to the right answers, wherever they are.
4 Gather insight
Mobile provides an unrivalled opportunity to learn more about your customers. Find out what your customers are looking for by analysing their interactions. When are they contacting you? Try to understand your mobile customer behaviour and how it varies from the traditional web and use the knowledge you discover to refine your strategy.
5 Make your website mobile friendly
Ensure your site is mobile optimised so that it is fast and seamless to load, whatever device people are using. Include key features such as web self-service and chat to allow consumers to use their channel of choice.
Tablets and mobile phones users want an experience that matches the abilities of their devices. So you need to do more than just transfer the PC intrface to a smaller screen. With mobile devices relying on touchscreen entry, it would be a mistake to put in long and complex forms for example. Use location-based information that tablets and smartphones provide to deliver relevant information to customers.
6 Go Omnichannel
Ensure customers are able to use their channel of choice, across multiple devices. So for example they may start an interaction on your app, escalate via email, call to confirm details, complete the transaction via the web and then discuss the experience on Facebook or Twitter – all from the same mobile device.
Make sure you provide a satisfying and seamless customer experience across all these channels will lead to greater loyalty and increased revenues.
About the author
Paul Barnes is VP Operations of multichannel customer interaction management software provider, Eptica.