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Does customer service have a place with self-sufficient mobile shoppers?

Mobile shoppers have a reputation for wanting to be self-sufficient, but a new report suggests they may actually be in need of customer service, meaning mcommerce strategies could increasingly encompass features such as pop-up messages and prompts to initiate chat sessions.

Mobile and in-store experiences have become quite integrated. When customers are not able to find answers to their questions via devices, it is important for brands and retailers to speak up in the right ways.

“One of the key points about mobile is how one is defining the shopping experience,” said Thad Peterson, senior analyst at Aite Group, Boston. “If we’re talking about ecommerce on a smart phone, then the objective of the merchant should be to keep the shopping and buying experience as efficient and frictionless as possible; the real estate limitation is significant.

“If you’re talking about in-store, it’s a very different dynamic,” he said. “This is only a hypothesis but I think that customers use mobile in-store so that they can avoid contact with customer service; they’re essentially moving the online experience in-store.

“In terms of what it will take to get customers to shop and buy more on mobile, it’s always about the user experience. Speed, convenience, access to merchandise and frictionless transactions drive usage.”

Seamless experiences
Seventy-two percent of respondents to a recent survey conducted by online solutions provider Moxie Software claim to desire and appreciate online assistance from a brand when met with some type of struggle, such as an error message on a payment or checkout page.

Whether or not consumers are in desire of interaction with a brand while shopping online, the interaction that takes place must be high quality. Failures in in-store customer service experiences lead to mobile interaction, much like mobile and online shopping customer service experiences call for the right use of mobile technology. 

According to the study, the younger the consumer, the more likely they are to shop online for their holiday purchases.

The survey found three top reasons why consumers do not shop online. Forty-two percent of respondents reported they prefer in-store, personalized assistance from a salesperson. The second top reason was 36 percent of respondents not wanting to pay for shipping costs. The third reason, which was only 13 percent of respondents, was in regards to the difficulty to obtain answers about products online.

Responses were separated based on gender to see how opinions differ from males to females. Women care more about avoiding shipping costs, and men care more about in-store, personalized assistance from a salesperson.

Consumers that took the survey reported their devices of choice are computer, tablet and the mobile phone. Seventy-nine percent of respondents shop via their computer, 14 percent of respondents shop via their tablet and 6 percent of respondents shop via their mobile phone.

What to remember
Ninety percent of respondents to the survey would like a proactive piece of information to pop up on the screen when they are browsing online, providing additional information about a product or service. Only 23 percent of respondents want to be connected to an agent on a chat or video chat session to answer their questions.

As the general consumer base evolves, they are more likely to be familiar enough with the devices they are using to not need these services. Either way, the online experience must be user-friendly.

“Customers typically prefer a smooth and frictionless path to purchase on mobile, as the intent to buy is usually far stronger than on a desktop site,” said Wilson Kerr, vice president of business development and sales at Unbound Commerce, Boston. “Third party supported live chat is rarely supported for mobile commerce sites, because the interfaces usually do not support mobile and are very heavy in terms of performance impact.

“Click-to-call is an easy way to bridge the online and offline, in the mobile context,” he said. “Mobile commerce is no longer simply a smaller version of the ecommerce site.

“Mobile has emerged as its own unique channel and should be treated as such.”

Final Take
Caitlyn Bohannon is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York