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Is mobile a customer service powerhouse?

A recent survey from cloud-based customer experience management solutions provider Angel revealed a significant shift to Web and mobile technologies as the preferred way to connect with customer service, with 16 percent of respondents saying that mobile is their preferred customer service channel. Mobile will gain even more going forward, with 24 percent expecting mobile to be the leading customer service channel  in the next five years.

“We thought mobility wouldn’t really transform customer service until 2015 but mobile Internet use is more prevalent and we think it is going to be a huge influence starting this year and maturing throughout 2013,” Steve Herlocher, vice president of marketing business development at Jacada. 

“Your tablets and phones are becoming the core customer experience. Customer service is moving there but people are trying to figure out how to do it right.

“It comes down to having some consistency between channels and offering an intelligent response that take into account what a customer is doing.”

Resolving customer problems
The results point to the opportunity that exists for merchants to offer multichannel customer support that helps customers quickly resolve problems, improve the customer experience and increase customer satisfaction.

Five years ago, 51 percent of consumers named landline telephone customer support as their preferred customer service channel. The shift to digital channels in the past five years has been significant, with 34 percent naming email as their top resource today and just 19 percent landline telephone.

Additionally, 41 percent have downloaded a mobile application to better connect to customer service. 

While merchants understand that poor or unavailable customer service  can lead to a loss of brand equity, many have not kept up with consumers’ expectations on the mobile front.

It is important for merchants to Identify how and where their customer base usually interacts with the business throughout the entire lifecycle. That way, they can provide mobile support and tools that enable customers to immediately resolve their unique problems as well as quickly connect with the organization when and where it makes most sense.

Streamlining customer service
Mobile can also help retailers streamline the customer service process by enabling them to reduce customer call volume, reduce average call times and reduce staffing through virtual. 

According to customer service solutions provider Jacada, reducing inbound call volume through mobile self-service implementations can help merchants save as much as $5 million over five years. Additionally, mobile self-service implementation can reduce call times by at least 30 seconds.

Mobile self-service interactions enable users to address some of their issues via their phones without talking to a customer service agent. However, customers can also connect to an agent, who can see the entire interaction history of what the customer attempted to do on the mobile device, enabling the agent to resolve the issue quickly.

Agents can also easily retrieve customer information.

Another benefit of mobile customer service is the ability for users to schedule a callback when seeking to connect with an agent. This offers significant convenience for customers and enables contact centers to schedule a call back at a less busy time.

Personal experiences
Merchants should be aware if a customer has started an experience on the Web or on mobile in order to provide the best information to that user. For example, if someone is in a store looking for a product, deliver information about where in the store the product can be found and any offers as opposed to general information about the product.

It is also important to be aware of where in the buying experience the customer is. If someone has already purchased an item similar to what is being researched, then offer them an alternative as opposed to where to find it in the store.

“Merchants can create a much more personal experience this way,” Mr. Herlocher said.

“The bricks-and-mortar retailers are defensive right now,” he said. “They are trying to deal with how customers are using mobile as a price comparison tool.

“They are trying hard to figure out how to differentiate. There are good examples out there of how they are using mobile to enhance customer service but I don’t they have found the key yet.”