Mobile phones are the one device we always have with us wherever we are and whatever we are doing. From acting as an alarm clock in the morning, to letting us accessing the internet and email for work, post on social media and watch and listen to media in the evening, they are central to our lifestyles. No wonder that by mid-2014 more people will access the web through mobile devices than PCs (source IDATE) and that there are close to 2 million different apps available across different platforms (source Guardian).

This shift is radically changing how consumers interact with brands. They now demand the ability to communicate, find information and make purchases wherever they are, through whichever channel they choose. Mobile devices make it even easier to raise issues, both directly with brands and through social media. 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.

Because mobile devices are always on and always with us, they are seen as much more personal that desktops or laptops. This makes consumers less forgiving of a poor experience – they won’t move to their PC to complete an information query or transaction that fails on their mobile.

How should brands react to this shift in consumer behaviour and deliver the right mobile experience now? Here are our top six considerations for excellent mobile customer service whether consumers contact you through the web, email, chat, social media or phone channels.

1              Let apps do the work

Improve your customer experience by including web self-service and web chat within mobile apps, making it simple for customers to get the information they need, when they need it.  You should start by analysing your customer needs and 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?

2              Get responsive with your site

Customers want a consistent experience that matches the device they are using at the time. Use responsive design to ensure your website recognises whether customers are on PC, tablet or phone and delivers optimised content to best meet their needs and the device they are using. You should ensure escalation points (such as to chat, text and email) match their needs making it easy for customers to seamlessly move to other channels.

3              Get consistent with your knowledge

Don’t develop mobile customer service in a silo. Make sure it is consistent by sharing the same knowledgebase between mobile apps and your other channels. Many organisations already enjoy the benefits of a single centralised knowledgebase for web, telephone and email channels. It makes sense that as they introduce mobile apps, they use the same approach, enhancing and protecting their brand by ensuring the right information is available, regardless of channel. It puts customers in control of their experience, giving them access to the right answers, wherever they are.

4              Learn from interactions

Find out what your customers are looking for on the mobile channel by analysing their interactions. What are they asking for? When are they contacting you? Analyse your customer experience insight to understand mobile customer behaviour – how does it vary from the traditional web? Use the knowledge you discover to refine your strategy.

5              Make friends with mobile visitors

Ensure your site is mobile optimised so that it is fast and seamless to load, whatever device people are using. Customers on tablets and mobile phones want an experience that matches the abilities of their devices. So you need to do more than just trnasfer the PC interface to a smaller screen. For example, mobile devices rely on touchscreen entry, so don’t put in long and complex forms. Use location-based information that tablets and smartphones provide to deliver focused information to customers.
Make it easy for customers to find answers through small screen devices by prominently displaying the information that they are most likely to need on the move, such as store and opening details. Offer them the ability to find information themselves through web self-service or quickly chat to an agent through your mobile site.

6               Make channel-hopping easy

Customers want to use their channel of choice, across multiple devices. 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, as this leads to greater loyalty and increased revenues.

Paul Barnes, EpticaPaul Barnes, Managing Director, Eptica UK and Eire
Paul Barnes graduated with a Bsc in Economics from Cardiff University. He is an Associate of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and from 1994 to 1999 he was a managing director and part of the start up team of Adam Associates (now Neverfail). Following this he became head of Netdecisions Digital Products Group, a Corporate Private Equity vehicle, between 2000 and 2001. In 2001 he was a founder and sales & marketing VP of Fluency Voice Technology until 2006, now the UK leader in Speech Recognition applications. Since 2007 he has been a managing director of Eptica UK.

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