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How to make customer service mobile-friendly

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15th Sep 2013
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Mobile technology is developing at lightning speed, presenting organisations with the persistent challenge of ensuring their mobile customer service meets growing customer demand. And whilst customer’s expectations for a similar user experience across mobile channels as a desktop website are increasing, often organisations are struggling to keep up.

With the new Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch recently being unveiled at the IFA consumer electronics fair in Berlin, following hot on the heels of Google Glasses – wearable technology means consumers won’t even need to reach into their pockets or handbags to be instantly connected anymore. Whether wearables will be the ‘next big thing’ is debatable but the growth in smartphone and tablet usage is inescapable.

Recent figures from Gartner revealed that Worldwide mobile phone sales to end users totaled 435 million units in the second quarter of 2013, with smartphones accounting for 51.8 percent of these sales, resulting in smartphone sales surpassing feature phone sales for the first time.

Consumers are using their smartphones ‘anytime, anyplace, anywhere’; in the office, on their commute, from home and in-store - to make purchases, research products and services and to find answers to questions online. Delivering the same type of customer experience on mobile as on the desktop however, is a constant challenge.

New data from IMRG and Capgemini shows that sales completed through mobile devices accounted for 23.2% of total ecommerce sales in Q2 2013, up from 11.6% in the same period last year.  However, the research also found that the consumers move from PC to mobile devices appears to have had a knock-on effect for bounce rates, which increased from 21.7% in 2010 to 26% to-date in 2013. Whilst the rapid growth in m-commerce is clear, it also highlights the incremental pressure on businesses to improve their mobile service offering in order to increase conversions.

So what are the key challenges?

A recent report produced in association with IBM Tealeaf showed that bad navigation and screen sizing were the two biggest issues customers encountered when interacting with a brand via a mobile device (both 36% respectively). The smaller screen size means that design and functionality needs to be adapted to ensure improved usability and navigation, not just a scaled down version of a desktop page.

The research also showed that many organisations are plagued with disjointed internal processes and a lack of a dedicated mobile team, resulting in a lack of understanding of customer struggles and pain points.

Customer expectations

Today’s customers not only want but also expect to receive a consistent customer service across all channels and integrating mobile into an overall multi-channel customer service strategy is key - it should not to be viewed as a siloed channel. As the numbers of smartphone and tablet users increase, so will demand for a joined-up customer service and having the right technology in place to handle this will become imperative.

Key factors for improving mobile customer service

The majority of consumers expect to be able to self-serve timely and accurate answers to their questions online and implementing online customer service solutions like a web self-service knowledge-base and live chat on your mobile site will ensure that customers receive consistent and up-to-date information - reducing the need for them to escalate to other channels to resolve customer service issues.

It is important however, when extending this service to mobile, to consider the following points:

  • Touch friendly – optimize your content with a large touch-friendly interface that’s easy to read.
  • Minimise key presses – make navigation easier by simplifying the journey and reducing the number of key presses required.
  • Mobile specific answers – condense the content of information given to make it clear and concise for the smaller screen.
  • Review and improve constantly – use a mechanism for customer feedback to allow you to revise and improve service constantly.
  • Seamless channel escalation – offer customers the ability to escalate their enquiry via live chat or e-mail to enable them to resolve their issue without changing channels.
  • Consistency – deploy a central knowledge-base across all of your customer contact channels, ensuring consistent information is provided via the web, mobile, social, e-mail or contact centre agents.

Organisations must quickly react to consumer demand for a seamless, cross-channel experience in order to improve brand perception and loyalty in today’s fickle market.

Peter McKean is managing director at Synthetix Ltd.

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