Mobile Customer Service

When it comes to acquiring new customers, increasingly mobile marketing matters, as I point out in Part I of this series on mobility. Equally important when it comes to growing your business is taking your customer service mobile. According to eMarketer, by 2018, over one-third of consumers worldwide or 2.56 billion people will be using smartphones, and by 2019 1.51 billion people around the world will use tablets monthly.

The growing use of smartphones as well as tablets means that consumers can interact with your brand wherever they are, whenever they choose. This means it’s critical to provide small business customers with a satisfying mobile customer service experience. In fact, Gartner says that “weak mobile customer service is hurting engagement.”

Empower your customer service team with mobility

If some of your team members are remote or mobile, yet interact with customers, they need to be just as easy to reach as if they were working on site at your small business.

Cloud computing and UC
Today’s cloud computing and Unified Communications (UC) enable remote team members to be available to your small business customers to take orders and answer questions, collaborate and even bring an associate online or on a call for additional assistance in resolving a customer issue.

With your data stored in the cloud, they can access important documents from any device via the Internet to provide information. They even can share documents with customers.

UC enhances customer service by integrating desk phones, PCs, smartphones and tablets into one data and voice network so that all of your devices can talk to each other digitally. It also provides a host of collaboration tools, including e-mail, instant messaging, web and video conferencing and fax, accessible through the convenience of one interface.

With the aid of UC, being away from your desk phone no longer means that a call gets left in voicemail. Features such as Find me/Follow me enables your small business to route unanswered calls to a series of phone numbers – desk, mobile or even the softphone on a laptop – so that your team never needs to miss a call no matter where they are.

Messaging and conferencing apps
A number of messaging and conferencing apps make it easy to launch a web conference or video right from a smartphone or tablet to enable a virtual meeting with customers. For conferencing,  a headset ensures audio clarity and cancels out background noise. Also Plantronics Hub app, available for iOS and Android mobile devices, brings additional functionality to new Plantronics Bluetooth® headsets with helpful tools, notifications, and status information including features such as Find My Headset, battery-level checking and setting call options for an Apple Watch.

In addition to cloud computing and UC, as Business2Community points out in “Embracing Mobility and Improving Customer Service,” there are messenger apps that make it easy to communicate with field personnel leading to faster response time and less wait time for customers, as well as online forms that can be accessed via mobile devices so that customer information can more readily be processed.

Improve customer engagement with mobility

Mobilizing your small business customer service also involves making it convenient for your customers to interact with your small business on their mobile devices from anywhere.

In its “Improve the Customer Experience Through Better Mobile Support IndustryView 2015 Report,” Software Advice recommends that no matter what a customer needs to do – learn about a new product, process a return or chat with customer service – the experience on a mobile device needs to be as positive as it would on a desktop. Make sure your website is optimized for mobile viewing and interaction with just the basics, including your logo, select photos and content that is absolutely necessary to help visitors make a decision about your small business.

To ensure that searches yield helpful results, and not a lot of articles or information that is difficult to view on a small screen, Software Advice notes that some companies are using virtual language software that uses natural language processing and follow-up questions in order to provide the best answer.

Mobile customer service apps not only enhance customer service by making it possible for customers to interact with your small business wherever they are; they also can reduce contact center costs. Mobile apps that provide self-service purchasing and order checking options should feature an easy way for customers to connect with a live agent or request a call back if they need additional information or have a problem placing an order.

Increasingly, for many customers, having it your way means sending a text message. A poll conducted by Harris for OneReach found that 64% of all consumers now prefer texting to phone calls for customer service. Of the 2063 adults surveyed, 81% percent said they were frustrated with being tied to a phone or computer waiting for customer service help.

Social media
In addition to adding a text-based customer service channel, consider how social media can boost interactions with customers needing assistance. A comScore report found that smartphones are the preferred device for social media  access for users in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. Mobile devices account for 76% of all time spent on social media in the U.S., with both Canada and the U.K showing 70%. And social is real time. Customers know that many companies routinely monitor their social media accounts and are quick to respond to a comment or post. According to a report from Oracle, over half (51%) of Facebook users and over 80% of Twitter users expect to receive a response to their question or concern within 24 hours or less. By contrast, an online submission to customer service can take 24 hours or longer for a response.

When it comes to social media customer service, appoint someone or a team to monitor all of your social media efforts. If it needs to be a shared responsibility, create a team schedule with dedicated days for each person. Develop a plan for handling issues and make the action items for everyone involved in the process clear.

A mobile customer service strategy will have several components. You may not be able to address every one of them right away. Look at how your customers are interacting with your small business, and also take into account the flexibility needs of your staff.  Decide what steps to take right way and establish a timeline for implementing the others.