Mobility changes customer relationships

Emerging technologies have enabled companies to collect, store, and analyse customer information in ways that have greatly improved their ability to attract and retain customers. Enterprises can practice effective customer relationship management (CRM) by using analytical techniques to implement customer treatment strategies based on predictive modelling that draws on a wealth of data about customer behaviour.

According to a new report from Forrester Research called Mobile is the New Face of Engagement, a power shift happens when a billion people use mobile devices to engage with brands, information, and each other: Mobile apps empower customers, partners, and employees wherever they are in the context of that moment. People can serve themselves in the moment to accomplish a task like check a status, find an expert, receive an alert, make a purchase, answer a question, share an opinion, or send a message. This has had a massive impact on CRM strategies and results and, consequently, on how companies are working.

“The access and convenience of mobile apps and devices shifts more power from institutions to individuals than did the PC or the Web,” says Anton van Heerden, General Manager at Altech ISIS. “The adoption levels and growth projections of mobile devices and investment are staggering, and companies that ignore this phenomenon do so at their own peril.”

According to the Forrester research:

  • One billion consumers will have smartphones by 2016.
  • Apple, Google, and Microsoft will be the software platform for more than 90% of smartphones and tablets worldwide.
  • Carriers will compete for wireless spectrum and to support 5.8 million public Wi-Fi hotspots globally.
  • In 2016, 350 million employees will use smartphones — 200 million will bring their own.
  • Smartphones and tablets are valuable enough at work that employees will buy their own.
  • Mobile spend will reach $1.3 trillion as the mobile apps market reaches $55 billion in 2016.
  • Tablet and smartphone apps, even at an average price of $2.43, will grow explosively to $56 billion in 2015 as first-time device owners tap into the wealth of innovative apps.
  • All told, the spend on mobile will reach $1.3 trillion globally by 2015 — 35% of the technology economy.
  • Business spending on mobile projects will grow 100% by 2015.

“This indicates that with smartphones and tablets becoming the platform of choice for consumers and businesses alike, companies around the world should be looking for new ways to engage customers via their mobile devices,” van Heerden says. “Starting with creating conversations with customers and prospects on social networks, companies should build, nurture, and develop customer relationships through every avenue available to them.”

He adds that this isn't as difficult as you might think. “Building these relationships just means treating your customers and clients as if they truly are your strategic partners and showing them that you truly care about them. It's important to try to satisfy them with the right products and services, supported by the right promotion and making it available at the right time and location. Customers can easily detect indifference and insincerity and they simply will not tolerate it. Long-term client and customer loyalty is a long-term challenge that you must strive for every day and with every transaction, no matter how big or small.”

“Altech ISIS has helped a number of organisations implement this and is seeing fantastic benefits both in better and stronger customer relationships, but also in the ‘stickability’ of how long customers are staying with their chosen service provider.”

Key to this is a mind shift to “systems of engagement”. These, Forrester says, “are different from the traditional systems of record that log transactions and keep the financial accounting in order: They focus on people, not processes.”

Altech ISIS’s Van Heerden says that CIOs need to rethink the roles, responsibilities, and skill sets within their IT organisations – much as they did with advent of the personal computer. “An effective CRM strategy that takes this technological shift into account will lead to improved customer satisfaction, lower service costs through customer self-service, increased business productivity, lower internal costs, and significant new revenue sources. And that will result in a future of profitable growth.”

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