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What “mobile” means when it comes to multichannel customer communications

by Paul Lewis | October 7, 2013 | 1 Comment

MobileMobile technology has fundamentally changed the way we shop and work. Ever since the first iPhone was released in 2007, our phones have become much more than tools for communication. We use them for collaboration with work colleagues and shopping research, for outdoor activities and indoor entertainment. Basically, for much of the waking day, consumers are on their phones.

And the phenomenon seems to be growing: By 2016, research firm, Portio predicts that three out of four adults in the UK will own a smartphone, which means the rate of smartphone penetration in the UK will surpass the rate in the United States. Accordingly, brands looking for new ways of engaging with customers are eager to exploit the capabilities of this high-potential channel.

Making it Personal

Within the new marketing adage of “SoLoMo” (social, local, mobile), the mobile channel is likely to be the most important one, over which the lion’s share of social and location-based communications will be delivered. How can companies get on the bandwagon to take advantage of this prolific channel, and avoid the pitfalls?

There are two key concepts that marketers should focus on when designing their mobile communications strategy:

  • The first one is multi-channel communication. Brand communications are no longer one-directional, and given the ever-growing number of customer touch points, customers want to be able to start a conversation in one channel and complete it in another.
  • The second concept is the need to personalise messages in both format and content to make the interaction effective. It is not just about personalising messages – “Hello David”. The challenge is to individualise the entire interaction – based on where they are, what they are doing, and a range of other factors.

I would like to share with you seven guiding principles to make the mobile channel effective for customer interaction –

  1. Orchestrate the channels according to customers’ individual preferences and usage patterns. Mail, ‘phone and email are set to remain important channels for some time yet, as the preferred way for customers to manage transactional interactions. This means that the mobile channel alone will not be appropriate for all marketing campaigns or customer interactions. Success will depend on marketers finding the right mix of channels.
  2. Customise the content according to the interests and habits exhibited by each individual customer. This includes gathering personal information such as their previous interactions, buying habits, and their presence on social networks, for example. There is a wealth of customer data and information that has been accumulated over time and can be tapped into.   As such, predictive analytics can help gain further insight into this data to determine which customers to approach with which offers and services and, more importantly, which customers to avoid.
  3. Provide consistent information, and especially current information, within every channel, including mobile.  It is important that customers receive continuity in service, messaging and interactions- this serves to maintain a consistent image of the brand. For one channel not to be aware of what a customer has done in another goes against this very principle.
  4. Location, location, location.  Location-based services are now part and parcel of consumers’ mobile usage patterns. By taking into account the immediate environment a consumer is in, marketers can enhance take-up of up-selling and cross-selling initiatives by making highly targeted sales offers in real-time, and demonstrate true customer centricity.
  5. Allow customers to use the mobile channel to and with the brand. The interactive capabilities of mobile devices open up the doors for real-time transactional and direct communications.
  6. Use alerts wisely. By engaging with your brand via their mobile phone, customers are allowing you into their private sphere. Once this door is open, it is easy to be tempted into communicating more frequently than a customer is comfortable with. The danger is that overuse of the mobile channel could easily be perceived as an invasion of privacy.  Like any other overused channel, the risk is always that customers might opt-out, or even choose to cut their ties with the brand.
  7. Be ‘device-agnostic’. In spite of some consolidation, the challenge remains of making customer communications work across all types of devices – whether it is smartphones and tablets, feature phones or basic handsets – and whatever the operating system. Although it sometimes cannot be avoided, it is important not to exclude customers because of their choice of handset.

The idea behind modern customer interaction or experience management is for the brand to become part of customers’ conversations and interactions, whether personal or professional.  However, this also means that it can potentially become much more intrusive than ever before. Nowhere is this more of a risk than in the mobile channel. Therefore, marketers need to internalise the mantra that any outreach has to be relevant, personalised and timely. Otherwise they will see customers opting out in their droves, never to return.

Want to view an expert video about how to integrate new media with customer communications? Check it out here!

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  • David Pickering

    Great insight Paul. As other carriers race to catch up with EE’s 4G it seems clear that fast connection speed is here to stay, so surely an increase in mobile marketing will follow as it ties in so well with the move towards customer-centricity most companies are stating to adopt.