When is a smartphone not so smart?

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Today, there are an estimated 1 million mobile applications, representing 40 billion downloads by consumers across the globe. By 2017, it's predicted that there will be a staggering 2 billion smartphone devices worldwide.  Richard McCrossan, Strategic Business Director at Genesys, takes a look at the opportunities offered by the increasing consumer shift from PC to mobile, and how companies should make the most of the capabilities of today's smartphones to enhance the customer experience.
Most apps are transactional. For example, they enable customers to check a balance or their flight schedule, but nothing more. Yet as increasing numbers of customers turn to the use of smart devices, they expect more from these apps, including answers to their customer service queries. Many organisations' customer service departments are disconnected from the company's mobile applications.
When live assistance is required, customers often have to exit a mobile application and find the correct contact centre number to call for their query. As a result, customers are forced to wait on hold, re-authenticate, traverse again through complex phone menus, and repeat the nature of their transaction when eventually connected to the correct person.

The buying power of mobile

Recent research from Deloitte shows that smartphones currently influence 5.1 percent of annual retail store sales, translating into $159 billion in forecasted sales for 2012.
Mobile's influence, based on consumers' smartphone use, is expected to grow to represent 19 percent of total store sales by 2016, amounting to $689 billion in mobile-influenced sales.

Enabling a 'smart' customer experience on mobile

Here's the dilemma: according to Ovum, over 20% of smartphone customers in developed countries prefer to use smartphone applications to communicate with organisations, particularly in financial services, travel and communications. Yet still, over 80% of smartphone customers prefer phone calls with a customer service representative.
As mobile applications become increasingly powerful customer touch points, many companies are failing to leverage them in order to engage with consumers. According to recent Genesys research, only 20% of companies currently have a mobile customer service app. The research also showed that the phone is still king for contact centres, but companies need to understand that the smartphone customer wants to engage directly with them from their smartphone.
Many mobile app developers often see a phone call as a failure of their app. But as consumers become more and more used to buying via their smartphone, they will increasingly demand customer service via their smartphone.

It's still good to talk

The phone just isn't going to go away. Human interaction is a very valuable customer experience, and either a call or web chat can be helpful to the consumer. Companies need to enable a smart customer experience through a smart device, which enables the customer to contact an agent directly if required.
If we take just one example, the Genesys Mobile Engagement solution provides a customer care solution which provides smartphone users instant access to agents in the contact centre, all at the press of a button within a company branded mobile application. Companies need to make it as easy as possible for the customer to use whichever channel they prefer.
Effective mobile customer care requires a seamless transition between self-service applications and live assistance. It also requires companies to raise the bar on personalisation, delivering a customer experience that is increasingly dictated by the customer – when they want service, where, and over what channel.

Drive the customer conversation

By empowering customers who need live support to quickly engage customer service agents or specialised workers – such as personal bankers or travel agents – the customer experience can be significantly improved, enabling companies to proactively and personally connect with mobile consumers, driving a new level of the customer conversation over smartphones.

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