Self-Serve: How the Mobile Age is Impacting Customer Service

by Hilary Smith on November 25, 2014

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Prior to the days of the Internet, businesses were very limited by the number of options they had for communicating with their customers, making it difficult to build brand loyalty on a broad scale. But thanks to the ever-evolving technology, the ways in which businesses are able to connect with the customers has changed and improved drastically. Today, in the digital age, small and large companies alike are leveraging mobile technology and social media together, interacting with their most loyal customers in ways that are convenient for both parties involved.

The Popularity of Mobile Devices

With the majority of the population now operating smartphones, more and more people are choosing to access the Internet from these devices, and it’s clear to see why mobile has become such an important factor of a marketing strategy. As self-service continues to rise and the trend of smartphone usage continues to push the customer experience forward, customers will also have more control in the way connect and engage with their favorite brands, products, and services.

And as consumers become increasingly connected with companies through these mobile devices, the more willing they are to engage with these brands, even if on the move. As a matter of fact, according to a 2013 survey by mBlox, more than half of the respondents that were surveyed claimed that they find text and push message notifications from other companies to be valuable. What is even more interesting is that 80% of these consumers said that they would be willing to share information, such as phone number, email, etc., with brands in order to receive these notifications.

If there is anything businesses can learn from this study, it’s that today’s mobile consumers are more interested in having a genuine relationship with the brands they feel they have a personal connection with, and it’s the savvy brands that are discovering and implementing the most engaging techniques to appeal to consumers in order to create and develop these relationships.

Networking, Communication & Development

As long as customers have access to the Internet, mobile technology can give companies the opportunity to connect with their customers on an unprecedented level of connectivity with real-time communication. Customers can download applications on their smartphone that allow them to connect with a brand via social media, view and download product information, order and purchase, file inquiries, and much more.

Though we live in an age where most of us cannot live a day without looking at our smartphones or tablets, customers still desire a personalized, friendly experience, even when the conversation is occurring online. Simply directing people to a FAQ page or contact number is no longer enough to keep customers satisfied.

Because of the widespread mobile adoption across the world, businesses have been driven to provide their customers with a 24/7 presence, especially on social media sites. As soon as someone shares a public complaint about a particular brand, that Tweet or wall post is out there for the world to see until it’s taken care of.

Furthermore, due to the interactive nature of mobile technology, customers are able to give businesses immediate feedback about their products and services when using this medium. While emailing surveys and asking customers to supply their thoughts and feelings can still be an effective means of collecting information for market research, the speed and accessibility of this technology serves as a catalyst to this research and lead to faster development of new products and services.

BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS

When used effectively, businesses can foster positive and ongoing relationships with their customers through the use of forums, feedback options, surveys and other ways of communicating directly with their customers. Using these tools makes the customer feel that they matter, that their opinion is important and the business is actually listening to them.

When you listen to your customer’s point of view, then you can better address their concerns and ultimately give them exactly what they want. This type of customer service based relationship is what keeps them coming back for more.

There can also be a downside to these more efficient methods. Think of how frustrating it can be when you cannot reach a “real person” on the phone and are shuffling through a myriad of menu choices on an automated system. One slip of the finger and you could be sent back to the beginning or you might hear a pre-recorded voice telling you goodbye before you have actually completed your transaction.

With all these technologies available, it is important that businesses stay in tune with the mobile age as it is clearly the choice many customers are making when doing business. Especially when the holidays are approaching, it is more important than ever for businesses to use whatever means necessary to remain in the black.

How does your business leverage mobile technology? How has this technology impacted your customer service? What other tools does your business use for customer service?

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Mi Muba
Twitter:
December 3, 2014 at 5:40 am

Hey Sherryl and Hilary,

Very important topic you chose to write a post and it really added a lot of my knowledge how mobile has entirely revolutionized the business world.

I did my post graduation in commerce twenty years ago. Quite recently I once needed to learn something new about business communication and was shocked to see all the chapters were completely changed and only a small portion in the book was about group communication or one to one communication.

It was fully covered by the topics like conference call, skype meeting, viber chat and bla bla. This is the revolution in business communication that works as the driving force to run every business.

Thanks a lot for sharing this wonderful post.
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
December 4, 2014 at 11:58 am

Hi Mi,

Thanks for sharing that with us Mi. A lot has changed in twenty years. That’s for sure.

I remember years ago when the newest technology was basically no more than a speaker phone that we could use for conference calls. I can still picture groups of us gathering for meetings with that simple piece of equipment being the center of the action. In those days, that was touted as such a cost effective way to meet virtually. Compare that now to Google hangouts and Skype. We’ve come a long way!

So glad that you dropped by! You triggered that long forgotten image and got me to take a short trip down memory lane.
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Soumya Roy
Twitter:
December 1, 2014 at 10:25 am

Mobile along with social networking sites made customer services faster than ever. Now brands and users can connect with each other any time they want even on-the-go. Mobile is changing the speed of life and the way you used to consume information.
Enjoyed reading your article Sherryl and Hilary further shared on my networks.

Regards
Soumya Roy
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
December 1, 2014 at 7:53 pm

Hi Roy,

Mobile is changing the “speed of life”! I had not thought of it that way before but you’e right. It used to be that we were only connected when we were sitting at our desks or using a laptop. With mobile devices, we can access the Internet most (if not all) of our waking hours.

Thanks for joining the conversation here. I’m following you on Twitter. I blog a lot about SEO. So, I’m sure I’ll find some of your tweets valuable. I appreciate your sharing Hilary’s article for us!
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Did You Know Google Panda 4.1 Rewards Quality Content? #FridayFindsMy Profile

Catarina
Twitter:
November 30, 2014 at 9:02 am

Spot on, Hilary and Sherryl!

More small businesses should use social media and mobile apps to connect with their customers. If not, they will lose out to large competitors that do. The tricky part is answering an angry customer that wents his/her anger on social media but there’s no avoiding it. Thankfully that’s never happened to me. It’s hard enough to swallow when someone insults you in a comment in a discussion:-)
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
December 1, 2014 at 7:37 pm

Hi Catarina,

Thanks for letting us know that you agree with Hilary’s guest post. It’s hard to believe that some businesses still resist having a social media presence. There are social networks to meet just about every need. For example, my hair dresser is active on both Facebook and Yelp. She raves about how she gets new customers who find her on Yelp. (That’s the more effective of the two for her.) She even rewards people who review her salon with a discount on hair products.

That’s great that you’ve never had to address negativity on social media. We’re both fortunate in that way. It’s unfortunate when people verbally insult someone on line. That’s the main reason that I don’t participate in non-moderated forum groups.

As always, thanks for dropping by and joining the conversation.
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Sherman Smith
Twitter:
November 27, 2014 at 5:09 pm

Hey Sherryl and Hilary,

I see the mobile industry is exploding and it would be wise for business to tailor their marketing and customer service to what’s going on.

But I do have to admit, although I’m in IT, I haven’t caught on to it myself. I know shame on me. Right now I’m not in that microwave mindset yet, but I know quite a few people that are. Especially our customers and it wouldn’t be wise for me to not tailor my blog and business in that direction.

But this post is convincing enough to do just that! The mobile craze will enable us to engage in a more timely manner and at the same time the trust factor will be done a lot faster!

Thanks for the share and I hope you’re having a great Thanksgiving!
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 29, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Hi Sherman,

I was slow to embrace mobile technology myself. I had myself convinced that I didn’t want to be “plugged in” anymore than I already was. So, I resisted buying a smartphone for years. Now that I have one, I don’t know what I did without it!

I still don’t check my email on my smartphone though. I imagine that time is coming but I’m dragging my feet on that one. 🙂 I won’t comment on blogs when I’m on it either. I find that too cumbersome. Of course, I’m still resisting using the feature that lets me talk to my phone instead of keying everything in too. LOL

Thanks for letting us know that you found Hilary’s article informative. This is her first guest post here and I think she did an excellent job.
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Reginald Chan
Twitter:
November 26, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Hi Hilary,

Great stuffs! Glad to see you are here (on Sherryl’s blog) and you nailed it.

Mobile is going to explode (or should I say it already exploded). Companies are already starting to fire up their ‘horses’ especially in mobile marketing and yes, thank you for bringing up this post!

Sharing this around and take care!

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 26, 2014 at 6:32 pm

Hi Reginald,

Sounds like you may recognize Hilary! I was really happy to accept her offer to guest blog here. She sure does know a lot about this topic. Plus, she has a great writing style!

Thanks so much for dropping by and joining the conversation. I know I haven’t been by your “place” lately but I promise to be making the “rounds” soon.
Sherryl Perry recently posted..Speed Up Holiday Shopping With Mobile Point of SaleMy Profile

Ryan Biddulph
Twitter:
November 25, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Hi Hilary,

People are glued to mobile. Everywhere. Here in Bali. In the ricefields. No, I’m not kidding! I see people outside of my window now looking at their mobile devices. It’s nuts.

People are even quicker to share their opinions via mobile as you aptly mentioned. Why not have a presence to serve mobile users and why not check in frequently to respond to feedback. Even if you can’t reverse a mistake or even if you can respond within a less than short time frame being a live body helps.

Engage, even if it’s not immediate, and you’ll see rapport develop, your trust factor will improve and naturally, business will grow due to your diligent customer service during this mobile age.

Nice reminder Hilary, thanks for sharing!

Ryan
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David FB
Twitter:
November 26, 2014 at 2:00 am

Hi Ryan
I’ve heard that in some parts of the world, they’ve skipped past phone networks and gone cellular. In places like E. Africa, there is massive adoption of mobile payment systems as banks are often not available. But this also means unprecedented access to information. Mobile is changing business in other parts of the world even more radically than here.
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 26, 2014 at 6:27 pm

Always nice to see you here David! You’ve made an interesting observation about the massive adoption of mobile payment systems where banks aren’t readily available. Now, that would make another interesting blog post too!

As always, thanks for dropping by and adding your insight.
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David FB
Twitter:
November 26, 2014 at 6:38 pm

Thanks, Sherryl
You might enjoy the book The International Bank of Bob. It’s written by a travel writer who spreads an excessive paycheck into microloans, then travels the world to see them in action. He speaks about mobile payment systems a bit. I’ve seen it mentioned in several other places, like W. China where various cultures converge. People get around on camels with cell phones.

Myself, I was relieved to have my teens amused at family and such events. And accessible when they were out. But yeah, there does need to be boundaries set like being present over a meal. Bad habit to eat without paying any attention. Or use it as life avoidance with fake friends.
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 29, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Thanks for the tip David. That sounds like a book that I’d enjoy.

Funny you should mention teens being amused with their mobile devices at family events. At Thanksgiving, my 13-year old nephew was not stuck in his room ignoring us (as usual). Also, he wasn’t glued to his smartphone. Instead, we had the joy of watching him torment his mother for the entire afternoon/evening. “Be careful what you wish for” – right? 🙂
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Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 26, 2014 at 6:25 pm

Hi Ryan,

Thanks for painting the picture of people in rice fields glued to mobile phones. That, I’d like to see!

One of the worse examples of kids glued to mobile phones was watching a young girl riding a carousel – texting. Why bother? She was totally oblivious of her surroundings. The only thing sadder than that is when I see families in restaurants and they’re all glued to mobile devices. Well, there’s that and watching my 13-year old nephew playing on his tablet when he was supposed to be visiting his 86-year old grandmother in the hospital.

Mobile is wonderful and it certainly has changed the landscape of eCommerce but it’s also affecting families and children but not necessarily for the better. – Maybe that’s fodder for another blog post! 🙂

As always, its great to see you here Ryan. I hope you’re enjoying Bali! (I’m sure you are. 🙂 )
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Susan Cooper
Twitter:
November 25, 2014 at 11:45 am

Hi Hillary. I know that mobile age technology affects the way i shop. For example, when I shop at my favorite stores, rarely do I forget to check and see if I can find a coupon while I am waiting in line that they can scan from my phone at the register. And if I get a text message while I’m out shopping that a store/restaurant I frequent is having a discount, especially if I’m right nearby, I am way more likely to go there. It is the way of the future.

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 25, 2014 at 2:19 pm

Hi Susan,

I’m glad that you can relate to Hilary’s post. I do too! Quite often, I’ll find an unexpected deal at a store. Since, I haven’t had a chance to research it, I’ll often check out reviews on the store’s WiFi to help make the buying decision.

I recently did this to buy a discontinued laptop (just over $200+) and I even bought a discontinued electric range while standing in front of the last available. (It turned out that was originally over $1,000 and I got it for $600.) Mobile computing has definitely changed the way we shop.

Have a nice holiday weekend. I’m sure you’ll be cooking!
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Hilary Smith
Twitter:
November 25, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Hi Susan. Thank you for your comment! I agree with you. On a consumer level, mobile technology has certainly impacted the way I shop as well. I have a few apps on my smartphone that I use on a weekly basis. Do you think it might replace coupon clipping altogether someday?
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Ammar Zeb
Twitter:
November 25, 2014 at 7:17 am

Thanks for this informative article Hillary!Well, mobile age plus technology age has both very much beneficial and good effects as well as bad and adverse effects on our ways of life but as always it depends on the person itself that how he/she uses these stuffs.Thanks for this post, keep writing!

Sherryl Perry
Twitter:
November 25, 2014 at 1:35 pm

Hi Ammar,

Thanks for letting us know that you found Hilary’s article informative. I agree that there are both beneficial and negative effects from mobile computing. We cannot ignore the fact that it does have an impact on the way we do business now.

I hope you’re having a great week.

Hilary Smith
Twitter:
November 25, 2014 at 4:10 pm

Hi Ammar. I’m glad you found my article helpful! What kind of negative effects do you think mobile technology has had on consumers?
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