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 For the first time in history customers and employees have better technology than the organisations that service them and that they work for and mobile devices are core to this brave new world – mobile has become a key customer and employee engagement platform

The rise and rise of mobile customer engagement has been instrumental in changing the whole face of customer relationships. Today’s customer has more power, a greater say in how an organisation designs its products and services and is more likely to take the opportunity to have their say.

The sheer pace of change and the need for organisations to be agile and mobile and armed with strategies to stay ahead of the mobile customer revolution were central themes in the Customer Engagement Network’s first Mobile Customer Engagement Directors Forum, sponsored by Confirmit and Interactive Intelligence and chaired by CEN editorial director Steve Hurst.

 In his Opening Keynote ‘Mapping the mobile customer engagement opportunity’ Ross Sleight, Chief Strategy Officer, Somo, demonstrated how mobile has quickly grown to become one of the key platforms for customer engagement.

 Customers in control

 Ross said that it is customers who are leading the mobile customer engagement revolution and that organisations must keep up with the pace of change. They must be prepared to come up with customer mapping and behavioural design strategies that keep them ahead of the game.

 There are a wealth of opportunities in mobile customer engagement for businesses to interact and grow profitable relationships with customers in a technology driven world where customers are increasingly dictating channels of communication.

 Next up came the first case study of the day with Claire Kavanagh, Head of Loyalty, giffgaff. Claire gave overview of mobile company giffgaff’s unique business model and how it involves its members in all areas of the business. She revealed that more than 500 customer ideas had been implemented by giffgaff since it launched four years ago.

 She touched on the three key challenges around mobile and social customer service, the importance of trust, changing expectations and measuring quality  and clearly indicated how customer engagement and involvement – giffgaff does not have a contact centre because customers solve other customers’ problems – improves performance and profitability.

 Then came Conrad Simpson, Director, Interactive Intelligence with a thought provoking presentation ‘Mobile Customer care: is it more than just an App?’ Conrad said that as many organisations reach out to mobile platforms to extend their customer care strategy.

 Silos bad – holistic good

 Conrad gave case study examples of customer care delivery on a mobile platform. For many of these organisations mobile has become yet another channel demanded by an ever more savvy customer community yet he warnEd of the dangers of the ‘silo’ approach to mobile taken by many organisations and called for a more holistic approach.

 Kieran Bourke, Managing Director, Mobext came next with a fascinating presentation Perfecting Mobile Customer Engagement through App Prototyping’

 Kieran explained that there are major challenges to successful customer engagement with Apps. The average smartphone user downloads just 2.5 apps per month. Only 5% of Apps are in use a month after downloading and only 20% of users return to an App after it is downloaded.

 Kieran revealed how 'prototyping' can help to ensure brands remain meaningful within a colossal App ecosystem. He showed examples of App 'prototypes' developed for major brand clients and explained the prototyping process he uses to ensure App usage and customer engagement is optimised.

 Kieran stressed that organisations need to ‘fail fast’ and ‘fail smart’ in their prototyping and talked of the growing trend towards ’hackathons’ which are effectively brainstorming sessions aimed at getting apps out there that customers will find of use and value.

 Next up came Miguel Ramos, Subject Matter Expert, Mobile Solutions, Confirmit with his presentation ‘Business value of mobile for customer engagement programmes’

 Miguel ran through the case study of a Multinational Consumer Corporation, and described how mobile technologies can be used to capture data and report on findings, in order to help improve customer experience and sales.

 Context is king

 He shared some of the deep insights that can be delivered through a mobile implementation as part of a VoC multichannel strategy. He shared best practices, dispelled myths and showed how recently introduced features, such as GPS tracking, photo/video capture and playback, increase the depth of data in a meaningful and measurable way. Miguel aid context is king when it comes to mobile customer engagement.

 He also helped identify the opportunities in mobile and overcome challenges in managing the mountains of unstructured data that organisations now collect. A purposeful mobile strategy as part of a VoC programme is the conscious design for a mobile environment where technological features are maximised thereby delivering on the true promise of mobile.

 In a change of pace and tack Stephen Citron, Director, The Peer Awards told delegates about the Customer Engagement Awards in association with the Peer Awards

 The Customer Engagement Network is working in association with the Peer Awards, to provide exposure and recognition for innovative customer engagement initiatives.

 All shortlisted finalists feature in The Independent newspaper, and speak at the Peer Awards conference in Central London on 27 June, where they are judged by everyone attending the conference, including the finalists. The winners are announced and celebrated at a champagne ceremony in a prestigious Central London hotel. Finalists in the Customer Engagement Awards categories include Sony, o2, SimplyHealth and Lebara.

 After the networking lunch all morning speakers took part in a lively and wide ranging panel debate chaired by Steve Hurst which delved deeper into some of the issues raised during the earlier presentations

Augmented Reality

Next presentation came from Pratick Thakrar, Founder, Imagine Mobile  with his presentation Imagine, Mobile Marketing Simplified’ and one again the theme of the lightning pace o change in mobile engagement came to the fore.

 Pratick demonstrated examples of his work with organisations such as Disney and  Burberry to campaign target audiences via the mobile channel.

These case studies included included live demos of Augmented Reality. Pratick also discussed how clients are able to simplify mobile marketing and take the risk out of test and learn environments

 Next up came Alex Meisl, Chairman, Sponge with his presentationMobile – the glue which helps deliver connected customer experiences’ which delivered a series of impressive stats around mobile use and mobile engagement – not least that one in three ‘showrooming’ smartphone owners I the US cancel a purchase once they are in store because they have found a cheaper alternative.

 Then using case study examples from organisations including Asda, Dyson, Investec and Adidas, Alex focussed on how a well-implemented mobile first approach is delivering loyal and long-term engaged customers for brands.

 Blended contact the future

 Closing keynote came from Morris Pentel, CEO, Customer Experience Foundation  with his crystal ball gazing presentation Around the world in 80 apps – The next big things in mobile and tablets’

 Morris looked at some of the latest trends in the mobile and tablet communication and use and forecast a future of ‘blended customer contact’ where personalisation of customer service across all channels enabled by technology and driven by the customers themselves would come to the fore.

 He also looked the impact of some of the very latest apps and websites that are having a big impact on the way consumers are using technology including John Lewis. He  alsoexamined the rise and rise of so called Over The Top (OTT) operators such as Skype and WhatsApp.

 He concluded appropriately by saying that there had been a fundamental sea change in the relationship between organisations and their customers with a huge shift in control to customers who do indeed have better technology – much of it mobile – than the organisations who want their business.

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