Customer service is on the move. Not just are customer expectations changing, but the customer himself literally is mobile in many cases.
More than 90 percent of companies surveyed by Forrester (News - Alert) in its State of the Customer Experience 2012 report cited improving customer service as a top priority. Companies in the hospitality, wireless services and airline industries have specifically found that customer service is a differentiator. For wireless service providers, for instance, Forrester reported that good customer service brought in more than 700 million in additional purchases among those surveyed.
Yet the old ways of providing customer service are becoming antiquated. Call centers are no longer enough. Social networking customer service and in particular mobile customer support are some of the biggest trends in customer service, according to Infosys.
In terms of specific strategic initiatives, Infosys (News - Alert) found that 75 percent of businesses it surveyed cited improving the online customer experience as a top priority. Almost the same number said cross-channel customer support was a focus, and 61 percent said it was important to focus on the mobile customer support experience.
Contact centers are quickly adopting social networking channels as a key part of the customer service mix. Roughly 60 percent of contact centers now offer social support, whether it is Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter (News - Alert), according to the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI).
Chat also is gaining traction in the contact center; roughly 32 percent of contact centers currently offer chat support, according to the ICMI, with SMS supported by 37 percent of contact centers and instant messaging supported by 29 percent.
Mobile, however, while it is becoming a key channel for customer interaction, is lagging behind.
Mobile Internet will surpass desktop Internet usage by 2014, the ICMI reported Morgan Stanley as predicting, but only 25 percent of contact centers currently have mobile customer support in place.
“With smartphone adoption on the rise, contact center leaders are tasked with integrating mobile customer support into their already channel-crowded centers,” the ICMI noted in a recent blog post.
Roughly 33 percent of contact centers are in the process of planning a mobile support strategy, according to the ICMI.
Contact centers know they must handle mobile customer support. Roughly 68 percent said they believe mobile customer support will improve the customer experience, and 43 percent know a mobile strategy is important, according to ICMI. Further, 38 percent of survey respondents said that their customers are actively asking for mobile customer support solutions, and 35 percent said they feel they will lose business without mobile customer support.
Still, crafting a mobile customer support strategy is slow in developing, partially because there’s limited budget and expertise in-house. Nearly half of respondents reported that they don’t offer mobile customer support because they don’t have a mobile app at the present time, and 38 percent said they have no budget to implement. Roughly the same number said they have limited development resources, and 27 percent cited a lack of internal expertise.
So while customer service is on the move, mobility currently is limited for many contact centers despite the obvious need.