December 16, 2014
Brands should expand their mobile strategy to ensure that customers feel cared for amid a blurring of the lines between customer service, information technology and marketing to avoid damage to bottom lines, according to a new study by Millward Brown.
The study, produced for Mblox, found that a 20 percentage point gap exists between how businesses and consumers rate customer care. The findings point to the need for marketers to adopt a multi-channel approach to customer care with mobile at the center.
“Mobile allows brands to reach consumers at the time, in the place and in the manner they desire,” said Stacy Adams, vice president of global marketing for Mblox. “Implementing tactics such as mobile into business strategy is crucial in creating a satisfactory customer experience.”
The study, “Identifying the care gap in business-to-consumer engagement: A study of perceptions, reality and consumer preferences in mobile communications,” found that 86 percent of consumers are open to communication from brands through their mobile device, yet only 58 percent of businesses use mobile to engage.
The study surveyed 1,650 mobile phone owners and users over age 18 in the United States, Britain and Australia between Sept. 12 and 16.
Creating a caring experience.
The findings fit with a 2013 Millward Brown Digital survey that found 68 percent of respondents who received a text message or push notification from a company found it valuable. That study recommended that brands improve customers’ perceptions of the care they receive by improving email and SMS messaging, looking more closely at mobile as a tool for enhancing customer perceptions of care and combining mobile tactics to enhance effectiveness.
Investing in improving email and SMS will deliver the most significant results, because these are consumers’ preferred modes of mobile communication, the study found. Investing in email and SMS will raise consumer satisfaction levels more than investing in say, development of games, in which fewer consumers are interested.
Strengthening a mobile care program ensures that quality and service continue well beyond the point of purchase. For example, banks or credit unions can issue a mobile customer survey to solicit feedback to improve future customer experiences, or they can create personalized loyalty programs through text messages in which consumers can choose to participate.
Combining mobile tactics is a way for brands to address the lack of a perfect way to communicate through mobile technology. An individual may prefer text messages from a utility company about a power outage, but a push notification about a local deal from a favorite retailer. A text message offering coupons at 3 a.m. will not be appreciated if it wakes up the customer.
The report emphasizes that an effective care program on mobile can turn one-time customers into long-term brand advocates.
Another benefit of mobile care is it can be leveraged to drive recurring revenue through interaction with existing customers.
When asked, “generally speaking, on a scale of 1-10, how well do you think businesses care for their consumers?” just 36 percent of consumers said businesses do a good job of care (based on responses rated 8-10 on a 10-point scale), according to the study.
Yet businesses perceive the situation differently, with 73 percent indicating that their company does a good job caring for its customers.
Perceptions of care varied by industry, with healthcare receiving the highest consumer scores (44 percent). Retail was second (41 percent), followed by finance (36 percent), insurance (33 percent) and telecom/cable/utility (28 percent).
Ensuring consumers feel cared for.
“These findings prove that a multi-channel approach to customer care is imperative,” Ms. Adams said. “Mobile devices enable multi-channel communication because it allows brands to reach customers through their desired channels – e-mails, SMS, phone calls and apps.
“Mobile must sit at the center of brands’ customer care strategies,” she said.
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York.