Customer dialog in a mobile channel

10 years ago the service industry faced the challenge that their service encounters were moving from a traditional face-to-face encounter to a technology-mediated encounter (Internet). Now 10 years later the service industry is facing again a challenge as customers are engaging more and more with the service provider through a mobile application than the “normal” web. What does this mean for the customer dialog? Is the customer dialog subjected by treats of the mobile world? Are customer dialogs still important in a mobile environment? Is there a customer satisfaction and customer relationship management risk; now all traffic is moving from the web to mobile? All good questions, I think.

One of the reasons to have a customer dialog is to create a customer relationship, which in turn (hopefully) leads to customer satisfaction and – loyalty. To create this relationship there needs to be benefits for the customer. With other words, the customer need to desire be develop or maintain the relationship. Broadly there are 3 benefits which customer can receive next to the value or benefit of the core service/product (these benefits are so called Relational Benefits and are based on the marketing literature, for more information click here). The 3 most common relational benefits are:

(1) Social benefits: these benefits refer to the personal bonds between the service provider and the customer and include familiarity, friendship, understanding, and empathy.

(2) Confidence benefits are the decrease of uncertainty in the transactions and increase of the expectations of the customer with the service provider.

(3) Special treatment benefits are the valued benefits of being in a relationship compared of to the one in a non-relationship. These benefits could be a combination of economic and customization.

Although these 3 relational benefits originates from the traditional service industry, they are also applicable in a mobile context. When you take these into account in designing your customer dialog features you might hit “bulls eye” in creating a customer relationship in your mobile app.

Thus given that creating these 3 benefits can increase the extent of the relationship between the customer and service provider, they need to be reflected in your mobile application or channel. This way you lower the risk that the move from the normal web to your application won’t put your existing customer relationship at riks.

So how could you create these relational benefits through a mobile context and create the customer dialogue to strengthen the customer relationship? This strongly depends on your goals, segments and likely industry. But below are a few examples; which might get you thinking in the right direction:

Create Social Benefits:

  • Create Twitter, Facebook channels in your application to post questions to your care team. This way you enable a (digital) interaction with your customers.
  • Enable live chat through your application
  • Show your customer care team (e.g. profile pictures) as part of your care interfaces

Create Confidence benefits:

  • It goes without saying ensure a good performance and working use cases in your mobile channel.
  • Ensure that interaction history is available through other care channel; so your care agents know also what experience customers got in your application and not just your regular channels
  • Create opportunities for “lost” customers to switch channel and be able to solve their issus via existing channels, or even better ensure the customer can solve issues through the application.

Create Special treatments:

  • Provide customers access to a Beta version of your new release; and communicate and share new features. Include them in your customer insight-gathering sessions.
  • Use for example push notifications to provide special treatments, offers, discounts to your customers.
  • Free or coupons for features or in-app purchases.

There is no one right way to enable a customer dialog in your application as it will depend on many aspects mostly related to the type of app or business, but keeping the above mentioned relational benefits in the back of your head will definitely help you to create a customer dialog which enables your customers to desire to develop or maintain a relationship with your services/products.

2 Responses

  1. Make Up January 16, 2013 / 3:12 pm

    Excellent post. I definitely love this site. Keep it up!

  2. Blythe March 2, 2013 / 5:46 am

    Awesome article.

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