Adding Mobile & IoT to Customer Service Platforms

By Mazen Baroudi and Kevin Richards

Businesses cannot ignore the need for mobility and the opportunities that the internet of things (IoT) can provide. These emerging technologies enable services that appeal to customers, employees and business partners alike.

Organizations targeting the consumer market must address the fact that consumers in the United States rely increasingly on mobile as their primary channel for engaging with providers. In fact, according to Accenture research, one-third regularly access online channels from mobile phones or tablet devices, instead of using a personal laptop or computer, and 22 percent use mobile devices to make purchases.

Consumers also crave more connected experiences. Nearly half (47 percent) of U.S. consumers would be happy to receive a tailored discount or special offer from a company via their mobile device as a follow-up to shopping at a physical store.

It is no surprise then that CIOs are taking steps to add mobile and internet of things (IoT) capabilities to their customer service platforms to enable location-based marketing. Some embed technology into wristlets or other identification tags to allow customers to access particular areas and events or make purchases, while the chips in wristbands or tags direct purchase information to the individual’s customer account.

Others handle transactions via mobile phones, while apps downloaded to a phone can literally grant hotel guests access to their rooms.

While the technology creates new options for customers, making those options work properly requires IT executives to make calculated decisions about how to support the customers, establish the right technological environment and address security.  These guidelines can help.

1. Put the customer first. If you don’t, customers will put you out of business.

The customer experience needs to be at the heart of every CIO’s mobile strategy. This means understanding what customers value and expect. Mobile capabilities are particularly important in today’s business environment, where the most profitable customers tend to be multichannel customers.

If consumers can’t get the experience they want, when they want it and across any channel, they will go elsewhere.

According to Accenture Strategy’s latest Global Consumer Pulse Research, 41 percent of U.S. consumers get frustrated when a company’s online channels for customer services and support are not optimized for mobile devices. Another 40 percent become frustrated when they cannot access information—or make a purchase or payment—using a mobile device.

IT executives can capture the attention of customers and capitalize on loyalty opportunities by using mobile platforms to perform the following tasks:

· Take advantage of the context for customer experiences the company develops. Customers are using unpredictable combinations of multiple channels to meet their needs—with an emphasis on mobile devices—and finding creative ways to connect where they are with what they want, via mobile capabilities that develop appealing, revenue-producing experiences. The mobile experience also can be connected with physical interactions for maximum impact, including call centers, self-guided technology (e.g., kiosks) and physical locations.

· Get personal. Make smart use of customer data, such as GPS location information, to provide more personalized experiences and tailored offers.

· Make it easy for customers to connect with you. Whether customers tweet, email, use Facebook or call, ensure that they can quickly and easily do so via the mobile platform.

2. Plan to shift gears.

Just as customers consume information in many ways, the business consumes IT at different speeds and needs to accommodate its customers while they are on the go. For the CIO, that means establishing quick-response platforms. And, CIOs must balance the demands of keeping the lights on while keeping pace with digital developments.

According to Accenture Strategy research, 81 percent of executives stated that most IT organizations do not know how to operate effectively while supporting multiple objectives at the same time, and 70 percent believe they or their IT organization could operate and simultaneously support multiple business objectives, or “multispeed IT.”

Delivery methods are a key lever for multispeed IT. Agile and iterative methods can support faster-changing user experiences and digital capabilities, while DevOps emphasizes communication, collaboration, integration, automation and cooperation with other IT professionals.

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