The customer experience begins with a mobile app
by Brian Stacy, VP of Customer Experience at Verizon Business Markets
Twitter | @brian_stacy44
How do you order a pizza, buy a pair of sneakers, or rent a car? There’s a good chance a mobile app is your starting point, even if it’s not the whole journey. You might discover the sneakers on Instagram or Facebook, learn and explore more about them in the mobile app—even asking questions via chat or by reading online reviews and finally purchasing them online. This is the new normal. Today our consumer touch points are increasingly integrated—we expect a seamless omnichannel experience, but that often begins in a mobile app.
The vast majority of Americans now own smartphones. For millennials and Gen-X, ownership is almost ubiquitous. And thanks to the fast, reliable connectivity provided by 4G and in the future 5G, they’re using their mobile devices to consume media, organize their lives and research and make purchases. Consumers are turning to their mobiles to check reviews of products and prices when in store. And they’re not waiting until they’re back home to book that vacation—they’re doing it straight from their phone.
For many consumers, the first thing they’ll turn to when they’re thinking about making a purchase—be it new clothes or a new car—is a mobile app. Mobile is where the customer journey begins. And that’s why it’s something that every organization should be embracing.
Speed and convenience
On most occasions, consumers want speed and convenience. That’s what the best mobile apps offer—ecommerce on the go. They can help to streamline the entire buyer process, making your service more attractive to busy people seeking convenience and instant gratification.
Mobile apps can also help win new customers and encourage brand loyalty. Many customers’ view of your brand will be based on social recommendations. They’re more likely to trust a brand if they’ve seen good reviews online—and especially if it has been recommended by friends or family. From your mobile apps, customers can instantly share their purchases on Instagram, or send push notifications requesting a Facebook review. This can help you to build brand awareness quickly, and attract a wider audience.
The benefits don’t end there. Mobile apps can save your business time and money. Imagine you’re a busy hotelier or restaurant owner—a mobile booking app could mean your staff spends less time answering phones and taking manual reservations, freeing up time for other proactive guest activities to create experience differentiation.
The ecommerce landscape is rapidly evolving and there’s huge potential for innovation. New and upcoming trends include sophisticated AI chatbots, digital assistants and virtual reality shopping. If used wisely, these features can enhance the user experience, differentiate your organization and enable rich personalization.
Need inspiration? Keep an eye on larger brands that are leading the way in mobile customer experience (CX). Retail giant Sephora has released an app which scans your face and lets you try on makeup virtually. It matches your chosen look with real products you can purchase online or in-store, creating a tailored shopping experience.
Concierge apps like Pana are changing the way we travel. Book your sightseeing, flights and hotels within the app, or use the built-in chat support to instantly connect with travel agency professionals. Running late for a flight? Grab shows you the nearest restaurants in your airport. Order your food within the app, and grab it as you rush to the terminal. You can even forward on meal receipts for expense reporting.
Mobile CX is already harnessing the power of 4G. The arrival of 5G promises to enhance this even further, with predicted speeds of more than a gigabit per second. Customers will be able to quickly download videos on the go, vastly improving the mobile app experience. The future of mobile CX looks promising.
Where should you start?
Whether you’re planning to develop your own mobile app, or simply make your existing website mobile friendly, there are certain things you should keep in mind. Here are three key considerations for your mobile strategy.
Using content delivery networks (CDNs) can enhance your mobile app performance. CDNs help provide a smooth user experience by accelerating the speed of content downloads. This is especially important if your customer base is spread around the globe. Even a second-long delay can cause a drop off in your mobile conversions—so it’s important that your app is lightning fast, no matter where your users live.
One of the most crucial considerations is payment security. Consumers put their trust in you each time they make a purchase online, or within an app. To protect both your customers and your business, get up to speed with security requirements including the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) and The Payment Application Data Security Standard (PA DSS).
Don’t fall into the trap of going mobile for the sake of it, or blindly following your competitors. Your mobile app must work for your customers—not frustrate or impede them. Begin by tapping into your existing consumer base. Conduct journey mapping research to find out what they want, and how you could improve their experience. Think about every possible touch point on your customer journey, and try to create a seamless omnichannel experience which makes their daily lives easier.
Taking Command of Push-To-Talk – With the Casio G'zOne Commando
In today’s business environment, “instant” and “at the push of a button” seems to resonate across the ecosystem when it comes to communication. Fortunately, through Push-to-Talk (PTT) technology, businesses can make an instant connection with someone on their call list, and speak about the issue at hand without waiting for a phone to ring.
No matter what line of business you are in, construction, transportation, medical, manufacturing, professional services, etc, a mobile phone with Push-to-Talk offers many features and top line benefits including:
- Instant two-way communication for mobile teams on the go. Communicate with one person or the whole team with the push of a button.
- Group calls with up to 50 participants.
- Online contact management for the entire company.
- Presence (the ability to see who's available for a PTT call).
- One number, one phone for Push-to-Talk and voice calls.
- Manage contacts for the company online: Add, delete and assign contacts, create groups and more.
Now all of these benefits are available on the Android platform via the Casio G'zOne Commando from Verizon Wireless. For those who want a viable method of communication to deploy in their SMB, the Push-to-Talk feature allows you to use your phone like a walkie-talkie to communicate with an individual or group of other Verizon Wireless Push-to-Talk subscribers. No matter if in the office, traveling or on-site at a meeting, users can quickly connect with one or multiple team members at the same time with just a push of a button.
For those who are already Casio Commando owners, a simple process gets you into a PTT device. Customers can activate the PTT feature Verizon Wireless store through: retail, indirect, business, customer service, and telesales channels. Additional information is available here.
Customers can also add the feature through:
- Business: Log into My Business Account or call 800-VZW-4BIZ
- Enterprise: Call 800-VZW-4BIZ
- Consumer: Log into My Verizon, My Verizon Mobile or call 800-922-0204
As a company, Verizon Wireless’ Push-to-Talk capabilities continue to play an important role for our SMB customers in industries where one-touch communication aids in swift decision making in the field. Push-to-Talk functionality is ideal to make reliable connections regardless of challenging terrain or diverse infrastructures.
If you are already using the PTT feature, please share how you have used it in your business.
Let 4G Take Your Business Anywhere
Guest post from Paul Macchia, national PR manager - Enterprise and Government for Verizon Wireless. For the latest and greatest Verizon Wireless news, please follow us: @VZWnews.
I don’t have to tell you that today it’s all about mobility. For businesses – particularly small- and medium-sized businesses – you want to be able to reach your customers and in turn have them reach you even if you are out – half way across the country.
Not all networks are created equally… depending on your mobile service provider you may or may not get service. If you are pitching a customer your service via your cellphone, you do not want to drop that call or have bad reception where your voice is broken up. Period. It’s a deal killer.
Verizon Wireless has been upgrading its network to the latest 4G LTE Technology. More than 100 markets in the US have 4G LTE, and we are rolling out more markets at regular intervals. Essentially, 4G is 10 times faster than 3G. It is not about speeds but capability. 4G will let us work faster, smarter and more efficiently.
We are working as fast and as hard as we can to deliver smartphones and tablets that work on our 4G LTE network. Click here to see some of these products.
Now, don’t take my word for it. Verizon Wireless continues to get solid accolades for their 4G LTE Technology. Sascha Segan of PC Magazine recently wrote an article, “The Fastest Mobile Networks 2011,” sharing the pluses of the 4G LTE Verizon Wireless network. Click here to read this article.
Is your business mobile?
Weekly Roundup – Hello Apps, Good-Bye Oprah!
The future of the Internet may be taking another leap - the mobile app is what’s driving the Internet in business, entertainment and social networking. And according to Forrester Research, it will grow to be the dominant Internet point of presence.
And our technological transaction future doesn’t stop there – Google Wallet is just one of the emerging phone-swipe purchasing apps that will be available to further increase our reliance on cell phones into all-in-one devices.
What does this mean for you as a small business? Clearly, location-specific offers for retailers will become ever more important. If you aren’t using Yelp, Foursquare, Facebook and other services that can target your market, you’re missing out because they are commonly used apps on mobile phones.
This week also marked the end of Oprah Winfrey’s daily variety show may have been the last mega-audience platforms for small business. Her “favorite things” and an audience of millions made some small businesses scale up in ways they’d only dreamed of before her endorsement.
And if you want to nominate an influential business, group or media outlet that has had an impact on small business to be named one of 2011’s top 100 small business influencers, then do it here. You have until July 11th before voting begins!
Happy Memorial Day one and all, with special thanks to the many who have served our country and paid the ultimate price for our system built on free enterprise.
Telework – Anywhere, Anytime
Recently I purchased a package of Gogo Inflight Internet wi-fi service that’s available on a number of airlines. I’d used it last month, found it easy to connect and it allowed me to do some work with colleagues while flying. A couple of weeks ago, I bought a 6-pack of Internet sessions for $50 – a decent savings over one-time user pricing.
But Gogo took it another step for prospective customers – Facebook access has been free this month on flights. It was a nice touch and a way to create stickiness with consumers who like to be in touch via their Facebook personal networks – a great way to draw people in to the ease of an in-flight Internet connection.
But the real point here is that the mobile professional is the way we all work today.. I mean who isn’t using a smartphone or portable computer to manage a business email or call on the road? Even my taxicab driver on a recent trip to Washington, D.C. was connected.. He had a clean vehicle and a singular focus on a quality customer experience – after all, he is running a small business and he’s right on the money. He gave me a card with this email and phone number to connect with and, of course, to share with friends. His smartphone was plugged in up front so that he could respond both to calls and emails.
And then there was the fellow passenger I encountered at the airport – she was headed to visit family in Seattle but lived in Brooklyn where she works for a small construction consulting firm with 13 employees. She gave me the ultimate telework story – she’d just come back from two years in Costa Rica where she continued to work as the operations manager for the consulting firm with a DSL connection near the beach in Quepos. To top it off, she currently works out of her apartment in Brooklyn where she has a FiOS Internet and TV bundle of services.
In the 1990s as the Internet emerged, there was talk of cottage industries and teleworkers, then tech companies like Microsoft began to adopt a sourcing model that allowed them to hire workers anywhere as part of their software development teams – virtual workers.
Today, small or large, businesses have people on site, around town, across the country, around the world and, indeed in the air. Do you have employees in other states or in other countries? If yes, how do you stay connected and productive?
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