This article also appears on MediaPost Publications.
Probably faster than any other technology in the last decade, mobile is changing the game for brands. In a flash, we’ve moved from a communication-response scenario to one in which we can have interactions with people anytime, anywhere (except for us Neanderthal AT&T subscribers). No longer do we wait for customers to walk into a store or visit a site to connect with them. It’s all right there, in their pocket, ready to go.
It’s more than a smartphone. It’s a personal assistant. I get free chips and salsa at the pub just for checking in through Foursquare, pay for my venti-skim-latte at Starbucks (only at Target) and download a coupon as I’m walking through the parking lot. I can find the cheapest price using RedLaser. I can get the real product scoop through Stickybits. And I can read hundreds of reviews on retailer sites to help me decide if your brand is right for me — or if I should avoid you.
Mobile has raised expectations for consumers, who now have 24/7 access to your brand and the entire category landscape. The greater the bandwidth, the higher the expectations consumers have of our apps, our mobile sites, our emails and text alerts. All communications — especially mobile — are becoming smarter and faster.
Mobile has completely disrupted the conventional path-to-purchase and has caught most marketers with their pants down. That’s not all. What’s most compelling about mobile are the astronomical expectations around anticipated usage.
So can mobile supercharge your customer relationship management program?
In terms of CRM, the immediacy of mobile will transcend customer goodwill. Mobile’s convergence with social media lets consumers ask questions and voice complaints at the point of sale. Brands should be there, listening, ready to address the next customer crisis, answer the next question, or amplify the most authentically fabulous consumer experience. Plus, real-time decision assistance through mobile will make the purchase process easier for buyers.
But it doesn’t happen overnight.
A fundamental shift must occur. CRM needs to move from the database marketer’s desk to the CMO’s radar. It can’t be a back-office function; it needs to be a front-office, customer-facing strategy. And it needs to be social.
New channels have emerged, but the basic principles of CRM don’t change. When someone buys something (especially for the first time), he or she enters into an open-ended relationship with that brand. Brands must be ready to capture that customer’s experience and start to understand what makes them tick.
Choosing the right mobile touchpoint is key. And that largely depends on who you’re trying to engage. SMS, for instance, has the widest reach and loyalty apps can bring real value to the customer experience, but do they make sense for your product or service?
Consider not only whether you have a plan in place to obtain mobile data, but also ask these questions when determining the right mobile touchpoint for your brand:
- SMS: Do you have permission to engage with client/customers via SMS?
- Apps: Would an app make it easier or more enjoyable to do business with your brand?
- Foursquare: Are you in a retail or service industry where you engage with your customers in-person? On a daily basis?
- Twitter: Does your business service customers by addressing their needs? Product concerns? Feedback?
Overall, there’s probably a place for mobile CRM in your marketing plan. But it’s not going to supercharge anything unless you’ve got the basics in place. So start small, hire a trustworthy partner, test and scale.
John Cilli contributed to this article.