Mobile Devices Are Transforming Customer Service

February 15, 2011

Experts are saying that 2011 is the year that mobile computing will transform customer service. That’s because mobile apps are “expanding the scope of customer service – mobile apps allow us to offer new functionality,” according to Diane Clarkson, an analyst at Forrester Research. “We can now use our mobile devices to learn if an item is in stock, to deposit checks, and to get assembly instructions. This functionality is often a service or deflects a call for service,” Clarkson notes in a recent blog post that takes a closer look at the various forces helping to change the definition of customer service.

There are numerous challenges for companies in offering this kind of functionality, such as security issues and multiple platforms and operating systems to navigate. But with 15 million iPads sold last year and as many as 80 competing tablets to be introduced in 2011, it’s clear that companies who want to reach these high-powered consumers need to adopt a mobile strategy, whether they are offering apps, optimizing their mobile web presence, or preferably, both.

Executive coach Amy Hedin is one of those efficiency rockstars, simultaneously running HumanPoint, the Seattle-based business consultancy she founded in 2007, while serving on the boards of several non-profit organizations and speaking at industry conferences across the United States. Hedin started using an iPad in October 2010 and stopped lugging around her laptop within days.

“I love the freedom in pulling out my iPad to quickly answer emails and get fast replies to my clients while I am on-the-go,” Hedin says, noting that she carries the tablet and a remote keyboard in her handbag. “I capture my thoughts, plan projects and manage my task list wherever I am.”

Hedin says that she uses her iPad for about 80 percent of her daily computing. “I use it for e-mail, notes, planning, research, news, Twitter, and simple documents, though I still rely on my laptop for group presentations and spreadsheets. It’s more handy than a smartphone because of the increased functionality and the larger viewing screen, and I find using the wireless keyboard makes responding to e-mail much faster than fingertaps on a phone screen.”

She says that she’s now able to spend more time responding to clients during downtime between meetings or while travelling, so they get more immediate answers and she spends less time at home at night replying to e-mails – so both she and her clients win. In fact, several of her clients have converted to tablet computers themselves after seeing what she was able to get done during the day. On the personal side, she uses the iPad for numerous customer service applications in her daily life – “banking, calendaring all my appointments, researching, and troubleshooting issues.”

Increasingly, productivity mavens find that they depend upon tablet computers to stay connected to customers, to multitask, and to make the most of the hours they spend on the road and in the air. As more of us follow suit and get converted to computing on the go, look for businesses to cater to the mobile customer both on the web and via apps, appealing to people who are looking to get more done in less time.

“I love having quick access to information, so not having to wait the 3 minutes to boot up my laptop every time I need something is really valuable,” Hedin says. Since business owners and customers like her are finding ways to make every moment count, now is the time to help them do it all on the go.

Want to learn more about offering multi-channel support to your customers? Read our white paper on the topic here.

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