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6 tips to better customer service with mobile consumers

By Duke Chung
According to Pew Research, nearly 90 percent of U.S. adults own a mobile phone and more than half use their phones to go online.

Going forward, mobile has the credible potential to replace laptops and desktops as the primary gateway to the Internet. Because of its pervasive use and real-time convenience, mobile is a disruptive technology that must be immediately addressed by customer service providers across all markets.

The following are six tips for establishing a better connection with mobile customers:

1. Avoid the mobile customer service silo. When initially addressing social media customers a few years ago, businesses began by using separate tools which siloed social customer conversations, interactions and service histories.

Do not make the same mistake with mobile. Incorporate mobile into your existing customer service processes to achieve a seamless customer experience across all of your customer service channels and to achieve a 360-degree view of your customer and their service history.

By doing this now, you will not have one more trend to adjust to later when agile channeling becomes the new norm.

2. Make sure your online content is mobile friendly. With limited real estate on mobile, businesses have to make their customer-facing content count.

Best practice includes simplifying content so that the customer does not have to continuously scroll up, down, left and right; bolding the most important content; and ensuring text accompanies images and video ?remember, not all mobile phones are smartphones yet, so you must play to the lowest common denominator.

3. Create content that can be found on search engines. According to Google?s 2012 Our Mobile Planet Smartphone Research report, within the past two years, the number of Google searches on mobile devices has grown by 500 percent.

Customers may not always come to you directly for support. They may find it easier to do a Web search for answers and information. Make sure you are there, not just to provide support, but to reach new customers who are searching for and comparing product and service information to make a purchasing decision.

4. Ensure ease of service. Provide an application to empower your customers with convenient mobile account management, support, click-to-call features and the ability to submit support related photos via their smartphone or tablet.

Additionally helpful are location-based services that point customers to the nearest customer service center or can send service to them. Make sure the most-used functions are front and center.

As a best practice, no more than three keystrokes should be needed to access the majority of options.

Start/stop and easy edit functionality also alleviates mobile customer frustrations by allowing customers to save data entry and activity at any time due to time constraints, low battery or interruption and return to the same point at their convenience.

5. Respect your mobile customers? time. Consider these eye-opening stats from Equation Research:

? Seventy-four percent of consumers will wait just 5 seconds for a Web page to load on their mobile device before abandoning the site.

? Seventy-one percent of mobile browsers expect Web pages to load almost as quickly or faster as Web pages on their desktop computers.

? The majority of mobile Web users are only willing to retry a Web site (78 percent) or application (80 percent) two times or less if it does not work initially. One third will go to a competitor?s Web site instead.

Make load time, ease of use and speed a priority in your mobile customer service efforts.

6. Convey meaningful mobile content. Consider using SMS alerts and emails sparingly to alert customers to loyalty offers, potential or current service problems before complaints go social, and to thank customers and recognize personalized milestones such as birthdays, purchase anniversaries or other special occasions.

This proactive communication has been shown to increase customer loyalty, satisfaction, retention and enhance brand reputation.

THE TIME HAS come to bring mobile into the customer service fold.

Sync this emerging medium with your existing processes and best practice and use its unique features to better connect with customers and create a real-time, convenient and personalized service experience.

Duke Chung is cofounder and chairman of Parature, Herndon, VA. Reach him at .