The expansion of Avaya’s partnership with Afiniti aims to provide its customers with outbound contact center capabilities that strengthen its customer experience and agent productivity. 

Multi-channel CRM: Engaging with the empowered consumer

By Vishwanath Alluri

A unifed, integrated, and multi-channel platform is essential for businesses adopting mobile marketing strategies

In an era where technology is a key driver of businesses, mobile phones and social media have rapidly emerged as ideal fora to connect with consumers. The challenge is that with increasing competition has also come the need for companies to significantly ‘up their game’ in terms of using mobile and social media to manage customer relationships. Therefore, developing a coherent customer strategy using mobile and social platforms is one of the most critical imperatives for companies today.

Role Of Mobile Platform In Managing Customer Relationship: The business landscape is rapidly evolving due to consumers’ need of being constantly connected and updated.

The mobile revolution, increasing smartphone penetration, and affordable high speed Internet have led to an unprecedented empowerment of the consumer. It is this customer who is actively using mobile phones for a diverse range of activities such as online shopping, banking transactions, socializing, seeking news and information, etc.

These usage patterns are impacting every stage of the purchase cycle and giving marketers significant opportunities to engage with customers. Emerging ‘mobile first’ strategies are a natural outcome, with marketers seeking innovative solutions across a diverse array of channels—SMS, MMS, IVR, USSD, OBD, Web, Email, WAP, apps, and in-app push notifications. With opportunities come several challenges.

First of all, very few vendors offer a comprehensive solution; the market is overflowing with providers that have service capabilities limited to only one or two mobile platforms (eg, SMS and email, or OBD and IVR, etc). Clients that engage with such vendors end up implementing ‘bits and pieces’ marketing strategy.

Such a fragmented approach also leads to operational anarchy and increased capital expenditure for the business, leaving the customer discontented. A key differentiator of the mobile platform is that it enables two way communication, with the customer given the option of governing the flow of communications. Receiving unsolicited, irrelevant, and untimely messages can very quickly shut down any engagement that a company wants to conduct with its customers.

The challenge therefore is to make these communications much more personalized and targeted. And it is not just customer needs that require attention. Her availability, location, how she reacts to a certain stimulus are among other key factors defining the content that marketers will have to concentrate upon in their contact programs. Businesses therefore will have to walk the extra mile to leverage the opportunities offered by the mobile platform. A cloud-based service delivery model, with a multi-channel and unified platform built on top, and which manages customer interactions by developing individual profiles, can help to significantly bolster the CRM needs of a business. Mobile-based CRM solutions can lead to collection of data through relationship management and loyalty programs. While the data collected can prove beneficial for a brands’ overall marketing and advertising initiatives, the key to successful CRM lies in knowing how to utilize this information to identify bottle necks and maximize customer interactions. Sophisticated analyses of CRM data and behavioral profiles enable in-depth segmentation and precise targeting. Ultimately, the right mCRM strategies will help companies get a ‘single view of the customer’.

The Shift To Mobile-Enabled Social Media For Managing Customer Relationship: With more and more consumers accessing social media through their mobile phones, there are increasing new opportunities to use this channel for customer engagement. According to a recent report by Nielsen, social media has emerged as a key channel for customer service. One in three social media users say they prefer using social media rather than phone for addressing customer service issues. Customers can choose when and where they present their questions, issues, and complaints based on their convenience. Social channels are therefore not just media for networking and entertainment. They are being used for making purchases, availing utility services and sharing feedback–in short, quick, easy, and convenient gateways for customer service. As a result, the need for providing social self-care options becomes important for marketers. A low-cost self-care model is also essential not just because of convenience and cost, but also because it gives marketers the opportunity to augment their company’s CRM data with customer’s social profile.

Recently a mobile operator company collaborated with social networking site Twitter to allow its customers to use the social platform for a range of customer service enquiries. This Twitter self- care service allows the customers of the mobile operator to use Twitter hashtags for the most common customer service enquiries. Another example of this would be the use of Facebook self-care by operators.

A unified, integrated, and multi-channel platform is essential for businesses adopting mobile marketing strategies. Such an approach will significantly leverage the power of mobile for business productivity and growth through unified customer engagement. Personalized multi-channel campaigns have buoyed up the standard marketing models, by driving engagement, reducing churn, and improving customer satisfaction. A successful CRM strategy will therefore integrate mobile as well as social and measure the efficiency of CRM campaigns against the objectives thus establishing future strategies.

Vishwanath Alluri

(The author is Founder and Executive Chairman, IMImobil)

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