B10 Customer Service App Marketing

Part of a series of Top 10 Closing the Sale Mobile Marketing Strategies

Customer Service App Marketing involves the use of smartphone apps, tablet apps and other technologies, often right in the store or business location. Some of these apps may be intended for use only by employees (B2E apps), others may be intended for customers (B2C apps) and some could be used by both. The intent is to significantly elevate the level of service in some way that addresses business and/or customer pain points.

For example, Neiman Marcus has an app that enables customers in the store to interact with a store associate. It also notifies the store associates when a high‑value repeat customer comes into the store so they can provide a higher level of service.[1]

B2E Customer Service Apps

FIGURE 49 service customer app

Figure 49 : B2E Customer Service Apps. This is a sample retail store app. Tommy Hilfiger’s was one of the first retailers to provide tablets to sales associates to use as a sales tool. B2E apps for sales associates can provide functionality such as:

  • Inventory lookup without going into the back room including colour and size availability
  • Video demonstrations for customers
  • Configuration tools for product selection, and
  • Recommendations for cross-selling and up‑selling.

Fashion retailer Burberry provided iPads to sales associates in its Manhattan store. They encourage customers to watch live streaming video of Burberry’s fashion show in Milan, Italy. This is a powerful approach for immersing customers in the Burberry brand.[1]

Retail sales clerks could also be armed with a translation app on their smartphone or tablet to enable them to service customers in other languages. Instantaneous translation capability could also be extended to call centre reps. Raising the level of customer service could result in additional sales.

“Apple devices are also changing the way other professionals and business are working… Australian Airline Qantas is scrapping paper documents in favour of using an iPad.Similarly, UK councilors are being given iPads to reduce printing costs, and scientists are using the iPad instead of taking whole laboratories worth of equipment out into the wilderness.”

British Airways (BA) is providing in‑flight tablets to stewards, but the application of these devices may surprise you. BA introduced a strategy called Know Me that involves doing a Google search on important customers before upcoming flights, and sending their photo and information to iPads accessible to BA’s check‑in and in‑flight front-line staff. Talk about going to great lengths to try to improve your level of customer service to your most important customers.

As you can imagine, this approach raises some potential privacy issues and could lead to some disturbing interactions with customers. Still, BA is proceeding with sending out over 130,000 personal recognition messages per month to its staff.

Companies concerned about the use of non-sanctioned apps in environments where employees are interacting with customers, can lock down the mobile devices and restrict them to certain apps.

Realtors home QR codeWatch the Video: Augmented Reality Customer Service Apps – Realtors: Home Spotter has created an Augmented Reality real estate app to make real estate agents more effective at servicing their customers. <goo.gl/0yHcw> (Duration: one minute)

B2C Customer Service Apps

How might companies apply mobile devices for customers to increase sales and/or improve their level of customer service? Vancouver’s Opus hotel provides iPads in each room to give customers access to its iPad Virtual Concierge app which contains an assortment of music and books selected by its lifestyle concierge. Hotel Indigo in the UK actually replaced its in‑room bibles with an electronic version preloaded on a Kindle.

Consider how retailers could provide in‑store tablets for use by consumers while they are inside their stores. Tablet islands are tables displaying tablets that consumers can use to look up product specifications and reviews, compare prices and check inventory levels. As not everyone has a smartphone, early research suggests that the availability of in‑store mobile devices can significantly decrease the proportion of walk outs and increase average customer spend which increases sales.

Other retailers are experimenting with virtual shelving; these are display devices on store shelves that display products, similar to what you would see on a real store shelf. But the big difference is that you can obtain virtual access to thousands of products and eliminate or reduce the requirement to carry inventory in the stores. Once an order is placed, it can then simply be shipped to the store for customer pickup at a later date, or shipped directly to the customer’s home.

Another key customer support app for many industries, especially for repeat customers, is the appointment setting and confirmation process. Customers that have the convenience of an app that simplifies these kinds of activities are much more likely to become loyal customers. Also, once the customer is comfortable with your app, they are less likely to switch to a competitor, creating a soft lock‑in.

Realtors home QR codeWatch the Video: Customer Service Apps – Retailers: Advanced in‑store technologies will allow consumers to view a wide range of products – explore the future of retail. <goo.gl/Pw8me> (Duration: eight minutes)
Grocery Stores QR CODEWatch the Video: Customer Service Apps – Grocery Stores: In‑store technology is changing the face of retailing and grocery shopping. <goo.gl/k8QRB> (Duration: four minutes)

Challenge Questions

Mobile Customer Service Strategies: Could you implement B2C, B2E and/or B2B mobile customer service strategies to meet your business and marketing objectives?


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