June 27, 2014
Mobile's Growth Demands More Customer Care Than Ever
By Steve Anderson
Contributing TMCnet Writer
With mobile devices taking up more of users' time, and being put to use in just about every sector of the economy from news to entertainment to shopping and well beyond, having that mobile presence—and a correctly utilized mobile presence—is going to be supremely effective. But customer care in the age of growing mobile is proving to be a much different proposition than it was even in the age of growing online connectivity in general, a proposition that's posing both challenges and opportunities to firms engaged in the sector.
The field of customer relationship management (CRM) has always been a major field, and given that it's currently valued around $20 billion total, it's not surprising to see companies taking a greater interest in this field on all sides. Some predictions suggest that cloud-based CRM tools and the software-as-a-service (SaaS (News - Alert)) equivalent are likely to only continue to climb in terms of overall market and importance, and may well continue to do so for the next 10 years or more. That's leaving many companies who might have thought about just getting out of the market and refocusing on the next big market trend—which often comes along fairly quickly in the technology field—thinking about trying to get in on this market anyway. For a tech sector market, 10 years of growth, potentially even more, is a difficult proposition to pass up. Throw in the rising growth of mobile alongside that, and it's a very tempting pot for forward-thinking companies.
One big issue for companies looking to bring the worlds of mobile and CRM closer together is the “walled garden” approach that app stores these days take. The app store essentially works as a go-between when it comes to the customer and the product, and that can be a problem. Should something go wrong with the app found on the app store, the customer often won't bother try to get hold of the company that made the app, and instead, will delete said app and go on to the next one in the app store's rotation. That's led some, like Helpshift, to include a chat function directly into the app itself to try and make it easier for users to contact an app creator in the event of problems.
Meanwhile, another big issue is that, as big as mobile is right now, there's nothing saying that the next big thing won't come along and ultimately short-circuit mobile. The growth of HTML5, for example, is posing something of a challenge to the app store, but it may or may not ultimately grow sufficiently to replace the app store. So how does a mobile developer develop; with the app store in mind? With HTML5? Both? Each has drawbacks and advantages, including the potential loss of a whole lot of work. With 86 percent of users' time currently app-focused, mobile users having different contact preferences from desktop, and CRM itself facing some changes, that's shaping up to mean big changes in the field, and change can bring opportunity.
Change can also bring disaster. A full consideration of the market is necessary before making any major changes, and these days the market moves so fast that, by the time full consideration can be given, the conditions may have changed. Hedging bets and always having a plan B may be the ultimate tactics in this rapidly shifting market, but either way, CRM is going to be a big deal as long as there are customer relationships to be managed.
Edited by Maurice Nagle