Mobile And CRM Today

  • by March 1, 2011
Probably faster than any other technology in the last decade, mobile is changing the game for brands. In a flash, we've moved from a communication-response scenario to one in which we can have interactions with people anytime, anywhere (except for us Neanderthal AT&T subscribers). No longer do we wait for customers to walk into a store or visit a site to connect with them. It's all right there, in their pocket, ready to go.

It's more than a smartphone. It's a personal assistant. I get free chips and salsa at the pub just for checking in through Foursquare, pay for my venti-skim-latte at Starbucks (only at Target) and download a coupon as I'm walking through the parking lot. I can find the cheapest price using RedLaser. I can get the real product scoop through Stickybits. And I can read hundreds of reviews on retailer sites to help me decide if your brand is right for me -- or if I should avoid you.

Mobile has raised expectations for consumers, who now have 24/7 access to your brand and the entire category landscape. The greater the bandwidth, the higher the expectations consumers have of our apps, our mobile sites, our emails and text alerts. All communications -- especially mobile -- are becoming smarter and faster.

Mobile has completely disrupted the conventional path-to-purchase and has caught most marketers with their pants down. That's not all. What's most compelling about mobile are the astronomical expectations around anticipated usage.

So can mobile supercharge your customer relationship management program?

Yes. Maybe.

In terms of CRM, the immediacy of mobile will transcend customer goodwill. Mobile's convergence with social media lets consumers ask questions and voice complaints at the point of sale. Brands should be there, listening, ready to address the next customer crisis, answer the next question, or amplify the most authentically fabulous consumer experience. Plus, real-time decision assistance through mobile will make the purchase process easier for buyers.

But it doesn't happen overnight.

A fundamental shift must occur. CRM needs to move from the database marketer's desk to the CMO's radar. It can't be a back-office function; it needs to be a front-office, customer-facing strategy. And it needs to be social.

New channels have emerged, but the basic principles of CRM don't change. When someone buys something (especially for the first time), he or she enters into an open-ended relationship with that brand. Brands must be ready to capture that customer's experience and start to understand what makes them tick.

Choosing the right mobile touchpoint is key. And that largely depends on who you're trying to engage. SMS, for instance, has the widest reach and loyalty apps can bring real value to the customer experience, but do they make sense for your product or service?

Consider not only whether you have a plan in place to obtain mobile data, but also ask these questions when determining the right mobile touchpoint for your brand:

  • SMS: Do you have permission to engage with client/customers via SMS?
  • Apps: Would an app make it easier or more enjoyable to do business with your brand?
  • Foursquare: Are you in a retail or service industry where you engage with your customers in-person? On a daily basis?
  • Twitter: Does your business service customers by addressing their needs? Product concerns? Feedback?

Overall, there's probably a place for mobile CRM in your marketing plan. But it's not going to supercharge anything unless you've got the basics in place. So start small, hire a trustworthy partner, test and scale.

John Cilli contributed to this article.

2 comments about "Mobile And CRM Today ".
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  1. David Lawson from NA, March 1, 2011 at 11:30 a.m.

    Completely agree with where you are headed here John but this piece stops short. Where the true business benefit is going to come is by giving marketers a scalable way to not just "choose the right mobile touch point" but to acknowledge that their consumers are multi-channel and that touch points are going to continue to fragment as time and innovation goes on. When considering "mobile", the channel now covers everything from the things you mention (SMS, apps, foursquare, twitter) to your existing programs that are being made mobile (web, email, loyalty). Real power lies in things like the ability to deliver a great web experience and take that behavior and apply it to the next app interaction. Take the SMS that was received and use that understanding to make the next email more relevant with a click through to an optimized experience that drives home the brand value. Pull in backend business data like purchase history, loyalty status, and account numbers to impact relevancy further. Even display advertising should get into the mix and you can be on the right side of do-not-track with 1st party cookie-based sequential messaging in dynamic ad units. Assume that your customers and prospects are going to expect to connect with you from anywhere, at any time, on most any device and then deliver contextually appropriate experiences across them all. Sounds complicated, but its so entirely attainable if you can do what you recommend- start small, hire a trustworthy and capable partner that has tools to make the approach attainable (the data environment and administration tools on the backend are key), test and scale.

  2. Steve Smailes from SmartReply, March 8, 2011 at 12:33 p.m.

    David, very well said. One of the things that I've been seeing is companies trying to take on too much mobile at once without a strategic framework around it and how that technology directly connects to the key elements of their unique business situation. The comments on using a trusted partner are great advice - not just from the perspective of getting help in navigating this area of rapidly moving technology but also in integrating the technology at the right places at the right time to get profitable scale and ROI.

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