TMC this year celebrates 30 years of covering customer interaction, which means it couldn’t be a better time to look at where we’ve been with customer service and where we’re going. We’re also rebranding and retooling our customer effort. In this installment of our CUSTOMER coverage, we talk with Armin Gebauer, CEO of MobileAware.
What exactly does your company sell and to whom?
Gebauer: We help mobile network operators enhance the customer experience by building mobile engagement channels. One of the keys to our success is our ability to rapidly build and launch a mobile presence that is accessible from any device.
With our solution, mCare, customers can efficiently manage their accounts on their mobile devices, including viewing current usage, viewing and paying bills, adding or editing services, and topping up pre-paid balances and airtime. This empowers customers to solve their own problems on their own terms, while also deflecting costly calls to call centers. Operators can effectively increase customer satisfaction while reducing costs.
Our mSales solution provides operators with an engaging, user-friendly platform for both subscribers and non-subscribers to purchase any operator-related products and services. mSales, available on any device, enriches the operator-based shopping experience by bringing it mobile. Understanding that mobile users are more focused, more likely to click-through, and ultimately more likely to buy, MobileAware has created the ideal site to make this happen – the operator’s store.
Our mPlace solution creates a unified and operator-branded mobile marketplace for social networking, location-based services, offers, and commerce. Our solution empowers operators to monetize valuable interactions between subscribers and partners seeking to connect with them. The explosive influence and growth of device makers has diminished the relationship between operators and their customers. Rather than continuing to represent only voice and data plans, operators can use mPlace to bolster that relationship. mPlace gives operators the chance to recapture the customer experience. By leveraging the assets and customer information already within reach, operators can effectively personalize products and services of the end-user’s choice.
We’re celebrating the 30-year anniversary of TMC’s Customer Interaction Solutions magazine. What has been the most important development in the past 30 years related to customer interactions?
Gebauer: Certainly the web has mostly dramatically defined the way we do business. The Internet has vastly accelerated the speed of communication, commerce, and knowledge sharing, creating an entire new channel for customer interaction.
In the past decade?
Gebauer: The rise of social media and the resulting peer-to-peer interactions have transformed the way we do business. Rather than accessing information from vendors, customers can now gain awareness from their peers. Companies are now much more publicly accountable, and have evolved to focus on customer satisfaction as a result of this.
In the recent past?
Gebauer: The mobile solution is hands down the biggest and most important recent development in customer interaction. Customers ultimately want to manage their own accounts and solve their own problems if it is easy, efficient, and readily available. Self-care solutions have provided this opportunity, and they will continue to revolutionize the customer care industry for some time to come.
At MobileAware, we believe that customers will continue to request access to mobile customer care channels, and operators will either get on board or fall by the wayside.
How is CRM changing?
Gebauer: Operators are starting to understand how to successfully use technology to increase customer satisfaction and simultaneously decrease customer care costs. Once operators figure out that customers want to be empowered to manage their own accounts, they will be on the path toward a truly efficient approach to CRM. Within 5 years, we believe that the majority of customer care interactions will take place via mobile device.
How is marketing changing?
Gebauer: The ubiquitous mobile device has become a revolutionary new marketing channel. Operators have the trust of their customers, and also their demographic information to better target the right people with the right campaigns.
How is the rise of cloud computing impacting how businesses target, engage with, and deliver product/service/support to the customer?
Gebauer: Cloud computing and mobile Internet use is a huge new conduit for successful interaction with the customer. MobileAware offers a operator-branded mobile marketplace for social networking, location-based offers, daily deals, and mobile commerce. This channel, called mPlace, helps mobile network operators regain control of valuable customer relationships they have previously ceded to device manufacturers. We’ll be launching mPlace this summer.
How is the widespread use of social networking technology impacting how businesses target, engage, and deliver to the customer?
Gebauer: I believe it comes down to customer choice. If operators provide a multitude of channels to which subscribers have access, they give customers options and increase satisfaction. Social is yet another way for operators to connect with customers for commerce, sales, customer service, and customer loyalty programs, among others. I think the benefit lies in the customer’s ability to choose the most convenient channel available.
How is the mobile boom impacting how businesses target, engage with, and deliver product/service/support to the customer?
Gebauer: The mobile boom has redefined customer engagement. The most amazing thing about mobile technology is that everyone wins. Businesses can save money, time, and resources while giving customers a convenient, efficient tool to connect with. Our customers tell us that in their own customer surveys, mobile self-care is always on customer wish lists.
What other key trends are you seeing as it relates to how businesses target, engage with, and deliver product/service/support to the customer?
Gebauer: Virtually all mobile devices are now Internet-capable, and today consumers expect a good customer experience when they access web or mobile sites from their devices. The concept of mobile first dictates that when considering the online experience, companies need to think about the mobile experience first, and the web experience second. This is because mobile devices are quickly overtaking traditional computing devices as the platform of choice for consumers. Once operators make mobility a priority, they immediately realize the huge benefits.
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