Eight years ago, Steve Jobs announced to a packed conference in San Francisco that Apple was going to “reinvent the phone” with its new iPhone offering. The new iPhone, he said, would be three devices in one – a music player, a phone and an internet communicator, all rolled into a highly attractive, portable device. Even he, perhaps, could not have foreseen the huge impact that this new device would have on virtually every aspect of consumer and business life in the years that followed, ushering a digital transformation of society.

Today, the mobile phone market has developed significantly, inspired by the original iPhone, with smartphones a widespread and commonplace proposition. Through these smartphones, all digital customer experience (CX) channels can be accessed simply, as well as the new channel that has emerged for customer engagement: social media. The smartphone has also impacted on customer demands – with the new tech-savvy consumer empowered to expect instant gratification, regardless of location or demand.

For the modern retailer, the smartphone allows for in-store retail customers to use augmented reality (AR) apps, Near Field Communication (NFC) signals, and QR codes – all at the touch of a button. Mobile payments are also developing apace, with Apple Pay now making in-store smartphone purchases only a scan away. It looks as if the smartphone may quickly be developing into the perfect hub for CX.

In order to keep up with the demands of the smartphone-wielding consumer, businesses of all sizes need to look to a seamless, omni-channel approach to customer service, and develop the appropriate technology to support this. Many traditional companies have embraced the smartphone era of customer engagement, which demonstrates how vital the smartphone is set to be in years to come.

IBM, for example, is always trying to find creative ways to better connect with and engage their customers. Their CX Lab has developed a “customer-first consulting” approach to serve their clients. From the CX Lab, System U was born, for example, which collects information from Twitter and other social networking sites to build a personalised profile of every single customer – detailing everything from the customer’s humour and preference to their alliance to the brand. IBM estimates that the personality profiles it creates are more than 90% accurate.

Apple’s iBeacon technology in iPhones also allows for new levels of contextual, targeted marketing and personalised, location-based customer experiences. This level of customer profiling has huge implications for the modern marketer, who can now target customers with personalised goods and services, as well as memorable experiences, in a way that was not previously possible.

Companies are starting to appreciate the value of personalised customer service that goes the extra mile. Dutch banking giant ABN AMRO, for instance, has been working to engage the smartphone generation, with digital one-to-one conversations between bank staff and clients now commonplace. Through social media apps, customers can now opt to receive immediate notifications for low balances or other issues via tweet, email, text or phone call. In one remarkable incident, a client was upset to have lost her antique ABN AMRO money box – to her great surprise and delight, the bank managed to locate one in their warehouse and deliver it to her door.

In a similar vein, Waitrose made the headlines last year when it re-designed its brown sauce label after a seven year old school boy wrote to them complaining the old image was “too boring.” These feel-good acts are an example of customer experience at its finest – not only does the individual involved feel truly valued, but it can also serve to generate unexpected social shares and likes for the firm.

Using smartphone apps, companies worldwide have the opportunity to build more intimate and long-lasting relationships with their customers. Through one small device, it’s now easier than ever for customers to call, text, email or tweet a company self-serving as and when there is an issue that they need resolving. Companies should not fear the smartphone revolution, but should instead embrace these changes to customer habits and expectations and adapt accordingly with investment in the right technology.


By Keith Wilkinson, Vice President, UK&I at Genesys

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