NEW YORK, August 3, 2010 — Admit it: most times, when you enter an electronics store, you don't really want to interact with a sales rep. Sometimes you're just browsing the videogame section. Sometimes you just want to stare at the high-definition 3-D televisions. You don't want to have the awkward conversation during which you're forced to admit that you're "just looking." But what if the sales rep could be replaced by a message sent to your mobile device? What if that message knew the types of electronics you were interested in and could pitch offers in-line with your preferences?
That was the message on Day 2 of CRM magazine's annual CRM Evolution conference, convening here this week at the Marriott Marquis in New York's Times Square, as Ian Jacobs, customer interaction analyst at Ovum research group, hosted a session in which he shared his predictions about the ways businesses will soon take better advantage of mobile customer interactions.
[Editors' Note: For more coverage from the CRM Evolution conference, please click here.]
"If you're trying to make a lot of money off Foursquare and mobile marketing," Jacobs began the session, "You're in the wrong place."
Instead, Jacobs — who is also an award-winning columnist for CRM magazine — explained his vision of location-based mobile interactions and how companies would be able to better serve customers than with typical location-based marketing.
As mobile customers get acclimated to location-based services such as local search (with or without social elements), game-like social applications, location-enhanced social networks, and social information sharing, opportunities are presenting themselves for more intelligent location-based mobile applications.
Jacobs said he envisions applications that are dependent on location information but not reliant on it. Instead, these location services will utilize historical customer data, customer provided data and personalized information to instruct businesses on how best to interact with their customers. Also, location-based interactions will be less focused on marketing/advertising and will become two-way dialogues between customers and brands.
"This is not the McDonald's app that beeps and offers you a coupon when you walk past a restaurant," Jacobs said. "That doesn't know who you are. That doesn't care who you are."
As a contrast to the typical location-based offer Jacobs described a potential location-based interaction in which an airline phones a passenger who is stuck in a taxi cab, about to miss his flight. In this scenario, the airline will know exactly where the passenger is, what traffic looks like up ahead, and what time the passenger should enter the airport. Knowing the passenger will miss his flight, the airline can offer a later departure time, as well as the passenger's preferred seat on the next flight.
Jacobs laid out his vision for how different verticals can exploit this new era of location-based interaction: the retail vertical could use in-store customer tracking, as well as on-site community and social support. The public sector could implement location-enhanced 3-1-1 services. The travel and hospitality industry could offer better concierge services and contextual local search. Communications would be better served by offering network troubleshooting. And, finally, the healthcare industry could offer location-aware electronic health records as well as on-site patient and resource tracking.
Jacobs did admit there could be possible negative consequences of this type of customer interaction. For example: privacy and safety issues will arise, there may not be a true way to generate revenue, and it could reveal too much information to coworkers and friends.
"I love my colleagues," Jacobs joked, "but I don't need to know when they go to Dunkin' Donuts in Westchester."
But, Jacobs explained, customers are willing to deal with privacy issues and information overload, among other things, if the benefits of what they are being delivered outweigh any negatives.
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