• August 23, 2007
  • By Jessica Tsai, Assistant Editor, CRM magazine

CRM Moves to the Mobility Phase

NEW YORK -- Industry experts at destinationCRM2007 here this week were emphasizing once again that the future of CRM is in mobile technology. While this information isn't surprising, many businesses still have yet to factor mobile into their systems, the panelists and presenters said. Across several presentations, attendees previewed new and upcoming mobile technology--and learned not only how mobile is being used today, but also the best practices for the mobility initiatives of tomorrow. "All of you will have a smartphone in two to three years," predicted Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies. Even at the most basic level of mobile data usage, the current median age of the text messenger is 38, according to Robert Gold, CEO of Gold Mobile. Gold added that by 2010, 38 percent of the work force will be Generation Y, which suggests that the adoption of mobile technology will not be difficult once it is in place. Several presenters pointed out that modern society almost requires
individuals to have cell phones, and that mobile phones are one of the most convenient ways of connecting to the rest of the world instantaneously, allowing people to be, as more than one panelist mentioned, "always on, always connected." While mobile service is not yet perfect--there are still dead spots and locations with poor connectivity--the rapid developments are proving that "mobile is an exciting place to be," Bajarin said. Smartphones today are as powerful as laptops were two to three years ago, according to Craig Tellalian, strategic accounts manager at Palm. Therefore, people are able to use their mobile phones to accomplish tasks quickly and more efficiently. As an example, Tellalian estimated that the average worker could shave off at least 15 minutes of wasted time per day typically spent waiting for a laptop or desktop PC to boot up, login, and be ready to use. Much of the current mobile technology runs on flash memory, bypassing this "waiting period." In terms of customer service, this instant-on capability avoids awkward delays that may occur when meeting with a customer. Tellalian shared three instances of mobile technology improving customer relationships by being more responsive and more effective--and, in turn, increasing business success:
  • Kelley Blue Book: Car dealers are able to use a mobile laser scanner, an attachable scanning device that reads the UPC or vehicle identification number of a particular item, such as a car on a lot. Dealers are immediately able to receive the car's history report. That eliminates the need to return to the office to retrieve the necessary documents; the customer is provided with instant, up-to-date information.
  • Patient Keeper: Studies have shown that patients feel intimidated by doctors who carry around a clipboard and read off their status from the chart, according to Tellalian. Therefore, mobile devices allow doctors to respond to that finding, while also relieving themselves of extensive paperwork. After treating patients, doctors can also send treatment information directly to healthcare providers for immediate billing processes.
  • Anyware Reform: Mobile devices allow employees to conduct surveys without the hassle of distributing papers and then the added task of plugging in the data afterwards. Information collected can immediately be sent to the back end and responses are made in real time. Another instance of mobile service includes document access. Brochures, for instance, are often subject to frequent change and are cumbersome to carry around. As a result, sales representatives are able to immediately request updated materials from the back end and forward those materials to the customer electronically.
While the conference presenters espoused little doubt that mobile technology is the future, they agreed that deployments should never be undertaken without careful evaluation. Four lessons in particular bear repeating, according to Gold:
  • Create opt-in channels so that customers who want to receive information are getting it, and those who don't, aren't.
  • Deliver service to the point of search. Make everything on-demand so that you can interrupt with relevant information at the right time; otherwise, bad timing could result in a lost customer.
  • Focus on speed and delivery--made all the more possible with mobile technology.
  • Make it personal. When you understand how and when to use personal information, targeting becomes very effective.
CRM magazine's annual destinationCRM2007 conference concluded Wednesday. Related articles: The 2.0 Effect At destinationCRM2007, author and futurist Stan Davis outlines the influence that Web 2.0 is having on companies and their ability to service and sell to the next generation of consumers. iPhone: Friend or Foe? Mobile marketing is on the rise and the release of Apple's new iPhone could be a marketer's dream come true. CRM at the Tipping Point The renowned author of The Tipping Point and Blink speaks at destinationCRM2007 about how CRM can break the barrier and make its way to success. Mobility Matters Most in Online Marketing Marketing agencies are tackling emerging technologies: Mobile devices top the list, but YouTube isn't far behind. iPhone: The 800-Pound Gorilla Spawns a 300-Page Bill By sending exhaustively detailed iPhone bills, service provider AT&T could be trying to head off expensive customer-care calls. The Rise of the Digital Client Catering to this new breed of always-on customer will require a new approach to CRM.
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