Here’s a “wow, that happened fast” stat. According to CNNMoney, 2014 is the year that mobile app traffic accounted for a larger percentage of Internet traffic than PC’s. 47% of all Internet traffic came from mobile apps in January, while PC traffic clocked in at 45%, with the remaining 8% coming via mobile browsers. You may be thinking to yourself, “Sure, but most of that is Instagram and Facebook.” Probably, true, but that doesn’t mean apps aren’t scoring big for businesses and their most valuable customers.
Take Walmart for instance. At a recent Mobile Marketing Association conference, a Walmart executive explained just how important Walmart’s mobile apps have become to the company:
“We found, most importantly, those who have our app are making twice as many trips to Walmart, and their spend is 40 percent more,” said Wanda Young, vice president of media and digital marketing at Walmart, Bentonville, AR.
”It’s a great customer win because we’re giving them the tools that they’re asking for, but we’re helping them and allowing them to save time and money,” she said.
Twice as many trips and 40% higher spend sounds like VIP customers to me. And Walmart isn’t the only one. A major regional grocery store chain I worked with recently found similarly exciting results. They found that customers who engaged with them on their website or via their mobile app spent 50.2% more overall, 57% more on fuel, were two-times more likely to fit their “loyal customer” designation and consistently spent more on every line of business in the store.
Delivering Secure, In-App, VIP Service to Mobile First Customers
With these types of customer results (and believe me, it is not just retail….go to eTrade and see if they’re willing to take their apps away from customers) it is amazing that until now the only customer service options available to these VIP app users is to scour FAQ’s, go to a website and troll around, or call a contact center and sit in the queue. That is why more and more businesses are looking to enable direct, secure ‘in-app’ chat / text between customers and contact center agents. To learn about this growing trend, I spoke with Rich Quattrocchi, the Vice President of Business Development at Mutare, a company specializing in secure unified messaging and contact center solutions.
"Mobile First users, especially app users expect great service. They are loyal, engaged customers and if they have a problem or a question, they want to be able to resolve it quickly wherever they are, preferably via text while staying in the mobile app,” says Quattrocchi. Why text or chat? Because that is how mobile customers want to interact. In a recent survey conducted by Harris Poll:
Of the 2,000 people surveyed, over half said that they would rather have the freedom of contacting customer service via text rather than over the phone or computer. The two common problems customers face is waiting for a support agent, or being tied to their computer while receiving support help. For a mobile and immediate solution, 64% of people surveyed say they’d prefer text.
The key to supporting these mobile app using customers is to provide secure, one-click, personalized access to contact center personnel, says Quattrocchi. “App users want to stay in the app and chat with customer service, but aren’t given the option. The trend is towards delivering in-app technology that customers are intimately familiar with, namely texting. This provides multiple benefits like ease of use, photo sharing , history tracking and the ability for customers to interact privately while in a public place,” Quattrocchi explained.
Providing a Secure Environment is Critical For App-Based Chat
A major challenge is that SMS and texting is notoriously expensive, insecure and unreliable. According to Quattrocchi, it is vital to provide a secure environment, not just for the company that is connecting this capability to their contact center database, but also to assure customers that their interactions are secure and private - especially when interacting in PCI or HIPAA-compliant situation. “It is common for customers when interacting with contact centers to convey financial information, healthcare information or personal details. Companies need to make clear that any chat applications in their apps are secure, provide privacy and that any information they share is safe.”
“At Mutare, we provide a white label, secure chat application that can be embedded in customer’s apps and customized to their needs,” explained Quattrocchi. “We offer military grade encryption for this capability so that all data on the device, the data while it is in motion and the data on our servers is fully protected. If a client is PCI compliant, it is a secure transaction.”
The trends are clear. App users are better customers, they prefer texting over phone calls, and they’d rather use their apps than be tied to a PC. Expect to see secure, embedded chat / text with customer service appearing in your apps soon.