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Mobile CRM: Cost Center or Profit Maker? Part 2

Mobile CRM: Cost Center or Profit Maker? Part 2

"With the explosive consumer adoption of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, and the popularity of mobile texting especially in international markets, mobile service and sales is rapidly going from a 'nice to have' to a 'have to have' for most businesses," said eGain's Anand Subramaniam. Since it's an investment that companies need to make, they might as well get value themselves out of the situation.

By Erika Morphy
08/28/12 5:00 AM PT

Mobile CRM: Cost Center or Profit Maker? Part 1

Buried in a recent J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction study -- which showed consumers' satisfaction with credit cards was at a six-year high -- was this very telling factoid:

Only 7 percent of credit card customers use their mobile phones to complete transactions, up from 4 percent in 2011. However, satisfaction is highest among customers who use mobile to interact with their issuer, compared with customers who use any of the other interaction channels, including the Internet.

Mobile phone options, such as downloadable apps and text alerts, are important as customers who use their mobile phone for credit card activities are more satisfied and are more likely to understand their credit card terms, the report concluded.

These stats fly in the face of the reality of countless mobile CRM projects -- that is, those projects implemented out of a sense of duty because customers expect to be able to reach out to a firm via their mobile devices. Such projects are essentially cost centers for companies, as the projects typically create little value, other than the hope that customer good will is building or brand awareness and loyalty is being established.

'A Great Opportunity'

Despite the difficulties of establishing a mobile CRM's value add -- even a paper-based use case -- it nonetheless represents a great opportunity to transform the consumer experience and commerce models through convenient service and contextual sales offers, Anand Subramaniam, VP of Worldwide Marketing of eGain, told CRM Buyer. Examples might include mobile payments, such as the way consumers have been able to pay their wireless bills for years, or geo-location services.

"With the explosive consumer adoption of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, and the popularity of mobile texting especially in international markets, mobile service and sales is rapidly going from a 'nice to have' to a 'have to have' for most businesses," he said. Since it's an investment that companies need to make, they might as well get value themselves out of the situation.

The Difficulty of Tracking Value

Unfortunately, even for mobile CRM applications where the ROI or value add would seem obvious, capturing and quantifying it for the implementing company is still not easy.

Consider Market76, a mobile CRM application for the financial services industry. It is a mobile CRM platform built for a very specific niche -- wealth advisers and managers -- and not able to be applied to another industry. Market76, for instance, does not use it in-house, Ethan Eden, founder and CEO of Market76 told CRM Buyer. It can't, as they are a tech firm not a financial services firm

"What we have built is software that is highly curated so that it is not even pure CRM so much as a platform that is specific to types of users such as financial advisers," he said.

A mobile application cannot deliver an entire desktop based application on a tiny mobile screen, he continued. The art of designing a proper app is to know what the mobile user wants and give it to him or her.

"For example, for our customers, one thing that is important to know on the fly is not just that a particular trade happened in a client account but why it happened so that when client is speaking with you, you have a good sense of what is happening." Such at-the-fingertips knowledge of a particular client's account is invaluable in maintaining client relations, especially in a field where one-to-one service is essential, he said.

The information may be invaluable, but despite the highly industry-specific nature of the app, it is still not quantifiable.

"One of the biggest problems in the adviser business is that there aren't a lot of systems to track ROI," Eden said. "People aren't doing a good job in measuring the value of their time in a service business like this." To get an idea of how valuable a mobile CRM app is, he said, first you have to establish that baseline. "Then you can start to talking about lifetime value of client, what kind of interactions disrupt or prolong the client relationship -- such as making sure you have the client's information at your fingertips."

Gamified Results

Of course there are use cases in which a correlation between the mobile CRM app and some increase in revenues or even productivity can be made. Gamification is such an example, Adena DeMonte, director of Marketing for Badgeville, told CRM Buyer.

One example would be a mobile CRM experience that encourages users to purchase products and share their opinions, she said. A gamification platform can track specific user behaviors across mobile and Web experiences and automatically trigger rewards for those behaviors on both experiences, she continued.

"For instance, a customer who has previously reviewed a few hotels on your website becomes a 'travel expert.' That customer's status should follow her into the mobile experience. She can earn even greater status by logging into the mobile app and uploading pictures in real time when she is traveling to a new hotel. That status then appears within the mobile experience and on the website."

The company can decide whether to keep those rewards intrinsic or offer those who are most engaged free products, discounts and other tangible rewards, DeMonte said. "By giving just the top 1 percent of those who are engaged tangible rewards for specific behaviors, those users create a large amount of content, increase their own LTV, and lift the engagement of the broader 99 percent of your audience."


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