Breaking Down Barriers With Mobile Devices

Mobile devices break down barriers between businesses and consumers. With mobile, a utility company can now notify customers in specific neighborhoods during power outages, updating them on the estimated time of a fix. That saves customers the aggravation of sitting on hold while trying to get through to an overwhelmed call center. Even better, what if the utility developed an app that not only gave users the ability to adjust the heat in their homes but notified them if the heat was on in the middle of the day?

Breaking Down Barriers With Mobile DevicesConsider the scenario of a CPG manufacturer seeking to develop a relationship with its end-customers. By placing a coupon code inside its packaging, it could entice customers to text the code by offering a discount.

It could also tie the offer to the downloading of an app, one that would request some basic demographics, track purchases, and reward points for activity. By understanding consumers’ behavior and demographics through the app, the CPG manufacturer could both up-sell and cross-sell (mouthwash with toothpaste purchases, toothpaste with toothbrush purchases). Immediately, marketing becomes more cost-effective because there is a more targeted and measurable universe.

But the opportunities go beyond cross-selling and up-selling. One of the biggest challenges of product development is gaining an understanding of what consumers want, even before they know they want it. With the establishment of a communications channel to actual customers, manufacturers have the ability to poll them or solicit insights. The mobile phone has the ability to be the 21st century version of the focus group — with really, really sharp focus.

But while the mobile phone gives manufacturers a built-in tracking mechanism, it also gives them a follow-up mechanism. They can link offers to redemption. If a customer uses a coupon to buy a new product, the manufacturer can follow up with a poll to see how they liked it. Conversely, if a customer doesn’t use a coupon within a month, the manufacturer can follow up with a poll asking if they’re dissatisfied.

Consider the case of banks seeking to expand into regions previously unbanked or underbanked. Mobile phones — with their ability to link to mobile wallets that can be used as payment mechanisms and refilled with currency electronically — are dramatically opening up the opportunity to attract new customers.

Mobile devices truly have the ability to be the 21st century version of the focus group — with really, really sharp focus.

At the same time, both banks and telecommunications companies can set up new generations of payment networks in conjunction with mobile operators that allow customers to use their phones for retail transac­tions, to transfer funds to friends and family, and to make payments also using SMS or mNFC (mobile near-field communication). The options are almost unlimited.

The upshot of using mobile devices to enhance the customer relationship and increase engagement is simple: enterprises can develop better insight into consumer behavior and preferences, thereby gaining a better understanding of what other products and services customers would be most likely to want. Even global manufacturers with extensive operations can use mobile devices apps to develop closer, more person­alized relationships. The mobile device creates a mechanism not only for establishing a virtuous circle of insight, but one that allows consumers to feel a greater intimacy with the business.

To learn more about mCommerce, SAP has developed the Mobile Commerce Playbook: The Path to Customer Engagement.

Check out the playbook, as well as two other helpful guides for your mobility journey here.