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How Mobile Engagement Is Shifting Customer Experience (And Commerce) As We Know It

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Matt Wujciak


“One of the biggest shifts of recent years has been the emergence of mobile as a primary experience for a big part of the market, especially younger consumers. They practically live on their phones, bouncing in and out of apps throughout the day. Major industries have been disrupted and entire new ones have been created since the first iphone was introduced in 2008. Today’s consumers expect to buy everything they need, arrange transportation, send money and manage finances, and even their romantic partners via mobile apps,” Abinash Tripathy, Helphshift CEO recently told us. 

And he’s right. 

The shift to mobile engagement

Globally, mobile is driving the consumer shift to online with shoppers spending an impressive 1.6 trillion hours on their mobile devices in 2020 – and producing growth in m-commerce that would have taken three to four years under normal circumstances.

In fact, the average user spent 27% of daily waking hours, or 4.3 hours, on their mobile device in April 2020 — up 20% from 2019.

Simply put, consumers are spending considerably more time than ever before online, specifically mobile devices/smartphones. As consumers spend more time on mobile, they’re engaging with more branded media and advertising. It’s estimated that mobile ad placements grew 70% during the pandemic, driving mobile purchases.

More importantly, as consumers stay at home more than they ever have, digital engagement increases in usage, and mobile sales become a more popular shopping medium. Customer service volume on these channels has been correlating. As a result, mobile customer support options are becoming increasingly popular for both consumers, and customer-centric brands looking to deliver value.  

According to CCW Digital research, more than 82% of consumers are now open to using chat technology – including mobile chat apps such as Viber, Facebook Messenger, Apple Businesses Chat, and of course, WhatsApp. However, this isn’t a bad thing, if customer service departments are willing to play the game, that is.  

“The trend is that that’s absolutely where customers are going. And the good news is, brands seem to like that,” Forbes contributor, former social media leader at McDonald’s, Discover, and Humana, Dan Gingiss recently told me.  

WhatsApp, as one of the most popular emerging customer engagement tools, is the most widely deployed messaging app across the globe. In many markets such as India, Brazil, Mexico, the UK and Italy, up to 95% of smartphone users have WhatsApp installed, making it an increasingly international necessity for consumers.

In Facebook’s 2019 study, “More than a message,” 53% of the respondents said they are more likely to buy from a company which provides customer service via chat on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger than one that does not. Those numbers have grown substantially in the past six months.

“COVID-19 has just accelerated a transformation that was already underway. During the pandemic we’ve become accustomed to having everything we need delivered to our home, managing everything we need from our mobile devices. Before the pandemic, people were already choosing digital and mobile services but when businesses and shops shut down they no longer had a choice… It accelerated the trend towards mobile devices and mobile apps being the center of our commercial lives, and it is unlikely we will ever go back,” says Abinash Tripathy.

Learn about the future of customer engagement by registering for MEF Connects Rich Communications

Whether it’s chatbots, chat apps, or SMS, the future of business messaging is here and it’s easy to see why. 

Even before the pandemic, 89% of customers wanted the option to message businesses. When COVID-19 hit, texting increased significantly with 61% of consumers reporting having received or exchanged text messages with a local business. With 99% of text messages being opened (and 90% being opened within three minutes), now is the time to turn to messaging to communicate effectively with your customers and deliver quality customer service, and experiences. 

“I love it because of the asynchronous nature of it. The whole history of my conversation going back with them months or years is right there. So if I gave them my loyalty number eight months ago, they don’t have to ask me again. There it is. It’s right there in the chat session just like in your SMS on your phone. You’ve got every text you’ve sent your spouse or your boyfriend or girlfriend,” said Dan Gingiss

“That becomes a really positive experience for the user because we know the number one complaint that customers have about service is having to repeat themselves.” 

More importantly than the "why," we need to see how business messaging is benefiting customer support and marketing teams so that we can engage our customers more effectively, improve the quality of the customer experience, our productivity, efficiency, and of course, revenue. 

The future of customer engagement with MEF

These trends in the customer experience are exactly why MEF is bringing together enterprises, brands & agencies on September 29th - October 1st to connect with MNOs and messaging providers, and showcase the business messaging channels that are transforming customer engagement.

As part of MEF’s Future of Messaging Programme this all-new digital event features speakers from Google, Facebook, mobilesquared, Sinch, IMImobile Mavenir, and many more industry leaders, in a 3-day global event that will highlight the latest use cases from brands revolutionizing their customer engagement strategies - plus, daily analyst briefings, regional deep-dives, industry roundtables, EXPO and facilitated networking sessions.

“Messaging continues to be a centerpiece of customer experience. SMS has become a central way in which consumers communicate; not just with each other but the brands they trust as well. However, consumers are seeking much more from their messaging experience and are looking towards mediums like RCS, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Viber and a host of ‘conversational mediums’ where they can engage brands in rich two way conversations and be treated to far more engaging experiences.  This trend will only accelerate as we go forward,” Sinch’s VP of Business Development, Michael Ricci told me. 

Don’t miss MEF’s event (or my session with Michael Ricci) by saving your spot here

In our session, Michael and I will be covering the latest trends, stats, and case-study driven answers in business messaging and customer engagement. If you’re in marketing, customer service, customer experience, or simply interested in consumer behavior, this is an event you won’t want to miss. 

3 days, 25+ hours of live streaming, MEF Connects Rich Communications includes international and regional spotlights and thought leadership content. Topics covered include e-commerce, m-commerce, chatbots, IOT, Facebook Messenger (and other chat apps), consumer behavior analyses, Esports, omnichannel strategies, rich secure messaging, and so much more. 

Click here to view the full agenda. And remember, this is a time when the world is vulnerable, where every person and organization is adapting to life with a live virus in their midst, where no one is operating from a best-in-class pandemic playbook to survive modern financial Darwinism. Brands, including marketers and customer experience departments must become the very people they’re trying to reach. This means that among innovation, compliance, time and technology, humanity must become the greatest application.