While 41% of contact centre operators believe that the telephone is the easiest channel for their customers to use, only 20% are investing in mobile apps, and only 17% already have their own mobile customer service app, according to Richard McCrossan of Genesys, whose research has found that many companies have responded to the proliferation of social media but don't yet cater for the rapid growth of the mobile market. This article is copyright 2012 The Best Customer Guide.

A recent study sponsored by Genesys highlighted the fact that 48% of companies are investing in social media initiatives, while only 20% are investing in mobile apps. These figures were further bolstered by a recent Multichannel Survey sponsored by Genesys and contact centre technology company ProtoCall One, which that found that the telephone was rated as the most important contact channel for companies to engage with their customers - 41% of the respondents said that the phone is the easiest channel for their customers to use. The survey further revealed that only 17% of the respondents have a mobile customer service app, while the remaining 83% do not.

Gaining insights into customer behaviour
With increasing numbers of customers using mobile technology, customer preferences that are displayed on mobile devices offer a potentially rich source of information about their attitudes and habits. They represent valuable opportunities for companies to gain business insights, observe trends, enhance communication and improve the customer experience. And if businesses optimise their mobile strategy, they can hone their marketing programmes to better target and retain customers.

But while customers are demanding richer and more personalised mobile customer experiences, our research is showing that many organisations' customer service departments remain disconnected from the company's mobile applications.

Mobile transactional apps fall short on engagement
I think the reason for this is two-fold: first, businesses have become pre-occupied with integrating social media into their customer service and, second, in the rush to develop mobile apps, many companies have simply resorted to moving existing marketing or web applications to a mobile platform. Typically these apps fulfil a transactional function and enable users to check a balance or flight schedule, but they offer little in the way of customer engagement.

This is especially frustrating for mobile-using customers who often find that there is no immediate way to contact a customer service agent when they need live assistance. Instead, they have to exit the mobile app and find the correct contact centre number to call for their query. As a result, customers are forced to wait on hold, re-authenticate themselves, navigate through complex phone menus once more, and repeat the nature of their call when they are eventually connected to the correct person. Given this reason, it is unsurprising that one in four mobile customer service apps are abandoned with less than 10% actively used.

Integrating mobile as part of a cross-channel strategy To address the needs of today's consumers, companies must develop an effective holistic strategy, one that incorporates a common set of enterprise capabilities that can be accessed anywhere, regardless of the channel.

Genesys Mobile Engagement, for example, is an end-to-end mobile solution that integrates mobile customer care applications with live service. Using its 'Live Connect' capability, customers push a button and be immediately connected to a customer service agent without leaving their mobile app. The agent can then see information from the customer's app along with full customer history and preferences, allowing them to provide a personalised experience that increases customer engagement as well as contact centre efficiency.

In essence, this kind of technology transforms existing transactional apps into conversational mobile apps, enabling a whole new level of connection between the brand and the customer - which in turn allows businesses to deliver faster, simpler service and a highly personalised customer experience.