We are all talking about Social Media, the App-Economy and the digital economy of participation. It is all the rage. In reality, though the Economy is still investing billions of Euros in classical advertising in a single way mode. By contrast, investments in a genuine, interactive dialogue with customers are of subordinate significance and are thus assigned a comparably low weighting. This observation has been confirmed by the recent results of the Economist Survey that the Software Company Genesys presented on the occasion of a technology conference in San Francisco.
The findings reveal that almost every second company is seriously concerned about the critical public debate and expression of opinion proliferating in an unchecked, haphazard fashion via social networks. Their fear is that the uncontrollable dissemination of information might have an adverse impact on the reputation of their company. Only a meagre 22 per cent of the people questioned saw the positive side of it.
Service-Apps have not yet made an appearance
If companies embark on the Social Media adventure, they usually have their marketing or sales glasses on. Entering into any form of dialogue with the customer does not seem to be an item on their corporate agenda. This lack of service towards the customer is particularly evident in the thriving App- Economy. This is all the more astonishing since smart phone applications offer an extensive range of personalised, precise services in perfect compliance with the requirements of data protection.
„In most companies the subject of customer dialogue does not feature on their agenda, since the whole customer retention issue has been pursued solely and exclusively under marketing and sales related aspects. It all centres around brand awareness, entertainment, lifestyle, transactions or enchanting product videos. First and foremost, companies thrive to trigger emotions and are generally less interested in building a genuine dialogue with their customers. This lack of customer focus will inevitably lead to a final break. At the present moment, there exists almost no possibility to derive a customer-related service from an App. Service-Apps are still of no value or relevance in today´s mobile business. They have not yet made an appearance and are still a blank spot on the map”, explains Heinrich Welter, Manager at Genesys.
When looking at the top 100-Apps, you will inherently encounter an abundance of games, mosquito repellent sounds and other types of gags or gimmicks. And yet the benefits offered by service-apps are clearly apparent.
„Not only do service-apps offer the possibility of customer identification, but they also provide an extensive range of further options for data analyses and pre-qualification that the user may individually and conveniently control“, explains Welter. This way one could finally put a stop to the blind flight in foggy sky customer service is presently still exposed to. The customer must be given the opportunity to decide for himself what type of communication suits him best, while the service provider adjusts precisely to the customer´s needs and requirements accessed from the App. One will no longer need to wither away in nerve wracking calls on hold or feel compelled to incessantly repeat one´s requests. Another benefit for the customer is that his self-sufficiency will be strengthened”, stresses Welter: „The customer may henceforth state his precise preferences, indicating exactly which data the Company is allowed to analyse and which not.”
And this may also change depending on the individual case on hand. One such example would be the transmission of geo-positions in the event of a car accident, where the data release would be confined exclusively to the one incident.
Combining Apps with Knowledge Platforms
“The status quo in Germany leaves a lot to be desired and lacks in innovative thinking”, criticises Andreas Klug of the Software Company ITyX in Cologne: „There is no more than a handful of companies that offer a direct connection to customer service via Chat and Co-Browsing, let alone providing customers with intelligent applications and self-services. As a consequence, the customer is obliged to jump between the classical telephone communication and the internet.“
It is assumed that in future the App Economy will be more closely linked with service processes.
„However, it would be wrong to believe that communication is the all-encompassing panacea to rectify the present state of affairs. To foster customer retention, one must concentrate on the contents and not just the marketing around it. It is simply insufficient to offer comfortable communication channels and utter friendly greetings. At the end of the day, what really matters is that the customer sees his problem or query solved. Therefore the most demanding challenge for service oriented companies lies in the creation of intelligent service concepts based on central knowledge platforms. It is not the communication itself that triggers customer enthusiasm, it is the quality of the solution offered that makes the vital difference“, summarises Klug.
Dell-Manager Michael Buck simply fails to comprehend that Companies in Germany are still making such scant and limited use of Social Media platforms and mobile Apps for the benefit of customer service.
„Maybe some of the German companies have adopted a wait-and-see attitude before they set about launching the cream of the crop onto the market. However, there is also a positive side to it. First one takes a close look at what actually works and then, when time is ripe, swiftly launches a smart solution onto the market. This is a typical German quality“, concludes Buck, who will be discussing the latest trends in social commerce with a high-calibre panel of experts involving Brian Solis (Altimeter Group), Scott Galloway (L2), Peter Gentsch (Business Intelligence Group), Dennis Wedderkop (Vodafone), Michael J. Saylor (Microstrategy), Peter Mann (CDS/UK Army) and Ulf Valentin (HRS) on July 10, 2012 in Amsterdam.