By Vishwanath Alluri , Founder & CEO, IMIMobile
Hyderabad based IMImobile is a global mobile data infrastructure and solutions provider to mobile operators, enterprises and media companies with over 650 employees and a presence across Asia, Europe, America and the Middle East.
The Need for Feedback
Feedback is essential for complete and meaningful communication. Feedback tells an enterprise how well it is doing in the eyes of the people who are important. It helps assess the effectiveness of communication and paves the way for generating new ideas.
Today providing feedback is not restricted to just verbally providing an opinion, filling up a form or a survey. Consumers have adopted other evolved ways of being heard - increase in the usage of web, social media, smartphones are all an indication of the same.
Enterprises are also seeking newer and more effective ways to reach out to their customers. One such powerful marketing channel is the mobile medium reaching more than 900 million Indian subscribers.
Mobile- The New Channel for Enterprises
In the past, mobile data services platforms had largely focused on SMS messaging as a means of engagement. The earlier days of mobile focused on one-way communication; it was termed as "spray and pray" in the industry, i.e. do a bulk push and hope for the best.
Today marketers have moved a few steps forward and serious marketers are focusing more on engagement. We are beginning to make a transition from a "talk to them" mentality to a “talk with them” frame of mind. The idea today is to carry out a dialogue with the customers / prospects and build strong relationships.
This relationship also acts as a very strong differentiator and aids in customer decision making. The customers in the Indian market are evolving. Today India is ranked fifth in number of smartphone users and has shown one of the highest year-on-year growth rates (in smartphones).
Furthermore the research firm Gartner notes that the mobile device market will remain strong throughout 2013. According to the analyst firm, the use of smartphone and tablet will continue to surge in the enterprise, changing the way they do business.
Therefore, mobile engagement is not restricted and can be over multiple channels; voice and data channels amongst others, act as a complement to the text messaging channel through a well integrated m-engagement platform. These platforms are evolving to provide additional services such as interactive messaging, voice inbound and outbound, interactive voice responses, USSD based communication, contests, polls, call back and missed – call services etc.
Advent in mobile technology space is further fueling growth in the market significantly. As of now, major industry verticals such as Retail, Banking, Financial Services and Insurance happen to be the early adopters in the market followed by Pharmaceuticals, Transportation and Logistics.
Getting Feedback- Through the usage of mobile
Companies have moved from using internet for feedback to using mobile phones and it is necessary to increase this due to the predicted increase in the usage of the device. Companies also understand the importance of designing mobile surveys that are interactive and dynamic in nature.
Today, one-way promotional mobile communication is being replaced by two-way communication tools. Customers can interact directly with the organization in their moments of decision. Mobile helps enterprises to empower customers, project their value and accelerate their overall decision making while also getting their feedback during the process. This feedback provided by the customers helps in customizing and improving the offerings. It is this interactivity that helps marketers measure the effectiveness of any communication. This measurement is what helps drive ongoing improvements in defining the TG (target group), crafting the message, figuring out the appropriate channel mix.
This is good both for the enterprise as well as their customers. The enterprises get better ROI on their spend and customers receive more relevant communication on a channel that is best suited for them.
Additionally, using mobile technology to engage with customers can help businesses reach out to demographics which were previously not accessible such as younger consumers.
Mobile technology also allows organizations to get instant feedback after the consumer has interacted with them. Such a feedback is more meaningful and valuable as the experience will be fresh in their mind.
Furthermore, location tracking also enables a business to gauge the exact location of a customer at the time of responding hence encouraging the implementation of more marketing techniques.
To analyze it further, interactivity is not just about sending something with a reply path enabled and it is not just a one-time transactional communication. The interactivity used by the enterprises should be multi-channel, i.e. initiate the dialogue on one channel and carry it forward across other channels.
For example – SMS based contact resulting in a link getting sent to the customer; customer clicks on the link and comes to a rich mobile landing page, views video, “likes” on facebook and chooses to receive further communication from the enterprise on facebook. The customer then comments through Facebook posts. The resultant of which would be continuous and ongoing communication.
However, the current approach to realizing such a communication plan is very fragmented with different platforms and vendors supplying different pieces of the puzzle. Using multiple platforms for execution of initiatives becomes a huge challenge for businesses. The lack of a converged platform that can enable effective use of this combination, poses a key roadblock.
Due to non-availability of a single platform, enterprises have to depend on various platforms providing standalone services. Additionally, complexity of using the technology on multiple platforms makes the enterprises dependent on IT professionals for execution. With multiple platforms and touch points, the entire process becomes a costly affair. This also leads to lack of single point control and thereby raises security concerns.
The need of the hour is a unified platform that is highly flexible and configurable. Such a platform is required to realize multi-channel communication and engagement. Furthermore cloud based APIs are required for integration. The setting up of such a platform needs to be on a pay-as-you- go- model and eliminate the requirement of CAPEX. An implementation of a unified platform will certainly encourage rich analytics and lead to the improvement in the quality of the feedback.
Better feedback can certainly assist in redesigning of business processes which may be operating inefficiently. For businesses operating efficiently it could lead to better customer satisfaction and retention.