The Evolution of Mobile Based Customer Engagement
The last two decades have been all about the mobile revolution and its impact on our lives. We have seen phones go from bulky contraptions with very limited functionalities to sleek personal genies that can grant our every wish (almost).
Way back in 2001, when we started July Systems, we pioneered the creation of a mobile Internet platform over messaging. It was the first of its kind in the world. At that time, mobile data was controlled by the carrier. Users had to log on to the carrier’s portal and access the Internet from there. Not only was it very inconvenient to use, but the cost was high too. Clicking on any link automatically meant paying more money. It was like a meter running.
All that changed with the launch of the Apple iPhone in 2008. It was also the time we unveiled our cloud based do-it-yourself July Mi platform. With readymade built in modules, companies could quickly develop, deploy and manage their mobile sites and apps. Since then, companies such as Apple and Google moved the Internet power center from the carriers to the consumer. As the app revolution flourished, it provided a way for businesses to communicate with customers directly through the app.
Mobile engagement in 2016 and beyond
Since our inception, we’ve been working closely with customers, helping them harness the power of the Internet to develop an effective mobile strategy. Today, developing a mobile strategy built around apps, text messaging, mobile-friendly websites has become a crucial component for success for most businesses. But mobile-based customer engagement has its limitations. For example, people may interact with a hundred different brands during the course of our lives, but they are unlikely to download apps for each one of those brands, which means that app-based engagement will not be possible for all businesses. But the bigger problem is that mobile-only engagement does not help address perhaps the biggest sphere of influence in a person’s life. The physical space.
Despite the proliferation of the Internet, people still visit many places – hotels, malls, airports, restaurants, hospitals, offices, ball parks – to meet different requirements. But when visitors enter a physical location to conduct any sort of transaction, the business knows practically nothing about them till they walk up to a representative of the business and declare their identity. This severely limits the ability of the business to provide differentiated services based on customer profile, right from the time the customer enters the premises.
No customer engagement strategy can be truly effective unless it includes the ‘physical space’ component and ties it in with the online/mobile component. This, we believe, has been the missing piece of the mobile customer engagement puzzle.
Our latest offering, Proximity MX, is meant to address this very gap. Location-based engagement offers a crucial advantage because by being present at the location, the visitor has already conveyed intent to interact with the business. Which means that any communication from the business is less likely to be viewed as spam. Additionally, there are adequate controls in place that enable visitors to deny permission to send them messages, so there is less danger of it becoming a nuisance.
The timing for this launch is perfect because today, customer expectations with the Internet have changed. The Internet is practically free today because on one hand, data plans are very reasonable and on the other hand, most physical locations, right from offices to malls to airports to libraries, provide free Wi-fi. So, it is now possible to design the entire in-store mobile engagement with the cost being borne by the business, with no extra burden on the visitor.
Superior Customer Engagement with Proximity MX
With Proximity MX, we’re bringing together a disparate set of vendors – the mobile service providers, OEMs/phone OS platforms, network infrastructure providers and finally (and most importantly), the business owners. We’re working with all of these players to help businesses deliver the perfect customer experience.
We are achieving this through a partnership with network infrastructure providers such as Cisco, Motorola and Aruba. Proximity MX is integrated with their Wifi infrastructure to deliver greater value to businesses, by adding on a ‘smart’ customer engagement component to it. We have also worked closely with service providers as well as OEMs to ensure that end-customers can be assured of a device and technology agnostic uniform experience.