They're called "smartphones" and they have taken over the world. We use them for almost everything - games, chat, email, weather, directions, Facebook, as a camera, as a day planner, and from time-to-time phone calls. Lately we've even begun using them for banking, flight check-in, television and even as a simple flashlight. We use them all the time; in fact, they have become the single device that we rely on most in our day-to-day lives.
Running powerful apps, having a camera ready for any situation, and always having street directions within reach are definitely powerful capabilities. However, one would expect something called a "smartphone" to go beyond mere capabilities. "Smart" implies some form of intelligence, thought, and sensitivity. So why can't it realize when I am stuck or confused when using an organization's mobile app, and offer some guidance on what I should do next? Why do I have to hunt for a phone number, navigate a complicated menu, re-authenticate with my account number and, most annoyingly of all, explain my entire issue again? Why must I waste time describing my entire situation while features like the camera and GPS go unused?
Thankfully, things are finally looking up. Service providers are increasingly recognizing opportunities to provide a "wow" experience and smart customer engagement through the mobile channel. In response, mobile apps will be designed to offer us the right help at the right time and intelligently guide us to a swift and relevant resolution. They'll be able to identify the 'best next step' and address our needs in the quickest and most effective way, whether it be connecting us with an agent, opening a chat session with a specialist, or directing us to a nearby branch. Doesn't that sound smart?
Mobile apps will also be a collaboration point, not just a reference tool. While talking to an agent, we will be able to work together on a resolution, exchanging photos and video as needed, without being limited to speech or text alone. And this is no longer just wishful thinking. The capabilities and solutions for smart service on smart devices are becoming more available, and several companies have already launched initiatives to implement them. Mobile deposit apps and ATM/branch locators are just the start; it's time to get smart!
If you manage a mobile app for your organization, do this simple exercise: Hold your smartphone in your hand and make a list of every feature you couldn't live without. Then think about how each of these features could be used by your app to bring you closer to your customers. The result just might be the differentiator that puts you ahead of your competition. And believe me your customers will thank you.