While offering mobile services may be second nature to many channel organisations, for others, it is an area they are just beginning to explore, and it is a powerful way to stay relevant in an increasingly competitive ICT market. This is why a ‘mobile-first’ approach is increasingly required when selling to business customers, and it goes far beyond just selling a line contract and a smartphone. The Nordics have already adopted mobile-first (in some instances, have even moved to ‘mobile only’), and the rest of the region is now realising the opportunity.
Looking at the wider potential, ‘mobile-first’ can mean putting mobile at the heart of any business and integrating with the rest of the ICT environment, converging different contact channels into one unified environment, supporting customers’ digital transformation strategies. So, even for established mobile providers, there are substantial opportunities to consider.
This market evolution makes sense because, after all, workers from all sectors increasingly depend on their mobiles. Suppose a user had to choose between keeping a laptop, deskphone or a mobile phone. They will likely select the mobile, making it a logical starting point to offer additional capabilities. Plus, for some people — health professionals for example — computers are often not their primary device during the working day.
A gateway to much more
Also, the user experience on a mobile can be better than a laptop, certainly contains greater intelligence than a deskphone, and is a gateway to offer far more than just voice (although mobile-first also helps to decommoditise voice). Mobile devices are perfectly poised to take advantage of converged contact, with seamless transition across different apps, like CRMs, ERPs, and integration with vertical market systems via intelligent, open APIs.
That converged experience can go between devices, such as a seamless transition from a mobile to a laptop and softphone when speaking to a customer). For the channel, that represents a significant opportunity to offer a far broader range of services within one portfolio. This blended approach to contact could be the market driver that makes fixed mobile convergence (FMC) more widespread. For instance, with full integration across Teams and a mobile sim, a user would be shown across all environments, Teams and soft clients, so colleagues can see who is (and who is not) available.
Of course, the laptop still has a massive role for many businesses, especially desk-based knowledge workers. However, even for them, if the same access to business apps and contact streams is available on a mobile without compromise (and perhaps even better), why not give them the flexibility and the benefits of a mobile-optimised experience?
Compelling business cases
Naturally, getting customers to invest in new technology is challenging, particularly with SMBs and especially in the current economic situation. It is essential to remember that the key motivator must be what is good for the end customer. The additional revenue available to sellers converging business communications with a mobile sim contract or mobile applications is important, but we exist in a SaaS world where lifetime value trumps contract value.
So, when it comes mobility, it is important to investigate the customer’s ROI, and there are some robust use cases demonstrate the advantages and ROI that ‘mobile-first’ can provide. It is also possible to show how choosing not to mobilise their businesses could be financially detrimental, such as reduced productivity or inefficient customer service.
For instance, if a small car and repair recovery service used mobile devices linked to a group number, they could manage calls even when away from base. This helps weekend and evening call management, and with smart group call services in an app, they can see if a missed call to the group has been managed by a colleague. With full FMC, the quality of a call back is unaffected by them being in motion or away from a strong mobile data signal.
Better customer service
Imagine an employee at an online retailer leaving the office to post some parcels during the festive season, the company’s busiest time of the year, so every minute counts. Via their mobile, they can carry on fielding urgent calls and even handle tricky questions because they use their mobile to bring up the CRM system, check the customer’s records and provide an answer.
Or, while out of the office, that employee could decide to route calls to other team members on the same mobile hunt group. They can also see who else is available to take calls or see missed incoming queries and return them as soon as possible. Simultaneously, an automated bot can handle all the routine questions, such as the last day to order for delivery before Christmas or the company’s returns policy, so that only calls that need human intervention are put through, meaning that customers get a faster response while making the most of employee time.
Conversely, without that mobile capability in place, imagine the customers who did not get an answer, got frustrated by the wait times, or did not receive callbacks: that equates to lost revenue and potentially even customers who will not return. The team is over-stretched, exhausted, and possibly thinking about checking out job boards in the New Year.
Productivity and employee satisfaction
Making more of a team’s availability is a powerful argument for mobile-first. The word productivity is often over-used, but its improvement does make a tangible difference. In a small company with ten people, adding one more employee may be hard to justify, however desperately they are needed. Instead, using technology converged on a mobile device could help to make better use of existing team members’ time.
Mobile-first can also contribute to staff satisfaction and, in turn, help employee retention by removing some of the friction of daily work life. One example is giving people better control over their reachability without compromising business performance. Employees can set their availability intelligently, choosing which types of incoming calls to take and which ones get rerouted to someone else or an automated service out-of-hours. They can separate different identities on their mobile devices so that at the end of the working day, only incoming personal contact gets through until 9 a.m. the next day.
As the examples provided so far explain, the added value is not mobile for its own sake but how it can improve performance, enable companies to achieve more with less, release employees from mundane tasks, give them a better work-life balance, or improve interaction with customers for competitive advantage. Discussions with prospective customers need to be focused on their desired business outcomes rather than products and services.
Of course, having in-depth in-person conversations is easier when there is a manageable number of large key accounts, but not so viable when addressing large volumes of SMBs. Therefore, more service providers are now looking at the typical use cases those smaller organisations face, how mobile can handle those, articulate that clearly, and then provide automated self-service on-boarding, supported by the reseller’s remote maintenance.
Finally, while every market is different, it is certainly worth looking at the techniques used in the Nordics, those pioneers of mobile-first and living proof that not only is it possible, there are strong benefits for end users, as well as generating profitable business to service providers. Also, while mobile-first may feel like it is in its infancy, it is gaining pace, and so now is the time to start exploring its potential and gain a head-start on the competition. After all, while the future is impossible to predict, perhaps within a few years the market may have transitioned from mobile-first to mobile-only.