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When Mobile CRM Goes Too Far, Part 2

When Mobile CRM Goes Too Far, Part 2

"Mobilizing just for the sake of mobilizing is absent of value on its own," said Jeff Nicholson, chief marketing officer at Provenir. "There needs to be a mutual benefit for both parties. The consumer needs to get something they could not otherwise get via your app, which can be used 'in the moment.' If the app only serves up the very same offers they receive every day via email, it may be of little incremental value."

By Erika Morphy CRM Buyer ECT News Network
05/28/13 5:00 AM PT

The case for mobile CRM is an easy one to make. Smartphones are now ubiquitous, and the way most people work requires 24-7 accessibility. Not being tethered to a desktop to access customer records is also a plus, if not an outright necessity in some cases.

However, as we discussed in part 1 of this series, mobilization is getting to the point when some apps are mobilized -- and they needn't or shouldn't be.

Some signs that your app may fall into this category:

The Mutual Benefit Is Gone

For Jeff Nicholson, chief marketing officer at Provenir, a sign of potential trouble is when mutual benefit is no longer present.

The new value factor is one of mutual benefit, he told CRM Buyer.

"In short, mobilizing just for the sake of mobilizing is absent of value on its own. There needs to be a mutual benefit for both parties. The consumer needs to get something they could not otherwise get via your app, which can be used 'in the moment.'"

Location and time-sensitive offers that can account for the context and personal preferences of the individual are good examples, he said. These offers must be convenient or otherwise make an offer that the consumer can't receive elsewhere.

"For example, if the app only serves up the very same offers they receive every day via email, it may be of little incremental value," Nicholso said. "Also consider if your app truly provides incremental value, over and above what the individual can experience via your mobile browser-based website. If not, it may soon be removed."

Not Enough Focus on User Experience

It's very tempting for app developers to add bells and whistles that the user may not necessarily need or want, Andrew Till, SVP of smartphones and donnected devices at Symphony Teleca Symphony Teleca, told CRM Buyer. If your app is more of an exercise in ego -- a "look at what I can build" app -- then consider the possibility it may not be delivering value to the user and should not be mobilized.

"Often when mobile, what users really need is the latest updates and basic information to review as opposed to the full set of content creation capabilities. Therefore, focusing on the basic key information that users need in their role is key to implementing mobile extensions that really work," he said.

"Avoiding lots of page reloading and having to navigate between screens is also critical to ensure that mobile CRM extensions are enabling rather than restrictive and frustrating."

Insecure Information

This one may seem to be a no-brainer, but oftentimes companies lose sight of the need for mobile security as they try to deliver what customers want and need.

Companies that use mobile applications can be more responsive to their customers, garnering good will, noted Michael Bennett, partner at Edwards Wildman Palmer in Chicago. "But all of that good will can be lost, quickly, if sensitive data about the customer is lost," he told CRM Buyer.

"Mobile devices allow easy access to vast databases of information about customers. But mobile phones and tablets are easy to lose, too."

An employee who loses a mobile phone in a cab may put the company in the embarrassing position of having to report that loss to its customers if the phone allowed access to the company's CRM system, he said. "Depending on the type of information stored, the company could incur substantial liability."

There is another unfortunate scenario that could unfold depending on local laws and what they require a company to reveal, Bennett said. "Sometimes, CRM systems are used to store unflattering information about a customer, such as payment history and prospects for future sales."

Stay tuned for part 3: How to strike the right balance.


Erika Morphy has been writing about technology, finance and business issues for more than 20 years. She lives in Silver Spring, Md.


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