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Small Business Digest


  
    February-2013
 
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Small Businesses Enhance The Customer Experience With Mobile Payments

Small businesses are dipping their toes in the mobile-payments swim.

As a reputable tool to enhance customer loyalty which, in turn, boosts revenue, the mobile channel is gaining traction.

Indeed, adoption rates among small and medium-size businesses are expected to soar over the next two years.

The mobile channel’s biggest advantage is its ability to allow businesses to expand control of the customer relationship, which they already own, through a new channel. 

Diarmuid Mallon, head of product marketing for Sybase 365, a provider of mobile-messaging and mobile-commerce service, says 50% of Americans are “sleeping with their cellphones” – meaning that the average SMS, or text message, is read within four minutes of receipt, compared with up to 48 hours for the average e-mail. 

This so-called fourth screen (the mobile channel) is fast becoming the most valuable channel for marketers to attract new customers, while building loyalty with and retaining existing customers.

Mobile has the advantage because it allows customers to be reached where they want to be reached – wherever they are.

Consumers today have greater expectations for a personalized, enhanced shopping experience through multiple channels and value-added services. They not only require, but demand, real-time, customized rewards at various stages of the sales lifecycle. This in turn creates an opportunity to directly engage with customers and build brand loyalty through mobile marketing.

For those small businesses thinking of utilizing this channel, Mallon offers the following tips to get in the mobile game.

  • Getting started with mobile: With mobile, as with any new technology, it’s often wise to start small and grow incrementally, letting the success of one service pave the way for the next. That’s why it’s important to find a technology partner that offers a full range of services, so the company can build its own mobile channel in the most efficient way for its particular business.
  • Think cloud, not platform: Find a supplier that supports both cloud- and on-premise-based solutions. For smaller businesses, cloud-based solutions with a pay-as-you-go model are a cost-effective way to launch mobile services, and if a service is successful, the business may wish to take the solution on-premise.
  • Enhance what the company already does: Mobile opens up a world of possibilities to offer new services and create direct relationships with customers.  In order to make the most of the mobile channel, a company must tie it into what it’s already doing to maintain loyalty and reduce customer churn.
  • Mobilize existing channels: If the company has a contact center, or does e-mail promotions, add mobile as a new channel for these services.
  • Get prepared for mobile: If the company is collecting customer data, start collecting mobile phone numbers as well and customers can opt-in for marketing messages – even if it hasn’t launched a mobile service. Collecting this data ahead of time will give the company its mobile services an instant kick-start when they’re launched.

Mallon can be reached at Diarmuid.Mallon@Sybase.com


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