Customer service is as important as ever for local merchants, however the channels that shoppers prefer using to research products and prices are quickly changing. Fifty-eight percent of shoppers would rather look up information on their smartphones than talk to a sales associate in person, according to a survey by the Consumer Electronics Association. This preference is especially apparent among males between 25 and 44 years old.
Catering to customer demand doesn’t have to mean scouring Twitter and Yelp for negative reviews all day long. Using one or more hyperlocal platforms, even the smallest merchants can introduce the types of mobile customer service channels their customers want. Here are five examples of tools that businesses can use.
1. OwnerListens: Real-time customer service over SMS.
OwnerListens enables businesses to respond to customer complaints quickly and privately through its mobile platform. Businesses prompt their customers to send all different types of questions and suggestions — from “Why wasn’t the ice machine working?” to “The waiter forgot my water!” — to their managers via SMS. Managers receive these messages in real-time, and they can often respond by text before the customer has even left the business. To resolve complaints, businesses can take it a step further by sending dissatisfied customers relevant offers and discounts. OwnerListens also supports iBeacons. Small businesses can use the platform for free with a 30-day trial.
2. Pointro: Respond to feedback before complaints become crises.
Stores, malls, restaurants, hotels, and other local businesses can use Pointro to more efficiently manage their customers. Using the mobile platform, businesses can interact with customers in the same way they’re used to interacting in person — reaching out with personal greetings, saying “thanks” for positive social media mentions, and responding to feedback in real-time. Pointro works primarily through social channels like Facebook, Instagram, and Yelp. The platform provides businesses with “action suggestions” based on the content their customers are posting online. Pointro offers a 14-day free trial.
3. ListenPort: Engage in conversations with shoppers.
ListenPort provides businesses with a way to engage dissatisfied customers in conversations to gather feedback and resolve complaints. ListenPort provides small business owners with dedicated SMS numbers and email addresses for customers to use when sending feedback and suggestions. All of the messages that businesses receive are automatically analyzed, and ListenPort provides instant recommendations based on its sentiment analysis. Complaints and negative responses can be routed to a manager’s smartphone for immediate resolutions via text, while positive reviews can be automatically posted to a business’ Facebook page. ListenPort’s Basic plan is free.
4. Vee24: Connect with shoppers through in-store video kiosks.
Although Vee24 was designed primarily for retailers with online outposts, the B2C live video assistance platform also offers in-store tools. Using VeeKiosk, brick-and-mortar stores are able to offer in-store technical support and advice to shoppers. Rather than searching for a sales associate who’s available, customers head over to the kiosk (a media tower with an HD camera) for support. Using live video, voice, and co-browsing features, staffers at a centralized location can assist customers with product recommendations, service issues, and filling out billing or financing forms.
5. Engagor: Respond quickly with intelligent alerts.
Engagor uses a combination of intelligent alerts, filtering, message routing, and workflows to help businesses optimize their customer support. Created primarily for larger brands, Engagor has features that teams can use to track conversations happening on social networks, news websites, blogs, and forums. Using Engagor’s mobile app, customer support agents can opt to receive push notifications when new alerts come through or when they need to engage with customers immediately to resolve issues or complaints. Engagor integrates with online help desk applications, including Zendesk and Salesforce.
Know of other mobile customer service tools? Leave a description in the comments.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.