Mobile messaging could be big for businesses – but it all hinges on the CIO

(Image credit: Image Credit: Gilles Lambert / Unsplash)

It’s been a while since a business’s IT leader could sit quietly in the background, making sure the workstations and back-office systems run smoothly. These days, CIOs are right at the forefront, helping colleagues in other departments connect with customers and employees in new ways.

Right now, across your organisation, colleagues are dreaming up new ways to improve the customer experience, work more efficiently, and sell more stuff. If only businesses could find ways to connect with audiences – from employees, to prospects, to customers – in vital moments.

It’s an immense challenge for any CIO. But some important stats highlight how this challenge can be met. Firstly, there are more than 7 billion mobile phones around the world. Secondly, 90 per cent of text messages are opened within three minutes.

Reaching your business’s audiences at the right time and place is now within your grasp. And as the person in charge of technology enablement, you – the CIO – can be the change agent.

Thanks to mobile messaging, your business’s customers and employees are already onboard. Not only are they familiar with texting, they can’t imagine life without it.

That means adoption isn’t the challenge. The challenge is how to start. The options are many. We’ll offer you a few ideas on how.

Put the customer first

Some of the world’s most customer-focused companies spend a lot of time looking for ideal SMS, MMS and RCS use cases – small but significant moments when sending the right information at the right time is vital. At OpenMarket, we call these moments Empathetic Interactions.

One of our favourite interactions is in place at London’s Euston station. Virgin Trains sends passengers a text message telling them their train’s platform, before it’s announced on the official departure boards. It’s enough of a head start to let them beat the rush, store their luggage and get comfortable. And passengers love it – customer satisfaction is up 28 per cent since introducing the service.

Another great example is Club Mahindra. Club Mahindra runs 49 luxury resorts across India, Malaysia, Thailand and Dubai. Previously, the club struggled to get the customer feedback needed to perfect the experience.

Now, guests receive a mobile survey 30 minutes after they check out, while their memories are still fresh and they have travel time to reflect on their holiday. Response rates have more than doubled, and customer reps have more chance to address any issues in real time.

FICO, the data analytics company, uses mobile messaging to tackle the problem of legitimate card purchases being declined, which often happens when people travel abroad. To spare them the inconvenience, FICO uses real-time text message verification for quick and (relatively) painless authentication. It doesn’t just make things more efficient when there’s no fraud. It also means actual fraud gets detected – and stopped – more quickly. One FICO client saw its overall fraud losses fall by 35 per cent.

These examples demonstrate that empathy is powerful. It’s surprising, thoughtful, helpful and – above all – timely.

Look for internal use cases too

Your own IT department could well be the first sensible place to test out mobile messaging. It can be used for simple support functions like password resets and two-factor authentication. This can effectively be a triple win: it lowers your call volume, makes the customer’s experience quicker and more convenient, while also improving adherence to security measures.

What’s more, it’s a great, low-maintenance way to update people about system outage issues, and expected fix times. This we know: once one case is working successfully, colleagues in other departments quickly start to think of ways that mobile messaging could work for them. So even if you’re starting with a single task, it’s important your organisation takes a strategic, scalable approach. That’s where you as the CIO come in.

Time to grab the reins

As CIO, you have the broad perspective that your colleagues in specific silos do not have. You have the bird’s eye view that can help your enterprise take an intelligent and co-ordinated approach to mobile engagement.

But, you need to act now. Ducking or delaying the issue will reduce the benefit of the change – both the direct operational/cost/satisfaction improvements, and the value of any differentiation you’ll achieve. And it’ll also increase the chance that departments will start without you – swerving IT altogether to source their own solution – and head into problems that way. If your organisation is going to use mobile messaging well, you need to take an active role. And you need to do it right from the first conversation.

It's a good start to begin by asking your business some simple questions. As a bare minimum, you’ll need to know:

  • What are the business objectives?
  • What data is involved?
  • What integrations are required?

This information will help you take the first steps towards a more active role in your organisation’s move towards mobile messaging.

Security is both the answer and the challenge

Data security is always top of mind for CIOs. And mobile is something of a security double-edged sword. On the one hand, customers and employees doing more and more on their mobile devices means sensitive data is travelling over the airwaves every day – onto devices that may or may not be secure.

But on the other hand, those same devices are making security easier.

Mobile messaging makes confirming identity quick, easy and painless. Two-factor authentication via SMS has become a hugely important use case for companies everywhere. It means users are less likely to avoid or ignore best practice (or keep their password on a post-it note).

There are other security use cases. Consider FICO, the data analytics company that uses SMS to help clients authenticate their customers’ identities by checking out suspicious-looking credit card activity. The automated system saves the customer hassle – because their card can be unblocked in seconds from anywhere. This saves time and money in the call centre. But, the really smart part is the way more customers respond, more quickly, 24/7.

Your next step

So, what’s holding you back? You hold the key to increasing customer experience and taking your business to the next level. There’s nothing we love more than helping businesses find clever new ways to make a real difference to their customers – and their employees – by connecting at just the right time and place.

Ivan Maksić, Business development, Openmarket