The In-store Sales Assistant

The mobile device has become the comparison shopper’s best friend. In the electronics store, in the car dealer’s lot and in nearly every in-person shopping experience, consumers come armed with mobile devices to tap into information before they make purchasing decisions.

This represents an enormous opportunity for eBusinesses and traditional companies that make their representatives available via enhanced chat on mobile devices. Beyond text-based messages, enhanced chat can include live voice and video chat, interactive whiteboard, screen sharing, document co-editing, joint form completion and more.

The definition of customer service is changing. Once a rote, operational function, customer service is now a proactive, valued differentiator, inextricably linked to marketing and sales objectives. Live, mobile, multimedia collaboration opens up numerous opportunities for enhanced customer service and sales. Below are five of the most critical…

Increased productivity
The proliferation of the iPad and other tablet computers indicates a number of things about the ways in which people use their time today. Consumers and business users clearly want to get more done during the day, whether they are in the office, at home or on the road. Tablets increase productivity – to a point. In order for users to realize the full potential of their mobile devices, those with whom they do business must enable mobile applications. This is true in customer service, as well, which is increasingly aware of the need to meet customers wherever they are. If company A requires a consumer to seek service on the phone or via a desktop computer, and company B is accessible via a mobile device, it is easy to predict which organization will win more business.

Even in the aisle of a competitor’s bricks and mortar establishment, an eBusiness representative can offer a guided video tour of a rival product via a mobile device. Or, companies that prefer to deliver their own guidance on products stocked by others can add a ‘Scan for live help’ barcode to let shoppers connect to knowledgeable service agents via audio, text or video chat, all via a mobile device. For example, a consumer standing in front of a plasma TV in a big box store can access a guided video tour of the TV’s features by opting in for enhanced chat on his/her handheld device. In this way, the mobile-friendly business wins sales through better service.

Internal communications
Many e-tailers rely on dispersed teams to run their businesses, and those teams need to replicate the level of communication that might come easily were they all to inhabit the same office space. Mobile multimedia chat can provide the basis for virtual meetings, product collaboration and other mission-critical business activities. This, too, affects sales, since the outcomes of such internal collaboration extend to product quality, marketing messages, sales outreach, and every other aspect of the business.

Competitive differentiation
Particularly in saturated industries, market share often comes down to which company offers the best service. For example, a couple registering for wedding gifts can choose from a half a dozen home goods stores. They will likely opt to do business with the one who helps them – and later their guests – choose the right gifts. A vendor who can supplement live sales assistance with multimedia mobile applications is uniquely positioned to provide a superior experience to the couple in this example, who in turn will prompt dozens of their friends and family members to shop in the store.

Bottom-line results
Research from multiple sources has shown that consumers are at least three times as likely to make a purchase when they receive live support. High-quality support, enhanced with video, document sharing and other value-added apps can boost average order value, and increase repeat business from loyal customers.

Yuval H. Moed is co-founder & CEO of HBR Labs, the company behind VeriShow, a SaaS-based collaboration platform