The Mobile World
The proliferation of consumer mobile devices and the development of mobile payment options are converging to create real potential to redefine what we recognise as self-service. Markus Dierkes explains more.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the world is going mobile. Tablets and smartphones have taken over our pockets. Three million of Apple’s new iPad sold in a matter of days. In total, Apple has sold about 60 million tablets and enjoys the lion’s share of the tablet market. And smartphones? Sales have long been in the nine-figure territory.
Although the majority of apps have nothing to do with self-service, quite a few do. Those that do have the potential to dramatically change the relationship between customers and companies. This doesn’t only mean that more and more information will be available to customers.
Care for a few examples? In travel and transport, it is now commonplace for passengers not to print out their tickets, but instead have the tickets sent to their smartphones in the form of a 3D barcode. QR codes are taking off massively. There is hardly a promotional poster that doesn’t use them and more and more retailers are experimenting with them. After all, they are ideal for transforming the shop window into an online shop.
In addition, apps are always developed on behalf of companies wanting to offer customers and users a better service. Timetable information when on the move, store or restaurant locators, taxi finders or coupon generators – there are hundreds of examples.
However, changes will be even more far-reaching when mobile payment options catch on. Make payments via a smartphone – why not? After all, the necessary apps are already available, both in a form that the trader can upload onto his or her own smartphone, which can then be used as payment terminal, and in an appropriate form for the customer, who carries the payment device from store to store.
So does this increase the amount of self-service? The user not only performs the transaction but also has the necessary terminals, including software. Of course, the infrastructure has to be guaranteed, but this is only a fraction of the investment in a classical self-service installation. From the point of view of the user, the major advantage is that one app can be used for all payments. It is a generic application from a service provider and not from a specific company whose products or services the user wants. And it is precisely these generic applications used, for example, for mobile payments or transactions, which will re-define self-service.