Mobile Customer Management in China
In China, Arvato is going mobile as the smartphone becomes the key component of e-commerce businesses.
Over 5,000 miles lie behind Kevin Xu and Jason Ni of Arvato China as we meet them in a Berlin hotel lobby. They are in the German capital for a meeting – an excellent opportunity to find out more about how they and their team have made smartphones so crucial for e-commerce.
Recognizing market changes and customer needs at an early stage, implementing good ideas quickly, always being one step ahead of the competition: this philosophy has made Arvato very successful with mobile B2B services in the fast-paced Chinese market. The smartphone is now becoming a virtual shop door.
The Arvato team in China has developed creative mobile solutions in customer management and in sales and marketing support – solutions specifically coordinated and branded for cosmetics and fashion companies as well as for a major customer from the insurance sector.
The smartphone: A key e-commerce platform
The result: Arvato’s solution is making the smartphone the key communication platform. It makes use of SMS, MMS, search engine optimized mobile websites, in-app advertising, QR codes in magazines or newspapers, chat features and telephone hotlines. This ensures that users can obtain information about new products on all channels – or even buy a product then and there. Ideally, with just one click. “We were the first company in China to be honored with an ‘Innovation Award’ by L’Oréal, one of our major clients,” proudly reports Kevin Xu, CEO of Arvato China.
China ranks among the leading countries worldwide in terms of smartphone usage. The country has experienced drastic changes in how companies communicate with their end customers. “Today’s consumers are essentially in contact with companies all the time and everywhere – largely on account of social media. This has changed customer expectations,” says Xu. Customer management must deal with social media – and remain mobile.
Frontend and backend services from a single source
This is no easy task considering how dynamic the Chinese market is. “But this fast pace is also an advantage for us,” explains Senior Business Director Jason Ni. “We can’t merely keep up. We need to take advantage of the fast tempo so we can offer our customers customized products faster than other companies. In all modesty, not every provider can respond to changes as quickly as we can.”
The approach of providing everything from a single source is also rather unique. “Developing an app is not difficult,” says Xu. “But linking customer management with B2B commerce is a major challenge. This is our forte. For example, we offer all our services as backend solutions as well. Product distribution, for instance.”
“In addition, our many partnerships have helped us gain considerable experience in customer management,” adds Jason Ni. For example, Arvato has been serving the customers of major airlines in China for some time now – from paper tickets to computer reservations and now to mobile services. One telecommunications company has already shifted all customer dialogue to mobile services. Kevin Xu is convinced that the smartphone will soon overtake the computer in e-commerce as well.
In his opinion, the television will become another increasingly important touchpoint. With it, viewers can find information about and order products without even changing the channel. Also, Internet-connected cars will be another popular interface in the dynamic world of mobile customer management.
“No matter what developments are coming, the important thing is to know what customers want and what channels are best to get in touch with them,” says Ni. Touchpoints must constantly be kept in sight, their functions further developed, their look and feel continually enhanced. Of course, they must also be fed with the latest information to ensure that the information going out and coming in is relevant. Consider orders, for example. “People are mobile and want to communicate and consume, wherever they are. Our solutions will continue to be oriented to these needs in the