the mobile experience convenience
Illustration by Eric Jackson

Consumers are starting to spend almost as much time using their smartphones and tablets as they spend watching television (127 minutes per day vs. 168, according to mobile analytics firm Flurry). Or doing both. Analytics firm Nielsen found that 88% of consumers use their tablet or smartphone while watching TV.

That is what makes mobile channels such a strong differentiator for brands like Total Gym Fitness. As a brand that promotes its products through television infomercials, it’s very common for viewers to pick up their smartphone or tablet to look for more information about the products being advertised.“We have realized that our customer’s first touchpoint on mobile is a very important one,” says Vice President of Marketing Joe Crowley.

But purchasing a big-ticket item, such as home gym exercise equipment, is not a decision that most consumers make lightly. “Customers will frequently need multiple touchpoints with our organization before they ultimately make the decision to try the product in their home,” Crowley says. “Our customers’ expectations are that, no matter what device they pick up at any given time, they want to be able to interact with us—24/7, 365 days a year.”

Four years ago, Total Gym partnered with TouchCommerce to provide live chat for its desktop site, and more recently, added its mobile chat solution to the channel mix. Importantly, the experience is tailored for the mobile device. “The customer who is on a mobile device may have very different types of questions,” Crowley says. “They may be less educated about the product [than a desktop visitor], so the mobile chat interaction becomes a critical first touchpoint to answer their questions.”

Total Gym’s call center agents are trained to adjust their responses when interacting with customers via mobile chat. While the call center uses a conversational-based selling approach over the phone and via desktop chat, which involves engaging with customers to find out about their goals and objectives, mobile chat calls for much briefer responses. “Excessive verbiage can look very intimidating on a mobile screen, to the point that potential customers might close the chat and move on,” Crowley says.

Besides providing a convenient and always-accessible channel for customers, the benefits of chat, overall, have been considerable for Total Gym, Crowley says.

“We get so much information from chat—it’s like having a focus group of your customers telling your agents what they can and cannot find on your website,” he adds. “It allows us to make the improvements that benefit our customers.”