Roland Hanbury and Steve Pluta from Telefónica UK, say employees with tablets can give better service to customers. And they look great.

Back in the day, your shopkeeper was also your guide. When you stepped fearfully into the hi-fi shop, or the camera emporium, you listened dutifully to everything the lab-coated guru behind the counter had to say.

The same was true of your ticket inspector, your travel agent, your plumber. Generally, we took it for granted that the people serving us knew more about their line of business than we did.

Those were the days. Today, we routinely check out our options online before we go to a shop – if we go to a shop at all. And we consult our social networks for informed opinions, price comparisons and first-hand experiences of whatever we’re thinking of spending money on, from a movie to a conservatory.

So front line service staff are left to cope with customers who already know more than they do. And if they offer an informed opinion, their customers can glance at their smartphones to check their facts on the spot.

That’s why some of our customers are starting to roll out tablets and smartphones to their customer-facing staff. At the most basic level, your people really have to know at least as much about your business as the people they are serving.

But there’s more to it than that. It says a lot about your brand if your people are equipped with the latest technology. After all, one of the key drivers of consumerisation is the sheer desirability of sleek, intuitive gadgets that do clever things. Smartphones and tablets are, simply, cool.

Which, of course, is why you sometimes have to fight a bit harder to make the business case for them. Surely, they’re just executive toys, aren’t they?

Once, that may have been true. But for more and more of our customers, they are becoming effective business power tools. They’re driving better customer service, boosting productivity and collaboration and saving time and money everywhere from railway engineering sites to aircraft flight decks.

We looked at some examples, and at the issues around deploying tablets in business, at our recent webinar, ‘Tablets at work: the new culture of business’.  You can still see what was discussed on the webinar replay.

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