When the iPhone 5 was released, over 2 million units were sold in the first 24 hours. According to Pew Research, as of January 2014, 90% of American adults own a mobile phone. With their phones nearly always within reach, consumers are no longer restricted to the time and place where they can reach out for service. The customer service operating model needs to adjust to this new concept of anytime, anywhere that consumers have come to expect. Mobile, broadband and media service providers are shown to receive more service requests than most other industries. And, as the providers of mobile devices, expectations are even higher—though often unmet—for the customers they serve.
Mobile care offers one of the most progressive opportunities to get personalization and context right during a service experience. A customer’s location, social activity, and other valuable insights can be gathered and then incorporated into a unique user experience. Components of mobile care include mobile apps, texting via SMS, and mobile chat.
According the Accenture’s Consumer Pulse Research Study 2013, 38% of consumers accessing service through digital channels use their mobile device to do so at least half the time. And 45% of consumers who switched providers indicated offering better service and support options via their mobile device would have made a difference in their decision.
Texting via SMS as a form of mobile care requires that customer service agents are capable of approaching it as a dialogue, a conversation. That’s how consumers use SMS and is therefore, the expectation from a service experience provided via mobile care. Responses are expected to be immediate and personalized. Most communication service providers have yet to align with these conversational rules of texting.
Research conducted by Harris Poll, found that:
- 64% of consumers with texting capabilities would prefer to use texting over voice as a customer service channel
- 77% of consumers aged 18-34 are likely to have a positive perception of a company that offers text capability – 93% of them used text messaging
- 81% of all consumers agree that it is frustrating to be tied to a phone or computer to wait for customer service help
- 41% of consumers are likely to feel that companies offering text understand their time is important
The top activities consumers prefer to do via text include checking order status, scheduling or changing appointments, ask a question, find a store location, and check balances or due dates.
Mobile chat is an opportunity to provide the information that your customers need, exactly when and where they need it, while keeping them connected to your app or mobile site. Given the portability offered by smartphones, it’s likely that a customer may be on the move, actively shopping or engaged in another activity that requires access to information in the moment. Immediacy is an imperative as a 30-second delay on mobile feels like a much longer time period than when experienced during a desktop chat.
Mobile applications downloaded and installed on smartphones and tablets is on the rise. The average number of apps owned by a smartphone user is 41 and 39 minutes per day is spent with these applications. Mobile applications are preferred over mobile websites by 85% of consumers based on the perception that apps are faster and easier to use.
Mobile apps provide mobile, broadband and media service providers with a jumping off point for an entire customer engagement journey supported by a customer service agent. Because so much data can be gleaned from the interaction—including identity, gender, age, location, etc.—issue resolution is personalized, faster and call volume is reduced. By providing a conversation bridge from the app to an agent, the customer is in control of shifting channels as necessary. Embedding “click to call” or “click to chat” in the application means that the information and context of the customer won’t be lost with the shift to engage with an agent.
Strategy is Not Optional
The adoption of mobile applications that are also used for service and support requires some consideration of the user experience. Rather than trying to retrofit your mobile app because you’ve discovered that customers expect support to be provided through it, work with your contact center vendor to establish the right context to serve the customer best based on data that shows needs and behavior within the app. Mobile care provided through an application cannot be an afterthought or bolted-on functionality. Customers have little patience and will abandon a high-effort or error-prone app in a heartbeat—tarnishing the longevity and loyalty of the customer relationship.
A Google Consumer Survey, Getting to Know the Connected Customer, found that only 10% of consumers rated mobile care as convenient, indicating that the effort was too high to be a satisfying experience. However, the survey also found that if they knew their issue would be resolved, 16% of consumers would prefer mobile care over other options. Preferences are shifting in this direction.
Partnering with your contact center vendor is a wise choice. Their experience with mobile care in other industries, as well as their knowledge about which skills are required of agents working in mobile care channels, can make the difference between providing mobile care that’s seen as valuable or an experience that leaves customers dissatisfied. Taking a strategic approach is the answer to integrating mobile care as a seamless transition for your customers based on their expectations across service delivery channels.