Tictail Delivers In-App Customer Service to Drive Mobile Commerce

With Black Friday and Cyber Monday right around the corner, companies expect more transactions to occur through mobile devices. Last year, mobile commerce accounted for 22.56 percent of online sales in November and December, and 27.91 percent of Black Friday sales, according to the 2014 IBM Experience One U.S. Retail Online Holiday Shopping Recap Report. This year, the number will likely surpass 30 percent, and as mobile secures its position as a key channel for online retail, retailers should consider stepping up their mobile customer support.

Messaging platform Tictail promises to make in-app customer support a reality for companies. The vendor began as an online marketplace, similar to Etsy, but is now positioning itself as a customer support service as well with the introduction of Tictail Talk, a tool that enables customers to chat directly with retailers and gives retailers the flexibility to handle transaction questions as well as post-purchase product support. The interactions, which can include images and links as well as text, are all documented in a timeline that support reps can revisit and track throughout the customer journey. And when it comes to user experience, the conversation takes on a familiar format—the dialog closely resembles the Apple iMessage user interface.

Though the solution is ideal for smaller retailers, analysts say in-app customer support is becoming a must-have for brands of all sizes. "If customers are engaged with a brand's app, they don't want to leave that environment for service. They want to get the support they need without having to go to another channel—they want it quickly and through their preferred route," Kate Leggett, an analyst at Forrester, says. "[For mobile commerce to thrive,] mobile support must be seamless."

What makes a platform such as Tictail unique is that it brings sales and service together in a way that empowers both. When a customer is frustrated during a Tictail Talk chat, for example, the retailer representative that’s providing support can offer a discount directly in the chat to close the deal. The support agent and salesperson become one, and ultimately it's the customer that benefits from the more cohesive interactions.

The risk with betting too heavily on in-app support, however, is that apps in general suffer from short-term use. Consumers typically use three to four apps heavily, and these typically include mobile banking and airline apps. Retail apps, on the other hand, are not used as often. "This is why omnichannel support is so important. Businesses can't rely on a handful of channels to deliver service," Leggett says. Still, analysts are confident that mobile commerce is on the uptick, and that the time to prepare for the surge in mobile sales is now. On mobile, in-app support is the "most direct way" to deliver service, Leggett says. To that end, Tictail Talk is a model worth paying attention to.

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