The Uberization of Customer Service

It seems that today, we can get everything we need all at the press of a button. Need to listen to a song? Search and play without waiting to download using Spotify, Pandora, iTunes, and others. Need a car to the airport? Don't call a cab dispatch, tell your location, destination, and wait. Open your Uber, Lyft, or other ridesharing apps. The list goes on and on.

The explosion of on-demand services has driven a monumental change in consumer expectations for convenience, which extends beyond ease of purchase to customer service and support. Companies must adapt and provide a high level of customer experience to create loyalty and retain customers.

Unfortunately, when it comes to support in today's on-demand economy, most companies are severely lacking. Customer support cannot be an afterthought or just be treated as a cost center; it needs to be an experience equation, one that keeps up with the product, service and brand with which it is associated.

So, how can companies prepare to meet these growing expectations? Let's dive into how uberization, including a mobile-first and convenient approach, can have a positive impact on the customer support experience.

Embracing a Mobile-First Approach

According to the Pew Research Center, roughly three-quarters of Americans (77 percent) now own a smartphone, more than double since Pew began surveying on the topic in 2011. What's more, smartphones are now nearly ubiquitous among younger adults, with 92 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds owning one.

The huge spike in smartphone usage over the past few years has also impacted the way consumers interact with companies, specifically when it comes to mobile purchases. App Annie recently released a report on shopping for Black Friday 2017, based on data from Android devices in the United States. The report anticipated that time spent mobile shopping via apps would grow 45 percent compared to the same time two years ago.

Despite smartphones becoming the primary device for purchasing, communicating, and engaging with every form of content, most apps do not have in-app customer support, leaving consumers essentially stranded at a most critical time. According to recent research, 47 percent of mobile app users claimed they would delete an app if it didn't provide customer support. And rightly so; it's a wonder why product teams spend countless hours finessing their apps only to throw users out of it when they encounter issues.

By ensuring that support calls or chats are an integrated component of their mobile apps, organizations can streamline how customers interact with them and reinforce the company-consumer bond. The heightened need for immediate satisfaction extends to immediate resolution. Businesses that quickly adapt to including support to their in-app experience will lead in customer satisfaction. Those that are slower to adapt will risk the consequences of increased churn.

Convenience is King

For consumers, speed and convenience has proven to trump everything else. As more industries become disrupted by uberization, customer satisfaction will hold an even greater role for organizations. Forbes reported that $62 billion is lost each year due to poor customer service in the United States alone. As such, it's clear that positive customer support has become a business enabler for organizations.

When you dig deeper into what makes the biggest impact to customers when they run into issues, the top complaint is wait time. Waiting endlessly to reach representatives has become the posterchild of bad support. These issues are symptomatic of outdated technologies that do not evolve and integrate with the times. Support centers are subjected to a fragmented puzzle of tabs and applications that have been devoid of user experience for too long. Not to mention needing professional services or other unforeseen charges for simple changes and lengthy delays that cannot be afforded by high-velocity support teams.

However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Moving away from this dark paradigm to a holistic user experience-focused platform is now possible. The bar is quite low for delightful customer service: Most of the time, customers will be excited just to be able to speak to an agent within five minutes of starting their support requests. Imagine how organizations can create a cult-like following when customers can communicate with agents the same way they communicate with friends and family: by sharing photos, screenshots, videos, location and morte using the devices in the palm of their hands. Couple that with a truly robust, distributed cloud back end with a strong telephony core and that' a sure recipe for success.

Getting rid of legacy systems with massive and compounding technical debt is step one. Machine Learning that can assist in optimizing both the conversation and routing to ensure resolution time and CSAT is step two. Capitalizing on these assets in the right way, with a team that has strong consumer DNA and experience shipping products at scale will truly help build a relationship between company and customer. The 50 percent cost savings are just the cherry on top.

Anand Janefalkar is founder and CEO of UJET. 

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Posted March 22, 2018