Why Mobile Customer Care Is Needed to Survive in a Mobile-Dominant World

The speed of texting, the ease of using apps on the go, the convenience of playing games anywhere. These are the promises of mobile. As companies hop on board with their consumers' desires, they're faced with delivering on mobile's promises of instant demand. These promises consist of personal communication, fast and continuous interactions, and intelligent identification.

When I look at mobile today, I see the genesis of WhatsApp, which has a billion users today; I see the creation of Facebook Messenger; I see iMessage screens. I also see a new way of interacting that is personal, instant, and based on one-to-one interactions.

The ways in which customers and companies interact has, to say the least, undergone a massive transformation during the past 20 years. Even in the past five years, companies like HBO, Paypal, and even the U.S. Justice Department have replaced email with the messaging platform Slack for in-office communication. People are moving toward ways of communication that reflect the instantaneity of their preferred channel of communication: mobile.

Customer Care Across Media

Customer care is a curious entity. It has been in a continual state of revolution since the advent of the switchboard in 1894. Despite technological advancements, businesses assumed for years that modes of customer service across channels would remain essentially the same.

The mid-to-late 2000s brought about a shift in omnichannel thinking. However, when remote desktop support emerged and became commonplace, organizations began to realize that applying the same principles of service to every channel wouldn't work. Omnichannel strategies are great, but companies must have a unique approach to delivering on brand promises for each channel. Mobile, Web, and email all have unique characteristics that make them appealing (the remoteness of Web led to instant messaging; the slowness of email led to team collaboration tools, etc.), and these characteristics need to be reflected in the channel's customer service.

Customer care for mobile must also reflect its medium. Routing an app problem through the Web or a call center is an absolute hassle for customers. To be successful in mobile, organizations must re-think what support looks like.

The Medium Is the Message: Why Support For Mobile Apps Must Be Native

In-app customer support is absolutely necessary for every single app, be it a retail, commerce, game, or any other type of app. Imagine, for instance, that you're playing a mobile game, and a blip occurs or you have a question about how to do something in the game. If support exists on the Web or over the phone and you have to leave the app to get an answer to your issue, the player experience is rudely interrupted. To provide excellent customer service via a mobile app means to have all of the resources you would have in any other channel inside the app. From FAQs to in-app support messaging, to a place for in-app feedback, users should receive the brand's promise without ever having to leave their preferred channel.

It's been 50 years since Marshall McLuhan wrote his famous phrase, "The medium is the message." It is, however, just as applicable today, if not moreso, with the proliferation of media: from tablets, to mobile, to desktop, to IOT, and now, to virtual reality. Users have myriad places from which to access your product, and it's essential that you value whatever channel they choose and give them the same level of care they would get on any other channel.

In fact, 75 percent of consumers believe that companies should have FAQs available via smartphone, and 71 percent say that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide good service. Customers don't want to be switching from device to device to get an optimal product experience; they want you to provide speedy service and native assistance.

At the heart of all customer service is the ideology that customers want their voices to be heard by the organizations they are buying from. There's a reason that those horrible hold recordings always say "Your call is very important to us." Organizations realize that customers want to be heard, and yet they implement systems (like long hold messages for call centers) that indicate to the customer that they are absolutely not valued.

The only way to truly have customers feel they matter to you is through rapid, easy communication. It's the message of mobile: you matter, and you should get quick, easy, instantaneous responses to what you want, when you want, wherever you are.

 Tushar Makhija is vice president of business development at Helpshift, a provider of CRM solutions specifically designed for mobile apps.