Why Customer Support Must Adapt to Mobile Messaging

No one ever wants to contact customer support. Not just because it means you’re having some sort of problem, but also because “Contact Us” interfaces have been lackluster for years.

When desktop dominated, we could accept the sub-par “Contact Us” forms that sent us off into a customer support black hole. We might take the time to dig up a phone number only to be put on hold and provide the same information over and over again. That’s just the way things worked.

But mobile has changed consumer expectations. Mobile devices are the most personal, intimate devices we’ve ever owned. They’re with us at all times and (for better or worse) they make us reachable at all times. We can reach friends and family via messaging whenever we need to—and this kind of instant gratification is now expected in communication with businesses.

And yet, the companies whose apps we use every day—retailers, banks and financial services firms, travel companies, etc.—are keeping their customer support processes in the desktop dark ages.

In the mobile era, “Contact Us” is over. “Message Us” is the new standard—but there’s a good, bad, and ugly to how brands are approaching it today.

Part 1: The Ugly Side of Mobile Customer Support

Customer support can be costly, so it makes sense for some types of applications to funnel users toward self-service forums and other low-cost support options to save money.

But did you know that 47% of mobile users will delete an app if it doesn’t have customer support built in?

For situations where every user session is valuable, such as in e-commerce, banking, and travel applications, giving customers the run-around in support is counter-intuitive. You cut corners to save on support costs because customer lifetime value is low—but your customer lifetime value is often low because of poor customer support.

If your “Contact Us” button is sending mobile users to hated-pits such as endless self-service lists, faceless emails to “help@company.com,” or a phone call with a frustrating IVR process that goes nowhere.

Even if mobile self-service seems to be the cutting-edge of the new support paradigm, there are plenty of implementations that are falling short in some way. Just look at a few of these examples:

On Mobile, Contact Us Becomes Message Us

At first glance, these may seem like the cream of the crop when it comes to mobile customer support. And in some ways, they are.

However, they aren’t up to snuff with consumer expectations on mobile. The problem with self-service menus is that they don’t make customers feel heard. No matter how many options you provide, there will always be those cases that fall through the cracks. And when that’s the case, users will be left searching for a call number that they don’t want and likely can’t find.

In the cases where call-in options are provided, users are forced to provide their account information multiple times even though they’re contacting support from the app where they’re already logged in. It may not seem like a big deal, but this friction can make all the difference in your customer lifetime value.

These “ugly” customer experience implementations embrace mobile, but they don’t take advantage of messaging as the primary communication channel. However, even those apps that try to deliver in-app messaging support can fail to meet expectations

Part 2: The Bad Side of Messaging in Mobile Customer Support

Google Express has emerged as a valuable app for busy professionals. Between work, kids, and everything in between, not everyone has time for a Costco run. Google Express gives you a nice mobile interface to quickly find the items you need and have them delivered within 24 hours.

But when your order is listed as “in transit” for 3 days, it’s time to contact Google Express customer support. For mobile shoppers, this means diving into the native support feature. In this case, an opportunity to boost customer satisfaction results in a couple challenges:

  • Finding the “Contact Us” Section: Figuring out how to contact the support team in the first place is complicated. You have to go to a drop-down menu, navigate to help, go to another drop-down menu, and finally hit “Contact Us.” And this just dumps you into an interface asking more questions before you can choose to email, call, or chat.
  • Not Tracking Customer Context: In most shopping use cases, customer support is contacted in the context of a specific order. Shoppers should be able to ask a question about an order directly and have the order ID filled in automatically. For Google Express, there’s no order context for customer support. You have to take out a pen, write down your 11-digit order ID, then finally go through the steps for messaging support.

On Mobile, Contact Us Becomes Message Us

This kind of mobile support design won’t help you streamline customer conversations. Regardless of your industry, Amazon has the mobile messaging support example you should be learning from.

Part 3: The Good Side of Messaging in Mobile Support

Retailers are constantly chasing Amazon whether they like it or not. But when it comes to customer support, Amazon is setting the gold-standard for rich in-app messaging for service in any industry.

On Mobile, Contact Us Becomes Message Us

We’ve talked about Amazon’s great use of messaging in mobile customer support before, but here are a few takeaways for your own support experience:

  • Intelligent Triaging: From the start of the support experience, Amazon uses a chatbot to triage customer service needs. With a few simple questions and natural language processing, Amazon can determine the best category for the customer request—even if that means starting a phone call. It all starts with the customer conversation.
  • Make Customers Feel Heard: Amazon doesn’t send customers into a black hole. They instantly start a conversation where they can express their unique thoughts, which is a stark difference from some self-service lists.
  • Contextual Customer Support: Amazon does a great job of incorporating all of a customer’s purchase history in the conversation. As the conversation moves along, the chatbot can proactively ask about current orders and determine where there’s an issue (rather than having you enter a complicated order ID).
  • Seamless Escalation: There are plenty of cases where a chatbot can’t complete the service request. Amazon’s mobile support can seamlessly escalate from bot to human support, which cuts costs while also maintaining the customer experience.

Mobile experiences have raised the customer support bar and Amazon is one of few companies meeting the call. Part of the problem is that building an in-app messaging experience seems too costly and time-consuming for some companies. But the value of mobile customer support done right can’t be overstated.

If you want to learn how to take advantage of messaging to deliver valuable mobile customer service experiences, contact us today to learn how the Layer Customer Conversation Platform can streamline the implementation process.