Mobile Self-Help Applications Continue to Miss Customer Expectations

Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • Customers’ expectations for high-quality mobile self-help solutions are growing rapidly and now higher than ever, yet customers continue to be disappointed by the solutions that are ubiquitous today.
  • Brand assessments and Net Promoter Score (NPS) evaluations are closely linked to the customer’s perception of a company’s ability to meet customer service needs.  Successful mobile solutions will be a critical element of positive customer assessments in the future.

Just about a year ago, I wrote a blog entry about the growing need to connect mobile self-service and agent-assisted customer service into a continuous and seamless customer experience.  The basic message was that providers of customer service technologies need to better accommodate the growing number of customers using their mobile devices to access customer service on demand.  It was somewhat uplifting recently to see the findings of a market research study performed under the sponsorship of the VHT Corporation (formerly Virtual Hold) that quantified and corroborated many of the underlying drivers which motivated me to write the original piece.

The report (“Customers Seek One-on-One Customer Service in Real Time on Their Terms,” published in September 2012 by The Adcom Group of Companies on behalf of VHT) provides a look at how the implementation of customer service applications on mobile devices can affect the perception of a company brand, positively or negatively, depending upon the application’s ability to eliminate the dreaded ‘dead end’ in the self-service decision tree.  In short, when experiencing points of frustration with a financial application for a smartphone, 66% of customers say they want to speak directly with a customer service representative to alleviate or eliminate the problem.  Furthermore, 62% of customers report being frustrated because they could not easily ask for help from a customer service representative while using a smartphone self-service application.  Finally, more than 80% of customers said they want a customer service solution that enables them to request a callback from a customer service representative as soon as possible or at a scheduled time of their choosing.

When service problems cannot be quickly and easily resolved, customers experience increasing frustration that results in consequences for the company and the overall company brand.  As I noted in my previous entry, a primary goal of the customer service executive should be to better connect mobile self-service with agent-assisted service applications in order to create a continuous customer service experience across company access channels.  A disruption in the customer experience, after they have already experienced an application problem (such as a customer service dead end), creates negative brand perceptions and will ultimately decrease application utilization.

The customers’ message is clear (and now well documented).  When they run into trouble using a customer service application on their mobile phone, it is not acceptable to be left hanging.  Just as importantly, it is not tolerable for customers to have to start over again mid-stream, losing all the information already transmitted.  They want to be connected to a customer service representative at the touch of a button.  That agent should know who they are and be able to pick up the interaction where it was disrupted with the call information in context.  Although we know this, and companies such as VHT are presently offering such solutions on mobile devices, the vast majority of mobile applications continue to leave the customer on his or her own to rectify the situation when things go awry.

I just checked my smartphone; of the eight mobile self-service customer applications I have downloaded and use regularly (six of which are financial services-oriented), not one provides a customer agent connect button or another way to connect to a live agent to help resolve an issue that may arise while using the application.  I suspect your situation is similar.  It is important that brand managers take this seriously and implement mobile solutions which will build a strong company and brand image, not destroy it.

What do you think?

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