Customers are Demanding Better In-App Support: Is Your Company Ready?

By Eric Vermillion, CEO, Helpshift

Marketing professionals claim to know the value of the mobile experience. They invest billions of dollars in mobile ads and mobile app UX design, and pursue mobile-first marketing strategies. So why is that so often, companies’ mobile customer service feels like an afterthought?

Brands still have significant work to do in creating a more effective, customer-friendly mobile experience. When customers are struggling to get questions answered within your app or when they run into issues and can’t figure out how to talk to a real person, this creates heightened feelings of irritability and displeasure. Brands may be unknowingly putting their customer loyalty at jeopardy if their mobile app becomes an occasion of friction and frustration.

Helpshift recently commissioned a survey. The data revealed that brands need to focus on in-app support as a key channel for customer service. Rather than neglecting the impact that a mobile app’s support experience can have, it’s time to recognize it as an underrated area of opportunity to improve your customer experience and build longer-lasting customer relationships.

Let’s look at top findings from our survey and see what they mean for your brand’s customer experience.

Most In-App Customer Service Experiences are Not Measuring Up

 Even though mobile apps have become more central to people’s everyday lives (67% of our survey respondents use apps multiple times a day), the average in-app customer service experience is not keeping up with expectations:

  • Almost half (49%) of our survey respondents feel like brands are neglecting their in-app customer support.
  • Only 12% rated their in-app customer support experience as “excellent.”
  • 39% said that in-app support was only “fair,” and 8% rated it as “poor.”

This is a red flag for app publishers and marketing leaders. Think of all the money you’ve invested in monetization, mobile ads, and mobile experiences, trying to drive more traffic to your app. If your mobile app customer support experience cannot deliver on the promises that your brand has made, you’re going to leave a lot of customers feeling ignored and disappointed. Further, if users are churning as quickly as they are acquired – and potentially leaving negative reviews as they leave – you will have a difficult time seeing ROI.

Better In-App Support Can Help Your Brand Create Competitive Advantage

Every marketing executive knows about SEO, Google Adwords, and “mobile first” user experience strategies. However, according to the data, in-app customer support is not yet top-of-mind for most companies; many brands are not yet investing in creating a better in-app support experience.

Our survey found that 54% of respondents said that the apps they use are not offering any built-in customer support. Many customers get kicked out of the app when issues occur and are forced to go through different channels for support like email or phone. They must then wait hours or days for a response; 66% of respondents said they feel “extremely or very frustrated” when this happens.

Lack of in-app support is becoming a quiet threat to brands’ credibility. 56% of our survey’s respondents said that brands are not “walking the walk” on having a great mobile experience, and only 12% were willing to give mobile brands a grade of “A.”

This widespread lack of in-app support is a surprising disconnect, and an area of opportunity. Since so many other companies are getting mobile customer service wrong, if you can get it right, you’ll be poised to differentiate your brand in the marketplace.

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The New Strategy for Customer Loyalty and Retention: In-App Support

There is a lot of white space in the market right now for brands to create better customer experiences and drive customer loyalty by focusing on the in-app environment. With so many competitors failing to address customers’ concerns and questions within the app, your brand can stake out a differentiating advantage.

In-app customer service is an untapped area for customer loyalty. 86% of survey respondents said they would have a higher level of customer loyalty to a brand that offers good customer support within the app, and 71% of mobile app users said that a bad experience with a mobile app would motivate them to switch to a competing app or product. Especially if you want to reach younger consumers, you need to get your mobile app experience up to speed: 40% of Gen Z consumers in our survey described themselves as “very loyal” to their favorite mobile apps – the highest percentage of all age cohorts.

Adapting to New Opportunities of the Metaverse

A new wave of “metaverse” VR/AR and immersive online experiences are being developed right now, and these new customer environments will demand a new kind of customer support. This is another significant area of opportunity for brands to stake a claim of leadership in delivering a great customer experience that lives up to the potential of the metaverse’s Extended Reality (XR).

Our survey found that so far, brands are not getting serious about customer support in the metaverse. We asked current metaverse XR users about their experiences with customer support for these immersive metaverse environments:

  • 67% said customer support was a pain point in the metaverse.
  • 83% said that even when they could access metaverse customer support, it took too much time and/or their problems didn’t get effectively resolved.
  • 17% said that from their experience in the metaverse, there was no customer support available at all.

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Marketing leaders spend a lot of money and time thinking about customer acquisition and customer retention. Brands make massive investments in driving users to download their apps and engaged with their mobile experiences. It’s astonishing that so many companies are not yet protecting these investments by thinking seriously about retention and the in-app customer support experience. When customers have problems, questions, or issues while using an app, they naturally want to get help within that specific user experience and interface. The better your in-app support can become, the more likely you are to create a more effective, engaging, and profitable mobile app experience to drive long-term customer loyalty and growth.

Eric Vermillion is the CEO of Helpshift, the only in-app, mobile-first customer service platform.

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