In a recent assessment of smartphone usage, mobile device analytics firm Flurry estimates that there were over 640 million iOS and Android devices in use worldwide during the month of July 2012. And in the US, 78% of the adult population uses some sort of “smart” device such as an iPhone or tablet. Businesses are rushing to build mobile-friendly websites and mobile apps. To succeed, these businesses need to do more than just create a mobile advertisement for their products. They need build a great customer experience to stand behind the half-inch squared icon on a customer’s mobile device.
Building that great customer experience has a lot to do with living up to expectations. Most apps can track a user’s search preferences, previous purchases, and other information. Yet simply recording this information is not enough, there is an expectation that it will be analyzed to create personalized experience for the user. We live in a world where, for many young people, talking to someone is not a primary use of their phone. These customers might prefer Twitter or Facebook for customer service instead of calling in or sending e-mail, but they still expect all of those options to be available.
For an app to set itself apart from the crowd it cannot simply meet expectations, it needs to exceed expectations. If customer service via Facebook, Twitter, phone, and e-mail are the baseline, there are some other avenues you can take to create that positive customer experience with mobile apps.
• Create a seamless customer service experience. Give people the ability to express themselves from inside the app they are using.
• Create a personalized customer service experience. In-app feedback can provide contextual data to help your customer service agents understand who the customer is, their usage history, and usage preferences.
• Create a data-driven customer service experience. Collect usage and personalization data through your mobile app, and analyze in aggregate. Analytics can help your developers understand when and how users interact with your app, driving updates that fit the needs of its users.
Sephora is a prime example of a business taking full advantage of the rise in mobile use and technology. In April 2012, along with the launch of a redesigned website, Sephora also launched a mobile web presence, and an app for the iPhone. With their mobile app, Sephora has yet another touch point for customer service, and a tool to gather data about their customers’ preferences. AllthingsD.com has a great write-up about the positive experience Sephora has had embracing mobile devices.
To create a mobile app that perfectly anticipates the needs of the user the first time out of the gate is nearly impossible. The age of mobile app is in its infancy, and there will be vast improvement on all fronts. For mobile app developers, just like in the service industry, hearing the voice of the customer is a key to success. App stores and app marketplaces are filled with ratings and reviews for mobile apps, many of them little more than arbitrary star ratings and three word comments like “this app sucks.”
No matter how much effort you put into customer service, you cannot help someone who posts an anonymous three word negative review. There is no way to reach out to that person. There is no way fix their problem. So now we see a new breed of customer service tools emerging to address these issues, such as the in-app feedback and survey service from Apptentive. Or app analytic software like Localytics or Flurry Analytics. These new tools make it possible to exceed expectations and create a great customer experience even when the product isn’t working correctly. With these tools we can create a seamless, personalized, and data-driven customer service experience for mobile app users.