The Sorry State of In-App Customer Support: How & Why to Do It Better


The Sorry State of In-App Customer Support: How & Why to Do It Better

By Special Guest
Fred Hsu, CEO of
  |  July 06, 2017

Juniper Research (News - Alert) has predicted that the market for mobile apps alone will reach almost $100 billion by 2019. Indeed, there are great fortunes to be made in the mobile marketplace. But mobile entrepreneurs are faced with stiff competition from competing brands and organizations.

From a customer perspective, the app marketplace is saturated with options. That means if one app falls short of customer expectations, there are many similar apps available. Furthermore, there is a low or non-existent cost for consumers to switch apps in this scenario. The process of deleting an app and installing another can take less than a minute. According to iProgrammer, only 36 percent of apps last longer than a month on a user’s device, with only 11 percent still present on mobile devices after a year.

With more than 2 million apps in Apple’s (News - Alert) App Store, mobile app developers must seek competitive differentiators to ensure their apps flourish. As many apps boast much of the same functionality, providing a seamless customer experience is becoming a major avenue for app developers to stand out among their competitors.

According to Accenture (News - Alert), 66 percent of consumers switch companies due to poor customer service. Although this problem holds true for all businesses, mobile app companies face this issue even more than other industries given the vast amount of competing brands and apps. Current mobile app customer support options are falling flat and coming up short. In researching the 25 top-grossing apps in the iOS Store and Google Play Store, we found that only 40 percent provided users with FAQs, while only 8 percent of iOS apps and none of the Android (News - Alert) apps provided email support. Even if there was a way to send a customer support inquiry from within the app, a sizable portion of these inquiries never receive a response. We also found that only 15 percent of iOS and 30 percent of Android app users received a response to their support inquiry.

These findings may seem startling, but what makes it an even more critical issue is that these subpar customer support experiences are persisting even as current customer support expectations have skyrocketed. Aspect (News - Alert) Software reports 76 percent of millennials look at customer service as a test of their value to a brand. With millennials considered as the most brand-loyal generation, providing a positive customer experience has never been more important to retaining existing customers.

But what has led to the changing customer support needs in this latest group of consumers? The answer is various factors, including the emergence of social media, expectations of what fast service means in a digital world, and the rise of self-service processes such as self-checkouts in retail environments. No doubt all of this contributes to the desire for quick, easy access to support in a variety of channels including in-app, online, and in-store.

Luckily, new technologies are emerging to fill this need. In-app customer support, artificial intelligence, and chatbots can bridge the gaps that exist in today’s consumer experience.

  • By extending customer support that’s commonly available on the web (chat, email inquiries, and even FAQs) to in-app experiences, consumers can seek support for issues like app crashes, botched payments, or other issues. Instead of forcing the consumer to go to a website and locate a contact form, all correspondence is handled inside the app itself. Live messaging and in-app FAQs are proving to be fruitful in-app customer support methods, allowing users to stay in a company’s app rather than being ported to another channel to receive support.
  • Artificial intelligence is another promising technology to streamline customer support processes, leveraging machine learning and natural language processing to address common issues and inquiries. Systems powered by AI can help respond to common questions by delivering appropriate content online or using email or chat.
  • Chatbots are also undergoing a major evolutionary reboot. While most internet users have come across at least rudimentary chatbots, more sophisticated chatbots have arrived, and their implications reach well beyond customer support. For example, chatbots are being tested in schools to assist teachers in the classroom. Meanwhile, in customer service scenarios, chatbots can take on the bulk of typical customer support requests so live agents can focus on more complex issues. That can result in resource savings that benefit enterprises and mobile app developers alike.

With companies like Uber beginning to use in-app customer support and law firms employing chatbots in the courtroom to appeal cases in traffic court, these technologies are gaining momentum and pushing the bounds of innovation in the app development community. 

Edited by Alicia Young
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