BY: ROBI GANGULY
Editor’s note: The following content is an updated version of a post originally published in 2012. Changes include new links, updated examples to reflect changes in the mobile environment, new supporting images, and more.
Ask any consumer what their number one reason for shying away from buying through a mobile app is, and they will tell you something along the lines of, “If the purchase doesn’t go right, I’m not going to have any help!” Asking a person to part with their hard-earned money is a struggle all businesses face, and customers want to feel confident that if something goes wrong in their transaction, your company will be there to make it right.
Back in 2012, PWC predicted how customer experiences could be transformed through mobile. In January 2015, Gartner released a study concluding weak customer service on mobile is harming customer engagement. Now that we’ve moved customers into a zone where they’re comfortable using a mobile app (and in many cases, where they prefer using an app over a desktop experience), expectations around the quality of service they’ll receive have changed. Now more than ever, offering top-notch customer service through your mobile app is imperative to your brand’s success.
Unfortunately, too many businesses still see mobile as a huge land grab and aren’t worried about irritating a handful of people with poor customer service. The problem, however, is that customer engagement and loyalty are the keys to long-term brand success, and a poor experience is more damaging now than ever before.
Do you see mobile as an opportunity to deepen customer relationships and accelerate your company’s growth? Do you want to make sure you offer your customers a solid reason to do business with you? Do you want your loyal customers, those who have developed a relationship with your company through years of visiting your stores, ordering over the phone, and registering with your website, to feel loved and appreciated in your mobile experience?
If you answered yes, we have some important advice to share on how to give world-class customer service in your mobile apps (and everywhere else, too, really).
10 Tips for Awesome Mobile App Customer Service
Listening tops the list because it is the most important thing your brand can do. Let your customers talk and tell you what happened, or how you can make it right. Your brand shouldn’t assume anything. Are you making it easy to listen to your customers? Are you giving them obvious channels to communicate with you, inside your apps? If you’re not actively investing in listening capabilities, you’re missing a lot of easy wins with your best customers.
Listening to customers opens the door for changes that must be made across all parts of your marketing, product, and business strategies. Check out these posts for further reading on what listening to your customers can do.
2. Get feedback
Collecting feedback doesn’t just mean you should send out surveys about your service. What getting feedback really involves is encouraging suggestions from your customers. You have to be proactive about feedback, you must get feedback from customers by starting more conversations.
3. Anticipate needs
Anticipating customer behavior is a skill for all customer success teams to master. Spend time learning what your customers want and need before they tell you in order to offer the best experience possible. Mobile is ripe for opportunity in allowing brands to learn so much about what a customer has done and what they’re currently doing, but it’s up to the brand to use this data to build richer profiles and understanding of its customers. Any opportunity to demonstrate your brand actually knows its customers is an opportunity to impress them and delight them.
4. Be fair when saying no
There are times when a customer wants you to do the impossible, and in those moments, it’s easy to lose your cool and approach them in an unfair manner. However, if you have been fair in your response, the customer will be more receptive to the things you can do for them to make their experience better.
Brands lean on different ways to say no: no with more detail, an explanation around why the request isn’t possible at the time, or even an apology is much better than a flat out “no.” When you involve the customer in the process or the challenges you’re facing as a brand, you invite them to see you as someone with a complex job working at a brand that cares, rather than as someone who rejects them.
5. Know your customers
If your customer base is not technologically savvy, you can’t talk to them like they are Steve Wozniak. Alternatively, if you have a highly skilled customer base, don’t talk to them like the just bought their first smartphone. It’s crucial to work to understand your customers by asking them more about their experience, what their names are, and what they’re trying to do with your app and your company to offer them the best customer service experience possible.
When you deeply understand where people are coming from, you can help them figure out how to get where they need to go. The first step to understanding your customers is through implementing app analytics to understand what they are doing, in addition to communicating with individual customers to learn about why.
6. Trust your customers
It’s an unfortunate fact that there are people out there trying to get something for nothing, but if you assume this behavior of of everyone—especially your customers—then you are sure to anger a fair share of your customer base. If you’re focused on the long-term, you know that customer trust is hugely important to loyalty.
Trust your customers and they will learn to trust you, as well.
7. Say “yes”
From a customer’s perspective, “yes” is the ultimate favor a brand can do for them. Whenever a customer has a reasonable request, try as hard as possible to accommodate them. Saying yes a couple of times will go a long way with most people as it induces positive feelings and a sense that the company is invested in helping them out. Whenever you’re about to give a quick “no,” take another look and consider a simple “yes” an easy win.
8. Validate customer concerns
Never argue with your customer or put them on the defensive. When a disagreement arises, do anything you can to understand their frustration before you figure out a way to help them. Validating their frustration and showing that you see how they feel is the first start in fixing the problem. How each person feels is their own emotion, and as a customer service provider, you can’t tell them that it’s wrong without likely exacerbating the situation.
9. Give more than expected
Take Nordstrom as an example. Nordstrom is a brand who always gives more to its customers than expected when a person returns a purchase or complains about a product, and they have lifelong customers as a result. The ethos of the company gives every employee the freedom to do what is right for the customer rather than providing just the bare minimum. Oftentimes, this model completely surprises and delights the customer in a frustrated time, opening the door to build loyalty and trust.
10. Make your customer feel appreciated
Last but not least, making your customer feel appreciated is a point that’s implicit in much of this advice. When you treat and every customer as a person, and when you appreciate their feedback, their time, and their business, you’ll make different decisions. If you truly focus on making your customers feel appreciated, you’ll be well on your way to delivering an experience that is exceptional and, in mobile, we know that the experience matters more than anything. Treat your customers with respect and appreciation at every opportunity.