Customer Service Software
Help Desk

Make Mobile Customer Service a Priority: Why and How

Published by in Customer Service Software

Meet customers where they are. It’s a pretty simple, even intuitive concept. Access to content any way they want is important to a whopping 91% of consumers.

Mobile Customer Service

But it’s only in recent years, as channels for connecting have proliferated, that greater access has become a major focus for customer service centers. And interest is only growing.


One growing channel for customer experience is mobile phones. The fact is that the vast majority, 70%, of customers use their phones for their customer service requests. That’s only slightly less than the 89% of respondents who said they use their phones to keep up with their friends and family and plan their social calendars, according to ExactTarget. And even closer to the 75% who participate in social networking on their phones at least once every day.

A survey from Ericsson showed that 35% of US smartphone owners check their social networking apps before getting out of bed. That’s from 2011, and it sounds low. That might be because in 2011 smartphone usage tripled.

Perhaps realizing that, Facebook has transformed their mobile strategy from an afterthought to a main focus of development. They have been incredibly successful in creating an addictive app. I actually uninstalled the Facebook app to make sure I didn’t get any push notifications. And now I check it every morning through my mobile browser. Before getting out of bed.

What’s the ROI on a mobile strategy?

It’s much cheaper to convince a customer to buy again than to lure a new person into trying something new. At least six times cheaper, according to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs. And loyal customers are worth an average of up to 10 times as much as their first purchase. Nothing makes people want to jump ship like having a bad time dealing with a brand; three in five Americans (59%) would try a new company just for a better experience.

According to customer service firm Synthetix, 75% of consumers want access to online knowledge bases on their phones. A mobile customer service app gives 72% of consumers a warm fuzzy feeling about your company, as reported by Nuance Communications.

Smart Insights has compiled some surprising, and illuminating research on how people shop and buy on mobile phones. Bookmark it, because they update it regularly.

“Marketing may fill the sales funnel, and the sales department can close a deal, yet it is the overall impression of the enterprise generated by the quality of customer service that differentiates one enterprise from another,” said Michael Maoz, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

A recent Enterprise Apps Today post reported that companies with a mobile strategy tend to measure ROI more closely. The takeaway, though, is that companies which measure ROI closely have a mobile strategy. Benefits include measurable improvements in customer satisfaction, which companies that are paying attention know lead to increased sales.


Kony has a guide to measuring ROI on mobile.


Incorporate mobile into your customer service strategy

What’s the highest impact, lowest cost way to make mobile better? It depends entirely on how your customers want to talk to you. Which may not be the way they are currently talking to you.

Most customers, 71%, prefer to talk to a customer support person on the phone when they have a question or complaint, according to research from consulting firm Fifth Quadrant. The firm also found that issues get resolved fastest over the phone.

Phone support is expensive, no doubt. But investing in a consistently positive customer experience will pay dividends, just like delivering a superior product at a good price.

However Millennials’ contact preferences differ from that of older Americans. A slight majority, 53%, of consumers aged 18 to 34 said in a recent survey that they’d prefer to use email, live chat, text, or social over the phone for customer support.

It’s old-school thinking to see customer service as a cost. When it’s done right, customer service is a profit machine.

Surveying your customers is the best way to figure out how they want to get in touch. But in the meantime, surveys of customers in your industry can also be illuminating.

Expand your offerings

A customer support preference study by HeyWire Business last year showed a majority of respondents preferring text with a live customer support agent over their current method of reaching customer support.

“As millennial customers take over the marketplace, traditional 1-800 customer service lines aren’t cutting it,” says Steve French, Vice President, Product Management and Marketing, at OpenMarket. “Consumers prefer to text.”

The biggest drawback to texting for support is trusting a company with your phone number. There’s no such fear with reaching out for support via social media. According to J.D. Power and Associates, 67% of consumers have reached out to a company via a social media site for customer service help. And Nielsen research shows 33% of customers preferring to contact brands via social media rather than the telephone.

And these customers expect a prompt response.



“In order to implement a customer support system that meets the expectations of today’s consumers, businesses must invest and incorporate social into their customer support programs,” says Jeanette Gibson, Vice President, Community and Customer Experience, at Hootsuite. “By responding effectively and consistently across every social channel, your business can drive customer satisfaction to new heights.”

Evaluate your mobile performance

One must-do step is to evaluate customer service access through every channel available on a phone, including text, social media, email, support portal, voice, your self-service knowledge base, and apps. Consider, at every stage, whether the experience is as smooth and fast as possible. Then do the same for your top three competitors. Where are they doing better than you?

You should do the same for ordering. Doing so can be very revealing. A recent experience with a flower company illustrates how you can save some customer service time by doing so.

My friend Britney recently ordered flowers for our friend Stacy online. After the company processed the payment, Britney got an email saying the orchid she ordered wasn’t available for delivery in Stacy’s area, but would a replacement bouquet (unseen) at a later date (for the same price) be okay? Well, no. She paid for Saturday delivery, and Stacy doesn’t like cut flowers, which is why Britney ordered an orchid.

This led to an angry Tweet to the flower company, and then emails back and forth. If this flower company had tested buying flowers through a competitor (as I have), they’d have seen an easy fix for this problem.

When I ordered flowers for a friend I had to put in her zip code before I could even shop. This might have been slightly annoying, but far less so than picking out, and paying for, something which can’t be delivered.

Hopefully someone at your company has recently gone through every process your customer goes through on a desktop. But have you done it for mobile and tablets? This exercise could  help reveal why, for example, people keep calling you even though the industry standard is for them to use a knowledge base.

Companies with a focus on ROI also tend to lead the way in mobile security. Darren McGrath, Global Director of Mobility Solutions for Unisys, said these groups are more likely to precede releasing mobile apps with security code reviews and use VPNs to send data more securely. They also employ end user policies to diminish user error, and limit who sees what on mobile devices.

So, how do you provide great support on mobile? A debate rages between choosing responsive web design, subdomains, and native apps. Jared Spool at User Interface Engineering made a great point about subdomains and native apps. The biggest drawback is having to update multiple sites. That includes design and editorial. And in the case of apps, your customers have to update the apps as well.

Search Engine Watch certainly recommends responsive web design for mobile. The only real drawback of responsive web design is the initial expense. Most sites will require a total redesign to go responsive. However, there are ways to automate the process somewhat. For Kayako users, Support Skins makes responsive design easy. Zendesk offers a guide for using a little CSS to make your help desk site responsive.


  • 70% of customers use their phones for their customer service requests
  • 59% of customers would try a new company due to a negative customer service experience
  • It’s 600% cheaper to convince a customer to buy again
  • 75% of customers want access to online knowledge bases on their phones
  • 72% of customers like the idea of a mobile customer service app (or, likely, a responsive mobile design)
  • 71% of customers prefer to talk to a customer support person on the phone

Ignoring mobile customer service isn’t an option for companies who want to stay competitive. The ROI is there, and the dangers to being left behind include decreasing customer engagement and lost sales.

How have you improved your mobile customer service experience? And how will you in the future? Let us know in the comments!


Looking for Help Desk software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Help Desk software solutions.

About the Author

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz

Cathy Reisenwitz is a former Capterra analyst.


No comments yet. Be the first!

Comment on this article:

Comment Guidelines:
All comments are moderated before publication and must meet our guidelines. Comments must be substantive, professional, and avoid self promotion. Moderators use discretion when approving comments.

For example, comments may not:
• Contain personal information like phone numbers or email addresses
• Be self-promotional or link to other websites
• Contain hateful or disparaging language
• Use fake names or spam content
Your privacy is important to us. Check out our Privacy Policy.