5 mistakes winning apps don’t make

Published May 7, 2014
Last modified May 7, 2014

The mobile era is already well under way. For companies looking to use mobile apps as a way of engaging with their customers, this represents both a challenge and an opportunity. Here are 5 tips to help you provide great customer support to your app users.

1. Kick users out 
Too many developers put a ton of of time, energy, and resources into building an app that engages users, only to kick them out of the app and into a web browser when they need help. Not only does this affect the customer experience, it also drives lost sales and reduces customer happiness. You also lose much of the context (see below) that helps agents solve issues quickly. In this case, even embedding your helpdesk via a webview is better than sending a user into a browser.

Recommendation: Default to in-app feedback. You can do this yourself, or embed your help center in your app using a tool like Radialpoint SupportKit (for a webview) or Hipmob (for native iOS, Android, or PhoneGap).

2. Provide no context
Make sure you capture user context so you don’t miss the real source of the problem. With transactional issues, often all that’s required to solve the issue is to identify the customer. Other times though, the issue is technical, and to solve it you need diagnostic data. Why not collect it upfront? For example, SmartThings (a Zendesk customer that also uses Hipmob) sometimes deals with the difficulties customers have connecting to various home electronics. In those cases, knowing the device, app version, operating system, and Wifi/Bluetooth connectivity helps solve issues faster.

Recommendation: Make sure you're capturing enough contextual information to help solve the user's problem quickly and with minimal back-and-forth.

3. Ignore mobile’s infinite possibilities
Apps let you do things that aren’t possible in a browser: being on the homescreen; becoming a persistent, yet useful, presence in your users’ lives; personalizing communication not only based on who the user is, but where the user is and what time it is; and avoiding the already crowded inbox.

As you iterate your mobile app, focus on the "job" that your app does for customers. For education companies like AnywhereEducation, the iPad app enables their users (who are mostly pilots) to have educational materials wherever they are, to stay updated with the latest data, and to purchase and access new materials as they become available. It becomes a persistent presence in each user's life, with customer support (articles and ticket submission) never more than a tap away.

Recommendation: Make sure you're taking advantage unique mobile opportunities such as GPS and push notifications.

4. Forget the metrics
In mobile, data is king. The analytics tool you use depends on your type of business and your constraints, but if you're not tracking your usage, you're leaving money on the table. Analytics can help you get more personal with mobile users and automate even more of your customer support, making your team more effective.

Recommendation: Track everything: Make sure your web analytics tool has a mobile plugin.

5. Obsess over app ratings
It’s tempting to put a lot of emphasis on apps ratings. While they can provide feedback that is easy to digest, they only tell part of the story. If your company sells real products or provides a real service, an app rating does not capture the full picture of customer happiness because they’re a one-way channel; you can't identify and communicate directly with customers who have problems.

Recommendation: Know your channel - in mobile as in the web, some support forums are private (like in-app feedback and emails) and some are public. Monitor them all to stay on top of trends, and give users an outlet to vent.

Despite its presence in everyday life, mobile is still in its early days. We’re all still figuring it out. But the rates of adoption are astonishing, and those who don't adapt will be left behind. Many businesses will see mobile traffic and revenue surpass the desktop in 2014. Your customers are already there, so make sure you’re there to meet them.

This guest post was written by Ayo Omojola, Founder & CEO of Hipmob

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