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Survey: In-App Customer Support Is a Winner

By Richard Adhikari
Aug 23, 2017 5:00 AM PT
customer-service-mobile-app

Consumers want mobile apps with good in-app customer support, suggest results of a survey Helpshift released last week. Radius Global Market Research conducted the online poll of adults in the United States this spring.

Eighty-one percent of the 2,170 respondents indicated that they use mobile apps.

Among the survey's findings:

  • Eighty-nine percent of respondents said they would recommend an app if a customer support agent proactively contacted them while they were experiencing problems;
  • Forty-six percent said they would try an app that offered live, in-app customer service;
  • Thirty-four percent said they would use an app offering in-app customer service;
  • Twenty-three percent indicated they would recommend such an app to friends; and
  • Sixteen percent said they would buy it.

Trouble in the Mobile App World

Sixty-nine percent of respondents reported having a problem with mobile apps. Twenty-seven percent of them reported problems on a daily or weekly basis.

The survey revealed the following:

  • Forty-seven percent of respondents said they would delete apps that did not provide good customer support;
  • Twenty-four percent would give such apps a bad review;
  • Nineteen percent would express a negative opinion to friends; and
  • Eighteen percent would criticize the app on social media.

"Mobile app reviews and ratings are part of a company's brand reputation," said Cindy Zhou, principal analyst at Constellation Research.

"Responding to customer feedback and fixing app issues needs to be a priority," she told CRM Buyer.

App Habits

Sixty-six percent of the survey respondents used apps to check social media; 44 percent used them to read the news; 44 percent used them for mobile gaming; 35 percent used apps to order food; and 22 percent used them for work-related tasks.

Consumers increasingly have been using apps to make online purchases, but the survey didn't consider that category of use.

The research "focused primarily on service-related actions such as food delivery or news consumption," said Helpshift CEO Abinash Tripathy.

The survey didn't look into what problems users face with apps, either.

However, "we know that some of the most common issues users face include bug reporting and transaction-related questions" Tripathy told CRM Buyer.

App crashes typically are considered bugs. There also are issues with older app versions no longer supported by the developer.

Attention Must be Paid

Developers need to take app issues very seriously.

"When a mobile app fails in any way -- even if that fail is just less-than-responsive design -- users question its reliability and security," observed Rebecca Wettemann, VP of research at Nucleus Research.

"The future is in apps that are very personalized for the customer, predict and propose options for them, and provide in-app interaction with a real or virtual agent in a meaningful way," she told CRM Buyer. "In-app support is reassuring, because it personalizes the experience."

"There are over 2 million apps available in mobile app stores today, so there's no shortage of choices for consumers," Constellation's Zhou remarked.

In-App Support Solutions

There's a plethora of in-app support solutions on the market, each with their particular characteristics.

Helpshift has made some headway in one of the most sensitive areas -- mobile gaming. Thirty-four of the 100 top-grossing gaming apps, including five of the top 20 as ranked on Apptopia, use its customer support platform.

Helpshift's platform offers a searchable, in-app FAQ, more than 30 languages, smart segmentation and custom metadata, in-app and push notifications and feedback, and two-way in-app messaging.

Fifty-nine percent of respondents preferred messaging to email, because they felt it was more secure, the company's survey found.

Helpshift's SDK integrates easily with third-party tools.

Helpshift "can be implemented the same day," noted Tripathy, and it "includes out-of-the-box configurations."


Richard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology. Email Richard.


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