Tushar Makhija is vice president of revenue at Helpshift.
In this exclusive interview, Makhija underscores the importance of establishing effective ways to connect with customers.
CRM Buyer: Why is in-app support an important thing for good customer service and CRM?
It’s about the experience. As services are getting more and more mobile, service needs to get mobile as well. If you look at customer service over the last 10 to 15 years, first it was all about average handling time. If you grew quickly as a business, you needed to stack up a call center.
The next five to six years were all about self-service, so technology started building up. Today, it is not about time-to-resolution or handling time. It is all about the time-to-cure. That is, how quickly can you identify the problem and stop it from becoming a big problem?
You need a fully integrated system, and you have to make sure that problems do not spread. New systems have to come in that are integrated, predictive and proactive, in order to mitigate the problem before it expands. That’s why in-app support is more important.
CRM Buyer: What makes for effective in-app, mobile support?
The technology must have the capability to collect relevant contextual information so businesses can make more informed decisions. If you’re about to make a purchase and the checkout is not working, there should be something that says, ‘here is a help article to see if you can find a remedy.’
If that’s not helpful, there should be other options. The first step is listening to the signals. The next part is, if you do connect with an agent, that agent has a 360-degree view of the customer so they resolve the problem immediately. Speed-to-resolution is going to be the No. 1 metric.
CRM Buyer: What does it mean for customer support to be proactive, and why is proactivity important?
To begin with, many of the barriers of entry for creating a successful business have been removed. Now, it’s not about having the biggest store, but about having the most beautiful app — and it’s about how you deliver the mobile, in-app experience.
Proactive customer service will result in happier customers and retention. From a top-line perspective, the cost of acquisition of a mobile customer is very high, and if you do acquire that customer, you have to keep that customer.
Then, there has to be a good experience in the mobile app and in the customer service department. When there is a breach of experience in the app, the support team is ready to help. That’s why being proactive is important. You embed help in that experience. You say, ‘it seems like there is a problem. How can we help?’ That will mitigate the problem before it becomes a big issue.
CRM Buyer: How can this kind of support be especially effective in the gaming industry?
Mobile gaming has been the early adopter on mobile. It also created a new economy where you could take a creative product to market and suddenly acquire millions of users. With those millions of users came this unique problem that not all of those players are going to help you make money.
I can play a game for an entire lifetime and not spend a dollar in the game. A small percentage of the players are actually paying for in-app purchases, and you want to make sure that you give the best service to those customers, your VIPs — but there is a good possibility that given the right environment, you can push other players into the VIP level.
There are always going to be players who are free, and there is always the top 1 percent. What about the people in the middle? This is a level of people who might graduate from free to pay. That will happen if they continue playing the game and get good service.
CRM Buyer: What’s in the future for the field of in-app customer service? How is it evolving and changing?
It is heating up now. I was at a conference recently, and mobile messaging and mobile self-service are No. 1 on the radar.Awareness has increased, and enterprises are taking a look at it. Everybody is opening up to use this technology in various ways.
AI is going to play a big role in making self-service and problem-solving more human. It’s going to become more and more efficient and humanized. I don’t see AI making the customer service agent obsolete, but I do think it will make the agent more efficient and happier.
The customer service agent will be able to see the entire workflow, and they won’t be trying to solve small problems, but actually making a connection.