mobile phones Mobile Apps Help Deliver Customer Service 24/7Limited customer service hours are so…yesterday.

Thanks to mobile devices—smart phones and tablets—consumers are used to doing business wherever and whenever they want. They expect issues to be addressed immediately, across multiple channels, with a convenient click or tap.

Gone forever is the assumption that a company can survive simply with phone or email communication. For 2015, excellent customer service means providing 24/7 availability, real-time interaction, social media interface, timely resolution, and minimal or no wait times.

Fortunately, a growing number of mobile apps and specialized software make it possible to deliver a customized self-service experience. They help businesses improve customer relationships by reducing inbound call volumes, unifying the support channels and minimizing wait times, all while accommodating the habits one of the largest growing demographics: mobile customers.

Mobile-centric service can take place at the customer level or agent level. Some apps are off-the-shelf, with a specific feature designed to streamline one or more aspect of the user experience. Others create a completely customized interface that integrates with your existing brand and customer service processes.

Customer-Centric Mobile Apps

How would you like to customize your service experience? The options are varied and plentiful (below are just a few examples). You’ll find apps that can:

– Deliver cloud-based software to help provide 24/7 customer service where consumers naturally go to share frustrations: Facebook!

– Keep all customer service channels in one “universal inbox” including social media contacts like Twitter and Facebook, as well as the more traditional phone, chat and email interactions.

– Respond to emails within seconds by matching each customer inquiry to answers that come from your own pool of articles and forums. A ticket is immediately created or added to, and automatically placed in the “inbox” of the appropriate customer service rep.

– Direct comments about your business on social media to your front-line staff so they can take immediate action.

– Utilize voice control to manage a variety of inquiries, using a customer’s voice as identity rather than a password. The software responds by understanding complex sentences and following simple instructions.

– Send a templated answer to the most frequently asked questions, personalizing the response through a variety of opening and closing sentences.

–Provide agents with customer information such as present location, current web page views, whether the user is still online or has visited the FAQ page—all designed to provide a personalized response.

– Develop a support community so that when customers share problems and ask questions, your service team can respond—but so can other customers.

Customized Problem solving

A recent article in Forbes online provided this example, demonstrating the power, convenience and immediacy that can be delivered with mobile applications:

“Imagine you’ve found the car of your dreams. Conveniently, your credit union’s customized mobile loan app captures an image of your driver’s license, the window sticker of the new car, and the business card of the sales representative at the dealership. You input some basic information such as loan period and down payment into the app and submit. Once submitted, a few seconds pass before you receive an authorization code, a total loan amount, the interest rate you’re eligible for based on your credit rating and the amount of the monthly payment. The application asks whether you’d like to accept or reject the offer. Once accepted, you can use the camera in the phone to capture an image of the check for the amount of your deposit or credit card. The application emails the sales representative your authorization form and you’re on the road in your new car.”

Make Your Agents Mobile, too.

Numerous apps allow agents to fulfill their tasks even if they’re off-duty, working remotely or traveling. They also makes it possible for a team to “bring all hands on deck” to respond to surges in customer demand. All channel services, including email, chat, social media, customer history, etc., can now be accessed remotely from a smart phone or tablet, allowing unprecedented flexibility for agents.

Total Investment

With the extraordinary growth in mobile devices, social media and collaboration tools, it’s more important than ever to provide a real-time, unified customer service experience.  So, what is the experience you want for your customers? Can it be implemented with an “add-on” email/chat/social media app or—like the credit union example—would it make more sense to create an experience that is unique to your industry?

Fortunately, the software is available to keep pace. But, no matter how amazing the software may be, remember that your customer service team is the glue that puts it all together. Always include agent training in the budget!