"We are experiencing higher than normal call volumes . . .”

“All of our agents are currently busy . . .”

“We’ll get to you as soon as we’re back at our desks.”

That last line may not be something you’ll hear when you reach out to a company for service and support, but you can almost imagine customers thinking it. 

Whether they connect by phone, email or social media post, customers typically have no visibility into what kind of resources a company has put in place to address their questions or troubleshoot issues. 

You might have an army of agents, all spread out across cubicles in a contact centre. 

You might have a third-party outsourcing firm that can add team members and scale based on the volume of inquiries or help desk tickets. 

You might be a company with less than a handful of employees, or even just one. 

It doesn’t matter. Customers don't really care about the customer service resources you have, they just want the help.

Smartphones have made it possible for us to check our bank balances and make transfers while we’re standing in line at the supermarket. We can use a smartphone to plan a vacation, including book flights and hotels, while sitting in a dentist’s office. We can watch movies we’ve downloaded to our smartphones on a subway ride. 

All those kinds of experiences were once possible only if you were in a fixed place with technology that was connected to a wall in some way. Smartphones have changed all that. It can change customer service in the exact same way. 

This should be top of mind for small and medium-sized businesses in particular, who may not be in a position to set up a formal contact centre but need to resolve issues with the same speed and thoroughness as their larger competitors. 

While the technology to run your entire customer service department from a smartphone is available today, there are a few things you should think about as you put it into action: 

1. Establish the response relay team

If you’re using a smartphone to manage customer service, chances are your team may also be working in other roles. Some of them might be trying to sell for part of their day. Others might be involved in marketing, administration or operations. 

That means when a customer service issue comes in, it may not be possible for that team member to respond right away. Instead, think about how you can hand off service issues to others, perhaps by having them set up “busy/available” statuses within a group messaging app, or based on a schedule you’ve established. 

If it’s not possible to route a service issue, think about how you can set up voicemail greetings, text-based responses or email auto replies that give customers a reasonable expectation of when you’ll respond. This will do a lot to avoid frustration among customers who might otherwise simply walk away. 


2. Adapt processes to mobile paradigms

You can’t look at a customer’s account history or other information on your dashboard when you’re holding your smartphone to your ear. 

Think about what kinds of processes are typically involved in resolving issues. You don’t want to burden customers by having them adapt to you. Instead, be ready to greet them (if they reach out via phone call), then quickly call up the necessary details to get a fix started. This could be as simple as sending links to a support document, or sharing an explainer video via text or email. 

Similarly, there could be situations where typing out responses will become more time-consuming (for you as well as the customer) versus asking them to jump on a phone call or even a video call to walk through their issue and how to address it. 

Remember that customers should always be given the choice of asking for customer support through whatever channel they want, but you can sometimes ask them to move into a different one if it means you’ll be offering a better overall experience. 


3. Analyze to anticipate 

Yes, your smartphone can help you get through the queue of customers waiting to be helped, or even avoid the necessity of having a queue at all. That shouldn’t be your only goal. 

A smartphone not only empowers a company to provide support any time, anywhere — it also means you can assess the quality of the customer service you’re offering anytime, anywhere too. 

Rather than put off this kind of analysis until you’re sitting at your desk, use the data you’ll see in your dashboard to identify trends, common problems and other opportunities to iterate and improve. Encourage your agents or team members to do the same thing on their smartphones.

One of the best things about running your entire customer service department from a smartphone is that a mobile approach can scale really well. In other words, using an app for helping your customers today will make it easier to teach other team members to do the same thing as your company grows. 

You’ll sometimes hear CEOs say that "sales is everybody’s job.” In fact, offering an outstanding customer experience is everyone’s job, and that includes customer service. Sales will get revenue in the door, but great service will mean it keeps coming in from the same customers. 

It sounds challenging, but you have the power to make it happen in the palm of your hand.