How to Choose the Right Customer Service App

By Kathryn Casna

In today’s customer-centric business environment, service is king. Great customer experiences can launch the underdog ahead of Goliath-sized competitors, while an angry customer with a robust Facebook following can impact enterprise-level corporations in an afternoon. Meanwhile, Yelp and other review sites empower consumers to share their experiences with the world — the good and the bad.

At some point, most companies struggle to provide top-notch customer service. The good news is, there’s an app for that. Tons of them, actually. The right app for customer service can make for more efficient, empowered, and successful agents, as well as higher customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention.

Why Invest in an App for Customer Service?

Along with a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, an app for customer service is one of the most important tools small businesses can use to nail their customer service. A customer service app is a go-to resource for both customers in need of assistance and the service agents who help them. It can provide ways for users to find answers to questions, get instructions on how to use products, troubleshoot technology, and resolve issues. When used by well-trained agents, the app can take service systems from informal or disorganized to streamlined, problem-solving, loyalty-inspiring processes.

How do you choose the right app? First, let’s take a look at how such an app might fit into your overall service structure.

Customer Service Overview

Different customers want different types of service. Customers tend to prefer one of three routes to resolution: call center service, digital solutions, or self-service. The best service providers use a combination of all three methods.

Call Center

According to a study conducted by Consumer Reports, the number one irritant for customers looking to resolve an issue is not being able to get a real person on the phone. Call centers are the most expensive form of service to offer, but it may need to be the centerpiece of your service structure anyway.

Digital Solutions

Digital solutions include everything from live chat to email or social media. These options are generally less expensive to maintain and often help relieve overwhelmed call centers. The downside is that there may be fewer opportunities to upsell customers.

Self-Service Options

More and more customers, particularly millennials, prefer to try solving the problem on their own with the assistance of self-service tools, FAQs posted on your website, or peer-sourced forums before seeking other forms of assistance. This option may cut down on staffing needs, but only if done well. Explanations must be very clear, and the system of delivery must be both intuitive and easy to navigate. Customers who can’t solve the problem this way will likely end up calling you customer service department anyway.

How Does an App Fit In?

An app for customer service can provide a combination of these services. On the customer-facing side, it can guide users through self-service options; direct them to appropriate channels, such as social media or a phone number to call; or allow them to open a ticket for the issue right within the app. On the business side, a customer service app can keep all tickets organized and automatically route them to the proper agent, no matter which channel the customer uses. A customer service app for small business may also include mobile capabilities so agents can solve issues in the field.
 

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Take Stock of Your Needs

How can a customer service app benefit your company? That all depends on your needs.

If you already provide great service, you may want an app that helps you continue pleasing customers while becoming more efficient and cost effective. Building additional self-service options will be the focus for these companies. Businesses that struggle to keep up with their customer service needs, on the other hand, should prioritize creating positive, empathetic interactions via phone, chat, or social media. Not sure which category you fall into? Your customer service platform and your customer service app, with their robust data collection and analysis, will help you learn more.

Savvy customer service managers, no matter what challenges they face, know finding the right app means getting into the heads of their customers, prioritizing features, and shopping around for the right products.

Who Are Your Customers?

Ultimately, customer service is about the people you serve. Depending on their demographics and the types of issues that need solving, they’ll gravitate to different types of service. Older generations generally want to speak directly to a person at the first sign of a problem, while younger, more tech-savvy customers prefer self-service or crowd-sourced options. People searching for technical support will benefit from live chat and immediate troubleshooting options, while those who haven’t received a package in the mail may be more willing to wait for a call back after you’ve checked on it. Take the time to learn about who your customers are, and take stock of what kinds of issues your agents help them solve most often.

Create a Criteria List and Budget

As you search for the right customer service app, consider how important the following features are to your business and customers.

Agent and Customer Interfaces

An app on your customer’s phone will make accessing service easy, as well as keep your brand top of mind. An integrated agent interface will make it easy to quickly address issues that come in on the app — and perhaps other sources, too. Look for apps that streamline both sides of the coin.

Support for Multiple Channels

Facebook, Twitter, your call center, live chat, and email are the main channels customers want to use to get help. Apps that support them all in the same ticketing system and workflow ensure that moving between them is seamless and fast.

Social Media Support

It’s not enough to just talk to customers on social media; you also need to use social media listening in case people decide to circumvent your service app and hit you up — directly or indirectly — on Twitter or other social media sites. Look for apps that allow you to set up alerts for those types of mentions. It will be far more efficient than having agents scour the internet for anyone who may have an issue.

Mobile Capabilities

Sixty-three percent of adults in the United States use mobile devices several times each month to seek customer support.  If your customers want help on the go, make mobile customer service a priority. Similarly, will your agents need to provide assistance from multiple locations, or from out in the field? Make sure your app’s agent interface travels well, too.

Sophisticated Search and Queuing

When support tickets come in, agents may need to route them to the proper recipient. When the right person gets the ticket, it should be easy to look up any necessary customer details, including their previous interactions with your company. This will cut down on service time, boost productivity, and create a seamless experience.

Reporting and Analytics

How can you improve your customer service if you don’t know quantitatively how you’re doing right now? Key performance indicators such as customer satisfaction, resolution time, and complaint escalation rates will give you the big picture, while the ability to drill down and look at specific metrics and tickets will help you understand the reasons for any trends.

Knowledge Base

Users who prefer self-service options need lots of easy-to-find, clearly explained content. Therefore, your service team needs an easy way to update and add new content as needed. A great app will do both. Customer service apps that do it well also give agents the ability to use those same articles to increase their knowledge about products and services.

Shop Around

Once you have a prioritized list of features, you’re ready to start shopping. There are many options out there, but here are a couple of ways to find out which one is right for your company.

Do They Practice What They Sell?

No matter which provider you’re considering, do a quick check on how they handle their own customer service. Are their clients happy? Do your due diligence and check as many reviews as possible: Search app store reviews and conduct general Google searches for both positive and negative reviews. Ask around your network of business owners and service managers. If an app provider isn’t nailing their own service, how can you trust them to help you nail yours?
 

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Demos

Don’t invest in an app for customer service without trying a demo of the product first. This can be in the form of a free trial, but it’s even better if it’s a demo that a salesperson has set up for you. That way you get a demo that’s tailored to your needs and concerns, as well as a bit of training to get you started.

Before making a final decision, have your experienced customer service agents and other customer-facing employees test drive the apps as well. They know more about what it will be like to use the app on a daily basis. Test the interface as if you were one of your own clients. Is it easy to use, even if you were already frustrated? Can you get to a real person in just a few taps?

Finding the right customer service app can be challenging, but managers who understand their customers can prioritize their needs and choose an option that will help them meet and exceed all of their service goals.

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