Reasons for Mobile Customer Service Failure

“The ability to deliver effective customer service via mobile devices with smaller screens will help brands and organizations to deliver service and support via smart objects, smart appliances, and more in the future,” – Robert Morris

Customers, clients, and modern business enterprises operate in electronically networked environments that are dominated increasingly by connected mobile devices, such as smartphones and consumer tablet devices. We could envision a time when customer service was delivered in person primarily at brick-and-mortar business establishments. Thereafter, the ubiquity of the landline telephone and copper wire connectivity moved the concept of customer service to toll free numbers that connected businesses and their customers. Modern businesses are migrating to customer service paradigms that are driven primarily by the dictates of mobile customer service. This is interesting because the modern consumer carries connected mobile devices in his or her pockets and therefore, can initiate a customer service request from any point in the globe at any point in time. However, certain instances can rank as failures primarily owing to flaws in the conception and delivery of mobile customer service.

The failure of a mobile customer service strategy may stem from a systematic disregard of basic norms that underpin customer service systems and paradigms. Brands and enterprises that (erroneously) take their customers for granted may fail to invest significant corporate resources into mobile customer service systems, may choose not to pay attention to the lapses in such systems as pointed out by their customers, or may implement flawed interpretations of a mobile customer service system. These problems point to a situation wherein, a brand or enterprise may experience significant sloth in its revenue streams or a setback in terms of achieving estimated profit margins. For instance, a quick service restaurant may choose to implement Internet technologies to cater to their customers both inside and outside of their business premises. However, certain blind spots in this strategy (including unresponsive design and unresolved software issues) may create a sub-optimal end-user experience for the customer, leading to mass disapproval of the strategy. We must note that the situation certainly multiplies the possibility of a negative customer experience and may create disconcerting after-effects for the said business. In this case, the executive management of the enterprise would be well-advised to temporarily suspend the programme, seek outside counsel in terms of consulting with domain experts, and re-initiate the programme once all operational aspects are fully addressed.

Weak or incompetent mobile app design may pose severe threats to the quality of mobile customer service systems. For instance, a freshly minted e-commerce business operator may rush into the online business domain in an attempt to capture market share. The business planning process may not have allotted serious thought and engineering efforts into the mobile app of the said operator. Flawed app design may emerge as a severe headwind to the commercial prospects because customers may not have the use of an optimally designed online interface. This single aspect may snowball into a raft of problems at various points in the value chain and may emerge as the chief challenge to the viability of said business. In addition, a sub-optimal experience on the mobile app may drive customer attrition and the flight of customer dollars to competing businesses. The said business would benefit by completely overhauling its mobile app and initiate a re-design from scratch. The business leadership of the e-commerce operator should also invest time and effort to re-think the mobile app, primarily because it serves as the main interface between the business and its customers.

Mobile phone-driven customer interactions remain an essential aspect of mobile customer service. In modern times, most businesses find it convenient to offer their customers the use of a toll free number that is optimised for mobile communications platforms, such as smartphones. However, reasons such as faulty contact centre operations, long wait times, inadequate staff training, lacklustre approach to customer service, an overt reliance on automation, and call drops and unprofessional behaviour on the part of customer service representatives may pose serious challenges to the delivery of competent mobile customer service. We must bear in mind that the customer contact centre paradigm offers businesses significant scope to stand out from the competition in terms of customer service delivery, but the fact remains that such operations are subject to an infinite number of variables that negatively impacts the end-user experience.

One of the significant reasons behind the failure of mobile customer service systems lies in the inability of senior management personnel to gauge the full import of implementing and sustaining efficient customer service systems. Business heads and company executives must understand that customer service remains the primary window of a business enterprise into the hearts and minds of its customers and clientele. This is reflected in the fact that most customers tend to form a clear impression about a business based on their interactions with customer service representatives. This fundamental fact must guide and inform the attitude of a business towards customer services. The ubiquity of electronic connectivity via mobile devices must therefore, encourage every business to pay special attention to the finer points of mobile customer service systems. A flawed strategy and inadequate business inputs represent a perfect combination of factors that can ruin the essence of customer service delivery through mobile platforms.

Electronic security standards on mobile apps must be perfect for enterprises that choose to deliver excellent mobile customer service. The mobile app has emerged as an important enabler for online businesses; therefore, transactions through mobile apps need to be safe and secure when customers place their orders and proceed to pay for the same. Problematic situations may arise when the app user is unable to complete the transaction at the payment stage and this experience may diminish the customer’s experience of mobile customer service. We must note that a smooth and flawless in-app payment process contributes much to the end-user experience, and therefore a habitual failure at this juncture must be addressed on priority. App designers and back-end architects need to appreciate the fact that jeopardising the security of customer information and financial data may contribute to the eventual failure of the business enterprise.

Shoppers that use desktop computers may frequently use e-commerce websites for their shopping requirements. These websites are optimised for desktop computers, but an inability to display correctly on mobile devices may ruin the mobile customer service experience of the said shopper. This is a real danger because desktop shoppers may choose to visit the website on their mobile devices after work hours, and a sub-standard browsing experience may destroy business reputations and create turbulence in its relationships with the shopping community. It would benefit these businesses to re-engineer their websites for mobile platforms because shopping on mobile has registered incremental growth in recent times. Thus, e-commerce business operators need to closely examine their priorities and re-align the customer interface into a ‘mobile first’ paradigm. Connectivity options should be boosted so that the customers can open a direct line of communication with the business using either voice or data from their mobile devices.

Brands and businesses should consider creating the space for a general discussion with customers and clients using online technologies. This can be viewed as the electronic equivalent of a company chieftain meeting customers in person in an attempt to read customers’ minds and elicit reactions to the company’s various products and services. We must note that the stated strategy is part of the wider mandate of mobile customer service because an online conversation can help businesses to get closer to the customer, define customer expectations and respond to them, help in customer retention strategies, etc. When a business fails to activate such conversations, we might view it as a serious lapse of its mobile customer service strategy. Consequently, the business loses out in terms of gaining priceless insights into customer behaviour, consumer preferences, and the expectations of its stakeholders.

In the preceding paragraphs, we have examined some of the reasons that signal failure of a mobile customer service strategy. We must bear in mind that increasingly, more customers are moving on to mobile platforms for a variety of their needs and requirements, and therefore, businesses need to device coherent mobile-based strategies to meet the customer on his or her terms. Every business has a duty to service customers to the best of its ability and must work to boost the infrastructure behind such services. Mobile technologies are here to stay and will gain serious ubiquity in the future; therefore, businesses must boost their commitment to mobile customer service paradigms.


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