The Emergence of Mobile Customer Service

Continuing the series of blog posts examining the early results of the customer service channels adoption and usage study generously sponsored by KANA, A Verint Company (read the summary here, the previous entry on social here, and watch this blog for the next entry in a week) I want to address some of the findings around mobile customer service.

One of the questions that we began asking two years ago was in reference to mobile customer service.  Just like social customer service before, it took the enterprise by storm (and surprise) with a very fast pace.

Although it is not properly defined yet (meaning if you ask most customer service organizations what they are doing about it – as we have in past interview follow-ups – they are not sure and bundle mobile web sites with mobile apps with mobile agent interfaces as one big “solution”) there is a lot of investment being diverted towards it.

In reply to the question of who is doing mobile customer service for the past two studies we found that 59% (2013) and 67% (2014) of the respondents are doing something with mobile.  This is not surprising given the current hype in the market about it and how it can “change customer service,” but three items are slightly surprising:

  1. The value that organizations place on doing mobile customer service. When asked whether they thought it was valuable to them or their customers, 31% (2013) and 78% (2014) replied that it was valuable to them and 35% (2013) and 74% (2014) replied it was valuable to their customers.  This shows that they see some value, and follow up conversations with those that replied affirmative to value confirmed that money will continue to be invested in it.
  2. The definition of mobile customer service. This is an issue that emerged this time around more than last year – but the improper classification of “anything mobile” is a problem for funding.  We identified three areas for mobile customer service (web, apps, agents) and will explore in further interviews what is the allocation of funds and budgets.
  3. How long they’ve been using mobile. This was the most surprising set of answers.  We had 10% (2013) and 28% (2014) answer that they had been using mobile for over two years and 18% (2013) and 24% (2014) say they have been doing it for at least one year.  Considering that the massive amounts of hype had not been built until this year (maybe last year if being generous) it is surprising to see so many companies doing it for so long – and brings also back the issue of what is defined as mobile customer service.

Indeed, this talks to a very immature, rogue market with ill-defined boundaries that bring two problems: vendors cannot easily identify what to deliver to their customers, and customers cannot easily budget for what they need to do.  We are starting to see a differentiation in offerings from vendors that have targeted cloud as their preferred delivery model (and who can easily focus on building and delivering agent-facing apps as well as customer-focused self-service tools) and for those that are more agent-focused who have brought their interfaces to tablets and smartphones – but we are not ready to detail yet who has done what – or what are some of the lessons learned.

The recommendation for now is to determine your needs (use the three categories above as a guide) and to read the full report that will be available in the early part of 2015 for more details on what is being done (and how) to be collected via follow-up interviews of respondents.

Is mobile customer service an initiative in your organization? What are you doing about it? Are you differentiating between projects using the categories above?

Let me know in the comments what you are seeing and doing, would love to chat about it.

Disclaimer: KANA, A Verint Company, is a client and the sole sponsor of this research report.  While they get input into the topics to survey, and provide feedback on the thesis before we start, the final decisions on content, questions, and analysis remain mine.  There is no input from anyone else other than thinkJar and its employees (which, as you know, it’s just me) in making content and editorial decisions on the study, findings, and reports. All data is propriety of thinkJar and not shared or distributed.