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Survey Findings: Mobile Apps for Customer Service

by ClickFox - March 25, 2013

Market Brief

Survey Findings: Mobile Apps for Customer Service


The explosion of mobile apps has created a huge demand from smartphone users and given organizations a fresh new revenue stream as they inform, engage, market and sell to tech-savvy consumers. Mobile apps provide a unique platform for companies to build their brands, improve customer and increase competitive advantage, but they also can serve as another customer service touch point like the web or contact center, empowering customers with convenient, on-the-go self-service features.

So how do companies today leverage this unique new touch point and create customer-centric mobile apps that drive more loyal, profitable relationships? Our survey revealed consumer perceptions about mobile apps, including frequency of usage, buying behavior, differences among device providers and likelihood to use for customer service purposes.

The number of people in the U.S. who own smartphones jumped 10 percent to 82.2 million in the three months through July 2011 and downloaded applications were used by 40.6% of users.


There are not many things you do 10 times in a day

48 percent of respondents report using mobile apps more than 10 times a day, providing numerous opportunities for companies to engage tech-savvy consumers on the go.

Apps account for an average of 667 minutes of face time per month for smartphone users.
* Zokem Survey Study, January 2011

Apple Remains on Top

Apple devices are the smartphone of choice for accessing mobile applications, followed by Android then Blackberry. This is no surprise given the sheer scale and diversity of Apple’s app universe – nearly half a million apps are available for download compared to Android who has roughly half, and Blackberry which offers barely a fraction of mobile apps available on the market.

No Second Chances

There is no app loyalty once it fails; more than half (51.6%) of respondents will delete and forget a broken app. 33 percent would visit the web site instead, and only 3 percent would take the time to call customer service. Other responses included: reinstalling, restarting the app and rebooting device. Although the mobile channel is still in its early stages as an extension of customer service, companies should identify and target any technical or usability issues that could prevent future adoption and usage.

When you experience issues with an app, what do you typically do?

Takeaway: The Mobile Journey: analyzing the paths of customers as they navigate and use mobile apps reveals opportunities for enhancing features, functionality, content, and identifies where customers encounter issues that could discourage future usage.

The New Shopping Companion

The majority of respondents (73%) reported using a mobile app to make a purchase or assist with buying decisions.

Have you made a purchase using a mobile app or used an app to assist with a buying decision?

Advertisers will spend nearly $1.23 billion on mobile advertising this year in the US, up from $743 million last year.
* US Mobile Ad Spending Forecast, eMarketer

Apple respondents were the most active and influenced shoppers with over 81% of users making purchases through mobile apps compared to just 63 percent of Blackberry owners.

Takeaway: Revenue Streams: organizations should examine purchasing patterns and buying behavior through mobile applications to identify marketing and up-sell/cross-sell opportunities, optimize user experience and further engage customers with timely, relevant offers and information.

Mobile Apps for Customer Service

Over 78 percent of consumers surveyed use mobile apps for customer service purposes such as billing, account status/updates and interactive chat. This is very encouraging and indicates yet another shift in consumer interaction preferences and behavior. Respondents who don’t use mobile apps for customer service cited security concerns, other channel preferences, and not having taken the time or opportunity to download.

Do you use any mobile apps for customer service (e.g. account status/updates, billing, reservations, etc.)?

“For brands to take advantage of the mobile channel, they need to do more than just have an app. The real opportunity lies in extending the brand in some way that actually delivers value within the context of customers’ lives.”
- Kerry Bodine, Vice president & principal analyst at Forrester Research

Takeaway: Determine a Clear Mobile Strategy: a good mobile strategy must to focus on the needs and behavior of customers to create relevance and value — not just flashy features. For example, will your app be more proactive (alerts on flight delays, service outages) or reactive (interface to chat with agent on-the-go, real-time surveys)?

Money Over Travel

Consumers use mobile banking apps most frequently for customer service (30%), followed by travel/hospitality (26%). Despite privacy concerns, consumers are actively using mobile apps to make payments, transfer funds and check account status. With banks consistently scoring below other industries in customer satisfaction rankings, mobile apps present a timely opportunity to deliver a next-generation, customer experience and restore confidence and trust in consumers.

What mobile apps do you use most frequently?

32.5 million consumers (13.9 percent of all U.S. mobile users) used their mobile device to access banking information during the quarter ending June 2011, a 21 percent increase from the quarter ending December 2010.
* US Mobile Ad Spending Forecast, eMarketer

Missed Opportunity

60 percent of respondents never use a mobile app for their utilities (e.g., gas, water) but 77 percent would find a customer service mobile app from their utility useful. Although the regulated utility industry hasn’t been at the forefront of the customer experience revolution, many are investing heavily in customer-centric tools and strategies, recognizing that they are still competing with providers on consumer expectations — from across industries like retail and travel.

What types of customer service mobile apps in the following industries would you find most useful? Select all that apply.

Traditional Service Channels Beware: Over 90 percent of respondents would replace some or all traditional customer service channels with a mobile app if available.

Would you use mobile apps in place of traditional customer service channels (e.g. calling customer care) if the same services and assistance were available?

Takeaway: Leverage Existing Data: organizations should take advantage of data already being collected around how consumers are interacting with other channels and touch points (e.g. stores, websites, contact centers) to understand customer needs, journeys and cross-channel behaviors. Companies can start with data from CRM systems, call logs, survey feedback, web-analytics reports and more to identify the most common inquiries and transaction types that could be serviced via mobile apps.


Mobile apps can shape the overall customer experience, influence purchase decisions and deliver dynamic ways to interact with consumers. Too often, organizations’ operations are siloed so the departments who all share in delivering the customer experience (marketing, sales, product, customer care, support) aren’t talking to each other. Companies should collaborate to ensure that apps align with the overall marketing, sales and customer service strategies to build more engaging, customer-centric mobile apps that drive bottom-line impact and deepen customer relationships.

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