Mobile App Support: Why You Should Do it and How

Providing a mobile app support presents new challenges— troubleshooting for all kinds of devices and it provides an opportunity for big wins.

As of 2017, 77% of Americans own a smartphone, so if your product includes a mobile app, chances are good that many of your customers are going to give it a try. And considering that 12% of those smartphone owning people are dependent on their phone for their online access— meaning they can’t log in to broadband from a home computer to ask for help elsewhere—providing support on their mobile device becomes even more important.

Further, a survey by NICE, a software data and analytics company, found that people who access customer support in mobile apps grew from 22% to 46% between 2011 and 2016.

Smartphones aren’t going anywhere, so the sooner an organization can provide quality customer support directly in their app, the happier their customers are likely to be.

Once your support team decides to provide help right in your app, here are a few things to consider before integrating mobile support:

  • Include support documentation: Beyond handling tickets a user opens, include a mobile optimized knowledge base to try to help them with their issue before they ever have to write in and ask.
  • Handle It Like a Text Message: Try to make it feel familiar, like text messaging. Be sure to include common features, such as typing indicators, read receipts, and other common SMS details.
  • Allow Sending Screenshots Both Ways: Mobile users are generally comfortable with taking screenshots on their phones these days, so make sure they can send images to you to better explain their question. (You’ll want agents to be able to send images their way too!)
  • Automate What You Can: Add automations to help solve issues immediately for some app users, instead of making them wait for you to type out a reply. Some questions are common and you’ll be able to spot those and set up pre-written replies your in-app support tool can send on your behalf. Or if a user writes a question in a language you don’t currently support, you can automatically reply to let them know you’ll be answering in English (or whichever language your team prefers).
  • Consider a Chatbot: While chatbots aren’t likely to solve most of the incoming questions, they can be especially helpful at asking users for additional information so your human agent has what they need and can provide a full answer with less back and forth required.
  • Utilize Notifications: Push or in-app notifications are really useful in grabbing an app user’s attention, especially if they’re waiting on a reply from support and will be happy to hear from you.

mobile app supportTop Perks of Mobile App Support

If your product or service includes a mobile app, you’ll need to provide support for it somehow, so why not directly in the app? Instead of sending a user out of the app to access live chat in a browser or send an email, keep them in the app.

If they can get mobile-specific help while being able to continue using the app, instead of going on a hunt trying to figure out how to reach you, they’re less likely to get overly frustrated and ditch your mobile app support entirely.

Other than that simple—and important—reason, in-app support has some other great perks too. Keep reading for a quick overview of the benefits mobile support brings.

No Need to Wait Around for a Response

Many live chat setups require a customer open a chat and wait for an operator, sometimes even by putting them in a queue. The screen can’t be closed and they just have to wait. Email support requires a user to send an email and wait for a reply.

It’s often not clear how long it’ll take to hear back and there usually isn’t any sort of dashboard or indicator to check the status of the question while you wait.

In-app support, however, allows a person to send a message, close the app, and go on with their day. They can check back later, or turn on push notifications to be alerted as soon as they receive a reply. This is not only user-friendly, but also allows your customer to keep using the app if they’d like.

Support History Stored in the App

Many in-app support tools allow an entire conversation, or even the entire history of support interactions in the app, in one thread of the user to review anytime. This is especially helpful if your agents are likely to provide steps or detailed screenshots to explain a task in the app that the user may want to refer back to in the future.

This also means there’s no need for the user to start over each time or repeat the same question again.

Messages Can Be Short and Conversational

The messages a support agent sends are read on a smartphone or tablet, so they’re a great option for developing a friendly, conversational support style.

While it’s important not to give your customer the feeling you’re not taking their question seriously, finding a balance between professional and text messaging with a friend is a good aim.

It’s also important to keep messages short when possible, or break longer chunks of information up into smaller pieces. Phone screens are on the small side when it comes to reading entire paragraphs inside of an app, so shorter messages that are skimmable and can be quickly referenced are best.

No Lengthy Introductions Required

Mobile app support software gathers lots of info on the user, so no need to ask for the basics. In general, you should expect it to collect the user’s account information, and details on their mobile device—including model, operating system, battery life, storage space, and more.

Since mobile app support issues vary between being about your product or being about how the user’s mobile device works with the app, having this data is often key to finding the best solution for an individual case.

Sharing Images is Simple

If your in-app support tool allows both agents and users to share images—and it should—be sure to use them. Covering mobile support means lots of different phones, so there can be all sorts of variations with any given issue due to how various devices and operating systems work.

Allowing screenshots from users to help them explain the issue they’re seeing or show an error message to an agent helps them better explain their problem, while agents being able to send annotated screenshots can help them solve it too.

mobile app supportTips for Handling In-App Support

Mobile app support falls somewhere between providing support via live chat or email and on social media. While it’s private, unlike social, it often requires shorter messages that are closer to tweet than email length.

As you get started in providing support in your mobile app, be sure to work on the following basics for doing it well:

Keep It Simple

Every message you craft while providing support in a mobile app should keep the size of the message area in mind. The way you format your replies, as well as how long they are, should be determined based on what’s comfortable to read on a small screen.

Try it out on your own phone to get a feel for what reads most easily and when it starts to get to be too much.

Have the Right Mobile Test Device

Any agent supporting an app should have a device to access that app and troubleshoot what the customer is seeing. If your app is available on both iOS and Android and agents expect to cover both, it may be helpful for them to have one of each type of phone, especially if your app isn’t identical between operating systems.

Set Expectations

Make sure your welcome message in the in-app support area makes it clear when a user should expect a response, or if you can’t provide an estimated time, at least make sure it’s clear they’re not accessing live chat so they shouldn’t wait around. Add a simple message like this: “Thanks for reaching out to us! An agent will get back to you within 24 hours.”

By setting a reference point of when they can expect a response, you’re making it easier for customers to decide your service was satisfactory.

You may also want to include a space for noting new updates in the app or known issues you’re working on solving soon to this area so users will reconsider sending a ticket in for something covered by these situations.

Deflect Some Tickets with a Self-Service Option

Be sure to build out the in-app help section to solve some questions before they ever become tickets. This is handy since it’ll not only reduce the workload for your agents, but also provides help to your user even quicker if they can help themselves without waiting for a support agent. Consider having your customer access the support section in the app.

Search for their issue, then only inviting them to contact support if they determine the documentation listed there isn’t quite right.

The topics you cover in your app’s help section will vary based on your product or service. But documentation on how to solve billing or account issues, how to perform common functions in the app, and general product tips are an excellent place to start. Be sure to insert keywords your users are likely to use in the searches to help improve the information they find.

Remember that they likely won’t know the correct name for every bit of your product as you do, so include the popular variations people tend to use.

Develop Your Ideal Style and Tone

Whether you’re drafting a personalized reply, crafting an automated response, or writing an in-app support document, include screenshots or short videos to go along with your bullet points, when possible, rather than walls of descriptive text. Smartphones should handle media well, so take advantage of it.

Handle Your Mobile Support Metrics

The goals you set for mobile support and the agents providing it vary a lot by organization. To find your best fit, consider monitoring and setting goals around these standards:

  • Time to first response: Make sure this is under 24 hours if possible. Quicker is better! You may also have more than one goal here if you have various tiers of customers.
  • Time to resolve: As with any support, a few messages back and forth is common, so set a goal around getting the issue completely wrapped up, not just replying the first time.
  • CSAT by Agent: If your agents can stay above 80%, that’s likely an indication the mobile support they’re providing is going okay. Above 90% is likely a standout agent. People tend to rate agent responses based on speed and accuracy, so both are key.

You may also want to set goals around self-service and tickets in your in-app support. If your knowledge base covers all the necessities, you should expect to see it deflect at least one ticket for every one ticket a user opens. Hopefully, you can build it out to deflect much more than one for one, while still providing your customers with the help they need.

Check the App Reviews

If you’ve got an iOS or Android app, that means you’ll have ratings and reviews. Make sure your support team has access to those, as some customers will leave a review with a support question when they don’t know how to access support in the app.

Replying to those questions and offering help will not only make sure you’re fully supporting your customers, but often results in higher app ratings, which are vital for helping your app gain popularity.

mobile app supportKeep mobile customers moving smoothly along

Providing support in a mobile app presents new challenges—especially in crafting messages specifically for a smartphone and troubleshooting for all different kinds of devices—but it also provides an opportunity for big wins. People using a mobile app want help in the app, and you want them to keep using your app.

Don’t make them leave it for help. Creating a full, unified experience in the app, with the support your customers need, will directly increase how satisfied your users are with your app and lead to more active use and engagement.

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Sarah Blackstock Sarah Blackstock

 Sarah is a freelance writer specializing in technology and customer support for Supported Content, and former Happiness Engineer at Automattic. When she’s not renovating her house in Dallas, you’ll find her baking in her (new) kitchen or reading romance novels. Find her on Instagram: @sarahblackstock

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