Four tips for providing in-app customer support

When retailers invest time and money in developing mobile applications, they want customers to spend as much time as possible inside the app. But if a user has a problem – perhaps they want to change the date of a delivery, or they are having UX problems with the app itself – they are often pushed away from the application to a browser or phone call to fix the problem.

Zendesk's director of product management, Maxime Prades, said this doesn't have to be the case, suggesting embedding help functionalities natively into the application.

1. Keep the customer within the mobile app

"You build a product so customers can stay where they are," said Prades. "That is the most important thing – if you're shopping you want to stay in the website."

He said Zendesk's embeddable technology allows developers to embed functionalities like a help centre or chat support into the application, minimising friction for the customer.

Stephen King, customer support manager at gaming company, Outplay, said if customers encounter an issue with one of their games, they are already feeling frustrated before they attempt to get in touch.

"It's beneficial to offer the customer the ability to contact someone about their issues without even having to leave the app," he said. "The last thing we want is to have the customer leave the app, when we could be using a slicker, more catered, embedded solution."

2. Gather information from the app to solve the problem quickly

An embeddable help solution also means the retailer can scrape the application for data about the customer, which can be used when they get in touch with an issue. Rather than repeating the problem several times, the retailer should be able to understand the customer's concerns from app usage.

King said it used to be a long-winded process to gather information from customers, such as what type of device they are accessing the application with.

"With the Zendesk SDK, we are able to gather all of this information easily and efficiently," he explained. "Before the SDK, we would need to manually process multiple interactions just to get the basic information."

This frees up time for the help agents to spend with customers, improving their experience.

3. Provide support only for valued customers

Prades described how the openness of the SDK allows businesses to decide how to help their customers. Some provide a 'contact us' button, others choose native support, but Prades pointed to one gaming client who only wanted to support paying customers.

"They didn't want to provide 1:1 support for free customers, so they only natively embedded support for paid user accounts," he explained.

4. Made customers work (a little bit)

Customers want the easy solution to a problem, but sometimes, if this involves ringing a call centre, it can be costly to the business.

Prades said the smart prediction keyboard, SwiftKey – which was recently acquired by Microsoft – decided to encourage customers to read help articles to solve their problems.

"SwiftKey were super smart, it didn't let customers contact them until they had read an article – the contact button was hidden within the FAQs, but once the article had been read, it was made available to users," he said. "It's really interesting for us, because we let our clients design the experience they want."

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