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Ask Tushar Episode 2:

How to Help Users Before They Even Know They Need It

For weeks now, a question has been bubbling around the edges of my brain… Day and night I am consumed by mobile customer care: reading about it, talking about it, dreaming about it. And yet, there is a nagging dissatisfaction. A piece is missing, and, until now, I didn’t know what it was. With the aid of a six pack of Deschutes and a roaring fire, though, I am finally able to articulate it:

1 in 5 users seeks help. But what about the people who need help, but instead of seeking it, simply leave the app or remain dissatisfied customers?

Luckily, I knew that there was one human being who might be able to enlighten me. I sought out Tushar; he answered readily and happily.

Aha, that is an excellent question. Customer care is about carefully identifying to people who are looking for help, and reacting to those who have shown some level of investment by contacting you in the first place. If an app can make that experience of receiving help seamless, the 1 in 5 that are seeking help will be motivated to continue using your product because resolution to the initial problem was immediate. These customers are opting to have a conversation with you, so let’s make sure that these users become loyal evangelists of your company. However, this only accounts for the people who raise their hand to ask for help, not the people who run into a question, issue, or problem and decide to abandon the app. We’re moving further away from the concept that support is reactive and instead, mobile devices have allowed customer support teams to become proactive and make an impact on retention over time. Today, there is a proactive way of guesstimating the cohort of users who may require help based on behavioral trends along with product trends. As an app trying to distinguish itself from today’s crowded app marketplace, it is in your best interest to identify key mobile moments where a particular set of users may be in need of help, and to proactively message them with guidance to a solution.

Step 1: Make the current space for users who are already seeking help fantastic.

  • This means ensuring your in-app knowledge base is accessible and easy for your users to interpret. In addition, there should be dedicated support channels available to directly communicate with customers inside the app should the knowledge base (FAQs) not resolve their issues or questions.

Step 2: Make Help Intelligent.

  • Once you have profiled this cohort of users and understand the defining characteristics of a user who may be in need of help. Even before users have convinced themselves to take the step of pressing the contact button, you should proactively reach out and say “Hey, I want to help you.”

When we are defining the concept of being there for your customer, what we really mean is that it has to be easy for your user to access help. Companies often stop building the materials that make this possible. When it comes to FAQs, community forums, customer support, and product information, many companies try to superimpose the available web content into a mobile context. And that’s what needs to change. The majority of users will have problems that can be easily resolved with simple instructions, rich media, or help pages/forums. The reason why it is not being done well right now, is that accessing information and consuming that information on a small mobile device has been a big problem. Helpshift is solving that problem by rendering this information, inside the mobile app, in a native way; allowing people to quickly search for what they are trying to find available in the right context. Again, without needing to leaving the mobile app to search for a resolution – i.e. forcing users to contact you via email or web portal.

Think about what mobile is and who you build mobile apps for. Mobile users have already set the paradigm as “hey, we don’t want to talk to everybody, we don’t want to chat with everybody; what we want, is a solution to a problem.” So if a person has crossed that barrier, or threshold, where they desperately want to talk to someone, then they have self selected. And here is the fundamental problem. What is happening to a large percentage of people who decide the FAQs cannot help them? They’re not going to file a support ticket; instead users will give up and leave for a competitor. Some may initially keep it, but remain dissatisfied and eventually churn. But, as a large company investing in mobile, do you really want to take that risk of churn? No. And that’s why you need to proactively identify users who are in need of help, so that you can message them to say “Let us offer you help.”

Based on the type of user — whether they are a high value user or a small-value user — you can place them in the correct funnel. The funnel is very simple: it’s either a self-service funnel or a personal, conversational funnel. Instead of relying on a customer to raise their hand and say “Please talk to me!” now you intelligently connect with the customer by offering attentive customer care. And that changes the game dramatically. It will grow your user base and help retain more customers, but most importantly, it shows commitment to caring for your customers. And once they see that level of investment in your care channels they will naturally develop a stronger relationship with the app’s experience and stick around for the long hall. So, if I had to say just two things about mobile customer care excellence, it’s that customer care has become a differentiator and driving loyalty through meaningful customer support interactions reduces long-term CPI costs.

Published January 25, 2016
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