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Ask Tushar Episode 1:

Shouting Into the Void

Narrator: I am standing at the edge of an abyss; all I see is darkness. Indistinct voices rise from the blackness, but I can’t decipher what they’re saying. I cry out, “Listen to me, I am here, tell me what to do!” For an instant, all is silence. My heart plummets and I lose all hope.

Until, a friendly hand presses on my shoulder. I hardly dare to hope…could it be Tushar? It is. Let me tell you, he said, a twinkle in his eye, how to make yourself heard:

Tushar: Customer support on mobile is much, much more important than anywhere else. For every app that is created you have four other apps claiming to do the same thing. How do propel yourself out of the app void?

Customer support used to be about cleaning up the mess when something would go wrong; it was the last resort. On mobile, all of that has been flipped on its head because discovery is so difficult– there are too many choices. Customer support becomes, not a reactive entity, but a proactive competitive advantage.

Narrator: “How do I protect myself against ending up at the edge like this, then?” I look down and shiver.

Tushar: Customer support is gaining in significance as the ways in which people communicate shift. We’ve been moving from many-to-many communication to one-to-many communication over the past few years, and we are starting to now focus on one-to-one communication. In-app customer care offers the ultimate channel to host one-to-one communication, via in-app instant messaging, designated feedback channels, and rich user identity data. Product managers know precisely what device you’re on, how frequently you use the app, and myriad other data points as they’re speaking to you. This creates an interaction that is highly personalized in a way that was until recently simply not possible.

Departments are going to shift according to this new way of communicating: marketing is going to be all about many-to-one communication in this mobile-first world. It will be more education and awareness, and getting users to commit to using a product. But after that, converting a customer into a loyal user, into a paying user, into a long-term user, will all be in the hands of this new medium: customer marketing. Let’s not call it support. “Support” turns that entire department into a reactive mindset. We’re talking about this new customer department that is already doing one-to-one. They’re getting actionable insight and directly connecting with their customers.

This communication is actually, at the end of the day, about revenue expansion and increasing value production for customers. Nothing is free; it’s all about the value production. If I download an app and I am getting tangible value from it, then investing in it feels good. As long as the brand promise is met, the customer will feel that the app deserves their money because they’re getting positive value production. The product must deliver on a brand promise that equates to customer value. You need to get to that equilibrium where the customer feels happy enough that they want to pay. What we need to be doing now is delivering exceptional mobile customer experiences so that we deserve paying users.

The voices fade; I can see who the murmurs belonged to now. It is no longer a void staring up at me, but individuals, all wanting to be heard, just as I had. A smile of the purest joy lights up my visage, and I turn to Tushar to share my happiness, but all that’s left is the faintest glimmer of a Cheshire Cat-like smile hanging in the air. Ah Tushar, as you were.

Published November 13, 2015
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