Customer self-service apps are top of the IT agenda these days as they offer companies and their customers a convenient and frictionless way to transact. Also known as “My Account” or “Customer Care” apps, they are relevant to service companies – in particular finance, telecoms, insurance, waste and utility companies – who value the gains in business efficiency and customer satisfaction.
But with the necessary skills to build apps at an all-time premium (Gartner) IT departments are already stretched to the max. Taking on an in-house app development project can be challenging simply due to the lack of resources. We will return to this point later.
Who needs customer Self-Service Apps?
Any business that sends out statements, processes payments and balance requests and issues delivery notifications or other reminders will benefit from a Customer self-service App.
Your success criteria will differ from the next company depending on the business sector you’re in. But it’s safe to say that most businesses have 3 objectives in common; 1) reduce customer complaints 2) improve customer satisfaction and 3) reduce call centre and communication costs.
The good news it that with the plethora of analytics tools now available any improvements in these areas should be transparent and measurable.
To help you build your business case for a Customer self-service app here are 4 key reasons your business will benefit.
1. The world has gone mobile
Last year a significant tipping point was reached. Thanks to the roll-out of 4g, smartphones finally overtook PC to become the most popular way to browse the internet.
“More than a third of all adults use their smartphone within five minutes of waking up, a figure that rises to almost half of those aged 18-24” (Guardian).
Smartphone owners look at their phone 150 to 200 times per day (Forrester) so there is no doubt the smartphone is the communication medium of choice.
When customers are interacting with you through their mobile devices they expect to find a slick user experience. The processing power and access to native features such as camera means that apps have the edge over web when it comes to delivering great customer experience.
2. Customer Self-Service is a win win
Companies are struggling to surface all the data that customers demand. Whilst websites and emails can go a long way to delivering great customer service, an app gives added convenience and accessibility to important information.
Features can include;
- Pay bills securely and easily
- Access to statements and account balance
- Other account information (e.g bin schedules, upgrades)
- Notifications and reminders
Thorntons Recycling is one company that has benefited from a customer self-care app, following the successful launch of their app for iOS and Android last year. Account top-up and notifications regarding account and service days are among the popular app features.
Cornmarket Insurance has also launched a self-care app and web portal this year. The app provides full self-service facilities and allows customers to access the information that is most important to them at any time, wherever they are, without being restricted by office opening hours.
3. Customers expect fewer but more meaningful touchpoints
As we’ve explored elsewhere on our blog, the concept of “Mobile Moments” has been useful to advance the integration of mobile into business processes. “By mapping out your “Mobile Moments” or customer touchpoints across multiple business functions, your business can create a more “joined up” customer experience that better meets the needs of your customers.” (Púca: Mobile Moments: Time to Engage).
Innovations such as Contextual marketing allow companies to trigger content based on location, which is an idea way to keep customers informed and engaged at the most appropriate moment.
However consumers don’t want to be bombarded, so fewer but more meaningful touchpoints are the way to go. An integrated app will help you manage a single view of the customer so you don’t overdo the communications. With this in mind, your app should synchronise with your database and become a seamless part of your CRM programme.
4. Customer Self-Service is also about loyalty
Several of the larger retail apps such as the revamped Supervalu loyalty app are designed to lock customers in and reduce churn by doing tie-ins with utility companies, giving customers more ways to earn points. Customer churn is also an issue for service companies, and we predict that customer self-service apps will increasingly incorporate special offers, competitions and rewards to improve their customer retention.
Making it happen
It’s essential to have buy in at the most senior level, so undertaking a requirements gathering and ROI exercise is a useful first step. We developed a useful template for companies that can be adapted for the purposes of working through the objectives and business case for your customer self-service app. Make sure to consult with all stakeholders, and listen to what your customers are saying about their pain points too.
Developing your App
Once you’ve established the business case, you need to decide whether to develop in-house or to outsource. In most cases the least risky and most cost-effective strategy is to appoint a reliable development firm who can bring experience, development frameworks and processes to the table.
Your IT team will still be required to participate in the project, overseeing the database and middleware integration – however the majority of the work and maintenance can be outsourced.
Moving into development, ask your development partner about options for a phased approach so you’re not trying to deliver all possible features in the first release. It’s essential to establish realistic expectations on both sides regarding the delivery timescale and to allow plenty of time for several phases of testing and User Acceptance Testing.
Want to know more?
Contact us to talk about your customers’ pain points and we’d be delighted to discuss how a Customer Self-Service App might help to solve them.