For companies in the services industry, for example in the energy, telecoms, utilities, waste and financial services sectors, mobile apps are increasingly becoming the focal point of their interactions with their customers and the primary interface to enable their customers to ‘self-manage’ their account and services. These companies have seen the many benefits of the mobile app channel over a purely web-based customer portal: a faster, ‘slicker’ customer experience combined with the ease of access, ‘stickiness’ and the enhanced functionality available from the built-in features of mobile handsets.
The mobile app has therefore become an essential tool in increasing customer satisfaction and ultimately, customer retention. So what are the key customer care and account management features of a well-designed self-service mobile app?
1. View and Manage Account
Some of the features that would typically be included for account management would be the ability for customers to view what services or combination of services they are using and the ability to submit meter readings, order new services or edit their existing offering.
This functionality would apply to many sectors including telecoms. A mobile app for this sector could for example, provide the customer with the options to change their plan and include add-ons such as increasing their monthly data package.
Customers should also be able to update their personal information (e.g if they change address or phone number) and adjust their opt-in settings for marketing communications including providing a preferred channel through which they’d like to be reached.
2. Pay Bills
Options for the customer to view and pay their bills should also be available within an account management self-service app. An example of this is waste management company, Thorntons Recycling, whose mobile app had account management options for customers to top up their accounts along with many other useful features.
With the ever-increasing popularity of new mobile payment services such as Android Pay and Apple Pay, providing customers with the ability to pay bills through a mobile app will become more important in the coming months and years and perhaps a key differentiator for the early movers.
3. Customer Care
According to Forrester, mobile self-service interactions overtake all other support channels when customers want accurate and relevant information.
This kind of mobile self-service customer care could range from a knowledge base with frequently asked questions to real-time chat with a customer service agent.
Such features are applicable to all industries and customer care is often seen as a fundamental advantage of a mobile app. In the retail sector app-based customer care can even include advice on an online purchase, or providing style recommendations, thereby creating a private line of communication between the business and its customers.
For the financial services sector, the MyCornmarket app is a great example of providing customers access to the information that is most important to them at any time, wherever they are as part of their customer support efforts.
4. Push Notifications
With a mobile app you can tap into the internal notification system of a customer’s smartphone. This creates many push notification possibilities that will drive customers to different sections of the downloaded company app.
For example, a push notification might be sent when a bill is due, providing a deep link directly to the payment section of the app. Other service updates, appointment reminders or information about new service offerings might also be sent as push notifications.
5. Location Based Features
Location based features use the GPS functionality of a smartphone. For example, a business operating in the financial services sector could display map listings based on the customer’s geolocation in order to find the nearest branch to visit.
For the automotive sector especially car share service offerings, customers can use in-app location based features to find a nearby car to pick up or once their journey is finished to find the nearest drop off area.
6. Rewards and Loyalty
Reward programmes and loyalty schemes are key tools for customer retention and an app can play a very useful role in communicating these schemes to customers. For example, the current ‘balance’ and available rewards and offers can be communicated within the app. For many in the services industries the actual rewards are delivered through third party vouchers – mobile apps can be used to store these vouchers and can provide some interesting redemption possibilities such as unique barcodes.
7. Camera Features
A key inbuilt feature on smartphones is the camera and this can enable some useful account management functionality for a self-service mobile app. For example, the submission of copies of identity documents (such as utility bills, passports and driving licences) is a requirement for many services companies and this can be made easy through the integration of the phone’s camera in a sign-up form within the app.
Smartphone cameras also provide the ability to scan barcodes. This feature could be used in different contexts, for example in scanning printed material such as bill as part of an app registration process.
Augmented reality is growing in popularity and this is another area that involves the use of the smartphone camera to provide a ‘virtual’ layer of additional information to users – for example the property price feature on the GeoFindIT app.
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