Half of consumers believe brands are neglecting in-app customer support

by | Aug 9, 2022 | Marketing, Public Relations

Even though mobile apps have become the center of people’s everyday lives, many companies are missing an opportunity to deliver customer support in a way that is most helpful to their mobile app customers, according to new research from in-app customer service firm Helpshift. The firm’s new survey found that many brands are missing the mark on in-app customer service.

It’s no secret that mobile apps have become a driving force in online culture, ecommerce, and the global economy. According to the State of Mobile 2022 report from Data.ai, 2 million apps were launched in 2021, people in the top mobile-first markets now spend an average of 4.8 hours per day on their phones, and mobile ad spend is set to reach $350 billion in 2022. However, although many brands recognize the value of mobile ads and a mobile-first user experience and marketing strategy, their customer support has not kept up with this mobile-first vision.

Helpshift’s new survey, conducted by Researchscape, found a few key warning signs for mobile-first brands and app developers:

Consumers are using apps more than ever, but are experiencing lackluster customer support:

  • 67 percent of American consumers use apps on their smartphone multiple times a day, but almost half (49 percent) of respondents said that they feel brands neglect in-app customer support.
  • Only 12 percent of respondents stated that in-app customer support they’ve received has been excellent. Nearly half said in-app customer support has been fair (39 percent) or poor (8 percent).

Better in-app customer support is an opportunity for brands to build relationships and differentiate themselves:

  • While mobile apps provide an added valuable channel for customer service, the majority (54 percent) of respondents said that the apps they use do not feature built-in customer support.
  • 66 percent said they feel extremely or very frustrated when they are in a mobile app and need customer support but get kicked out of the app or get forced to wait hours or days for a response.
  • 56 percent of respondents said that while brands talk the talk about having great mobile experiences, they don’t walk the walk. The survey revealed that when it comes to great in-app experiences, consumers feel that brands still have some work to do. Only 12 percent of respondents gave mobile brands an A.

Better in-app customer support can drive customer retention and loyalty:

  • 71 percent of mobile app users said they would switch to a competing app/product if they have a bad experience or if the mobile app gives them problems.
  • 86 percent of respondents said they would be more loyal to a brand who delivered good in-app customer support.
  • Customer loyalty is especially important for young consumers. Forty percent of Gen Z respondents said they are very loyal when it comes to sticking with mobile apps—more than any other generation.
  • As app usage continues to grow, a new generation of apps for the metaverse are emerging. Research shows that metaverse users demand better support for immersive virtual environments:
  • Among the survey respondents who are currently interacting with metaverse XR experiences, 67 percent said customer support was problematic in the metaverse.
  • 83 percent of metaverse users said that they were able to access customer support, but it was time-consuming and/or their problem never got resolved.
  • 17 percent said there was absolutely no customer support within the metaverse at all.

“With so much consumer activity and online engagement having recently moved to mobile apps, and now with a transformational wave of metaverse apps emerging, it’s inevitable that the demand for frictionless in-app support will continue to rise,” said Eric Vermillion, CEO of Helpshift, in a news release.

“However, as our survey reveals, too many brands are not yet positioned to deliver excellent in-app support,” he continued. “Many mobile-first customers are struggling with time-consuming, frustrating experiences and unnecessary delays when they try to get support. Instead of kicking people out of the app right when they need help, brands should enhance and update their in-app support experience to align with their overall mobile UX design and Customer Experience. Given the ability of mobile apps to have secure, contextual, and continual engagement with consumers, the time has come for brands to recognize that the app is the new starting point for the future of customer support.”

The results in this report are from an online U.S. survey conducted by Researchscape International that was fielded from February 14 to 17, 2022. There were 1,015 respondents to the survey; results were weighted to be demographically representative.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter