ICMI is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


Mobile Self Service: Friend or Foe of High Growth Companies?

This post orginally appeared on the IntelliResponse blog.

Google recently announced the introduction of the Hummingbird algorithm, which claimed “that Google search can be a more humane way to interact with users and provide a more direct answer.”[1] A big motivation for the update is the mobile platform, since Google has noted that more and more internet users access the web via mobile devices. Essentially, Google has officially declared that the world is going mobile.

If Google says so, who are we to disagree?

The Stats on Mobile Self Service

As I dug a little deeper, I came across some compelling stats on mobile self service that are pretty much in line with Google’s observations:

  • Ovum predicts that 50% of support inquiries will be from mobile devices by 2016[2].
  • Subsequently, 75% of customers believe companies should make answers to common questions available via smartphones,
  • …with 50% of smartphone users preferring to use a mobile customer service app versus calling a contact center[3].

The Big Picture on Mobile Self Service

What we’re really trying to say is that mobile self service is, and will increasingly be, an imperative for all companies, but particularly those companies experiencing rapid growth.  With the right mobile self service options in place, all types of companies will be able to give their customers a service experience they actually want. But for high growth companies in particular, mobile self service is an absolute essential part of the overall customer service offering mix due to increasing customer volumes and the need for these companies to provide an exceptional experience for customers wishing to self serve from their smartphone.

Mobile Self Service: Friend or Foe?

So, mobile self service is important and increasing with importance each day. We can agree on that. But are your company’s current mobile self service capabilities helping you or hurting you? Consider the following. When a customer accesses a company’s website via a smartphone, as opposed to a laptop or desktop, it’s quite a different experience as we all know, particularly because most smartphones have such tiny screens (relatively speaking). But regardless of how the customer accesses a company’s website, they expect consistency and to receive the same quality of interaction, especially when it comes to customer service. If a customer asks a question in a mobile self service app, they expect to receive the same answer as they would the website, in the same amount of time. Could you imagine how frustrating it would be for the customer if the answer wasn’t the same?

Furthermore, site search and FAQs have very little success in the mobile platform, simply because it’s tedious for the customer to get the answer they need without too much scrolling or extensive searching.

To use myself as an example, no matter how hard I try, I inevitably end up ‘over-scrolling’ and have to constantly go back to get to the place I want to be. In short, that’s a frustrating experience, which is why FAQs and site search are a bad fit for the mobile platform.

Mobile Self Service and Virtual Agent Technology

If you’re a high growth company, have an increasing number of customers coming through your mobile channel, and want to provide self service options to effectively automate these customer service interactions, then you will strongly want to consider virtual agent technology. Virtual agent technology is definitely your friend when it comes to mobile self service.

Virtual agents (also known as virtual assistants) enhance the mobile channel of high growth companies by providing customers with fast, easy, efficient, and automated customer service. When a customer asks a question in a mobile self service app, they instantly get the one right answer, which will be the same as on the website. Providing a customer with the one answer removes the work from the customers’ end, which in turn provides a more relaxing customer service experience.

[1] Sharaya, Robin. “Google Introduced Hummingbird Algorithm – The Future of Search”. 28 September 2013. 14 January 2014. < http://googlegeniusonline.blogspot.com/2013/09/google-introduced-hummingbird-algorithm.html >
[2] Hong, Daniel. “Mobile Customer Service Requires a Smart, Connected Interaction Strategy.” 18 September 2012. 14 January 2014. <
http://ovum.com/2012/09/18/mobile-customer-service-requires-a-smart-connected-interaction-strategy/ >
[3] IntelliResponse. “Customer Service Should Never Slow You Down- A Special Report for High Growth Companies”. Jan 2014 

More Resources