App based customer service- Are brands ready for it?

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | April 15, 2015
For businesses, it is extremely important to adapt to this change in consumer behavior and serve customers on a mobile platform.

Today, possibly everyone who has food, water and shelter, has a mobile too. We are always connected to the network, whether at home, in office, in transit. It would be no exaggeration to say that for a majority of its users, the mobile is just a step away from being a permanent appendage.

App based customer service

For too many of us, the jokes on Wi-Fi becoming one of the most essential features of everyday life is uncomfortably true. Demonstated by free Wi-Fi featuring prominently among poll promises during recent state elections in Delhi and elsewhere. Or the fact that the debate over net neutrality will probably go down as one of the most engaging issues where the government asked people to participate with suggestions.

Mobiles have become the primary driver of internet usage. Directly linked to this spike in usage is the development of an increasing number of apps. From women's safety to karaoke singing and dance, there is an app for almost everything now. Not surprisingly, customers are warming up to apps that can help them chat real time with businesses for their customer service issues now.

For businesses, it is extremely important to adapt to this change in consumer behavior and serve customers on a mobile platform. At the same time, that a consumer would not install an app for each brand is the challenge brand custodians face. A user needs a one-stop solution for any query related to any brand. A single-app based customer service is the new kid on the block.

Till now the concept of customer service was mainly reactive, the customer had to reach out to the company when he/she faced any problems and then the company responded with an appropriate solution. But now the tables are turning making it a proactive concept. Its the responsibility of the brand to provide a convenient and efficient way to the customer in case he/she wants to reach out to them. This is how the concept of social media marketing came to existence and became an important part of marketing strategies for many brands.

App based customer service takes it a step further. Over the last few years, 'real time customer service' has become a major part of strategies for making the customer happy. The new generation consumer expects an instant solution via an app, a self service site or social media. This rise in customer expectations is soon expected to surpass what the companies are prepared for, i.e. to solve a customer's problem even before he detects it.

Take Siemens healthcare. Siemens monitors all the devices they have sold to hospitals. Their dashboard gives them insights in the performance of each of the devices and allows them to fix a problem before it occurs. The dashboard is fed with input from connected sensors in the medical devices.

Go mobile with Akosha!
The Akosha app connects consumers with experts and businesses for queries related to any brand or service. India's only enterprise grade customer support app, Akosha claims that their Mobile App has been built for scale. Enhancing accountability, building an extensive knowledge base, personalizing customer experience with the help of saved advanced customer history and monitoring various metrics are the key features of this app. Besides the reduced response time and personalization that the app allows, the company claims that an apps-led approach could also increase productivity by ensuring a higher output from the same customer service agent.

The app has some exciting multimedia features supporting the exchange of pictures, videos and even smileys between the two parties. The strong back-end and dashboard of this app reduces the query time significantly.


Talking about the idea behind the app, Vishrut Chalsani, Co-founder, Akosha says "The sudden proliferation of smartphones in India is making companies look to engage with their customers through mobile apps even if they've been a pure play internet or offline businesses. A logical extension is that the chat process too has come to customer and brand interactions. At Akosha, we've been advocating this for a while and have already introduced a mobile app for brands. There are going to be challenges - one of them being capturing structured information from the chat - as unstructured information makes it difficult for CRM platforms to give a good level of service."

The first ones to adapt to the changes in consumer behaviour in India have been luxury brands. With their focus on customer loyalty and customer experience, these brands are a natural fit for such an approach. Customers of luxury goods usually demand a high level of personalization and an in-app chat helps brands provide the same. Global brands like Rado, Armani, Zegna, Diesel actively serve customers through apps like Whatsapp.

Cafe Coffee Day, PVR Cinemas, Big Bazaar, Channel V India, Hungama Music etc. are also connecting with their fans using chat applications. Some Bollywood production houses have also embraced mobile apps to reach out to their TG in a personalized way, communicating information about their next releases.