Even Mobile Shoppers Prefer Live Consumer Support 

by Anand Janefalkar 

Mobile shopping is booming in the U.S. as we prepare to enter 2019. According to the 2018 Internet Trends Report from Kleiner Perkins, mobile shopping app sessions grew 54 percent year-over-year — the fastest growth of any mobile activity. In addition to shaking up traditional monetization models for brands and retailers, this is driving how consumers expect to interact with customer support when there’s a problem. 

One recent study of 1,500 U.S. adults found when millennials and other mobile shoppers reach out to a brand for help, more often than not, addressing their issues requires real people, contact centers and customer support platforms. Specifically, for 30 percent of consumers, their first action when there is a problem is still to call and try to reach a live person by phone. 

Another 25 percent use online chat, or send an email, to ask for help — behaviors that, once again, often lead directly to a contact center. Add in 4 percent more engagements coming in through text messaging and social media combined, and a portion of the 8 percent of requests that go through an online ticketing system and require human follow-up, and the final count is two-thirds of support requests made via mobile or any other channel still rely on contact centers and support platforms to solve.

While some believe artificial intelligence may eventually replace humans in helping consumers address support and service questions, 58 percent of consumers surveyed don’t think chatbots are as effective as they could be, or say they’d prefer to chat with a service representative to solve their problems. The rule of thumb is that more urgent and complex issues require a more immediate connection with a live agent, whereas simpler, less urgent requests can be served by chatbots. 

This leaves brands and contact centers with the need to strike a balance between AI and human agents, based on a keen understanding of how each functions within the customer experience equation, in a given moment and context. Great support must be there for consumers in that moment and context, and deliver help anyway they want it.  So, while AI and chatbots will certainly find their applications — initially for simple things like making reservations — indications are that modern mobile consumers now and future will have a preference for human support, much of it provided from contact center environments.  

Delivering Customer Support

When shopping with a mobile brand, which of the following is your most preferred method for contacting customer support?

Mode Percentage
In-store customer support associate 32%
Customer support phone line (human operated) 25%
Customer support phone line (automated)  5%
Online customer support ticket submission   8%
Direct email to customer service 10%
Online chat 15%
Text message 25%
Via social media accounts (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, etc.) 25%

Source: The study was commissioned by UJET and delivered by Branded Research Inc., an independent market research organization. Branded Research has an active proprietary panel of more than 3 billion respondents that is routinely validated with a stringent screening process including Verity® and RelevantID by Imperium. Results derived from a 15-minute online survey instrument with 52 total questions, fielded May 15–24, 2018, for a total of 1,505 responses from adult (18+) Americans. Overall margin of error of +/- 3 percent at a 95-percent confidence interval.

UJET is a real-time customer communications provider that aims to make it simple for any company to provide intuitive, modern-day support. As founder and CEO of UJET, Inc., Anand Janefalkar has 15 years of experience in the technology industry and has served as a technical advisor for various startups in the Bay Area. Before founding UJET, he served as senior engineering manager at Jawbone, and also previously contributed to multiple high-profile projects at Motorola.  

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