Over three-quarters of Americans (81%) use mobile apps, with the prime reason being to check social media (66%), followed by reading the news or playing games (both 44%), ordering food (35%) and doing work-related tasks (22%), according to a new survey by Helpshift and Radius Global Market Research that was emailed to Retail Dive.
Despite the widespread use of mobile apps, the study found that over two-thirds (69%) of mobile app users report having problems when using apps, 27% of which say they have those issues on a daily or weekly basis.
Among the main frustrations is customer support — nearly half (47%) of the mobile app users surveyed said they would delete a frustrating app if it doesn’t provide customer support. Those that wouldn’t said they would give the app a bad review (24%), trash talk it to friends (19%) or complain about it on social media (18%).
These days, the retail landscape is moving increasingly toward online and mobile platforms. With mobile playing a key part in the holiday season, including back-to-school, retailers will want to address app frustrations sooner rather than later.
According to Helpshift, that means ensuring a retailer’s app contains quality customer support — and not just any kind. Of those surveyed, 59% of mobile app users said they prefer messaging to email communication, especially for talking to customer service agents. Apps that offer live, in-app customer service were popular with respondents, 46% of whom said they would try an app that offered it, along with 34% who said they would use the app, recommend it to friends (23%) or buy it because of that feature (16%).
Bolstering that claim, Helpshift found that 89% of mobile app users said they would recommend an app if they were "proactively contacted inside an app by a customer support agent if they were experiencing a problem."
"Mobile apps that provide more sophisticated in-app support are more likely to enjoy stronger customer engagement and loyalty," Abinash Tripathy, founder and CEO of Helpshift, said in a statement emailed to Retail Dive. "These survey results underscore the point that people want to communicate with customer service agents the way they communicate with everyone else — through messaging and apps. That’s why in-app messaging is the superior form of customer support."
Mobile’s dominance is nothing new, especially not with the younger generations, who are increasingly becoming target consumers. The majority of Gen Z (60%), for example, will not use an app or website that is too slow to load or too difficult to navigate (62%) — and that’s coming from a generation that is twice as likely to convert on mobile as any other generation. Although the young generation is turned off by slow platforms, 80% of Gen Z are influenced by social media when purchasing and the group wants more brand interaction, which should give retailers enough reason to invest in making their mobile platforms as easy-to-use as possible.
Indeed, Gurjit Sandhu, senior marketing specialist at Yes Lifecycle Marketing, told Retail Dive in July that retailers need to be laser-focused on making the path-to-purchase hassle-free, especially online and on mobile devices.
"Brands should be taking advantage of all of the mobile platforms out there to make it as convenient as possible for mobile users to make a purchase because it’s quite a turnoff when you’re interested in a product on a mobile app and then you click on it and the website is clunky or messy," Sandhu said, explaining that customers are liable to move on in no more than a split-second