3 Things to Consider When Designing for Mobile Support

Ayo Omojola
Ayo Omojola Founder & CEO, Hipmob

Posted on January 27th 2013

3 Things to Consider When Designing for Mobile Support

Customer support can be a competitive edge - but there are tradeoffs.

Hi there - I’m Ayo, and we’re Hipmob. We help you provide killer support to your mobile or tablet customers (and your website customers) in real time. 

1. Voice is real time and inspires the most trust. It’s also scales expensively

Some forward thinking mobile developers/apps/companies include a “call us” link in their mobile app. (we did the same thing with Flypad). For example - Getaround:


This helps build trust - a customer in distress likes nothing more than to talk to a real person who can quickly solve their problem.

You’ll see this also in the majority of mobile apps by ecommerce companies - the support channel for most apps is voice, email, or some combination. While all support channels (voice, email and chat) are staffed by a real person, voice feels the most real, because as a customer, you are connected to the problem solver in real time.  The trade-off is that voice doesn’t scale - every team member can only handle one phone call at a time, so, as your volumes rise, you either

a. have to increase staff, or

b. keep your customers waiting.

Staffing up increases your costs linearly to growth. Chat helps defray some of this. One team member, with live chat, can manage up to 4 simultaneous chat sessions, meaning you can get away with as little as 1/3 the support staff, and cut down waiting times!

2. Email scales least expensively, but you don’t control the channel.

Email is the mobile industry’s other preferred method of handling customer support. Include a “Contact Us” link, which drops users into an email window where the relevant user/device/os data is stored in the footer. Your customer enters their query and hits send, and your team members manage the email flow from their Desk/Zendesk/Uservoice UI. Some of my favorite apps do this, including





MileWise (forgive the redacts):


YardSale does one better - they bump you into an SMS. Pretty coolimage:

The fact that it’s so widespread is testament to how well it works. That being said, there are some challenges:

  • email removes your user from your app
  • users often see the email window, and panic, responding by getting out of that as quickly as possible, by either mashing keys, just hitting send with nothing typed in the body, or hitting cancel. This increases spam
  • the increased spam flow slows your agents down
  • users receive the responses in their (already crowded) inbox, and we all know the problems with inbox zero. 
None of these challenges are insurmountable - you just have to take them into consideration when designing your support process.

3. Your users *HATE* being sent to a browser based FAQ window

Just think about the last time you clicked “Support” in whatever app or site you were using, got sent to a browser based FAQ or support center, and thought to yourself: “this really does it for me”

Said no one ever. In a world where engagement is king; keeping support in your app can make the difference between a completed purchase by a happy customer, and one-star rating. Fix this now.

Chat’s not for everyone. There are many cases where it doesn’t work. We’ve seen that it works best in mobile when

  • you have a customer with a relatively high life-time value, usually either in an e-commerce or Saas business, 
  • where you sell a product (that gets delivered or picked up), offline service or subscription in your app. 
  • where solving a customer’s problem as quickly as possible really matters.

If you think this applies to you, then sign up here. If you’re not sure - email me at ayo at hipmob.com.

Thanks for reading.

Ayo/Team Hipmob

Ayo Omojola

Ayo Omojola

Founder & CEO, Hipmob

Ayo Omojola is founder and CEO of Hipmob, a YC backed company based in Palo Alto, California, that is bringing the next generation of helpdesk, live chat, and sales tools to businesses going mobile. Hipmob is now live for iPhone, iPad, and Android apps, and mobile websites.

Check us out at www.hipmob.com.

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