Mobile live chat for support is more important than you think

People love their phones, and they use them for everything. Consumers are shopping on mobile, checking the weather, video chatting, using their phones as a GPS—pretty much nothing is off limits for a smartphone user these days. And mobile live chat for support is not an exception.

But just because smartphone users can do an astronomical amount of stuff on their phone doesn’t mean that companies are optimizing their offerings for mobile. In fact, many companies have been pretty lazy about taking a holistic view of consumer behavior on mobile to upgrade their mobile offerings. It’s time for this to stop.


You can’t do e-commerce without mobile

In the United States, 96% of respondents ages 18-29 lived in a household with at least one smartphone, and 51% of young adults reported that their household had three or more smartphones.

This trend is not limited to America; other countries report that smartphones are the most popular device to use:

OfCom Research Personal Use of Device

There are currently over 4 billion mobile users, and that’s projected to continue to increase into 2020:

Statista number of mobile phone users 2015

Smartphones are popular because they are growing better and better each year. Now it’s possible to do pretty much any basic desktop function on a phone, and they are faster with better cameras and more memory than ever before. Where other devices have stagnated on big innovation—like desktop computers—phones have continued to change.

Despite this, companies are still failing to upgrade their live chat for support for mobile users in a satisfactory way. They make their mobile support offerings available but not practical, which is why many customers hate live chat for support. There are a few apps with great functionality, especially in the e-commerce space. Retail apps like Tradesy are a perfect example; they cater to e-commerce users and function as a whole mobile-friendly ecosystem without a user even having to touch the website.

But not every company has taken such a shine to new consumer uses for mobile phones. Companies frequently miss opportunities to offer their mobile users better function and better live chat for support experience—whether that’s a web store or a photo editing service. The companies that do well on mobile are often mobile-first or mobile-only companies. Other companies are struggling to optimize.


Optimizing for mobile means more than just site layout

When many companies today think about mobile optimization, the first thing that pops onto their radar is having a mobile-friendly version of their website.

This thinking is years behind the times.

Mobile optimization is more than making your site work on a mobile phone. It’s about adopting your total consumer experience to work for those reaching you through a mobile device. Yes, you have to have a site that is optimized for mobile, but you also need to understand that the way people interact with content on their phone is fundamentally different than the way people behave on their desktops.

For example, searching on an e-commerce website can be a bigger pain on mobile than on a desktop. Autofills are clunkier and take up more of the screen; you might have to pull up a side menu to filter; it’s hard or impossible to “quick view” items, meaning you are committing to loading a new page to see something. To circumvent this, retailers might put up a “visual search” that instantly matches items from any photo on their mobile site rather than expecting shoppers to behave on mobile as they do on the desktop.

This also extends to apps. While many retailers think they can just have a condensed mobile site, they’re missing out by not using an app to optimize their mobile offerings. 67% of consumers have downloaded a retailer app to a mobile phone—and it’s obvious why. Mobile apps are designed to work for phones and often have better features and functionality on mobile than a mobile-optimized website. Adding an app to your company’s offerings can have a huge positive impact on what you are able to offer consumers.

And remember that mobile users don’t just have different behaviors on phones because they are smaller than desktops or have touch screens. They also behave differently because they are often literally in a setting in which they could not use a desktop or even a laptop—on the train, in the airport, at a kid’s soccer game or at a restaurant. Speed, accessibility, and function that don’t rely on sound are important to cater to mobile users on the go.

Support for mobile is not just a phone call

Which leads us to support. If you are thinking well support for mobile phones should be a number to call… after all that’s what phones are for, then you are not adequately supporting people on mobile.

People don’t use their phones to call all that much anymore—far more time is spent watching, scrolling, tapping, tweeting, playing games and pretty much anything other than calling. So making your mobile support dependent on a phone call or the regular email line that you can use on the desktop isn’t always helpful to those looking to get support on mobile.

Instead, you need portable, easy support that can work wherever a phone works (on the subway, in the airport, at your in-laws). This means more than just being able to call or get clunkily redirected to your phone’s bursting email inbox.

That’s why live chat is a great way to optimize your support for mobile. Chat support for mobile plays into how people actually use their mobile phones, which means it’s a support option that customers actually want to use on their phones. An ATG Global Consumer Trend study found that 90% of customers consider live chat for support helpful, and it’s easy to see how live chat makes this true on mobile—especially if it is in an app.

Mobile live chat for support means that customers can get through you no matter how noisy it is or how impolite it would be to speak. They get instant support, unlike email, and the experience of using live chat mimics the experience of using any other messaging app on a phone.


Level up

There’s no way around it: offering a superior mobile experience puts a company ahead. No matter how advanced and fancy phones get, they are still going to be used in different ways than desktop or laptop computers or even their tablet counterparts. Understanding how user behavior changes and tapping into it is the best way to cater to mobile consumers.

Cover illustration by Karthikeyan Ganesh