Reducing Call Center Costs with a Mobile App?

Neha Mittal

Executives face an ongoing challenge of creating amazing customer experiences while also keeping costs at bay. This tug of war between satisfying customers and reducing costs takes center stage in stores, branches, and call centers. In particular, organizations have typically focused call center strategies on better training, scheduling, outsourcing, routing, voice recognition, and enhanced automation.

While these options remain important (and organizations have poured millions of dollars into consultants and technologies to improve outcomes), most Global 2000 organizations have underinvested in one channel that can both save time and improve customer experience: creating a mobile experience that encourages customers to manage their accounts directly through their apps.

Revenue and brand benefits aside (which are plentiful, and a topic for another time), if an organization can deflect just a few percent of calls that live agents would have handled by enabling those interactions in their app, they will save millions of dollars. To realize such benefits, executives need to push their mobile teams to consider the holistic outcome of their strategies and move beyond today’s status quo.

How Status Quo Mobile Teams Think:

  • Mobile is a channel we have to be in because consumers expect it
  • Mobile is an isolated channel and we should focus primarily on the direct effects in our app
  • We should care most about KPIs like app store rating

How Visionary Mobile Teams Think:

  • Mobile is the most convenient and profitable way to interact with our customers when, where, and how they want
  • Winning in mobile means, among other goals, reducing the burden on our physical channels
  • We should focus on improving KPIs such as number of mobile check deposits, direct bookings, account upgrades, etc. because optimizations for these KPIs meaningfully affect our business

Most organizations are getting to the point where they are able to directly monetize or handle other transactions through their apps. However, many product teams have focused their efforts on playing catch-up and getting in a features arms race – at the expense of a great user experience. The results can be catastrophic. Consider the following…

  • Marketing team spends countless dollars acquiring mobile users (how many billboards have you seen lately pushing customers to a new mobile app?)
  • Customer downloads the app, goes through a cumbersome onboarding process (do I really have to provide my mother’s maiden name just to see what the app will do?)
  • The team pushes out a feature without testing it and confuses the user, causing them to rely on traditional costly channels to interact with the company to troubleshoot
  • The user never comes back to the app, and in some cases, actually becomes a brand detractor

While this is a dramatic example, it serves to paint the picture of two things. First, mobile leaders can’t just release features that seem useful and hope post-hoc that customers will use them to the desired effect. Second, a bad user experience can be extremely costly for the organization at large, not just the mobile team.

A growing group of innovators are taking a different approach to their mobile development. Instead of racing to get features out to all users, best-in-class mobile teams test each new feature with a small group of users, measure the impact as compared to a control group, and then make adjustments based on how real users behave. We’ve observed that organizations who run eight or more of such tests per year experience significantly better user engagement than companies who test less – this higher engagement and thus retention leads to two times faster user growth.

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