Easing The Mobile And Web Application Technology Curve: A New Paradigm For 21St-Century Customer Service
In the beginning of the Internet era, the PC reigned supreme. As the desktop publishing world, and the transition from typewritten documents to desktop-created documents grew, the technology consumer became familiar with a world that relied on offline and online applications. PCs and ISP subscriptions were sold side by side, in a glorious period for all companies tied into this massive technology shift. Businesses and consumers now were connected, with a greater understanding of how the browser could change their lives. Suddenly, consumers had a way to communicate and connect with product and service companies in new ways.
But the Internet became more complex for the average user and customer service waned to such a degree that even ordering DSL from larger providers seemed daunting: true one-on-one customer service was outsourced or driven into the background, creating opportunities for smaller customer service providers, but largely stymying the overall customer service experience.
The mobile world has made this conundrum a deeper issue for consumers. To use a term, only “native” consumers – those born into the mobile era – seem to have an intuitive sense of how applications are searched, consumed, and shared. But, for the 35-year-old and up audience, native mobile intelligence is not so readily achieved. Added to already existing feelings of customer service alienation, this audience needs greater attention.
According to Parks Associates, the market opportunity for customer support innovation is largely untapped, and will grow to $8.25 billion by the year 2017. This opportunity includes the facilitation of “holistic technical support and collaborative customer care, providing capabilities beyond what any single user, advanced or novice, could achieve on their own.”
As customer care needs grow, with the accompanying complexities of web and mobile applications, a new paradigm in customer care must be achieved.
I have been a user of web and mobile technologies since their inception, and have seen the depletion of customer care over the past 15 years reach levels that, to me, would seemingly impede the growth of the industry. Simply put, if general users of web and mobile applications do not have the adequate support that they require, they will cease to become customers. They will become stagnant non-users.
We created a solution to this problem that I think addresses a fundamental need for the non-technical user – a network of in-person assistants who can actually travel to a person’s office or home, or meet that person at a nearby retail center, to help with online and mobile applications – from ecommerce sites, iTunes and eBay to social apps like Facebook and more – with the specific goal of providing a better understanding of how online apps work, thereby creating a better user experience – and most importantly, allowing the end user to gain more personalized customer support.
This concept became what is now WebWizards Network, Inc., a full-service Internet education and support company. This notion of in-person web and mobile device support service includes certified ground support professionals who can assist with social media; mobile apps; browser-based applications and web presence services. Young Internet and mobile professionals across the United States provide the bulk of the WebWizards support network, targeting people mostly in the 35-64 age demographic. According to Harris Interactive, 60% of Internet users typically will not take the time to read help menus, wade through tutorial videos, wait on hold for Internet support or deal with 3rd-world outsourced servicing.
Currently available in California, with plans underway for a national footprint, the WebWizards Network will offer in-person support to Internet and mobile web customers at their home, office, or at one of the individually licensed WebWizards Retail Centers.
One example of an area in which the WebWizards on-site personalized Internet support is extremely relevant is in the increasingly complex mobile technology arena, where many users do not understand how to remove apps, or understand how apps gather information.
WebWizards maintains and deploys its professional support system through an online portal, at www.webwizardsnetwork.com, and through geo-targeted mobile applications. Consumers request services from its public website www.webwizards.pro.
The company recruits qualified Internet professionals from across the U.S. who become certified WebWizards Ground Support Pros. College students, for example, who want to earn income while leveraging flexible work schedules, are particularly attractive for the growing WebWizards Network.
WebWizards offers its service to individuals and businesses with items such as setting up email, connectivity performance, online and mobile application assistance, web presence needs, private instruction, online input and any other Internet-related issues. Certified WebWizards Ground Support Pros receive text messaged work orders with instructions regarding the customer’s Internet issue and coordinates to the customer location (within a 10-mile radius of the support pro). The support pros choose to accept or pass on the project and if rejected, the project is passed to the next closest support pro. Customers are then invited by email to grade the support pro and the experience overall.
We believe this is one major step in the right direction in helping the mobile industry grow smoothly and educating end users so they will continue to be willing purchase the devices and apps being developed without the fear of non-support.