The increasing smartphone proliferation is presenting new opportunities for companies to communicate with customers or prospects. It also presents challenges, as smartphone customers tend to have high expectations. According to a survey by SpeechCycle and Echo Research that polled just over 1,000 U.S. consumers, respondents expect an exceptional experience from their telecom providers, as well as any company that provides apps—especially apps for customer service. In fact, the majority of respondents—67 percent—would be willing to pay more for a guarantee of better service. But, as SpeechCycle Senior Vice President of Marketing Scott Kolman points out, those customers are just as willing to change providers if the service they get is not up to their expectations.

The study, released this morning, also finds that:

  • Two thirds of respondents are likely to recommend their service provider to others if they receive great customer service on a consistent basis. This is especially important considering how easy social media makes it for customers to communicate with each other, Kolman says.
  • However, almost 60 percent of respondents say they would consider switching their mobile, Internet, or cable/satellite TV providers after two to three instances of poor service. Almost 20 percent say they would consider making the switch immediately after a first poor customer service experience.
  • Ninety percent of respondents say they have taken action to avoid calling customer service, including ignoring their problem or asking a friend for help. This was especially prevalent among respondents 18 to 34 years old. 
  • Almost 70 percent of respondents use apps daily, while 55 percent say they use them several times a day. Customers reported to have downloaded an average of 10 apps in the past six months, although 10 percent say they had not downloaded any. Kolman says customers expect apps to improve their experience and help them when they need to communicate with a company.
  • Half of smartphone users say they would prefer to use a mobile customer service app to try and resolve service issues before calling a contact center. And 56 percent of all respondents say they would prefer using an app over calling a contact center.

Key takeaway: According to Kolman, the survey results emphasize that customer experience matters—whether it's negative or positive. "If you don't provide good service, it doesn't take long for people to be upset," Kolman says. The results also show that respondents are beginning to place a great deal of importance on receiving service via smartphone apps, he notes, adding that companies should still give customers the opportunity to speak to an associate. "Don't hide behind an IVR system or a website," he says.