Frowns face foo

The customer service component of Mobile

How important is your first line of defense?

Customer service with a smile....bitch


How important is your customer experience to the efficacy of your Mobile agenda?

Companies spend millions…even billions of dollars into marketing and operations. CEO’s and other corporate officers get paid the big bucks. Engineers, Techs, Sales, Digital Strategy….all big-buck operations. Your sales are great? Great! How is your post-sale customer retention after he or she needs to contact customer support?

You know how much the average CS agent gets comped? According to my calculations based on a nation wide average of $34,780 per annum @ 40 hours a week is a tick over $16.72 an hour. That means the first person that your customer talks to when he or she is frustrated and pissed off…makes a little more than minimum wage in some states.

Whats wrong with that?

Nothing. As long as you  can maintain pride in product and principle from the 2nd lowest paid tier of workers on your team. Can some companies do it? Yes. And they do. But some can’t.

Like who?

Like American Airlines…that’s who.

Why is this important?

Adoption of mobile technology into the lives of people is only as effective as the technology is easy to use and has perceived value to its user. Mobile tech is useless to those who don’t understand how to use it. Usability is based on the aptitude of the user to grasp the concept that the developer is attempting to convey. The developer should do his best to convey the concept in baby steps using easy words. They call this, ‘Barney Style’ in some groups. But because Developers rarely speak ‘user experience’, User Interface and User experience engineers are consulted. They work together to create the package the will be the face of their product or service.

What happens when they fail?

Do they fail?

Yes. Hell yes. All the time.

What happens when they fail?

Customer Service happens.

Show me

Shamon Lee.....


So I have a client who’s s taking a leisure trip into Florida, flying American Airlines from SLC to Valparaiso. We are talking logistics and he says he will print the flight info to take into SLC so that he can give these documents to ticketing. He was going to print this from his iPhone. I told him he doesn’t need to do this…printing…of things, because airlines and airports support mobile devices as approved electronic documentation and e-verification sources. What this all means in the scope of things…is he doesn’t need to print anything or talk to anyone untill he gets to security.Bbecause he can check in via the App on the iPhone, get his boarding passes on the phone and show his phone and his credentials to security. He can have his boarding passes in the that Apple uses to collect credit cards, movie tickets…or any tickets for that matter…for use at the venue, or in this case: The Airport.

When I explained this was possible, I told him to think about it and left it at that. I returned a while later to witness his CS support with, the number he called when he started having questions with the application on his iPhone.  He called support from his landline because he has questions about the app on his iPhone. That was when I witnessed the most ignorant thing I have ever seen from support. She told him to open the website which is the website for American airlines.

When the website recognized the declared user agent in the browser, it redirected to the mobile version of the website:

She did what?



Then she told him to hit the, ‘View full site’ button at the bottom. This sends a request to the server for the desktop version of the website:


Oh God! My eyes! Ahhhh!

Lets recap:

  • Customer wants to place boarding passes in on iPhone using from iOS AppStore.
  • Customer calls Customer Support.
  • Support directs customer to mobile website.
  • Support directs customer to desktop website.

It’s slightly ironic that the technology got it right twice but the human in the equation screwed everything up. The user agent reported correctly to the server that it was a mobile device and was served up the proper version. Even after the user (under direction of support) requested the desktop version, the server complied but served up a notification at the tip that the CS Agent could have chosen as a reminder of why the customer called in the first place.

Customer Expectations

What compelled me to think I could get the app and do all of these things? Because I have done them. This is what I do. But even if you have not, here is the expectation that is set by American:

Wallet foo! Say it foo!


The landing page information says it support Wallet.

Here is the 30 second spot video (cut up and narrated by me) that specifically shows this is possible:


Haha! They want customer service lol.I spent some time in the application, the mobile website and the desktop version and I have to hand it to AA Devs: The app is very much like the mobile website. It is unfortunate that a training deficiency at the support level has the propensity to crush the mobile agenda of its own agency. Having spent a few years at a call center (Gateway Inc.) as a technology training specialist, and years of training the defense community on databases and other tools, I can attest to the effectiveness of a good training program, and the benefit of it outweighs any ROI of any program when it comes to the post-sale communications between customer and business. If you don’t have a decent training program for the crew you utilize as the first point of contact, you should get someone in there who knows what the hell they are doing, or at least get some numbskull to do an analysis on how much money you are wasting deploying mobile tools to your customer when the support component steers them completely away from anything resembling a mobile experience: To the desktop web to print.


Like with a printer.


You gotta be ******** me.


Since flying has become the suck of all that is travel, I don’t like it. If I am not mistaken and the rules have not changed, there is a 24-hour max time to check in. Then boarding passes can be issued. If that is the case, here in about 4 hours my client will be able to complete this action from his handset. Something that the CS agent probably should have known and disclosed.

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