Mobile is the Essential Link in Customer Experience

The 2014 customer expects you to anticipate what she might want and present it to her, in context, perhaps even before she knows she wants it.

Smart phones have created this change. All of us are in the midst of a mobile mind shift. We have learned that whatever the question, the answer is on the phone. Does this product come in my size? What’s the name of that song? Did the US qualify for the second round of the World Cup?

Whatever the question, the answer is on the phone. We don’t want to look for the answer, we just expect it to be there.

Fact: According to Forrester Research, 42 percent of online adults in the US expect a company they deal with to have an app.

Fact: Over 2 billion people worldwide will have smart phones within three years.

Fact: The million-plus apps in the Apple App Store have been downloaded more than 60 billion times -- that’s more than eight downloads for each person on planet Earth.

What does this mean for customer experience?

The Mobile Moment

I've been working with clients on this. For years, we have been helping them with journey maps -- step-by-step diagrams of customer processes. All journey maps reveal problems, places where customers become unhappy, frustrated or confused. Companies often had the information to solve these problems -- the difficulty was getting that information together with the customer when the customer needed it.

Mobile solves many of these problems by providing the service or information to the customer just as it’s needed. Here’s how to think about it.

Your customer experiences many mobile moments. A mobile moment is a point in time in space when she pulls out her mobile device to get what she wants, immediately, in context. If you are there in that mobile moment, you win her loyalty. If not, someone else, typically an entrepreneur, will steal that moment and interfere with that relationship.

What are some examples of mobile moments that enhance customer experience in customer journeys?

  • USAA figured out how to let you deposit a check by taking a photo. Check deposit used to require a trip to the ATM. No more. Most other banks copied this feature, but USAA got there first.
  • Delta Air Lines’ app doesn't just tell you the flight was cancelled, it immediately offers two alternatives you can book.
  • Amazon lets you take a photo of book cover, identify it and then buy it.
  • Allstate lets you file a car insurance claim for minor damage by sending in a photo.

In all of these cases, the company has radically streamlined a (usually painful, time-consuming, or annoying) process by taking advantage of the features of the phone – location, the camera, knowledge of your history. These features anticipate your needs and streamline customer experience.

They also require a completely different way of thinking.

Here’s how to serve your customers in their mobile moments: use the IDEA cycle.

Step 1: Identify mobile moments

Find the mobile moments in your customer’s journey. There are sure to be many of them. Catalog all the possible moments and include the context -- who they are, where they are, what time it is, what their mood is and so on.

Step 2. Design the mobile engagement

Determine which moments are most valuable both to the customer and to your company. Focus on those. And determine how best to serve that customer -- with a notification, a photo, an opportunity to transact or a piece of information.

Step 3. Engineer the platforms, processes and people

This is the expensive part. Applications connect to back end systems, systems that were never built for mobile. Typically, 80 percent of the cost of mobile service is in reengineering systems for mobile engagement.

Step 4. Analyze results to monitor results and optimize customer experience

Unless you instrument the application, you’ll never know which parts are working well, and what to improve.

Identify, design, engineer, analyze -- that’s IDEA. It’s a cycle, because you need to improve your application continuously.

Developing effective mobile solutions for customer experience problems is complex. You’ll need to use analytics to anticipate or predict customers’ needs. For example, Grocery IQ uses behavioral data and machine-learning algorithms to make grocery purchase suggestions based people’s past history and similar purchases by others. And you’ll need to master progressive disclosure. Mobile screens are far too small to show everything a customer might be seeking. Instead, show what they’re most likely to look for, with links to the next most likely information, and so on.

This type of thinking can make the IDEA cycle work well for you. You’ll be able to provide a better customer experience in a mobile moment. And as the world shifts to mobile, that’s essential to being truly competitive.

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