Focus Your Business on Mobile Moments Or Be Disrupted

Smartphones are becoming an extension of our brains. When we don't immediately find what we want, we turn to our phone or tablet and look for a service -- Twitter for sharing, Uber for car services, LoseIt! for calorie counts before ordering lunch -- that can. 

Every successful interaction reinforces the idea that whatever our problem, a mobile device can provide a solution -- or it should, if a company is doing its job properly. In fact, our research has found that 64 percent of people with a smartphone and tablet expect a company to offer a mobile friendly experience, with 25 percent feeling that a mobile app or site should be customized to their immediate location.

The Mobile Mind Shift 

My colleagues and I call this change in attitude the mobile mind shift: the expectation that I can get what I want in my immediate context and moments of need. This shift means the battle for customer's attention will be waged in "mobile moments," which would be any time they pull out a mobile device. And as mobile devices have become pervasive in life and work, mobile moments are having a deep impact on all brands.

This is no exaggeration. From speaking with disruptive entrepreneurs who’ve succeeded with mobile applications, we know how they work -- when they spot a place in the physical world where a mobile app can solve a problem or deliver something valuable, they attack. As Cody Rose, who cofounded the startup NoshList, put it, “we look for annoying things in everyday life that can be fixed with a mobile app. Then we jump on it.”

Unless you want to sit quietly and let these type of disruptors attack your business, you must engage your customers and employees during mobile moments. But it won’t be easy -- we estimate that companies will spend $189 billion over the next seven years to redesign business processes for the mobile mind shift. Any time an employee engages a customer, she is fulfilling a step in a critical business process: retail checkout, business sales meeting, store inspection, field service event and so on.

Exceeding Expectations 

Without a disciplined mobile strategy, companies chase the wrong opportunities. And the easiest strategy -- to move parts of your website into mobile formats -- is probably wrong. Instead, companies should first undertake a mobile moment audit to understand the opportunities that matter most not only to your customer, but also to your employees and bottom line. You’ll want to:

  1. Identify your mobile moments and context. How many potential mobile moments can you find in your customers’ and employees’ lives? Four? 10? 20? Map out all of the situations and scenarios in which you can serve consumers on a mobile device. Can they take a picture of their credit card to capture payment information? eBay Now users can. Can they find a product in the store? Lowe’s customers do.
  2. Design the mobile engagement. Bring business people, designers and developers together to decide how you will engage a customer in her mobile moments. What service will you provide? What benefit does it bring to the customer? And what value does it bring to your company? To get the mobile engagement right, you have to deliver what a customer or employee expects in the simplest way possible.
  3. Engineer your platforms, processes and people. Mobile interaction requires much more than an app. You must optimize the whole ecosystem, including the platforms, processes and people in your organization and those of your partners.
  4. Analyze results to monitor performance and optimize outcomes. Your mobile engagement initiative is not complete if you're flying blind. Capture, track, analyze and act on the data to improve the engagement.

Image by Vladgrin (Shutterstock)