According to Pew Research, 66% of consumers now use their smartphone to make purchase decisions. Half have used mobile devices to search for products and services online. Twenty-four percent (24%) have used their phone to look up reviews of a product online while they were in a store. Twenty-five percent (25%) have used their phone to look up the price of a product online to see if they could get a better price elsewhere.
And now, comScore estimates that m-commerce transactions represent approximately 11% of e-commerce spending, the first time mobile commerce transactions have reached into the double digits of all e-commerce purchases.
Like social media, mobile isn’t just another communication channel; it’s part of our lifestyle, which of course, translates into increased purchases and purchasing decision influence. The challenge for brands or any organization for that matter now lies in presenting or providing access to information consumers both want and need within a limited screen space.
Some brands go with the fun factor to connect with mobile customers. For example, Krispy Kreme has found sweet success in an app that mimics their hot donuts now light, alerting customers when nearby stores are bringing out warm donuts. Other brands use mobile apps internally, for instance, the Gaylord Hotels which utilizes an app to report when rooms are clean and ready for guests. Not only has the app increased efficiency, but it’s also boosted customer satisfaction scores by 20%, as guests who arrive early can now check in early, too.
Many other brands are investing in more extensive customer-facing service and support. Forrester forecasts that companies will spend about $900 million on mobile process reinvention services in 2013, a number that will more than triple in 2014 and continue to rise through 2015. And the investment is well worth it, because according to a new Nuance consumer survey, 72% of consumers have a more positive view of a company if it provides a mobile customer service app.
Forrester also predicts that by 2018, mobile devices will be rich interfaces for highly customized service experiences based on who the user is, what their current situation is as measured by a variety of sensors, where the consumer is located, and what the service provider knows about both the user and the overall situation. But don’t panic, that’s down the road. Right now, it’s time to master the basics.
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3 Best Practices for Serving Your Customers Holding the Phone
1. Put the Most Important Information Front and Center.The information or functions mobile customers want or need most should be available front and center without having to scroll left, right, up or down, or use additional navigation. Survey your customers to see what features would be most useful to them in a mobile app, but some across-the-board suggestions include contact information, click-to-call, chat and a search bar to access self-serve content. Other features will be more industry-specific. Gartner analyst Johan Jacobs notes that if you have buried a function beyond three clicks, taps or keystrokes, it’s beyond the lengths the average mobile customer will go to reach and repeatedly use that feature.
2. Keep Content Simple. If your organization’s knowledgebase content is comprised of pdfs or pages of text devoted to one subject, you’ll lose your connection with your mobile customers seeking self-serve information. Simplify or repurpose content to make it mobile-friendly, and if you must present a great deal of content, use bolding to highlight the text that will be most useful to the customer.
3. Invest in the User Interface. In the 2013 Forrester report, Mobile Engagement Demands Process Transformation, authors Simon Yates and Clay Richardson advise, “Go beyond ‘lipstick on a pig’ approaches to mobile engagement. Realize that users can often see through the thin veneer of mobile makeup that hides complex and rigid business processes.
“To deliver desirable outcomes and experiences for mobile customers and employees, CIOs need to roll up their sleeves to optimize key business processes for mobile engagement.”
As evident from Forrester’s 2013 spending forecast and 2018 prediction above, the evolution of mobile engagement is quickly accelerating. The key for all organizations is not to let this vehicle get away from them, but to get onboard, and begin steering down the right path. Start with the basics, and the rest will gradually take its course.