Closing the gap between wearable tech, mobile, and digital customer experience
We’ve all heard the statistics.
– Smartphone adoption is above 65% of the population in Australia and still rising.
– Mobile payments continue to grow at a beyond exponential rate.
– Mobile is the device 46% of Australians reach for within 15 minutes of waking
– Mobile apps are the best way to reach your customers
– Mobile optimisation can increase conversion by 160%.
The list goes on.
Thrumming behind this consistent commentary is the persistent drumbeat that mobile is essential if you want to connect with your customers. Though it’s very easy, amongst all the usages statistics, to lose sight of the fact that it’s not just about building an app or mobile optimisation. Or even about the obvious advantage of being able to be connected to customers wherever they are.
The reason why mobile is so critical is more fundamental than this. It’s about how mobile devices are uniquely placed to bridge multiple gaps in the customer experience; between the digital and physical worlds, between steps in the customer lifecycle, and between customers and your employees.
Before we get to that we need to take a step back and look at how the role of digital in the customer lifecycle has evolved.
Looking at the evolution of devices (see figure below) the obvious change is in how we access the digital world. From a highly fixed experience, with a fixed device and fixed line internet, through to highly mobile experiences with wireless internet and smartphones.
However, it’s not the mobility of our access to the digital world that’s important. Certainly it’s a key enabler, but how it helps to close multiple gaps that makes it so essential;
(1) Closing the gap between digital and physical
In recent years sensors have helped to convert physical world data into digital data (e.g. location, product information, physiology, preferences etc.) enabling new connected and personalised experiences to be created. Smartphone apps have become the visualisation bridge between the digital and physical.
In the future, this gap will close even further as we move from using devices to access the digital world, to having it overlaid on the real world through augmented reality (e.g. next generation Google Glass and Microsoft HoloLens).
(2) Closing the gap in customer experience steps
Having a portable, connected computer allows you to combine, simplify, or even remove customer steps to make them virtually frictionless.
Consider Uber as an example; request a car (it knows your location already), type in the destination (the driver receives this and automatically gets directions which avoid the worst traffic), when you reach the other end you just leave (payment is automatic). Almost completely frictionless and completely enabled by mobile.
(3) Closing the gap between customers and your employees
Mobile devices and sensors in-store allow employees to deliver even richer customer experiences. From knowing what’s in or out of stock, customer preferences, or simplifying checkout.
Take Burberry’s clienteling app, which provides real-time access to inventory, customer profiles, and preferences to enable store assistants to provide a highly personalised experience regardless of which store in the world customers visit.
Mobilising the experience
Getting mobile right means applying four main principles;
(1) Designing for people, not for your business
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of designing for your business goals (increase conversion, reduce costs, increase revenue etc.) rather than the needs of people (e.g. simplify, personalise).
This is particularly important given the relationship we have with mobile devices. This is not an extension of the desktop or another internet enabled device that you just happen to carry with you. It’s highly personal and unique to each individual.
(2) Consider the other people in the equation, your employees
Investment needs to be made to provide employees with the right skills to manage new technology and ensure they’re as connected as customers; an area where businesses are falling well behind customers.
(3) Design for the next iteration, not the past one
Many businesses design for a “Mobile Internet Apps” age rather than the more more human-centered age which we are in now (and which will only deepen as we move into the “Augmented Reality” age which is coming next).
This often means taking a leap of faith and investing in technology where the benefits are not 100% certain, ￼￼￼￼￼but in time, where new entrants are already building momentum to disrupt your business, it’s one you need to take now.
(4) Innovate and iterate your way to success
Putting mobile in place is complex as you navigate the tightrope between emerging technologies and legacy systems, and try to predict how people will use something that’s highly personal. An iterative innovation approach, akin to that used by start-ups, reduces risk and enables early benefits to be delivered.
Considered together, mobile is much more than apps — it’s about recognising that the best way to enrich a customer experience is to work out how you can digitise key points of information that you can then combine and represent in a way that’s contextually aware (i.e. based on “where” you are from lots of different vantage points; where you’re physically located, where you are as a customer (loyalty), where you are physiologically, where you are emotionally).
Ultimately, if we remember that there’s a person holding the mobile device we’ll be halfway to creating something that delivers mutual benefit for customers and businesses.
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