POSTED : July 9, 2015
BY : PK

As mobile becomes the common denominator guiding, informing, and influencing the customer through their journey, the opportunity to increase ROI through mobile is growing exponentially.

Yet a great mobile customer experience can seem difficult to define and even harder for companies to manage. To get the most from mobile, companies need to create customer-centric frameworks to guide the design and measurement of the experience in a way that offers the right set of features in the right way for each customer’s needs.

Where to start

Companies must start by developing a clear understanding of customer needs and how mobile offerings can serve those needs. Only then can they make strategic decisions regarding purpose, features, and overall user experience. These strategic goals in turn determine what must be measured and what defines success.

Guiding frameworks

Customer Needs

Customer understanding is the essential first step in developing a great mobile experience. Companies should consider what needs different sets of customers have and how they can solve them through mobile features. Consider these questions from the beginning, using existing customer data and expanded customer research to help guide the process:

  • What purposes do our customers have for mobile interaction with our company?
  • At what points during daily life will they be using mobile to interact with us?
  • What unique customer journeys must mobile accommodate?
  • Which features are necessary to aid these journeys?
  • How will customers control their own “destiny” within our mobile universe, and find the experience that fits their context and purpose?

Example: Starbucks identified a customer demand to eliminate waits and lines in store, especially during high traffic times of day.

Customer Journeys

When designing the mobile experience, it’s no longer sufficient to consider mobile as an isolated experience. It must be an integrated part of the customer journey. Companies need to develop an understanding of the context in which customers will be using mobile. Will it be for:

  • On-the-go shopping? This type of experience must be easy, fun, visual, and fast.
  • Transaction facilitation? This type of experience must remove friction in customer transactions and speed and ease the customer experience.
  • Physical space augmentation? This type of experience must provide useful services to make physical interactions more engaging, informative, and smooth.
  • Entertainment? This type of experience should draw customers to the mobile experience and act as a starting point for engagement.

Example: To meet customer demand for faster service and lower waits, Starbucks developed an “order ahead” functionality for their mobile appa transaction facilitation experience. Now available at 650+ locations around the Pacific Northwest, this feature lets customers order their beverage ahead of time and have their drink ready and waiting when they arrive.

Customer Measurement

Mobile apps make measuring customer activities easy. But it’s important to focus on only a few key performance indicators when determining if the customer experience is working.  And some of those customer experience measures need to be outside the mobile environment – like the number of service interactions required by mobile users before the experience is perfected. Consider:

  • Customer adoption and retention measures, such as adoption rates, drop-out rates, and use frequency.
  • Customer engagement measures, pitting features against each other in a competition for highest-use.
  • Customer service measures, counting not only digital service interactions like chat, email, or pushing a call button, but also recording physical service interactions when employees help mobile customers get set-up.

Example: On the back end of the Starbucks app, the company can measure key digital performance indicators for mobile customer experience, such as conversion from feature exploration to feature use. They can measure every customer view, click, and keystroke to better understand what customers are doing when and for how long. But they are not limited to purely digital measures to understand the customer experience flowing from the order ahead feature – the company could consider measuring time to pick-up, rate of readiness when a customer arrives, and number of customer service issues arising from errors.

The case of Aloft Hotel: Skip the front desk, unless you can’t

Starwood Hotels Aloft brand identified a customer demand for fast check-in and fewer lines. The company translated this demand to a mobile experience focused on transaction facilitation and augmented physical interactions. To allow customers to skip the front desk, they have developed mobile apps that allow Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) members to use a compatible iOS or Android device for both for mobile check-in and as their room key. It can remove friction, lower costs, and create an innovative touchpoint to engage customers.

On a recent stay at the Aloft San Francisco Airport, we had the chance to try out the mobile experience firsthand. In the time it took our Uber to get to Aloft from the airport, we were able to check-in, get our room number, and register our device as our room key. This provided a great first impression. The app check-in process was easy to navigate and prompted us with the right info.

The experience was perfect as we arrived at the hotel, headed straight to the elevator, and skipped the daunting line at the front desk! But the fun ended when we got to our rooms and one of the doors wouldn’t open. After a u-turn to the front desk, it turns out the settings in the phone were the problem. The staff were great in helping teach us how to set it up right, but this experience highlights one of the key barriers to designing and delivering mobile experiences in physical space. Problems caused by device or user error are likely to be translated as frustrating or poor experiences. Enabling mobile augmented experiences requires an integrated approach to ensure staff have the training and tools to both solve problems and improve engagement with the service.

Starwood offers a pretty great mobile experience that neatly meets an important customer demand at a very specific point in the customer journey. Opportunities do exist for improvement, and by keeping tabs on the right measures they can identify these areas and continue to develop a great mobile customer experience.

Takeaway

Whatever the industry – from coffee to hotels and beyond – mobile customer experiences offer a major opportunity to solve customer problems, ease pain points, and create unforgettable interactions. Using strong customer-centric frameworks to design and measure mobile customer experiences allows companies to drive and manage great experiences and get the most out of mobile.

For more reading about designing memorable customer experiences across all of your channels, download Let’s Get Phygital: Customer Experience (CX) in an Omnichannel Universe. 

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