Unbelievably, the average U.S. adult spends more than 5 hours on their mobile phone per day. And, mobile phones generate 52% of the total internet traffic.
Mobile is the place everyone goes countless times every day—because you need to know, you need to solve, you need to shop.
Smartphones connect you to your community, to the news and events you’re interested in, to the brands you care about, and to the world. That connection is expansive, intimate and isolating. According to Pew Research Center, almost 31% of mobile internet users in the U.S. report being online “almost constantly.”
If mobile tech feels like an extension of the self, it follows that people are very selective about the brands and apps they allow into that space. People fill that space with things that are relevant and resonant to them, that make their lives easier and add value to their day-to-day lives.
For brands, squeezing into that valuable space is increasingly tricky.
How do you become a part of your customer’s mobile ecosystem?
Becoming a part of a customer’s life by way of their mobile device starts with fostering a shared mindset that considers the full customer journey and prioritizes customer empathy at every touchpoint. Then moving from mindset to action.
Remember that while ecommerce teams might be focused on mobile, your customers and users are simply experiencing another interaction with your brand. They expect it to help them, not impede their omnichannel journey—which is sometimes the case.
For example: a local grocery store offers $100 in free groceries for first-time customers. To redeem it, you download their app. However, upon visiting the app and hitting a brick wall with registration multiple times, that $100 credit was nowhere to be found.
Moments before, that person was ready to become a customer, and now they are most likely deleting your app.
An infuriating mobile experience can not only cost you a download and a future customer, but it can also leave a bitter taste in your customer’s mouth for the future.
This company lost sight of the fact that a bad mobile experience—like a bad apple—can ruin everything. The good news? Digital Experience Intelligence offers a way to circumvent this situation.
To really optimize your mobile experience design, rely on one of the tried-est and truest tools in any product owner’s toolbelt: the customer journey map.
Map your mobile customer journey
Customer journey maps answer questions like who the customer is, what jobs they get done with your product, what pain points they experience, and how exactly they use your product.
Exhaustively answering these questions (and others) can go a long way to helping marketing, sales, product development, engineering, and support teams identify the path of a customer.
Whether you’re building your first map or iterating on an existing version, consider both the customer journey (how customers experience your brand) and the customer management journey (how your organization operationalizes customer interactions).
To create a proper journey map, you’ll need to gather both quantitative and qualitative customer research and you’ll need input from customer-facing stakeholders.
At a high level, building a customer journey map should include the following five steps:
Define data-driven target personas. Just like the busy mom, define your target groups and what evidence you have to back up that choice. What jobs are they trying to get done at a high level?
Define your customers’ behavior stages. There are many customer behavior heuristic models for this, but it should follow some variation of Discover > Research > Choose > Purchase.
Align customer goals with each stage. What do customers want to achieve as they move through each behavioral stage? Try to take a walk in your customer’s shoes.
Plot the touchpoints. How do customers engage with your brand? This step can be difficult if you don’t have a central database that combines information across your digital and offline touchpoints.
Conceptualize your map. A spreadsheet will do in a pinch. The ultimate goal should be a visualization that can be shared and operationalized across your organization.
Ready to unearth the issues causing lost conversions (and figure out how to fix them)?
Talk to a FullStory expert about digital experience intelligence.
Mobile customers need empathy too
As a product owner, you should adopt an empathic lens at all times.
Customer empathy is particularly important when you’re building and optimizing your mobile experience. The mobile context presents unique challenges to providing customers with certainty, clarity, and assurance—all things people crave.
This context makes it critical to make choices that foster certainty when it comes to mobile—which, again and again, requires a commitment to empathy.
Empathy is one of those buzzwords that sound really good, but very few companies actually understand what it means, much less practice it. According to PwC, only 38% of U.S. consumers say the employees they interact with understand their needs.
According to Dr. David Rock, founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute and author of the book Your Brain at Work, in the face of uncertainty, our brains must “use dramatically more resources, involving the more energy-intensive prefrontal cortex, to process moment-to-moment experience.” When your shoppers feel uncertain, they slow down, hesitate, disengage, and abandon.
Cognitive strain is already heightened when people are in a mobile context. They are likely doing multiple other things—navigating on a smaller screen, without a mouse or a keyboard.
Keep these questions in mind when it comes to customer needs:
What are our shoppers trying to do?
What are their mobile experience objectives?
What is important to them?
What resonates with them?
You can’t answer these questions without connecting to and conversing with customers.
Your mobile and product design teams should spend time interviewing customers, reading customer messages, and observing customers as they try to navigate your website or mobile app. This exposure will help your team understand what customers want and need from your mobile experience, as well as their current pains and frustrations.
Full stream ahead: Staying atop the mobile experience curve
The current and future state of mobile is a state of permanent connectedness.
This means endless opportunities to reach your target audience and earn a coveted spot in their mobile ecosystem. It also means the people you’re trying to reach will be constantly bombarded by companies vying for their attention. Expectations driven up, tolerance for friction-filled experiences driven down.
Entirely new, formerly impossible ways to reach customers will become reality. Sophisticated technologies will go mobile and our devices will become even more connected, communicating back and forth and generating more specific data about preferences and habits. Apps that we haven’t yet imagined will come into being.
History will repeat itself: marketers, product managers, and designers will scramble to capitalize on the next big thing, often at the expense of customer experience.
The companies that succeed will continue to prioritize customer needs over the "next big thing." Of course, customer-centricity should not come at the expense of innovation, technological or otherwise. Rather, use customer empathy as a North Star, guiding you to determine which optimizations, additions, and innovations to pursue that provide a mobile experience that is valuable, respectful, and self-aware.