As the holiday shopping season approaches and businesses determine their 2013 budgets, a growing consideration should be establishing a better connection with mobile customers. A recent Cognizant survey shows that while many businesses offer mobile customer service, most offerings fall short of consumer expectations.
Click here to view the Cognizant State of Retail Mobility Infographic.
The mobile customer population will only continue to grow as smartphone owners become increasingly used to and reliant on this channel's 24/7 availability and convenience (a recent TIME magazine feature shows that half of Americans sleep with their mobile phone next to their bed and 84% could not go without their phone for a single day).
Here are seven significant mobile consumer statistics to consider, and ten ways in which businesses can improve their connection with mobile customers:
7 Significant Mobile Customer Statistics
1. The number of U.S. mobile web users will grow annually by a compound rate of 16.6% between 2010 and 2015. More people in the United States will access the web via mobile devices than via wireline computers by 2015. - IDC's Worldwide New Media Market Model (NMMM) Forecast
2. Sixty-six percent (66%) of those ages 18-29 own smartphones, and 68% of those living in households earning $75,000 or above also own them. Sixty-one percent (61%) of college grads own smartphones compared to just 36% of high school only grads. - Pew Research
3. There are more than 5 billion mobile phones worldwide. Within the past two years, the number of Google searches on mobile devices has grown by 500%. By 2016, mobile searches will overtake PC searches for local search. - Google 2012 Our Mobile Planet Smartphone Research
4. Sixty-six percent (66%) of consumers use their smartphone to make purchasing decisions. Half have used mobile devices to search for products and services online. Thirty-eight percent (38%) have used their phone to call a friend while they were in a store for advice about a purchase. 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. - Pew Research
5. Smartphones influence 5.1% of annual retail store sales or $159 billion in revenue. - Deloitte
6. The number of mobile social network users in the U.S. will grow from 58.5% in 2012 to 79.1% by 2015. Nearly 70 million people will access Facebook from their phones each month this year, or 85.4% of the overall mobile social networking population. That share will rise to 87.4% by 2014 - eMarketer
7. Fifty percent (50%) of mobile queries in travel, restaurants and autos result in a purchase - 2012 Telmetrics Survey
Creating a Better Connection
"If done well, mobile solutions can expand the channels of communication with customers, employees and business partners, and can result in better customer retention, increased sales, improved employee productivity, and more," says Gartner Research Director, Johan Jacobs. "Done poorly, mobile solutions can very easily destroy your customer service reputation."
In a recent press release, Gartner has identified 10 major mistakes that lead to the failure of an organization's mobile customer service:
- Violation of the "three-click/tap/press" rule. Applications must not use more than three key strokes to get to the required functionality. Each additional keystroke typically adds complexity and often stops the user from returning to the application.
- Difficulty with ergonomics, especially text input. Just because your web content fits onto a laptop browser screen, this does not mean it is suitable for a mobile device. Mobile content needs to be simplified and repurposed for each user device.
- Not reusing learned behaviors - such as soft keys, navigation. Mobile applications need to pick up the user's habits on the phone. For example, if "autocomplete" was switched off on the phone settings then don't use that option in your mobile application - because the user clearly dislikes that functionality.
- Violating "security 101." As with laptop and desktop applications, mobile applications need to comply with security requirements. Authentication, encryption and secure login should all be part of any mobile application architecture.
- Difficulty with navigation. Standard Web pages displayed on a mobile device often have content disappearing to the right and off the bottom of the screen. To navigate, users have to scroll left-right and up-down to try and find basic functionality such as the "back" button. Ensure that navigation buttons can be easily accessible at all times.
- Burying most important functions. Due to the limited screen real estate, mobile application designers must ensure that the most important functionality is right at the start of the navigation journey, as opposed to layering functionality deep down in the application.
- Incorrect or illegible display of text or graphics. Many mobile devices are still not smartphones and have limited graphics processing capability. Pushing large graphical images and video text to the mobile device could result in a very poor quality experience for the user.
- Inability to revise mistakes. Few things are as frustrating on a mobile device as trying to get the cursor to the middle of a word or Web address to correct a typing error. Always have two "back" buttons - one that erases text and one that does not erase text but will allow the user the opportunity to correct typed mistakes.
- Content visibility. Sunlight is one of the worst enemies of mobile applications, because it often makes the text on the screen illegible. Employ the best practice of "bolding" the most important pieces of information on the screen.
- Resource inefficiency - draining the battery, excessive network round trips. Mobile applications must have a stop-start capability to allow the user to stop an activity or data entry and then return to the same point without having to re-enter all the content. This capability is needed when the device has to be switched off midway through a transaction - for example, when flying or when the battery runs out.