With the growing popularity of mobile devices, consumers are demanding to be able to access the information they need anytime, anywhere. According to a survey by Google and the Mobile Marketing Association, 53 percent of American consumers use their smartphones to access search engines at least once a day. In fact, the mobile Internet is predicted to take over desktop Internet usage by 2014, according to Microsoft Tag. As a result, business applications will need to continue to become more and more mobile-friendly.
The good news is that mobile learning, or mLearning, is ideal for user support, product upselling, and creating an ongoing customer engagement experience. Plus, with the growth and sophistication of mobile-ready tools that can be integrated into existing infrastructures, it's becoming easier for companies to launch mobile strategies and make content available anywhere. Using these tools, companies can accelerate customer engagement and provide rich customer experiences on any device. But it does require some strategy.
Extending mobile-ready learning tools to customer and partner education and service
Mobile tools are transforming the traditional learning model of sitting down and sifting through a long list of content and then reading something for 45 minutes. Generic marketing PDFs, Wikis, and training videos provide a level of support for customers and partners, but these traditional static files are not engaging. They require long time commitments and make it difficult for customers to find exactly what they want. Today, consumers do not expect learning to be a static activity. They want information and knowledge on-demand, and in many cases they want it to be specialized. Users also want help finding what they need, as well as to be given recommendations.
Mobile learning and knowledge sharing allow businesses to offer better service and extend engagement with customers. Providing bits of relevant, contextual information makes content consumable in shorter sprints and produces a better support experience. Plus, it makes it easy to quickly provide fresh content and send links to new material, enabling companies to maintain ongoing relationships with customers and keep them engaged.
Make content suitable for mobile consumption
To be effective, mLearning needs to take user behavior into consideration and be relevant, accessible, and, in many cases, short. However, most company learning content is not structured to enhance findability and fast consumption. Successful mLearning is characterized by "low time commitment, small chunks, short effort, and narrow topics—but complex as a whole," according to microlearning theorists Theo Hug and Norm Friesen.
Content should be designed in small chunks that can be easily delivered via a mobile device. Course length should not exceed five to 10 minutes. This is achieved by distilling key messages, themes, and ultimately, learning, into bits that are highly engaging and effective. With some tools, chunks can be sequenced to form a broader topic and enhance retention. While this may seem overwhelming, there is no need for organizations to start from scratch. They can simply take existing content, including video, static, interactive, game, and assessment types, and map it into a microlearning format.
Keep the design simple
Simplicity in design, message, interaction, and feedback is the key to producing mobile user experiences that are engaging and enhance retention. For example, designing content to be usable by the "lowest common denominator"–level device, such as a smartphone with a small display, slow data transfer rate, and limited interactive capability, will ensure that anybody can access it.
Everything from font choices, background colors, and shading to the pixel size of buttons matters when creating content for effective mobile engagement. For example, it's a good idea to only use images where contextually relevant and make sure they are optimized for mobile devices. Don't embed text in graphics because screens will often be too small for the text to be readable. Also, limit fonts to one or two, such as Geneva and Verdana, which are optimized for small resolution screens. Lastly, use tables only to organize data, not as a screen layout, because different devices render tables differently.
Gather the right feedback
Tracking downloads is not a good enough way to measure if content is good. Gathering firsthand customer experience is invaluable. Many mobile tools support a variety of mechanisms that allow customers to provide feedback, ranging from simple thumbs up/down to recommendations. By incorporating these functions, as well as opportunities for them to share comments, organizations can engage with customers on a whole new level. As a result, companies will find it easier to align to what their customers are requesting.
Establish dashboard metrics specifically for mobile-ready learning access
With customers now accessing content frequently and on-demand, as well as providing feedback and recommendations, companies can produce and track user data that will drive business objectives, such as sales performance or customer on-boarding. For example, incorporating knowledge checks and assessments throughout the learning program will provide competency and retention statistics that can be compared across multiple audiences, divisions, and groups. Plus, performance, consumption, and activity metrics will give the company a deeper understanding of the factors influencing revenue and customer success. Lower performance may lead to slower on-boarding and a slower revenue ramp. By having access to this knowledge, the sales and/or support organization can proactively take action to accelerate the revenue ramp.
Having content that is mobile, meaningful, and findable on any platform is what all customers want. The shift to mobile computing may seem daunting at first, but the motivation to boost customer engagement should override any hesitation. It will take effort to implement a strategy, but using smart technology will ease the burden. The enhanced customer experience, engagement opportunities, revenue acceleration, and ability to capture rich user data will very quickly produce ROI.
Chris Grebisz is the executive vice president of MobilePaks and VIA Technology. He has more than 20 years of experience as a leader in localization, learning, and technology.