4 Ideas to Prepare for the Mobile Mind Shift

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Your customer is experiencing a mobile mind shift. While you know this, your business may not have recognized it yet.

Did the Giants win? Is this lawnmower rated highly by people who bought it, and can I get it cheaper somewhere else? Who was the actress in American Hustle? Every time your customer wants an answer, she gets it from her phone. Eventually, in a Pavlovian way, her phone becomes her answer machine.

That mindset carries over to other areas of consumers' lives as well. Take your business. If you're not there when your customer is looking for you, you lose. Your customer expects that he can get anything he wants in his immediate context and moments of need. That's the mobile mind shift. It's time you dealt with it, because it's one of the most powerful drivers of customer experience.

While you know this intuitively, let's share some statistics so you can convince your boss of it as well. More than 60 percent of online adults access interactive content on their phones at least daily. Half of them connect on their phones while shopping, and about the same number—48 percent—use them in the car. On iPhones alone, apps have been downloaded 60 billion times—that's more than eight times for every soul on earth.

So what can your business do?

You can find the mobile moments in your customer's journey. Recall the three levels of customer experience. First, it has to meet people's needs, such as their need to check their bank balance right now. Second, it has to be easy, and nothing could be easier than whipping out your phone to check what gate the flight is leaving from and if it's on time. And, finally, it has to be enjoyable. Instagram, Uber, and IMDB are all delivering enjoyable experiences, and as other apps match their delightful design, they'll become enjoyable too.

If you're going to succeed at this, you need to be systematic. You need a process. For mobile applications, that process is the IDEA cycle. It's four steps: identify, design, engineer, and analyze.

Identify means identifying the mobile moments and context. Ride along on your customer's journey. Starbucks might want to know what its customer is doing before she gets to the store, when she gets in line, when she orders and pays, and afterward. Nissan is probably curious about how its customer decides to get a new car, chooses a model, moves toward purchase, drives off with a new car, and then returns to the dealership for service. Don't make the mistake of starting with your existing Web experience, because your customer doesn't start there. Start by cataloging moments.

Design means determining which of those moments to put into a mobile app or site. Look carefully at which of those moments mean the most to your customer. Also review which of them mean the most to you, because they generate loyalty or revenue. A feature that does both—such as mobile check deposit at USAA—should go to the top of the list. Watch out for the features that you love, but the customer doesn't—such as pestering to buy, buy, buy—because those will create an annoying, counterproductive experience.

Engineer is the secret cost of mobile. A great mobile app taps into your customer systems for context—that’s how American Airlines knows to pop up your boarding pass on the day of the flight. But your systems of record were never engineered to support mobile, and redesigning them to be fast, with the right connections, is expensive. Work with your technology management group to think more clearly about engineering for mobile.

Analyze is the final step. Build it in at the start. Unless you instrument your applications, you'll never know if they're really working to your advantage, or how to improve them.

With the IDEA cycle, you're on the path to a disciplined way to think about winning in your customers' mobile moments. That's your mobile mind shift.

Josh Bernoff is senior vice president of idea development at Forrester Research and coauthor of the book Mobile Mind Shift.

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