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Re-Shaping Your Customer’s Experience through Mobile – What’s Now & Next

It’s been nearly ten years since the iPhone debuted, and the opportunities to service, sell and create loyalty with your customers is now greater than it’s ever been before.  New trends that are driving consumer mobile behavior now should be used as a filter for re-looking at your customer’s journey with your category and brand.  But the consumer mobile experience is rapidly heading towards even more sophistication, and the challenges & opportunities that come with that powerful evolution will equally demand marketers to step up their game in order to remain relevant.

Without question, mobile is now the epicenter of digital life – people spend more time on their devices than any other channel, now eclipsing the desktop as primary access point.  The increase in time spent brings with it serious productivity expectations that are raising the bar for mobile experiences.

E-mail is mostly read on mobile devices – making subject lines, preview text, landing pages even more critical to get contextually right.  As you can see from some recent stats by Google – patience is thin, almost a third of folks will bail if you don’t provide a good mobile experience.  The rewards are worth it for those that get it right – with nearly two-thirds likely to buy more for smart contextualized experiences.

Another aspect to keep in mind is the domination of video consumption on mobile devices.

Half of YouTube’s viewership now takes place on mobile devices.  Interestingly, good weather spikes the amount of mobile video content consumption – 6x more according to Ericson’s 2016 Mobility report.  It’s not just short-form formats that garner interest – people are also willing to look at videos that are +5 min in length if it’s compelling, relevant and provided in the optimized vertical format.  Plus live streaming is becoming more popular and pervasive.

But, are we recognizing our customer’s mobile moments and meeting them there?  Not just in the obvious ways, but the less obvious ones as well?

Consumers are depending on their mobile to help them get more things done in any available spare moment according to a 2015 study by Pew Internet on mobile phone use in public.

You may be waiting to go through the security line at the airport or waiting for a flight to board – in those minutes realize that you need to get my bills paid – RIGHT NOW.  Sound familiar?  Mobile online banking has completely changed mine and many others productivity in exactly this manner.  Thanks to mobile, consumers are starting to interact with your brand in the less than typical places.

For those in the travel industry, we’re digging deeper into the traveler’s journey to identify and meet more of those mobile moments as seen here in this “Mobile Moments in Travel –Customer Journey Map”.

Travel mobile Moments Map

Mobile Moments in Travel – Customer Journey Map

Starting with the “Dream” phase of inspiration triggers that come from social media and other sources – you might have ten minute on your morning commute to check out destination videos, message with your network on where to go for your weekend getaway or do quick flight, hotel search comparisons and see reviews.

Bookings are shifting from desktop to phones/tablets as consumers become more reliant and trust their mobile devices to handle everything from sharing an itinerary with one’s social network to working on pre-trip plans incrementally through messaging platforms.

Mobile is tailor made for travel in that it is the primary device travelers now depend on to learn, navigate and solve their needs across the entire travel customer experience journey.  Airlines and hotels are operationalizing through mobile – with things such as check-in, boarding pass, room key, upgrades and other guest service requests.

Besides the mobile responsive design and other basics, the travel industry is also going deeper to create unique mobile value in other areas:

Mobile Only Incentives – Orbitz was an early leader with their bonus incentives for booking exclusively in their mobile app;

We at Amadeus are curating relevant partner content for up-selling and cross-selling, and airlines like American, JetBlue, United and others are weaving more utility in their apps – Dynamic Terminal Maps that recommend dining options and help you navigate based on your gate location; JetBlue shows upgrade status and onboard flight entertainment content options.

But, like other industries – we have our work cut out for us in the travel industry in moving into the next phase of mobilizing the traveller’s experience, as you can see from recent stats depicting traveller frustrations that need to be addressed through mobile contained in the Slideshare presentation below.

Whether it’s simple flight delay notifications or more demanding complexity of re-booking during disruptions – these must be delivered with high-quality AT SCALE.  Remember the Ash Cloud from a few years ago, or more recent system outages by various airlines?  Human systems (call centers, websites and social media) couldn’t keep up with the overwhelming service demand, so we must turn to more automated and sophisticated mobile technology to address these growing demands.

Similarly, every industry can look at their customer’s journey map to identify, their mobile moments – from the basics to the exceptions and the sticky value creators that build long-term loyalty.  Some illustrative examples for the Insurance industry based on things the travel industry has adopted or is now actively exploring:

  • Health – encourage shoppers to share their daily steps and/or preventative check-ups with insurers for pricing incentives, curate providers that can improve their health levels
  • Home – take a page straight out of the travel playbook –parse itinerary confirmation e-mails and capture receipts for easy expense reporting – perhaps do the same to create property inventories for easier loss reporting later, same with disaster prevention checklists
  • Auto – bring real-time traffic and weather pattern together to help drivers avoid flood zones and other high accident prevalent areas
  • Life – use Facebook Check-In notifications to notify agents and other loved ones in disasters; calculators that ease scenario planning and tap into geofencing to keep an eye on special loved ones like children and the elderly.

But the biggest challenge to marketers yet is speed – the world of mobile continues to rapidly evolve.  First, we’ll see smaller wearable devices like watches take off as people become more accustomed to micro experiences with high service value impact.  Images and video get a big definition quality boost from improved camera features, which will continue to push expectations for mind-blowing content.

But what’s really about to change the mobile game is the rise of Messenger Platforms and the emergence of Chatbots.

Facebook Messenger and its equivalents are rapidly topping the most popular apps and time spent thresholds.  Now, robotic chat entities are being developed to interact with consumers across shopping and customer service needs at scale.

Facebook Messenger recently opened up their API and within 2 months’ time, claiming 11K chatbots have been created by developers for a variety of brands, such as Sephora.  In travel, bots are exploding and KLM has led the way in exploring this next digital customer experience frontier.

For these reasons – I believe that mobile is now a much more complex channel – requiring us as marketers to think in a multi-dimensional way along a 24/7 social, micro-data visual and increasingly sentient environment.

As our industry moves up the innovation curve, there are challenges as well as opportunities we face as marketers.  Here are a couple that I think are important for marketers to chew on:

  1. Digital Brand Ambassdorship – first- we’re in the early days of bots…and they just like us have a learning curve.  IBM, Microsoft and others are working on their NLP capabilities but it will take a while for the machine learning to do its work.  Likewise, limited product / service options and incomplete check-out processes will need to be addressed for wider adoption. On the upside, this also presents an opportunity to turn Chatbots into true “digital brand ambassadors” – Rosie is my archetype – efficient, but her personality and caretaking of me is what will count in the end.  This is a two-way play – (1) Consumer to feel like their real-life agent has a virtual assistant to interact with and (2) Agent gets reciprocal benefit from having a virtual assistant to optimize their time and follow-up.
  2. Nomadic Branding – this new mobilized experience will also continue to push brands off of their “home turf” and into other platforms.  Essential to understand how your brand will need to translate into these micro-environments and not become a commodity / overshadowed by the platform brand.  On the flip side, entering into more distributed mobile platforms like messenger opens up even greater opportunities for brands to tap into an always on Focus Group audience.  Whether that’s getting location-based engagement patterns (moments where your brand is consumed), assessing category/brand sentiment based on messaging sentiment, emoticons or wearable sensors, being able to use images, video and live stream to solve frustrations (e.g. how to hurricane proof house or show effects during eye of storm) and further segment offers and trial them based on mobile behaviors and data.

As 21st century marketers, we’ve got a daunting, yet exciting task ahead.  Here are some starting points to help tackle the mobile customer experience evolution:

  1. Go through your customer’s experience with a purely mobile lens – try to do basic as well as the exception case tasks with your mobile web and app and see if it passes the test.  Go after quick win gaps and build your list of longer-term sticky value-adds that you can test.
  2. Start exploring the Messenger world – talk to your agents and other field representatives about what basics could be “messengerized” now and later – create a roadmap.
  3. Lastly, work with your creative teams to build a nomadic brand architecture – visual, text, audio presentation across your mobile footprint and continue to re-assess and update it.

It’s an exciting time to be in marketing.  I’d love to hear from anyone who is testing and learning with messenger platforms and chatbots – please reach out to me via @iMediaMichelle on Twitter.

Full slide presentation accompanying the above post also available on Slideshare:

About Michelle Batten

Michelle Batten is a seasoned digital marketing & advertising leader. She has spent two decades in the interactive arena, working with Fortune 1000 brands + start-ups to define and execute their digital initiatives. An emerging media visionary, Michelle is currently serving as Head of Global Marketing for Mobile & Innovation Intrapreneur for Amadeus, a global travel technology company. She is also the President for the Chicago American Marketing Association. Her passions include culture + tech evolution, mentoring, experiential travel and foodspotting.

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