One of the key trends that is accelerating in 2012 is the use of mobile devices to research, access information and make purchases. New studies have found that more and more people now reach for their smartphone or tablet during the buying process, even if they make the final purchase through other channels.
UK figures from the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) show that nearly half of smartphone owners use their mobile to search for product information after seeing a TV ad, while 38% turn to it when out shopping. However 80% of purchases are still via a PC, compared to 34% on a mobile. These findings back up a US survey from the Pew Research Center that found that over 50% of US shoppers used their phones for assistance when in bricks and mortar stores.
Essentially these show that mobile devices are now a vital channel for many different types of business and are a key part of the customer journey. The bad news is that a survey of marketers found that just 20% of them had a mobile-optimised site, and just 18% had an app. Given the growth in mobile devices and how easy it is for consumers to access the internet through them, companies obviously need to focus on delivering a better user experience in 2012.
Customer service has to be a central part of this. After all, there’s no point having a wonderful app if it doesn’t link into your overall customer service strategy or creates a silo of information separate from the rest of the company. While early adopters might put up with poor customer service just to be first to use the latest app or site, the mainstream simply won’t.
We’ve talked in the past about the different areas (such as consistency, integration and a single view) that companies need to focus on when they add new channels to their strategy and these apply equally to mobile devices.
But importantly companies also need to understand the effect that increasing use of mobile devices will have on other channels. Not only do customers want to use apps and websites while on the move, they now have the power to send queries by email, post to social media and call your contact centre – all from a single, easy to use device. So create a consistent experience across all channels, including mobile, if you want to retain customers and grow revenues in 2012.