Mobile CEM: Best practices for analytics and data collection

7th Sep 2011
Dan Wilson explores how the proliferation of mobile devices is imposing changes on customer feedback best practices.
Mobile usage has become so ubiquitous that it is replacing significant aspects of desktop computing. This will impose some quick changes on customer feedback best practices, in both analytics and data collection.
Recent statistics show that mobile subscribers make up 77% of the world’s population. 52% of consumers plan to purchase a smartphone in the next two years, and by 2014, mobile internet usage is projected to eclipse desktop internet usage.
As yet, there is no dominant platform on which developers should focus. There are four main players in the mobile market - iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry. But platform market share differs widely across customer segments. According to Nielsen, Android commands 29% of the smartphone market - not a majority, but a clear plurality. But among large corporations, BlackBerry continues to dominate.
The shift to mobile will change the way we think about feedback collection. To clarify the impact of mobile, we offer some best practices on survey design, invitation management, and data collection.
Use case
The VP of Customer Experience at a global hospitality company has very little free time in her day - but she does commute a half-hour each way on public transportation. For this reason, she’s been an iPhone owner from day one, and she uses her commute to stay on top of emails and other small tasks.
If her company uses a CEM vendor with a mobile app, her commute has the potential to be very productive. If she chooses, she can log into the app and run reports, keeping track of net promoter or overall satisfaction scores. A well-designed app can ping her with alerts about the highest-priority overdue responses or generate push reports based on criteria she sets ahead of time.
Technical best practices: Design
Because of market volatility, the best approach to developing a mobile app for CEM analytics—one that managers would be using on the shop floor and busy execs could be drawn to check after hours—is to create HTML5 mobile web apps. HTML5 is platform agnostic, so an application built using it would work equally well on iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and BlackBerry. Otherwise, an organization would need to write separate, native apps for each platform.
Technical best practices: Invitation management
Many mobile users can receive email on their phones, but text messages are arguably better at demanding user attention. Point-of-sale traffic to URL survey invites is more likely to increase when users can follow Quick Response (QR) code links on their phones as they leave the store rather than remembering to check a receipt later. Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare also have potential for survey invitations, which would be generated when users mention or check in at a particular location. Now is the time to begin experimenting with a few methods to discover what works best for your customers.
Technical best practices: Data collection
The motivating idea behind data collection best practices is that mobile users have short attention spans. They are typically on the go and don’t want to spend 20 minutes filling out a complicated survey on a 2-x-4-inch screen.
This idea should inform survey design in several ways:
  • Keep the survey short. If you have multiple pages, give a clear indication of progress. As a rule of thumb, the survey should take less than three minutes.
  • Ask concise questions and provide answer choices that can all be displayed on a single screen. Do not ask users to type long free-response answers.
  • Avoid excessive branding. Too many images clutter up the UI and slow load times.
  • Embrace the restricted user interface. Use elements supported by most phones (HTML, not JavaScript or CSS) and, where possible, employ best practices in design (e.g., finger-friendly button width) for each platform.
  • Explore how you can capture location data, and encourage users to include photos (e.g., of a dirty hotel room) with their survey responses.
Additionally, no matter how well conceived the phone or the app, mobile internet is still not altogether reliable. Therefore, a mechanism for partial survey collection is crucial, and it’s best to avoid unnecessary images.
Use case: A Fortune 500 retail company recently launched a mobile surveying program, which coincided with a dramatic drop in likelihood to recommend scores, rated on a 10-point scale. Because the company used a short version of its normal satisfaction survey for mobile customers - and because its CEM vendor segmented survey results by platform - reps were quickly able to determine the cause of the drop.
Displayed on most phones, the likelihood to recommend question appeared to provide only ratings 1 to 5 - the others were off screen and would have required the user to scroll. By adjusting a few UI elements to align with mobile data collection best practices, the company quickly solved the issue.
Key takeaway
Feedback collection shifted quickly from paper and in-person to web and email, and the change to mobile will come even faster. Don’t get left behind - follow best practices for mobile CEM data collection and data analytics to even more fully integrate customer feedback into your company’s processes.

Dan Wilson is senior project manager for Medallia, Inc., a leader in designing CEM programs to promote transparency and engagement. He has over 11 years of product management and engineering experience. Dan’s most recent endeavor has been refreshing Medallia’s mobile app for CEM analytics.

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