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Mobile commerce: Five ways to improve the customer experience

12th Aug 2011
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Geoff Galat provides five steps to ensure a seamless and satisfying online experience for mobile customers. 

Very few retailers would question that mobile is increasingly becoming a key focus for their business. A report by ABI Research recently revealed that mobile shopping will reach $163 billion worldwide by 2015, representing 12% of all global ecommerce turnover. This trend is fuelled by burgeoning smartphone adoption, with the ABI report also finding that half the UK population will have a smartphone by 2012.
However, while there is clearly an opportunity here, how many retailers know how to capitalise on it? After 15 years of ecommerce there is zero tolerance for websites that fail to deliver a seamless customer experience. So how do experiences on mobile devices measure up to customer expectations? A recent Harris Interactive survey commissioned by Tealeaf showed that 83% of UK consumers that have carried out a transaction on a mobile device have experienced problems.
While this is perhaps not surprising for such a young channel, the reaction of consumers is startling; with the vast majority (75%) believing there is no excuse for mobile transactions to fail on the first attempt. What’s more, the majority of mobile consumers expect a mobile transaction to yield a better shopping experience compared to the same purchase being made in store (51%) or on a desktop computer (52%).
Five steps to improve mobile customer experience
It is clear that consumers are not willing to make allowances for poor experiences on mobile devices, despite it being a very new platform for many companies. Therefore, businesses seeking to grow their share of the lucrative mcommerce market need to devise a strategy for mobile that takes into account the unique challenges that mobile represents while also acknowledging high consumer expectations for a seamless online experience, whether on a mobile, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.
Here are five steps companies must take to ensure they deliver a seamless online experience for mobile customers.

1. Make the commitment

The first step is to ensure customer experience is a priority. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes – can they easily navigate your mobile interface to gather the information needed to make a decision? Can they conduct standard transactions seamlessly? Given the significant time and budget most online businesses spend attracting visitors to online channels, it makes sense to dedicate sufficient resources to ensuring these visitors convert at the end of the funnel.

2. Understand customer behaviour in a multi-channel world

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking your customers will differentiate between different channels. If a customer struggles on a mobile device, they are likely to abandon their transaction and the Harris research shows that only 29% will attempt to complete their transaction later on a computer. Any company that takes mobile seriously needs to understand how customers use specific devices in isolation, as well as how they are used as part of a broader customer journey.
Do your customers tend to use their mobiles to browse and then buy online? How do marketing and promotional efforts like email marketing and SEO affect this behaviour? Only by having visibility of each platform and the ability to take a broader look across channels, across sessions and across devices, will you be able to get a full 360-degree customer view.

3. Develop your mobile strategy based on these insights

Now that you have insight into your customers’ expectations for your multi-channel offering, you can effectively plan a mobile strategy that will work for your customers. This means deciding on the right platforms to prioritise and the right functionality. With such a young channel, it is important to remember that behaviours can change quickly, so don’t forget to revisit stages one and two listed above to ensure you have up-to-date insight into customer behaviour.

4. Proactively identify and eliminate customer struggles

In order to deliver a positive customer experience, businesses need to proactively identify why customers are struggling on mobile devices and what is preventing them from converting. There could be a number of reasons why customers are struggling. Perhaps the mobile site stops rendering properly or maybe there is a payment processing error that causes the customer to abandon. Only with visibility into these customer struggles on mobile devices can companies take the necessary steps to eliminate them and minimise the impact they have on the bottom line.

5. Link your channels

The Harris survey shows that nearly one in four frustrated mobile customers contacted the customer service department if they experienced a problem conducting a mobile transaction. However, most contact centres are ill prepared to help customers with their mobile transaction and don’t have visibility into individual customer sessions. Giving your customer service agents insight into the mobile customer experience will significantly increase customer satisfaction, retention and order values.
Remember - mobile is here to stay
The era of mobile commerce isn’t just around the corner. It’s already here. In an effort to keep pace, organisations are scrambling to get new mobile capabilities in place, just as a decade and a half ago they were rushing to launch their first transactional websites. Companies who don’t take steps to meet mobile customer expectations will lose out to competitors who are already ahead of the curve and offer a seamless, multi-channel experience online, on mobile devices and in-store.

Geoff Galat is CMO of Tealeaf.

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