Don’t (just) listen to us on this; listen to your customers.
As customer experience experts, we look at our client organizations from the outside in, through the eyes of their customers. As a result, we hear what customers across industries – B2C and B2B, retail, banking, technology and others – have to say about their experiences.
In an informal review of client customer data over the last few years, we noticed something pretty interesting. As important as “omni-channel” experiences are, they’re increasingly driven by one channel over others. And that channel is mobile.
It’s not like this is a surprise; executives across the board recognize its importance. If they hadn’t, Googles move earlier this year to penalize non-mobile optimized websites put a boot to holdouts. But what many have yet to realize is that mobile isn’t a subset of the internet. Because mobile doesn’t just mean when your customers are “mobile.”
It means anytime, anywhere access for anyone – even if there’s a PC on the desk in from of them. The tipping point is here. Today, mobile IS the internet. In other words, if you’re working to improve digital customer experience, mobile is the primary channel to design for. Everything else is secondary.
Today, mobile IS the Internet.
Not that long ago I wrote another article on this subject, leveraging Mary Meeker’s most recent annual prediction where she made an unassailable argument for a mobile-led, customer-driven future.
And while the idea of a mobile-led, omni channel experience is becoming more common, I recently read an article from Andreessen Horowitz’s Benedict Evans that reframes the discussion in a way that sets any conventional notion of mobile as “a channel” on its head.
In it, he suggests (and provides plenty of charts to support this position, including the one below) that any conventional notion of the mobile internet as “a cut-down subset of the 'real' Internet” be abandoned. He believes that “it's time to invert that thinking” and to “think about mobile as the real internet and the desktop as the limited, cut-down version.”
Not only do I find his macro-argument compelling, we’ve seen first-hand the increased importance of and engagement with mobile for customers across a broad range of segments and persona, from millennial and boomer consumers to corporate technology buyers.
In other words, mobile is no longer something you design use cases for. Instead of thinking about the situations in which people would need a mobile customer experience, we need to realize that mobile is becoming the main way that people use the internet. Already, mobile devices have overtaken PCs for younger people, as well as for (regardless of their age) those with lower incomes.
Mobile is the best customer experience delivery platform for companies, too.
The reality is that mobile devices are far more powerful than PCs could ever hope to be when it comes to delivering customer experiences. PCs – including to a significant degree laptops – can really only do “the web,” and need to be used sitting down. The mobile platform offers far more functionality, and is more engaging, flexible and powerful by a long shot. And it’s continuing to grow in scope, scale and capability.
Further, this reality doesn’t begin to touch on the value of all the data these devices gather, and the insights and competitive advantage this data can enable. The location-awareness of the mobile platform is core to a range of “killer apps” from security and payment tech to localized marketing. The interconnectivity and engagement driven by social apps, video and photography lend itself to everything from customer service to social engagement.
As you think about customer experience strategy, design and delivery for your organization… I know you’re already thinking about mobile. We all are. But I suspect the impact and importance of mobile in relation to other channels may not yet have fully hit home.
So remember this, as you think about how you interact with your customers: Mobile is no longer part of the Internet. For an ever-growing majority of your customers, mobile IS the internet.