Going green

No doubt you’ve heard that “you need to go where your customers are,” and today your small business customers have gone mobile. In fact, according to comScore, mobile surpassed the desktop as the leading digital platform in 2014 with total activity on smartphones and tablets accounting for 60 percent of digital media time spent in the U.S.

The growing use of mobile devices means that customers expect to engage with your small business wherever they are and whenever they want. Customers not only want to explore your product and service options while they are on the go; they expect a seamless experience to get questions answered and issues resolved via the mobile channel.

The shift in customer expectations suggests that companies adopt a “Mobile First Strategy,” writes Craig Borowski, Market Research Analyst, Software Advice in “Improve the Customer Experience Through Better Mobile Support –  IndustryView 2015.”   He explains, “A mobile-first strategy means that no matter what a customer might need to do—learn about a new product, receive customer support, process a return or chat with an employee—it can be done on a mobile device and the CX will be equally positive.”

Mobile website versus app

The first step of your mobile customer engagement strategy is to decide whether you want a mobile website or to take the experience even further with a mobile app.

If the primary goal is to communicate your products or services to mobile users, a mobile website may be all you need. You can offer mobile-friendly content to a wide range of users immediately; since your website will be accessible across a range of devices. You also have greater reach with a mobile website since users can find your small business through search and online directories. It’s also simple for users to share mobile URLs through a simple link. They can email or Instant Message (IM) the link or post it on social media sites.

Though more costly because they are not device independent, a mobile app can provide a more personalized user experience with specific functions – such as easier product configuration. You can customize the app to take advantage of a device’s video, audio, camera, GPS and other capabilities. You also can develop an app for a special marketing or promotional campaign and offer coupons or discounts. Since mobile apps don’t require a connection, users can access content offline, too. This can be useful if you want to create a mobile product catalog, for example.

Maximize the Customer Experience

Whether you choose mobile website or app – or both – you’ll want to maximize the customer experience. Scott Sachs in “How to deliver quality mobile customer service” recommends a number of ways to do that.  Among them, first analyze the types of queries customers make, such as their account balance or the locations of your stores or offices. When you understand what customers are looking for, you can design a User Interface (UI) that requires as few taps as possible to get the needed information.

Sachs also advises that you look for ways to enhance how you deliver service to customers.  He says that customers should be able to access key product information, FAQs and other help and have an easy path to a service agent if they need to engage with one.

Mobile use is changing the customer engagement landscape. Find out what your customers expect and plan your mobile strategy accordingly.