Top 10 Customer Engagement Trends—#1: Mobile Efficiency

Check out how the Top 10 customer engagement trends for 2015 are shaping up in this new series. 

Among the customer engagement trends we’re addressing this year, one is the importance and functionality of mobile devices in loyalty programs and other opt-in customer engagement. For the purpose of this post, let’s limit ourselves to smart phones versus tablets as the screen size and portability have explicit implications on the concept of “efficiency.”

Mobile First Versus Mobile Efficiency.

We can accept that smart mobile is here and here to stay. But we challenge that mobile is the best solution for every brand-customer contact. Instead, consider how the best of mobile can drive the best of engagement. Begin with an understanding of what makes smart phones great, what they’re good at and what draws users to them—over and over and over.

Music, videos, speakers, and microphones. Cameras, photos, and sharing. Calling, texting, pushing and emailing. Clocks and alarms. GPS, maps, and directions. Wallets, payments, and coupons. Games of skill. These are the features of mobile phones that drive a hundred touches a day.

Shopping is a dilemma—even though some products and (mostly) services lend themselves very well to mobile. Selecting and paying for a movie ticket on Fandango or a ticket on StubHub perfectly leverages the phone. I can narrow my browsing very easily, pay with a stored credit card, receive my purchase instantaneously, and use the product from my homescreen with Passbook or Google Wallet. Efficient.

But shopping for a shirt where the browsing should be more immersive, access to reviews more important, and side-by-side comparisons highly useful is probably best left for a larger screen. The dilemma is that for most loyalty marketers who derive value from selling things (rooms, flights, apparel, electronics), those transactions are probably best done away from mobile—either with a larger screen or in person.

So if mobile first, how do we make mobile more effective in loyalty marketing?

Engagement marketing via mobile is not about moving everything to mobile—it is about leveraging where mobile really works. It’s about being creative and technically innovative.

Building loyal relationships is about relevance, convenience, consistency, value, and trust. Mobile engagement touches all of these elements. Consider a great frequent flyer app. They provide constant access to a vast amount of ever-changing data for travelers: “Where is my plane? Is it on time? Where is my seat (and can I change it)? How many miles have I earned? Connectivity has also built transparency, as access to more and more sources of data in real time drives efficiency and trust.

Best-in-class retailers are showing how they can build mobile wallets for frequent shoppers with integration of rewards, payment cards, gift cards, and coupons in one single place—and always with the shopper whenever she’s shopping. They’re using the geo-location features to alert targeted offers when shoppers enter the store. And of course, how many of us have searched for a Starbucks using their app and mapping features?

Recently we visited a bank where utilizing the biometrics of the phone and the microphone to determine crowd noise could redefine their consumer relationships via incredibly innovative forms of data capture, and subsequent monitoring and predictive modeling.

Once marketers understand the strengths of and how customers use their smartphones, they can determine the best designs, processes, and technologies to deliver efficient, creative experiences that win the battle for customer attention that the mobile mindshift has created.